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The Top Card for Beginners? Yeah, the Chase Sapphire Preferred

I’m sure it’s happened to you at some point. A friend asks, “How do you do it?” Take all these trips to places like Hawaii, Tokyo and Osaka, Dublin, Barcelona, and more. How do you get free hotel rooms that cost hundreds of dollars a night?

“I want to travel like you do,” they say. “Where do I start?”

And you have that moment where you’re thinking, “Well for starters, using that debit card for everything you buy isn’t helping anything.” *cough*

You ask about their spending habits. “Do you shop online?” Definitely use a shopping portalget free miles for clicking a link.

You can stay at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta for FREE with Chase Ultimate Rewards points

And sign up for dining rewards while you’re at it because you never know when you’ll get some extra miles in your account – especially if you live in a mid-sized to large city.

But as far as cards go… where to begin?

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Trip Report: An Amazing Repeat Stay at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta

This time last week, I was at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta – almost 1 year to the day after my February 2018 stay. I originally wanted to try a different Ziva, like Los Cabos, or perhaps return to the Zilara in Cancun – and found tons of award flights from Dallas to all three.

But flights from Chicago to fly down an old friend were scarce. So for whatever reason, the availability lined up and sent us to the Ziva Puerto Vallarta again.

I was open to it, returning to the known. Also curious to see if it had changed – and I knew it would be a sure bet for max relax. We even thought about trying the Hilton all-inclusive there.  But in the end, we settled on a right proper fly n’ flop.

It’s a huge, gorgeous property with:

  • 5 restaurants
  • 5 bars
  • Coffee shop/self-serve deli
  • 4 pools
  • Kids club
  • Tennis club, spa, gym, hot tubs, and swim-up rooms
Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta Review

When your hotel room looks like a magazine

Here are my 1-year-later impressions.

Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta Review – 2019 version

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Booking Puerto Vallarta 2.0: $3,000+ Vacation for 131,000 Citi ThankYou Points, Prestige 4th Night Free, & AA Business Extra

Last February, I spent 3 glorious nights at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta. And next month, I’ll spend another 4 nights there! For $0 out of pocket, I used:

  • 131,088 Citi ThankYou points + 4th night free to save $1,721 on the hotel stay
  • 4,000 American Airlines Business Extra points for $1,423 flights
  • Citi Prestige annual travel credits to cover ~$187 in taxes and fees

The total cost would’ve been $3,331. And I used ALL my Citi ThankYou points.

But after slipping the Citi Prestige card back into my wallet this week, I can build up my balance with new 5X earning on airfare and dining. Plus, they’d been hanging around for a while.

Learn more about the best travel rewards cards here.

puerto vallarta points 2019

This time, I saved over $3,000 to go back to Puerto Vallarta for 4 nights 🍹

Here’s how I put it together!

A $3,000+ vacation to Puerto Vallarta for $0

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A $2,100 Trip to San Francisco and Portland for 30 Cents Out-of-Pocket!

This month’s marked with lots of travel. I just got back from a week in Japan. And tomorrow, I’m off to San Francisco and Portland!

I was tallying up my points totals and comparing what the retail costs would’ve been. This trip would’ve cost over $2,000 had I paid cash.

san francisco with points

I got 30 cents… will this be enough for 5 days in San Fran and Portland? :p

I should disclose ended up paying a little cash, in addition to my points. 30 whole cents. 😹

Here’s how I did it!

5 days on the West Coast for under a buck

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New! Chase Hyatt Visa Offers for Spending at a Dozen Merchants

Just got this email from Chase. Peeps with a Chase Hyatt Visa can now sign up for an official offer page and activate offers – very similar to Amex Offers. The only difference is there’s a dedicated page for it – you can’t activate the deals from your Chase accounts page.

Visa Offers with the Chase Hyatt card are live

I have 13 offers on my card after signing up for access, to places like Lowe’s, Boxed, Hulu, and StubHub. Here’s how to find it!

Chase Hyatt Visa Offers

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Updated: What’s FoundersCard Membership Worth in 2018?

Update 2/1/19: Check out my updated review for 2019 here!

I wrote my first post about FoundersCard 4 years ago (!). And have been a member ever since.

I renew my membership every year to get discounts and many of the same ancillary benefits offered on co-branded credit cards. So it’s high time for an update about what FoundersCard gets you in 2018.

founderscard review 2018

A lot has changed but many perks have stuck around

If anything, it’s gotten better. Though benefits have shifted, it’s still worthwhile if you can make the most of a few good deals.

What’s FoundersCard about?

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Hotel Review: Hyatt Place Colorado Springs – Garden of the Gods

Also see: 

If you’ve never been to Colorado Springs, a little over an hour south of Denver, you’re missing craft breweries and the city’s centerpiece – the gorgeous Garden of the Gods.

hyatt garden of the gods

Garden of the Gods took my breath away

I stopped here during my road trip to Denver. And chose the Hyatt Place Garden of the Gods as our stopover hotel. Here’s how it went!

Hyatt Garden of the Gods Review

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PV PLZ: Couples Massage at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta Spa

(This is the last post about Puerto Vallarta, by the dubs.)

Y’all. I did something I’ve never done at a hotel before: paid out-of-pocket for a fancy spa day. I got a body scrub, body wrap, facial, and full-body massage. It was opulent, decadent, and completely amazing.

Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta spa

Getting ready for my spa day at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta

During our stay at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta, my friend and I took a stretching class one morning. On the way, we passed by the spa, mostly out of curiosity.

After touring the facility and taking a look at the spa menu, we decided the couples massage was actually a great value. So we set up the appointment to spend 4 hours in heavenly bliss.

PV PLZ trip report index

Breaking down the spa deal

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PV PLZ: Eating at All the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta Restaurants

The best part about staying at an all-inclusive is eating your face off. And I didn’t hold back during my 3-night free stay at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta last week. (I am currently doing a detox and running 4+ miles a day as penance.)

There are 5 restaurants here – and I ate at most of them twice!

Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta Restaurants

The stunning view from Blaze (this is the only non-food pic in the post btw)

Here’s what you can expect from the food at Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta.

PV PLZ trip report index

Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta restaurants

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PV PLZ: Review of My Free Stay at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta

Still reeling about the completely relaxing Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarata. Now that I’m back in Dallas, I can start to process it.

The 3 nights I spent here were completely free. I used 60,000 Hyatt points for a stay that retailed for $1,300+ for the dates I was there.

In fact, the whole trip only cost me $90 out-of-pocket. Here’s how I booked it.

Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta Review

View of the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta from the beach

Back to the hotel!

PV PLZ trip report index

Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta Review

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PV PLZ: How I Booked a $2,000+ Mexican Vacation for $90 With Points

A couple of days ago, I returned from a MUCH needed break slash reset in sunny Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific Ocean side of Mexico. A friend and I stayed 3 nights Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta. She flew down from Chicago. And I flew from Dallas.

I only paid $90 to watch the sunset in Puerto Vallarta for 3 nights

Out-of-pocket, I paid $90 in addition to 60,000 Hyatt points for the room and 15,000 British Airways Avios points for award flights on American. Here’s how I did it!

PV PLZ trip report index

Get me to Mexico!

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Hotel Review: Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort, New Mexico

New Mexico is pure magic. It’s one of my favorite places on earth.

Every time I’m there, I feel deep soul-healing. Those high desert landscapes are what my soul looks like, I think. I’m so completely at peace with the mountains and wind and all of it.

So I was definitely looking forward to staying at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya, nestled 25 minutes north of Albuquerque and 45 minutes south of Santa Fe in northern New Mexico.

Hyatt Regency Tamaya Review

This little sign is where the magic began

Two friends and I drove here non-stop from Dallas – a solid 10-hour drive. We left at 4am, stopping only in Amarillo for an early lunch. A few hours later, we drove through the cute town of Bernalillo and into the 550 acres of the resort, technically located in Santa Ana Pueblo.

This is a wonderful, special resort. I highly recommend staying here if you ever get the opportunity. Here’s my experience and how I stayed for completely free! 

Hyatt Regency Tamaya Review – Arrival and check-in

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