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The best card for beginners has a sign-up bonus worth $1,000 – and easily MUCH more (And I just got it again!)

chase sapphire preferred 80k

If you haven’t had the Chase Sapphire Preferred yet – or if you’re eligible to get it again – the new sign-up bonus of 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points is worth – at a minimum$1,000. And really $1,050 because it also comes with $50 of grocery store credits in your first year of account opening.

And how are we getting to that $1,000 figure? Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.25 cents each when you redeem them toward travel through Chase, so 80,000 x 1.25 = $1,000. You can book flights, hotel stays, even cruises through the Chase Ultimate Rewards site. Set your payment to points and 80,000 of them are worth $1,000. 💥

chase sapphire preferred 80k

The Chase Sapphire Preferred was my first points card – and I just got it again after all these years

That’s an amazing sign-up bonus on its own. And can be worth soooo much more when you transfer your points to Chase’s travel partners, which include Southwest, United, and Air France.

But the best transfer partner? Wait, lemme start a new section for all that. 😛

Chase Sapphire Preferred 80K bonus

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Easy Status Match: Caesars Diamond to M Life Gold to Hyatt Explorist through December 31, 2020

caesar m life status match

This is rather niche, but it works! Through December 31, 2020, if you have Caesars Diamond elite status, you can match it to M Life Gold, and from there, to Hyatt Explorist. I just did it this past weekend.

The only hitch is you must do the Caesars to M Life match in person. And of course, have Caesars Diamond status to start with, which is a free perk you get from FoundersCard membership. You can also get it from matching your Wyndham Platinum or Diamond status, which you can get from having a Wyndham credit card.

If you’re in a place where there are Caesars and MGM casinos or hotels, like Las Vegas, Atlantic City, or Tunica, it takes just a few minutes to get it done. I was at the Horseshoe Casino in Tunica, Mississippi, and walked over to the Gold Strike Casino. From there, I matched from M Life Gold to Hyatt Explorist online in under a minute.

caesars m life status match

Easy way to get Hyatt Explorist if you can work it out

Within Hyatt’s program, Explorist – the middle tier – isn’t all that different from Discoverist – the lowest tier – which also comes with having the Chase World of Hyatt card. But this is an easy way to get it for free and without completing a single stay.

Caesars M Life status match to Hyatt Explorist

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Review of My $100 Stay at the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos

Writing this now is so weird because my last trip was exactly a month go today. In early March, I headed to Cabo San Lucas to enjoy a 4-night stay at the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos. Read about how I booked it for $100 per person – including flights – for what would’ve been a $2,600 trip.

And now I’m reminiscing because I don’t know when my next trip will be, which would’ve seemed unthinkable just a few weeks ago. I have FinCon set up in Long Beach in early October. Sure hope I can still get to that. But no jet-setting or hopping around the globe for a while. I’m craving a nice long trip to Europe. ✈️🇪🇺

Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos review

Cabo was my last trip in a pre-virus world. Here I am a month ago at the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos

So I’ll take my time writing this one. While we were in Cabo, word was already starting to circulate about this mysterious new virus. But it wasn’t in full effect yet.

Because of the constant news cycles and information, I feel like this trip was years ago instead of four weeks. 😝

Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos review

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Booked: Four all-inclusive nights in Cabo worth $2,600 for $202 + 145K points (1.8 cpp)

hyatt ziva los cabos

For the third year in a row, I’m heading to a Hyatt all-inclusive vacation in Mexico with an old friend from Chicago. The past two years, we’ve gone to the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta.

This year, we’re switching it up and visiting the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos! I’ve never been to Cabo – and a look at all the restaurants at the hotel was all the convincing I needed.

We could’ve booked PVR again – it all lined up with points – but said nah, let’s visit a new property. After this trip, I will have been to all the Hyatt all-inclusives in Mexico with the exception of the Hyatt Ziva Cancun. And if it’s anything like the past two years, it’s going to be an amazing beach chill-out.

hyatt ziva los cabos with points

Y’all know I can’t pay out-of-pocket for this rn

But I have aggressive financial goals to raise my net worth to $500,000 in the next five years. So there was no way I’d remotely consider paying for this experience.

Instead, I used my points arsenal for flights on Alaska, American, Southwest, and United – and the Hyatt stay itself – with help from Chase Ultimate Rewards points and Amex Membership Rewards points.

Here’s how I saved $2,637 and paid a cool $202 out-of-pocket. A much better price!

Los Cabos with points 2020

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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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