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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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Updated: What’s FoundersCard Membership Worth in 2018?

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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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Confirmed: FoundersCard Members Can STILL Get 4 Nights in the Bahamas (I Just Booked It!)

Oof. It’s been a rough ride for Caesar’s Total Rewards fans this year. In particular, they slaughtered their Diamond elite tierno more lounge access for starters, unless you have a certain number of tier credits.

total rewards atlantis

I’m coming back for more, Atlantis

One of the best perks about Total Rewards Diamond elite status has been 4 free nights in the Bahamas each year (I took them up on it in December 2016). And that’s changed, too.

I’m Diamond with Total Rewards because of FoundersCard. That perk was renewed through the end of January 2019.

I’m NOT a high roller but still got 4 free nights in the Bahamas

And great news: you can still get 4 nights at the Atlantis Paradise Island (a Marriott Autograph property). I had no trouble booking it over the phone with next to 0 tier credits today.

But now, you have to pay resort fees for the stay, and they’re ~$54 per night. Which is still a great deal. Just not as good a deal as before.

Looks like I’ll be going back to Nassau in May! I’m thinking of staying only 3 nights and spending the last one at the new Grand Hyatt Baha Mar that isn’t even 1 year old yet!

Total Rewards Atlantis Information

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My Free Anniversary Night in Downtown Austin – Thanks to the Chase Hyatt Card!

Say what you will about Chase, but their hotel cards that come with a free anniversary night are worth every penny.

And fortunately, some of them are still accessible even if you’re over 5/24, including:

I wrote how I got $500 in value from the Chase IHG card earlier this year. And I’ve used my Chase Hyatt free night certificate at the Hyatt Centric in New Orleans and the Hyatt at the Bellevue in Philadelphia. I also wrote about 5 worthwhile Category 4 hotels where you can get lot of bang for your Hyatt free night cert.

hyatt anniversary night

A view of Texas hill country – paid for with my Hyatt free night certificate

And this past weekend, I got a stay worth ~$284 at the Hyatt Place Austin Downtown (full review soon!) in exchange for my $75 annual fee.

With values like this, a card with a valuable free night each cardmember year is a no-brainer to keep year after year. Especially when you can get outsized value in popular areas like downtown Austin.

A cute lil weekend trip

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My Experience Getting the Southwest Companion Pass With Starwood Points

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It is here! My coveted Southwest Companion Pass.

After a disappointing New Year’s Day announcement that hotel transfers would no longer count toward the Companion Pass, to a reversal a few days later after much criticism, the beginning of 2017 was a wild ride for Southwest.

Southwest Companion Pass

Back n forth on January 1st

I wasn’t surprised by the announcement – I predicted it would happen a year ago – but it was underhanded and calculating for them to “close the loophole” on January 1st with absolutely no forewarning.

It was sleazy and the opposite of transparent. And for those few days, I was kind of happy to not have the Companion Pass. Because why would I want to commit to a company that makes those sort of changes without warning?

Made it official on January 5th

Made it official on January 5th

But they did the right thing, and added a generous 3-month deadline. So that turned me around. Although they have devalued their revenue-based points system without notice twice in recent memory. So I still have that thought in the back of my mind.

My experience getting the Southwest Companion Pass

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Bahama Breeze: Part 2 – Exploring the Atlantis Resort in Nassau

Atlantis Resort Nassau

I referenced the enormity of the Atlantis Bahamas complex in my earlier review. But wow, this place is gigantic!

Walking through it all would be a nigh impossible task. There’s a free shuttle bus to get around the various towers. Most places are a 5- to 30-minute walk, depending on which tower you stay, and how quickly you walk.

Atlantis Resort Nassau

View from Dolphin Cay

The Atlantis is a city unto itself. It would take several weeks to experience the dozens of bars and restaurants, swim in all the pools, and walk around the beaches of Paradise Island. So go into it knowing you won’t see everything. But do sketch out a rough idea for what you’d like to see and do.

Atlantis Resort Nassau

You won’t get to all 21 restaurants and each of the 19 bars and lounges – not to mention everything else!

I had a Casino Experience Pass included as part of my 4 free nights, and that set us on a course to exploring the Atlantis.

Bahama Breeze Index

Using the Casino Experience Pass

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Bahama Breeze: Part 1 – Review of My Free Room at Atlantis Beach Tower, Nassau

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There are a few things in life that make me say, “Hell, yes!” as fast as 4 free nights in the Bahamas.

atlantis beach tower review

Exterior of the Atlantis Beach Tower

I wrote about the details of how I did it, but in a nutshell:

Booking was simple. I requested my dates (December 10th to 14th), booked a non-stop flight there from DFW to NAS with Avios points, and booked a flight back (with a connex at MIA) with American miles.

I was aflutter about the experience, how the benefit would play out, and what the room would be like. I am happy to report it was a wonderful trip.

Bahama Breeze Index

Arrival and check-in

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4 Free Nights in the Bahamas, Thanks to FoundersCard!

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The (good) hits just keep on coming! (I wrote about a free private jet flight from FoundersCard yesterday).

I got free Caesars Diamond elite status this year from FoundersCard, which comes with a ton of benefits, including:

  • Diamond lounge access
  • No resort fees at Caesars properties
  • $100 celebration dinner
  • Priority lines everywhere

Because of this, I’ve been thinking about a weekend trip to Las Vegas.

Up next: 4 free nights in the Bahamas!

Up next: 4 free nights in the Bahamas!

Another benefit of Caesars Diamond status is 4 free nights at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas (part of the Marriott Autograph Collection).

Well, I just called to book it – and it went off without a hitch!

I used British Airways Avios points for flights there. And American miles for flights back. Total cost of ~$214 for round-trip coach flights for 2 from Dallas to Nassau. But the whole experience is worth nearly $2,600.

That includes 4 free nights from Caesars Diamond status – courtesy of FoundersCard. I’m so stoked!

About the 4 free nights

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