Archive | August 2014

Amex increases Air Miles Platinum Bonus! 1500 free Air Miles!

I am not a big collector of Air Miles, but they do have value.

I know many of the readers here don’t collect Amex MR points or Aeroplan but do collect Air Miles.

I got the news from Patrick at Rewards Canada and then I checked the Amex website.

Here is the link to apply for this card.

The first year fee of $65 is waived which is awesome as usual.

As soon as you charge $500 to the card you will be eligible for the 1500 Air Miles Bonus – prob. will take 1 billing cycle.

You can check the link for the other benefits – but all in all a very good bonus for free.

Will I get this? The offer expires Oct 31 so I have 2 months – but yes I will.

Why? Because it’s always good to have various “points” from different programs available.

This card is free, 1500 Air Miles can get me at least 1 flight, and I only have to spend $500.

The biggest thing to keep in mind as always is can you spend wisely and pay your debts on time?

If credit cards/charge cards have never been good for you, don’t get these cards plain and simple.

But…if you are good with managing your finances, these Amex cards offer incredible sign up bonuses – see our Amex page on that.

 

Moving on…

Well this whirlwind BA devaluation thing has been interesting and who knows how it will end, but it looks like a no-go for now. It’s a good wake-up call and like I read in a few blogs – if you got them – use them!

It’s important news anyway and we will keep you posted the best we can.

I updated our page on March break 2015 availability to Florida and the Avios flights are drying up for sure.

There may be more released but it’s hard to say when and unless you get a subscription to Expert flyer you need to check often on BA.com.

If you have Avios points and are looking to use them to a Southern destination consider flying out of a different airport. Cleveland seems to have good availability and other smaller US cities around us sometimes do as well. It is nice to get that “free” flight but sometimes you need to drive an extra hour or two.

We have one more trip this summer and I will do a post on how much we traveled on how little money.

Bottom line is if you collect these different “points” through credit cards and such you can travel much more than usual at a better price.

BA about to devalue Avios?

Update Aug 25 – 6pm- it seems this has now been misread by a few bloggers, but anyone can make a mistake. It would appear that BA is NOT about to devalue Avios as previously reported by a few.
It was newsworthy though so we are glad we made a note of putting it on our page.

The hot topic in the travel blog circle right now is if British Airways is about to charge more Avios points per flight.
As I have no access to a computer right now I just thought I would mention this very important development and give you a link where you can read more. Not good if true!
Is British Airways About to Gut Its Short-Haul 4,500 Avios Awards???
http://themilesprofessor.com/2014/08/24/british-airways-devaluation-possible/

Birch Run Deals!

Ok, did you just Google “Birch Run Deals” and get my page? If you did that’s awesome!

For anyone that lives in our area, Birch Run and Frankenmuth, MI are destinations not far from Sarnia, ON, and offer many things to do for families, couples, and anyone really!

It was my first time there and I was impressed. We stayed in Birch Run which is known for Shopping Outlets. It has hundreds of name brand stores in an easy to find location – great for the shopper in your life – my wife in this case.

About a 10 minute drive from there was Frankenmuth, MI known for Bronners Christmas Village, the Bavarian Inn and Zehnders Splash Village to name a few. A great destination to spend a day or weekend away for sure. You can google those places to get a better idea of what there is – I want to tell you about my sweet deal.

In a nutshell here it is – spend $90 on a room at the Best Western Plus in Birch Run, MI. (standard rate you can find not on weekend – sometimes cheaper!)

We got 2000 Aeroplan points for the booking ($40 value), free breakfast for the 4 of us ($30 value), and unlimited drinks (beer and wine) from 5pm – 7pm as long as we spent $14 total in their restaurant ($30? value).

The pizza is amazing by the way!

At the very least you are getting your money back in points/food/drinks!

This place has a pool, hottub, games room for kids and a nice bar/restaurant area.

We did a quick little 24 hour visit and hung out by the pool/hottub after our comp. drinks because we weren’t driving anywhere! But it’s still a nice night to hang-out with the kids – or if it’s just the 2 of you that’s nice as well.

Morning options are shopping at the Birch Run stores or going into Frankenmuth and either hitting an indoor waterpark or just checking out the quaint little town.

The service was excellent and I highly recommend this place for a great deal on what you spend.

Now, of course there are places that offer the free breakfast option – but this adds the 2000 Aeroplan and free drinks which is really getting your moneys worth.

The 2000 Aeroplan deal ends Aug 31, so if you want that bonus as well you have about a week.

How do you do this?

1. Sign up for Aeroplan – see our Aeroplan or Amex page on that – it’s free.

2. Sign up for Best Western Rewards – it’s free. Remember in options choose Aeroplan as your “Reward Preference” with your Aeroplan number.

3. Book the hotel on Bestwestern.com

Anyone out there have a similar story?

 

 

 

Cheap flights in September!

Well, I guess we are here. Looking past summer into some good deals in September.

I used Google flights for this so Southwest isn’t here, but the other airlines are.

DETROIT – Washington, DC – $84 – select Saturday departures on Frontier

– New York City – $224 – Wed Sept 27 depart Spirit

– Las Vegas – $257 different departures on Spirit

– LA – $279 Sat/Wed departures on Spirit

– Houston $212 Sat/Wed departures on Spirit (Dallas about same)

– New Orleans $266 diff departures on Air Tran

– Fort Lauderdale $170 most of month! nice! Spirit

– Myrtle Beach – many options for $148 Spirit

– Boston – many options from $165 JetBlue

 

Any others?

 

 

 

 

Money Well Spent!

OK, the SHOP.CA 15x Aeroplan points bonus is back till the end of August.

This is a great deal on your first purchase and here is why.

You may be reading this and don’t collect Aeroplan or have an Aeroplan Amex card.

Getting both would take you a few minutes and you will get great value out of this idea.

Signing up for Aeroplan is easy – go to our Aeroplan page and find the link.

Getting the Aeroplan Plus Gold Amex card is also easy – here is the link.

Now we have been saying for many months – don’t get credit cards if you aren’t prudent paying off your bills – but if you are – this is a great referred sign up bonus of 30,000 Aeroplan points…FOR FREE FIRST YEAR!

If you apply for this card today or the next few days you would have it in time for the 15x purchase bonus.

Now the thing about Aeroplan in Canada is that most flights take 25,000 points and some short haul flight take 15,000 points plus huge taxes. This is well documented by other bloggers.

There is a way to convert your Aeroplan points to Avios points and we did a post on it awhile ago.

Why would you do that? Aeroplan is Canadian and Avios is…British?

To most, this makes no sense. The thing is Avios is with British Airways, but when you collect Avios you can fly American Airlines and US Air – now it makes more sense.

In fact, it makes great sense. 9000 Avios can fly you round trip from Detroit(our home airport) to New York City, Philadelphia, Washington,DC and Charlotte, NC to name a few.

Try that with Aeroplan. I can’t even find flights for 15,000 Aeroplan, so most likely you are spending 25,000 Aeroplan to fly to these places.

So then you wonder…25,000 Aeroplan or 9000 Avios? And you can swap them 1 for 1? YES.

Even at 15,000 Aeroplan or 9000 Avios the swap makes sense.

Bear in mind this swap takes time to do (say 2 months) and you need to be able to collect RBC points (no fee credit card) and Esso points (no fee)

So, back to our SHOP.CA example.

How about this question…How much do I need to spend at SHOP.CA to get 4 round trip flights from Detroit to New York City (36,000 Aeroplan) + about $20 in taxes total.

Well the answer will surprise you.

So you get the Amex card(you need to spend $500 on it to get the 30,000 bonus Aeroplan) and you register you card with the current promo where when you spend $200 at SHOP.CA you get a $50 credit. (I already got mine – on statement next day)

You need to spend $375 – $50 credit = $325 at SHOP.CA to get 4 round trip flights.

1. Get Amex card, after spending $500 you have 30,000 Aeroplan.

2. Spend $375 at Shop.ca and get 375 x 15 points = 5625 Aeroplan. Use your Aeroplan Amex and get another 375 points – total points on that transaction is 6000.

You now have 36,000 Aeroplan which you can convert to Avios 1:1 in the next RBC to Avios bonus period – likely at end of 2014. Again if this part about RBC confused you read the previous post on how to do this.

But it can be done! You just need to do a little research and read the posts.

 

 

 

 

Dollar Saving Advice for Travel Sports.

Note – for the purpose of this write up, 1 night stays in hotel rooms with 2 Queens or 1 King will be priced at $125. Sometimes they cost more, sometimes less but this number seems like a fair number to use.

In the last 2 days I have had different people ask me what cards are good for staying in hotels for free.

They were parents of kids that are about to travel around Ontario for travel hockey and tournaments.

Now this advice will save you parents a couple thousand dollars over a season in hotel bills.

I did a previous previous post on this in April and the same principles apply.

I know these sports are expensive, so any break you can get with hotel rooms is a bonus.

If all the parents got together and did this strategy they would collectively save many thousands of dollars.

Of course anyone needing hotel rooms can use this strategy – I have been staying for free in hotels for a few years now – but since the “travel hockey” angle came up I thought I would present it like that.

Remember, if you are not good paying bills or with credit cards – DON’T DO THIS STRATEGY!!!

This is for people that are looking at getting more perks out of their credit cards and can manage credit fine.

In the previous post there were bonuses that are now gone, so I will present the current approach.

STEP 1 – Get the Amex Gold Rewards Card.

This is the best card to get first and here is why.

After applying you would get the card about a week later. After spending only $500 on it, you will get 25,000 MR points worth $250 in travel (2 nights) for our example.

There is no fee on this card the first year! So….ya it’s $250 for free. It’s your choice whether you cancel that card before the year is up

You could have those points 2 weeks from the time you apply for the card, so it’s quick and you are good to go sooner.

Now, we have been touting the “refer a friend” option where if you have a partner(spouse) that can get this card and help pay for those travel hotel rooms, you should refer them! Now you get 10,000 more points ($100) and they get 25,000 points ($250)

Between you that’s $600 in travel, or 4-5 free hotel nights. Beautiful.

STEP 2 – Get the IHG Rewards World Mastercard.

This one will cost you $120.

After your first purchase you get 60,000 IHG points. (Holiday Inns)

These points are roughly valued at 7 cents each or $420 in hotel rooms.

It takes a billing cycle to get those points so you probably won’t see those points for a month or so after applying for the card.

Looking at IHG properties around Ontario and Michigan, the average hotel goes for 20,000 points so you have just “bought” 3 nights for $120. That’s pretty good!

Again, your partner can do the same, so together you spend $240 for about 6 nights. Very good.

STEP 3 – Get the Amex AeroplanPlus Gold Card.

This is like the other Amex card in that it’s free the first year and you get 30,000 Aeroplan points after spending $500 on it.

Many people use those points for flights, but you can use it for hotel rooms!

For 11,500 Aeroplan you can pick up a $100 Best Western giftcard.

So you have at least $200 in Best Western cards but are closer to $300 – which is 34,500 Aeroplan.

For this example we will say 2 nights at a Best Western

Again, because this is Amex you can refer your partner and pick up 10,000 more Aeroplan.

You now have 40,000 Aeroplan which covers $300 in giftcards and your partner has $200 in giftcards – FOR FREE!

So between you that’s 4 more nights in Best Western hotels.

You can get other cards but for a season, 3 would be enough. Let’s summarize.

Total hotel nights if you and “partner” do this – 14 – or 7 weekends.

Total cost to both of you – $240.

Average cost per room – $17 a night.

Please contact us if you are unsure of this after applying for Amex – we put a referral link there for you, but you can always go to their site and apply directly  – we do appreciate the referral business.

If you wanted no cost you could do what a bunch of my co-workers have done – just get the free Amex cards and refer your partner.

Total hotel nights  – 8 – or 4 weekends

Total cost to both of you – FREE!!!

That is why we love Amex here.

Still time for a late summer CHEAP flight!!!

I was looking up different options out of Detroit late summer for places to fly and I found Detroit – Atlantic City for as low as $87 or $104 on Spirit for a few days late August (26/27 – 30/31)

Yes I have been going on about Atlantic City and Spirit Air for that matter, but this is amazing!!!

You don’t need to go to Atlantic City if that’s not your thing. I found another Boardwalk City called Wildwood NJ that it TOTALLY kid friendly. Just check out this link – Wildwood NJ attraction. Now, I have never been, but this seems like a really cool place for families. The link will show you all different options for “PLAY, EAT, STAY, PLAN and EXPLORE” This place is 90 minutes from Atlantic City Airport so you would need to rent a car for a few days. But just to get to Atlantic City and back from the Airport is $65 in cab fare anyway – so renting a car isn’t much more.

This is another write-up of the place – very impressive!

It’s actually rated higher than Coney Island and the Navy Pier! Seriously – check out this place!

Anyway – $100 to fly there is a great way to end your summer.

Trip Advisor lists 77 hotels and if you use their site you get a discount on Morey’s Piers with “Play and Stay” passes. You need to stay at a Morey hotel, but you might as well get some discounts while there.

This little city is cute as there looks to be no high rise hotels, but 2-3 story walk-ups instead. (probably elevators) all with their own pools and close to all the action.

As I am researching this on the go I can’t believe I haven’t heard of this place! It is really family friendly.

Don’t bet on a cheap hotel price though as the days I mention start at $150 CDN a night for a decent place. Skylark for example is $147 a night and is ranked 22 out of 77 for their hotels.

Most of the better ones are around $200+.

I was checking to see if there were any hotels through Starwood/Holiday INN/Best Western that we could use our points for – but no luck – these seems like all small, independent hotels.

So…cheap flight…but you will spend $ when there! Especially if you want to have all that fun at Morey’s Pier.

You can always just go to Atlantic City – I did.

 

Make your back to school shopping count!

Ok, I have talked about Shop.ca for awhile – they are new and want your business. As mentioned previously you can get 10x Aeroplan points on your first purchase there. I was told by one of their customer service reps you can get a Shop.ca giftcard and then use it to buy Old Navy/Gap/Banana Republic giftcards. That is awesome – I also got a $50.00 credit to my Amex account when I purchased $200 worth of giftcards. Now, Aeroplan has a shopping portal you can use which gives you even more Aeroplan points when you shop there – it changes so watch for the good bonuses like 10x points!

Now I get an email from RBC rewards that I can earn up to 12x rewards when I shop through their portal (EMall) until August 31. The great thing about this is I convert all my RBC reward points to Avios at a 1.5x multiplier when they have that bonus period twice a year. So the Under Armour 10x bonus becomes a 15x bonus. The Sportcheck 8x bonus becomes a 12x bonus. The Walmart 5x bonus (and you probably shop there!) becomes a 7.5 bonus. And so on…just google RBC Rewards Emall. Of course you need to collect RBC rewards to do this.

This is what I have been trying to say in some previous posts. Everyday shopping can get you free flights, hotel rooms and so on. I did a post about a month ago where just getting gas can get you enough points for a free flight about once a year.

So, don’t be falling for a certain ad for a certain credit card that says “Get $25 in free groceries, No seriously get $25 for free”

There should be a 0 after the 25 because that’s what Amex offers.

It’s travel though so…is $25 in groceries worth more than $250 in travel?

Anyway, shop smart this coming back to school season and grab some points!!!

Avios flights start at 9000 Avios and can take you pretty far. Plus $5 in taxes – don’t forget the fiver.

Free Stuff at Shop.ca!

Shop.ca really wants your business. They are offering many incentives to use their site and they are pretty good incentives.

The latest one that was emailed to me from Amex Canada – and anyone can use once they register their Amex card – is a $50 credit on any purchase $200 and over at Shop.ca.

They are also currently offering 10x Aeroplan points on your first purchase there!

They sell many different categories of items, so have a look – some very good deals to be found!

For my situation, I have a bunch of people that like Gap/Old Navy/Banana Republic giftcards – and guess what? Shop.ca has those!

So here is what I did.

I contacted them first to ask if I could purchase a Shop.ca giftcard and still get the 10x Aeroplan on my first purchase. I can. Then it was pointed out I could use that giftcard to buy the Gap/ON/BP giftcards. Sweet. Bonus after Bonus.

I tried another coupon bonus but it didn’t work on giftcards – but I am still happy with the final result.

So, I spent $200. 200 x 10 = 2000 Aeroplan. I will get $50 of that back.

As I have “Distinction” with Aeroplan and used my Amex Aeroplan card on the purchase I received another 200 x 2 = 400 Aeroplan points on the purchase.

End result?

Total spent after credit – $150.00

Total amount of giftcards I will receive – $200

Total amount of Aeroplan I will receive – 2400. Worth approx. $50 in travel if used properly.

So, I am up a free $50 Gap/ON/BR giftcard and about $50 worth of travel.

If you haven’t picked up the Amex Aeroplan GoldCard yet – it is a great way to pick up 30,000 Aeroplan after you spend $500 on it. That’s it, $500!

So, if you were just starting out you could pick up 30,000 Aeroplan for getting the card, plus another 2200 Aeroplan, plus $200 in Gap/Old Navy/Banana Republic giftcards – all for $150 total spend.

Pretty nice bonus.