Free Travel Takes Time

As I get more of my friends into this “game” I notice how little time people want to put into getting “free travel”

If you’re a fellow travel blogger like me, you probably know this all too well.

 

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If you’re reading this just out of curiosity you need to know something – FREE TRAVEL TAKES TIME (to learn)

Sure, you can sign up for a few credit cards and BINGO – you’re off to Cuba on a free 7 day All Inclusive – not quite how it goes.

Before I started this site in November, 2013 I spent a few years researching everything travel related – and I still only scratch the surface when it comes to all the information out there.

I continually find new sites/blogs that keep me thinking of ways to get that next free flight or vacation.

My page “Websites/Articles” has many informative sites that you could spend hours on learning very important information about this game.

I myself have moved onto a new “game” with the whole US market out there for us to try.

I did a page a couple of years ago – “How do you do this” that gives you a simple way to start this process – and a bunch of travel points in your bank.

Then what? Is the question.

Read. Download the App for whoever you got points with. Read. Book a free hotel. Read. Book a free flight. Read.

The longer you can sit in front of a computer/tablet/phone and READ about what you are doing the better off you will be in this game.

Let me give you one simple example that many of my friends will experience.

Let’s say you and a partner get the Amex Gold Rewards card – like many of my friends do – one refers the other and you end up with say…25,000 + 25,000 +5,000 to refer + another 5000 in total spend to get the both of you to about 60,000 MR total combined.(very common scenario)

That’s all no fee by the way.

  1. Simplest use – “pay with points” you and partner use it for $600 in free travel.
  2. Flight points – you could convert to Aeroplan, but I’m going to suggest convert to a British Airways(fly American Airlines) family account at a 1:1 ratio to give you 60,000 Avios points. That is 4 round trip medium haul flight from…say Detroit to NYC or Dallas or Charlotte NC to name a few. What is that worth? Seasoned bloggers give those points 2 cpp or a worth of $1200.
  3. Hotel points – for simplicity I’m going to say convert them to a Starwood family account at a 1:0.5 ratio or to 30,000 SPG points(90,000 Marriott points). With SPG and Marriott when you book 4 nights you get the 5th night free. For SPG find a nice Cat. 3 hotel at 7000 points a night – 28,000 points total and stay 5 nights free. What is that worth? Seasoned bloggers give those points 3-5 cpp or a worth of $900 – $1500 in hotel stays.

Finding that information out took some reading.

Doubling my point value took some reading.

Who to read? If you are on Twitter follow me, but even better see the travel sites I follow.

Canada – Rewards Canada, Points Nerd, Pointshogger.

US – Frequent Miler, Points with a Crew, many others.

This is a great “game” but you do need to learn it.

 

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Toronto – Vancouver flight deals!

Our travel agent Karen is back!

She posted some all inclusive deals on her page and some Sunwing flight deals from Toronto to Vancouver.

Call her 519-542-1009/email her karen@traveldiscounters.ca

Check out these flight deals.

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Wow on Iberia Avios!

I read an article about a year and a half ago on Iberia Avios redemptions.

I was very intrigued by this article especially after B.A. raised the amount of Avios needed on short haul flights within the US from 4500 per flight to 7500 per flight.

Basically, for us you could fly Detroit to places like NYC, Philly, Wash, DC and Charlotte, NC for 9000 Avios plus a couple bucks.

Those flights are now 15,000 round trip which still isn’t horrible.

Anyway, that link has the article and it is VERY much worth reading if you collect Avios and want to fly within the US on AA.

So, just over a year ago the Iberia site wouldn’t let you search for those flights anymore for whatever reason. BUT IT IS BACK!

Yes, I am excited and I will show you the reason below, but the link I posted is very much worth reading!

I am going to pick a flight from Detroit to Orlando using Avios.

Keep in mind these are the SAME flights to and from these cities

First the British Airways Avios site.

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OK, if you know BA you know the only city in Florida Detroit flies non-stop to is Miami.

So, because of this you have to stop in Charlotte on your way to Orlando.

So every flight you take is 7500 Avios times 4 total flights = 30,000 BA Avios.

Not terrible, but it used to be 4500 Avios times 4 total flights = 18,000 BA Avios.

Now…the Iberia Avios site.

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Yes, I know it’s about $11 more per flight but it’s 13,000 Avios cheaper per person!!!

These are the exact same flights.

All my point here is read the article I posted the link to.

These “hacks” take time. You need to learn the “game” in order to take advantage of these deals – but this is a nice one!

 

 

Starter’s Blog :-)

So I have had this Blog/site going for 3.5 years now and am continually learning.

Most of my friends/co-workers are very new at this “game” and I usually talk them through their travel plans and how to get certain points/book cheap flights etc.

The flight deals we post are usually good for people living near us – SW Ontario – and really don’t benefit anyone living far from here.

The things I have noticed lately are the detail oriented, strategy posts about using miles to get a Business class flight to Europe with a layover in (wherever) and then getting back through a different city – all in Business Class!

While I understand the post and then try it myself (booking it online) using the different tools available to us  – I don’t see myself ever doing this type of flight.

I have posted some new links on our “Website/Articles” page that really get into this – and these apps/websites are truly remarkable.

But for the people I talk to on a daily basis (and it is many) these scenarios aren’t at all realistic.

Some of these bloggers are young and single so flying first class to Europe is no problem and they seem to think everyone should!

Others are family men/women like myself and can still do it – I say that’s great – enjoy it while ya can!

But the most realistic scenarios for my friends and I are getting a free hotel night on a weekend trip to Niagara Falls,  or finding really cheap flight prices to get away for March Break and enjoy a few days in the sun.

This is a “Starter’s Blog” for sure and always will be.

Rewards Canada got me into this 6 years ago – ya click his link – he is the king.

There are more and more blogs out there with more and more travel hacks – and that can only be a good thing in the end.

If you are interested in these “advanced” blogs just click “here” and this page has some cool travel hacks – but be ready to read and commit some time!

Yes, this is a game and some of these bloggers have taken it to the next level – I will stay true to my simple blog with ways to get some free hotel nights/flights and finding cheap flights for those that live in our area.

I made a page a few years ago that keeps it simple and gets you the points you need to get started. “How do you do this?”

Happy travelling!

 

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Have you tried Credit Karma Canada?

Have you been wondering about your credit score? No? Well too bad, this is a quick post to get you to actually check your CDN credit score.

This website has been going since 2007 in the US and now is available here FOR FREE.

I have done a few posts in the past about how your credit score goes up and down when you get these credit cards and now you can see how it works!

Try it! creditkarma.ca

 

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Just as a side note, I did a post over 2 years ago on how to manage your credit cards/sign up bonus/etc on an Excel Spreadsheet.

This won’t pay your bills but it helps me tremendously.

 

 

 

Spirit Sale is Sweet

I’ve seen some quality rants about Spirit Airlines lately, but the fact is if you know the extra fees and are willing to put up with less legroom, you can really score some sweet airfare prices from these guys.

I’ve probably flown with them 20 times in the last 10 years and I’ve had a few flight delays and that’s it. So I guess I’m lucky?

Anyway here is a screen shot of their latest Spring Sale – it’s pretty good.

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Hopefully those dates can work out for some of you and you can take advantage of these amazing prices.

 

Advantages of living near US Airports

I have always felt that living near US Airports (residing in Canada) has been a huge advantage for those of us that love to fly.

As I was reading a few blogs this week I realized this was very true.

I see bloggers trying to use their Aeroplan, Air Miles and Westjet dollars and see the struggles (and success) they have with booking these flights.

I get it – Canadian bloggers talking about Aeroplan/Airmiles because that’s the “Canadian” point system.

But it’s not.

Those of us in SW Ontario have a choice – Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo to name the big ones.

I did a post before March Break about booking a last minute flight from Toronto to Orlando from Sat. to Sat over the break would be crazy expensive – and it was.

I also talked to about 5 different CDN families that flew out of Cleveland that lived in the Toronto area – so people are doing it!

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My point is try diversifying your “points”!

Why not collect Avios and fly AA out of Detroit to say…Miami? 20,000 Avios plus $14.

The taxes are usually way lower as well.

What about Southwest? I just recently got the companion pass and 120,000 SW points worth over $2000 CDN in flights – for 90,000 SPG points. (plus a seven night Marriott vacation)

We have a page “How do you do this” that gets you points in the hotel programs as well as the flight programs if you are so inclined.

I have a friend that just went ahead and got all 4 cards the same day. “Why not?” she said – “I’ll eventually get them all anyway”

Good point. But not recommended for people who can’t manage their own finances.

Remember, as Canadians we are not “stuck” with Airmiles and Aeroplan – we just have to branch out a bit.

 

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If you are spending the money anyway…

So I’ve seen a few posts lately about return on spend on certain credit cards – this one by Rewards Canada nails it.

Yes, the SPG card from Amex is great, and it’s my favourite card but there is something we as Canadians can get amazing value on – The Amex Business Gold Rewards Card.

***Note – most people can get this card by just calling themselves a business – it’s not hard

I know some of my friends don’t think twice about points and what card to put a purchase on. In fact many would put a purchase on their PC Mastercard or CDN Tire Mastercard and be happy with the lousy return they get on that.

Ya, I said lousy. It is lousy. Sure if you are in that actual store spending on that card you’ll get a decent return, but otherwise? Meh.

I did a post on this exact spend idea a couple of years ago and because it has come up in conversation lately, I’ll bring it up again.

Let’s say you(as a couple) need to spend over $10,000 in the next few months.

Well, in the industry now, a 2% return on this is seen as pretty good.

So, $200 back on your $10,000 spend is nice, but wouldn’t you rather get like…$1000 back?

 

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Is is easy, and requires you and your partner to get 1 new card each. $1000 back to spend $10,000.

  1. You get the Amex Business Gold Rewards Card and spend $5000 on it in 3 months
  2. You pick up 45,000 Amex MR points to do that.
  3. After you get card, you refer partner to that same card – you pick up 10,000 more MR points. You have at least 55,000 points.
  4. Your partner does same spend and picks up 45,000 Amex MR points.
  5. Between you is 100,000 Amex MR points worth MINIMUM $1000 in free travel

A couple of things to keep in mind.

You can’t share MR points – they have 45,000 and you have 55,000.

You can convert those to “family” accounts in travel programs like SPG and Avios to name a couple. – SPG is highly recommended – you’d have 50,000 SPG or 100,000 Avios.

Perhaps this is all once purchase? You get card, refer partner, then make purchase over $10,000 using both cards…

So, in this example and for many people I help out with this the person usually uses Amex MR points to “erase travel” That means the 55,000 points can erase a purchase of $550. The 45,000 points can erase a $450 purchase.

That is great, but really that is the least value.

You should take your time and learn where you want to put your points –  if you ended up putting these points into SPG and getting 50,000 SPG points in a family account that is roughly worth anywhere from $1500 – $2500 in hotel stays.

Convert to Avios? Gives you 100,000 Avios worth a similar amount in airfare.

In the end, it’s at least a 10% return on money spent – and the cards are free first year!

 

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Karen is back with DEALS.

Here is her latest.

Contact her at karen@traveldiscounters.ca or 519542-1009

Many deals out there – this place looks nice!

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How are these flight prices even possible? WOW.

Spirit is having a sale today. These prices do expire today.

I mean chances are you’ll still find good prices after today, but this sale is pretty good.

I’ll just post one example but check their website for more!

Detroit to Tampa – $74.46 US or about $100 CDN. ROUND TRIP FOR A WEEK. MOST OF MARCH BREAK.

I don’t know how they do this. Yes people will say customer service is terrible, little legroom, blah blah blah.

These are direct flight to Florida for about $100 CDN round trip.

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