I was recently made aware of a great new book (released this week) written by Casey over at PointsAway! He was nice enough to offer me a copy to decide if it was worth sharing with my readers (you). Right now the book is available to download on iBooks, so if you have an iPad or a Mac you can hop on and download it here.
I read over quite a bit of the book over the last 24-36 hours and I could tell there was a lot of time and effort put forth to produce the book! There are 337 pages spread over 26 chapters and it really is thorough! Casey initially talks about his discovery moment (which all of us miles and points junkies have and remember) and what motivated him to travel on the cheap and collect miles and points. From there he really covers it all from Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards and all the other points currencies to the many nuances of the major airline alliances! Not only does the book cover the basics but also some of the sweet spots in the airline award charts and even helps people understand the basics of manufactured spend.
What I like about the book is similar to why I blog which is helping people travel inexpensively and see the world. The book tells you how to get your points and apply them so that you can enjoy the end results (fabulous vacations) similar to how I detail how I paid for my vacations in my trip reports.
If you are a miles and points expert and have been in this “game” for several years and are constantly monitoring the points landscape then some of the information in the book maybe second nature to you by now however I found content that I had either forgot about or flat-out didn’t know so it will be nice to keep as a reference. However if you are just getting started in the miles and points world or your curious and want to get your feet wet I would most definitely say the book is worth it!!!
Casey was nice enough to provide me with two free copies of the book to two lucky people!! I love giving free travel stuff away to my readers!
To win a copy you must simply:
Thats it! I will pick two lucky winners at random. The giveaway will be good through tomorrow (Thursday May 1st at 10pm central time). Please remember at this time the book is available on iBooks so make sure you have access to that. I will provide the winners with a code which they can download a copy for themselves.
Congrats on the book Casey and best of luck in the future! Safe Travels!
(note: I was given a free copy of the book to review. I was not paid or compensated in any other way to write this review. I felt the content was good and want my readers to know the book is solid. As usual all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and not that of anyone else.)
I recently had the wife apply for a few credit cards as she hasn’t had a full on app-o-rama in a while. She did however receive a Citi AAdvantage Executive card in Feb which was a no-brainer! She also got the Hilton Honors Reserve card eight days later. Now it was time to hit some goals for upcoming vacations and to pay some taxes. Lets run through the selections, shall we?
- Chase Freedom– I already have the Chase Freedom card for myself so it was time for my wife to get in on the fun! I was lucky enough to receive a 30,000 sign up bonus back in early 2012. I love the 5% cash back on this card on the rotating categories, the 10,000 Ultimate Reward signup bonus (plus 2500 points when you add an authorized user and they make a purchase within 3 months) and 0% interest for the first 12 months. We had a somewhat large tax bill this year and paying it off on the Freedom cards 0% interest was attractive. This card is a keeper for life since there is no annual fee and it earns quite a decent amount of Ultimate Rewards!! My wife had to call in for approval to clear some security questions however after that she was approved a fairly generous limit.
- SPG American Express– My wife had this card and cancelled it after one year when the annual fee was due in March 2013. Thus it had been over 12 months since canceling and she was eligible for the card and signup bonus again! Right before the new May 1st cutoff which is supposedly limiting AMEX signup bonuses to once a lifetime! Starwood points are probably my all-time favorite points to have. We already received the 10,000 points for her first purchase and will work on the $5000 spend over the next few months (we have 6 months to clear the spend hurdle)! This was an instant approval.
- BOA Virgin Atlantic– (MMS link)- We are building up some Hilton points for a stay at the Conrad Koh Samui so this is one of many cards that fits the bill. This card comes with 20,000 points on first purchase and another 25,000 points after spending $2500 within 3 months. Plus another 5,000 points by adding 2 authorized users. A grand total of 50,000 points which can be transferred to Hilton with a 50% bonus so a total of 75,000 Hilton points. This was an instant approval.
- BOA Alaska Airlines– I threw this one in at the end after debating between this and a Barclays card but the Barclay Lufthansa card that I was waiting for still has that weak bonus offer so I skipped Barclays. It maybe somewhat risky throwing in two BOA cards but my wife doesn’t have a ton of inquiries. We went for this one because the points are given on approval and I didn’t have to worry about a spend requirement. This was not instant approval and in fact has taken two weeks to receive the actual card! This is a highly churnable card which we will apply for again to build up our Alaska miles for a potential Emirates First Class redemption!
From a purely number of points perspective this isn’t a mind-blowing impressive app-o-rama.
12,500 Ultimate Rewards (which will be transferred to United or Hyatt)
25,000 SPG points (will be used for hotel stays or transferred to AA)
75,000 Hilton Points (will be used for a room at Conrad Koh Samui)
25,000 Alaska miles (will hopefully be used for an Emirates First Class award)
However this is decent example of hitting some goals for travel and cards that we have not yet had. When you add this to the two Citi cards she was approved for in February (100,000 AA miles and 190,000 Hilton points) it becomes a great staggered app-o-rama!
What cards have you guys been applying for???
The Blogosphere has been in a tizzy today over recent changes implemented by American Airlines. I admit it would be hard to say the changes are at all positive but after looking over the updates I find myself uninterested. Lets recap some of the changes shall we?
- They increased the price of AAdvantage Standard awards. Standard awards allowed the customer to book a flight/find a seat even if there were no saver award available. If you needed to get to city xyz for a funeral tomorrow there may be no more saver level awards available but you could redeem for an anytime award to get that last seat but for a price. Usually the price was double the saver price. I have NEVER booked a standard award and I NEVER will. So this doesn’t really effect me. I understand it is a nice feature to have in your back pocket and people have taken advantage of that seat where they had to be somewhere and miles be damned.
- They eliminated stopovers at the North American gateway city on AAdvantage awards. I will admit this is a nifty feature and I used it several months ago! I have a stopover in Chicago and 6 months later added a one way in business class to Puerto Rico and if we don’t go I didn’t waste any additional miles. While I would certainly prefer they kept this feature it isn’t a deal breaker to me! I can still pick a destination I want to visit and travel/vacation there. I am not going to kill myself if I can’t hit 2-3 destinations on one 1-way award.
- They raised the miles needed on the US Airways award chart for US to North Asia. US Airways 90,000 mile redemption was their sweetspot in their award chart and I am sure many people took advantage of it. In fact it has been blogged about SOOOOO much that I am surprised they didn’t change the miles needed earlier. Now it is exactly in line with Americans award chart and costs 110,000 miles for the same redemption to North Asia. I basically feel they were very generous with this and decided to make it in line with the American award chart finally, kind of like they closed a loophole. I feel 110,000 US Airways Dividend Miles is still a great value for how easy those miles are to acquire. I would like to add that availability via Cathay Pacific for business class has always been pretty good so this is a fair redemption in my mind. Sometimes we have to look at things from the businesses perspective and I would have done the same thing if I was working for AAdvantage for this change.
- They killed OneWorld Explorer Awards. This is another change that I of course would prefer they not have made but its not a deal breaker to me. I would guess to say, just a small percentage of people enrolled in AAdvantage, and that redeemed miles, took advantage of this. Now I admit many people that are into collecting miles and points and that are reading this blog are in fact the type of people that might try to take advantage of Explorer awards however a vast majority of people haven’t even heard of OneWorld Explorer awards. They can be somewhat difficult to put together for the average flyer. Sure it can save some miles for people looking to hop the globe and hit several destination on one trip and I wish it stayed but its not going to stop me from collecting/earning AA miles.
There are a few other more minor updates that were implemented as well that I won’t get into. If your an AAdvantage member you should be getting an email (although I haven’t as of 6:45pm Tuesday) detailing some of the updates.
What do I care about then?!?!?!
TravelPony is a new(ish) travel site in which you can book hotel rooms at a substantial discount. The catch is sometimes you don’t save money but it almost always worth checking TravelPony when booking a hotel room as many times they are the cheapest option!!
I have used TravelPony recently for a hotel booking and it worked great and saved me quite a bit of cash!! First off when you sign up using a referral link (here is mine) you will get a $35 travel credit which you can apply to your booking! Also recently they have had additional promo codes (I used KATE50, which I believe is expired now) which can really discount the rate! The KATE50 code was for an additional $50 off.
Spread the word
Lets check some examples! First up, Chicago.