New PointsAway Travel Guide Book just Released

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!!!

Giveaway Time!!!

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!

-Pointspinnacle

(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.)


 

American makes some changes….I don’t really care.

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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?!?!?!

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Save $$$ on your hotel stays with TravelPony.

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.

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Spread the word

Lets check some examples! First up, Chicago.

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RIP Vanilla Reload

Well the day has come.

A day that must come to all good things. The end.  The end of Vanilla Reloads being sold with credit card at CVS!!   RIP!!! What am I going to do without you!? Starting March 31st 2014 it is no longer possible to buy Vanilla Reloads at CVS (with credit card).

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Vanilla Reloads were “my precious”

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Recent points Earning and Burning!!!!

 

As I mentioned earlier I applied for the Citi Executive club card late January/early Feb.  Since then I have had:

  • my spouse apply and get approved for the same offer.
  • received my 110,000 American Airlines miles
  • promptly booked a Cathay Pacific first class award for next year for me and the wife
  • placed a business class award on hold with Qantas for early next year for me and the wife
  • my spouse apply and get approved for the Citi Reserve card

My wife’s 110,000 American Airlines miles should post today or tomorrow and the tickets I have on hold will be ticketed. I did have to buy 4,000 miles (which cost $80) as we were short that amount for the award.

We really need the two Hilton nights for an upcoming trip later this year thus the reason for applying for that card now instead of another 100,000 American miles for the wife. I guess if the offer is around after March we can try for her 2nd card. I guess 300,000 AA miles is enough for now 🙂  I am sure that before this year is over American Airlines is going to devalue the award chart and it just makes sense to get some things on the books now in case that happens.

On the horizon my wife will reapply for the Amex SPG card as she cancelled her last one Feb 2013 and with rumors of Amex changing the rules of being able to get the same bonus twice its best to apply before May 1st it appears!! We may perhaps get a few more Hilton points for our big trip later this year so we may do another card along with the SPG application. The Citi 100k offer is eating up much of my spend and thus my SPG account is the lowest its been in a long time especially after our trip to Mexico and our week at the St. Regis Punta Mita.  So another goal will be beefing our Starwood points over the summer.  I was also hoping the Barclays Lufthansa 50,000 mile offer would pop back up but it has yet to show its face instead offering the inferior 20,000 mile offer. In finishing I look forward to receiving my 2nd 100,000 American Airlines miles in mid April and having that in the bag for some other flights!!

Did any of you jump on the 100,000 American Airline miles offer like we did?!?!! It is a great offer and deal so Im glad we got to take advantage of it!!

-pointspinnacle


 

2013 Year End Review and 2014 plans!

 

Hi everyone!  I hope you all had a great holiday season and I want to wish you all a Happy New Year for 2014!

2013 Recap

Well 2013 was a busy travel year for us! I can’t believe all the trips we took this year! My wife still can’t believe how slow I get through airport security though (lol)!!I am going to recap our travels for the past year.

  • Orlando/The Villages in February
  • Atlanta in April
  • Minneapolis in April
  • Denver in May
  • Bali & Hong Kong in June
  • Boston in August
  • Ireland in September
  • Maui in November/December
  • Atlanta in December

We did not pay normal airfare for any of these flights! All were paid using miles and points and only a few had some minor taxes or fuel surcharges. I also have 1 sick day left for 2013 that I can/will roll over to 2014.

Also in 2013 I was hoping to obtain Starwood Platinum status by getting the 25 stays required.  However I am going to end the year with 15 stays (10 shy!).  It just didn’t work out the way I had planned. In Bali we ended up skipping Starwood altogether as the St Regis was so expensive for just a basic room and the W in Seminyak was a poor points redemption.  So we lost a few stays there. Also in Ireland I was hoping for a stay at the Westin and it was booked for the night we needed. It looks like I really want to hit SPG plat for 2014 I would need to move every hotel stay to SPG or mattress run and I am not sure I really want to do either of those so we shall see.

2014 Plans

So far in 2014 we have a busy scheduled planned out already! Most of my vacation days are already spoken for it appears. I think I have 1 day for wiggle room or emergency day off.  So here are the plans for our destinations for 2014:

 

  • Puerto Vallarta
  • Orlando/The Villages
  • Paris
  • Toronto
  • Koh Samui/Phuket/Bangkok (2 weeks!)
  • Puerto Rico

Hopefully I will be able to add in our annual Atlanta and Minneapolis trips in 2014 for weekend getaways as well. I do hold the Southwest companion pass for 2014 yet however Mrs. PointsPinnacle’s companion pass is expiring tomorrow (12-31-13). If we can squeeze anything else in there for 2014 we will try! I now have 31 days paid time off for 2014 so thats a good amount and I am thankful my employer is generous in that regard.

Once again I hope you all have a great 2014 and I hope you have safe and prosperous travels as well!  Please remember to be thankful for every breathe and go out and see the world and appreciate the beauty of the Earth!

What are your 2014 travel plans?!

-pointspinnacle

p.s.- You can subscribe to my posts below. You will simply get an email letting you know I have posted new content. Thanks!


 

Hello from Maui! Also Admirals club pass winners!

Aloha everyone!!!!!I have been on Maui for the past week!!

ImageGrainy iPhone pic of the Andaz Maui.

The first week at the Andaz Maui at Wailea and last night at the Westin Ka’annapali!  Thus is why my replies and responses have been slower than normal. We have had a great time so far! I will do a full trip report soon. There have been 2 SHARK ATTACKS so far while I have been here and both happen to be within 200 YARDS OF ME!!! CRAZY!! Sadly one was fatal yesterday(Monday Dec 2). My thoughts are with the victims family.

I wanted to announce the AA admirals club winners real quick before getting back to my vacation. The winners are…………(drumroll)…….

Anton G

Megan W

I will contact you guys later in the week to get your information so I can send these out! Congrats!

Thanks everyone! Very soon I am going to post some interesting articles on hotels and getting status. Also plan on getting my Ireland trip report posted in the next week in case anyone is interested in going there! I will make sure to add plenty of pictures! I also may have some more giveaways soon.

-pointspinnacle

 

Happy Birthday PointsPinnalce!

Well I am finally starting my travel blog!!!  Happy birthday to me?!?!

PointsPinnacle will be a blog focusing on using credit card miles and points to travel the world.  I have been fanatically involved in this subculture for about 2 years now and have been able to take some amazing trips.  There are many magical and awe-inspiring places on this earth that we all have the chance to experience.  This blog will showcase how to travel this wonderful world using just minimal cash and credit card miles/points!

I cannot wait to share with you many juicy tidbits on how to take advantage of miles/points. Please be patient as I am still getting setup and organized.  The design and layout will change for the better soon!

Looking forward to sharing information and communicating with you!

Stay tuned!

-PointsPinnacle