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Credit Cards / Chase trying to copy Amex Offers? (on Marriott card)
« on: November 14, 2017, 11:52:12 AM »
I just got an email from Chase:
Earn statement credits and watch the dollars add up!
Register now
Shopping bags
Sign up for Chase Offers to get statement credits when you use your Marriott Rewards Credit Card at popular merchants like these:
Nordstrom logo   Wholefoods Market logo   Regal Cinemas logo
20% back (up to $30) on your purchase1   Spend $25, get $10 back on your purchase2   10% back (up to $50) on your purchase3
Offers expire 12/15/17. 1 redemption per offer activation / account. See terms below.

Looks like they're trying to create their own Amex Offers.


The idea for this trip began, as many of my trips do, in the Next Vacation - Ideas thread.  I asked for suggestions, and after weeding out the cities Iíd already done, I got a suggestions of San Diego/San Francisco and both. If figured those were both good for a few days and I could spend Shabbat in Los Angeles in between.

Once I decided on my destination(s) it was time to figure out how to get there. I (thought I) had an interesting idea, of possibly flying VX using Alaska miles since Alaska allows you a free stopover. I thought Iíd be able to fly VX (not lie-flat) JFK-LAX, then a few days later, fly LAX-SFO on the same ticket for 25k. I know the VX first/business isnít the best product in the world, but since I was flying on a late night flight but not a red-eye, Iíd be able to get a little sleep and then sleep when I got out west. The problem with my plan was that apparently you can only use an Alaska stopover domestically on AS metal, so while AS and VX are theoretically in the process of becoming one airline, this didnít seem to help.

Since my Jetblue mileage run last year, Iíve thought about flying Mint, and figured this was a great chance to do it. I knew, in general availability on transcon flights in business is hard to come by, and surprise surprise, UA and AA had nothing in their lie-flat business for saver availability. DL doesnít have an award chart so Iím not sure what saver availability would be, but I the cheapest I saw JFK-LAX was 115k, thanks. I figured Mint would be my best outbound option. While not cheap at 73.2k, it was the specific redemption I had in mind when I earned the miles so I was ok parting with it. The flight SFO-JFK would have been cheaper but I didnít have enough miles to fly Mint R/T and I didnít have any other options so Mint it was.

When I started looking for the inbound flights out of SFO, my big three options were slim yet again, at least on direct flights. I was able to find a DL flight via BOS for 31,250 FB (which Iím assuming means it had ďsaver availabilityĒ). That flight was Delta One, but it was on the 757, so unfortunately there was no direct aisle access from every seat. My other DL option was shelling out 65k for Delta One on the 767 which is (AFAIK) the only Transcon business where each seat has direct aisle access. I had flown Delta One on the 767 JFK-FCO on my way to Israel a few years ago, and it was nice, but I didnít really wanna spend that much, especially since Iíd be spending over 70k on my Mint flight. I had decided on the SFO-BOS-JFK for ~31k FB.

I thought it might be a good idea to get the Barclays Jetblue Business card for the 10% rebate (plus the 30k signup bonus and 5k anniversary points) to cut down on the Mint cost. I applied for the card which turned out to cause some problems. I didnít get instantly approved, which caused me to delay booking my flights. I applied on a Thursday night, and after being given the runaround by Barclays recon and having to send in some documentation about my Business, I was told it takes 7-10 days to review the docs. That was Monday morning. There was no way I was gonna wait 7-10 days to book my flights so I decided to just book the flights and lose out on the 10% rebate. I checked Jetblue and FB to make sure the flights I wanted were still available, but uh-oh, the DL flight was no longer available. I was pissed as hell since I couldnít think of another option to come home. For a while I toyed with the idea of flying in economy JFK-LAX (I know the horror!) and using my Jetblue miles to fly the red-eye SFO-JFK, but in the end, I didnít want to sit in economy for ~6 hours especially since after landing at LAX Iíd be driving halfway to San Diego and with the time difference my body would think its 3am.

It looked like my trip was dead. Monday night, I get an email from Barclays that I was approved for the card. That was pretty helpful now. Iíd never been so annoyed at having been approved for a credit card.  Now knowing that Iíd be saving 7.2k on Mint flight I was willing to pay a little more for my other flight, if I could find one. I was thinking of even (and to some this might be worse than sitting in economy on a transcon) spending 50k on UA standard, which was on the 757 and didnít have direct aisle access. When thinking maybe Iíll spend 50k I thought, why donít I look to see what AA charges in business and maybe Iíd use my TYP and get 1.6 CPP. I looked and saw that the red-eye SFO-JFK was $808 which would cost ~50k TYP, but it would also be considered a revenue flight so Iíd earn miles. I decided that was the way to go and was ready to book. I looked back at Jetblue to see if the flight to LAX was still available and much to my surprise the price actually dropped from 73.2k to 57.7k (plus Iíd be getting the 10% rebate from Barclays for a  net of 51.9k). I booked the Mint and the AA on the A321. I later booked on the LAX-SFO segment on DL for 5.5k, which turned out to be pretty good value since flights were around ~$110.

After my flights were complete, it was time to start working on hotels. I had a Marriott Cat 1-5 night that was expiring 8/24/17 so I wanted to use that, I also had a Hyatt Cat 1-4 night (not that it was expiring any time soon but I figured I might as well use it), and a Hilton weekend cert that was expiring 11/1/2017.

So hereís what I booked: I decided a good place to stop between LA & SD was Mission Viejo so I used my Marriott cert to book the Fairfield Inn Mission Viejo. I generally have trouble find city hotels that are cat 5 or lower so I was fine with using my cert on a cat 4 here. For San Diego I booked the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina for two nights, one with the anniversary night and one for 15k Hyatt points. I was planning on spending Shabbat in LA with a friend, but for a reason he couldnít explain he could have me for meals but not to sleep so I ended up booking the Beverly Hills Marriott for 40k/night. In SF I used my Hilton weekend night for the Hilton San Francisco Financial District for Sunday night and booked the Sheraton Fisherman's Wharf for the 12k SPG for the other night.


B6 1123 JFK-LAX - 57.7k B6 (plus 10% rebate) - Cash Cost $758.2 - Value 1.45 CPP
DL 2756 LAX-SFO - 5.5k DL - Cash Cost $110.20 - Value 1.9 CPP
AA 276 SFO-JFK - 50,162 TYP - Cash Cost $802.60 - Value 1.6 CPP

Fairfield Inn Mission Viejo - Marriott Cert - Cash Cost $215.32
Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina - 1 Hyatt Cert +15k Hyatt - Cash Cost $599.17 Value - 2CPP
Beverly Hills Marriott - 80k - Cash Cost - $768.21 - Value .96 CPP
Hilton San Francisco Financial District - Hilton Weekend Cert - Cash Cost $313.25
Sheraton Fisherman's Wharf - 12k SPG - Cash Cost $375.46 Value  - 3.13

After all accommodations and travel were booked it was time to figure out what I was gonna do in SD & SF for three days each. I headed to the San Diego Master Thread and saw the wiki was full of suggestions. Balboa Park is listed, but what is unclear about that is that Balboa Park is not just a park, itís a park which includes a number of museums and the San Diego Zoo (not to be confused with the San Diego Zoo Safari Park which is north of the city). My only real problem with planning my SD portion of the trip was that many of the attractions are only open 10a-4p/5p. When youíre limited to 6/7 hours and certain things like the Petco Park tour are at specific times, it can be tough to fit in all youíd like to do.

Trip Reports / The Very Windy City (Three Days in Chicago) May 2017
« on: May 29, 2017, 10:35:28 PM »
Intro and Planning
It all started when I noticed I had a Hyatt anniversary night expiring and a friend nagging me to visit. After reading that sentence youíd think Iíd be using my anniversary night in the city where my friend lives, but youíd be WRONG!
Living in NYC (NYC doesnít have any Hyatt category 1-4 hotels), I was thinking of where I could go for a day or two that isnít too far but would also allow me to get good use of my free (really $75 since itís the only reason I keep the card) night. I had settled on Philly but for a number of reasons (which arenít relevant to this TR) that fell through. This was 5/1/17 and my Hyatt night was expiring 5/14/17. I figured since the night is book by not stay by, I can just plan something for a few weeks away. Apparently I was wrong, and the anniversary night is check-out by not book by.
[Side note about the Hyatt anniversary night (and possibly the sign up night). The website is very misleading, as long as you have a free night available in your account, it will show as bookable for any standard room regardless of date or category. Meaning if your anniversary night expires 5/1 and youíre look to book a hotel for 5/15 it will show as available but will fail once you try to complete the booking (and it wonít tell you why). I found this very confusing and it almost cost me my free night.  End of rant]
Getting back to the TR. I have a friend in St. Louis who keeps nagging me to come visit. So I thought to myself, ďI have this expiring anniversary night, why donít I go to STL for Shabbat, then fly somewhere else for a few days.Ē One great thing about STL is that itís relatively centrally located and (supposedly) no more than a 4.5 hour flight to anywhere in the contiguous United States.
I decided on Chicago. I figured it was a short flight from STL and while I had been there a few times, I had never actually explored the city. I knew there were plenty of things to do and plenty of quality Kosher food.   
Once I decided on a destination, it was a matter of trying to book flights. Obviously the cheapest option would be 7.5k Avios from LGA-STL another 7.5k Avios STL-ORD and another 7.5k Avios ORD-LGA, but with the sad state that is AA availability, finding one flight with SAAver availability is no easy task, let alone three. Since my Hyatt night was expiring 5/14 it had to be this weekend, so I had to take a shot.
Before I looked for award availability, I figured it wouldnít hurt to see how much cash tickets would cost. Not surprisingly flights from NYC to STL and STL to ORD were pretty expensive (~$230 NYC-STL, and ~$365 STL-ORD). Surprisingly, (maybe not so surprisingly considering the number of flights AA has) AA flights ORD-LGA were pretty cheap ~$110, and since I have the Citi Prestige I can redeem TYP for 1.6 CPP for flights on AA. Especially since there was no SAAver availability, I figured my 1.6 CPP on AA with my TYP was a good deal.
After seeing that revenue flights were not a reasonable option (as I had predicted) I started searching for award tickets. My first choice would have obviously been 7.5k Avios on AA but going out of NYC those flights are hard to find, and there was nothing available Thursday night or Friday morning. (After I had booked I later saw a 1:25p flight out of LGA opened up, but flying out of LGA on a Friday afternoon is not a gamble Iíd like to take.) Deltaís flexible award chart generally means that last minute tickets are gonna be expensive and this was no exception. If I recall correctly, the cheapest flights LGA-STL were 32.5k, no thanks. My last option was United. I had thought about transferring SPG or MR to Aeroplan and booking a multi-city award ticket (which if I understand the system correctly would have given me two flights for the price of one) but since United flies to STL out of EWR and I wanted to fly into LGA, the system wouldnít let me create that award ticket since they require you to depart and arrive from the same airport. Anyway, I found UA had a flight out of EWR Thursday night which worked out pretty well for 12.5k, the only issue was that since I was booking within 21 days (within 3 days actually), Iíd have to pay a $75 close-in. But then I remembered there were ways to ďtake care of that,Ē (ways which as I write this TR are no longer available, at least not online) so that flight would work perfectly.
Now that I had my NYC-STL and ORD-NYC flights booked it was time to find the STL-ORD leg. AA has a bunch of flights and I was lucky enough that there was SAAver availability, sadly it was only on the 5a, 6:10a, and 7:19a flights. 7:19a it was. I kept checking (until sat night to see if a later flight would open up, but nothing did).
To recap my flights:
EWR-STL 12.5k UA + $5.60, Cash cost: $364.20, Value: 2.87 CPP
STL-ORD 7.5k BA + $5.60, Cash cost: $229.20 Value: 2.98 CPP
ORD-LGA 6,324 + $5.01, Cash cost: $106.20 Value: 1.6 CPP
Now onto the accommodations. In STL I spend Shabbat by my friend so there was no need for a hotel, he was even willing to drive me to the airport (about 10 mins from his house) so I didnít have to get a hotel for the early morning flight. Since this trip was planned basically so I could use my Hyatt anniversary night, I looked to see what Cat 4 Hyatts there were in Chicago, I found 2 Hyatt Places and the Hyatt Regency Chicago. Iíve had good experiences with Hyatt Regency in the past and while I donít think Hyatt Places are bad hotels, I donít see them as ďfancyĒ hotels, I figured Iíd use the free night for Sunday and points (15k) for Monday night. Much to my disappointment, there was a major conference going on and there were no standard rooms available Monday night and I didnít really feel like paying $200+ for a second night in the hotel, so I set off to find a place to stay Monday night. I knew my IHG anniversary night was expiring soon too, so I went to see what IHG hotels there were in the area. I saw that thereís an Intercontinental, but that wasnít available Monday night, but there was a Crowne Plaza. It was available and I booked it, a decision I would not regret.
Once my flights and accommodations were set, it was time to figure out what I was gonna do while I was in Chicago. As much as Iíd like to be sometimes, Iím not the kind of person who can just veg out at the pool or beach (especially Chicago isnít really the place for that), so I needed to find things to see and do. My parents went to Chicago last year and they found this pass called the GoChicagoCard (GoCard). Itís similar to CityPass but it includes many more things and itís available in 1, 2, 3, or 5 day passes. Looking at it, it covered most of the things I was interested in doing and I picked it up. The 3 day pass was $165.
The next complicated aspect of planning was deciding if I should rent a car or not. When I first looked, most car rentals were in the $150-$200 range. Add the $67+tax at the Hyatt and $49+tax at the Crowne Plaza for parking, and i was looking at ~$300-$350 for the car, hotel parking and gas, and that doesnít even include what it would cost me to park at whatever attractions I went to. The decision leaned heavily in Uberís favor. The night before I left, I found a car for about $110 which still would have made it $200-$250 for the whole auto expense and I figured Iíd still beat that with Uber.
With that decision made, it was time to finally actually go. I guess the one good thing about planning a vacation so quickly is that you donít have that anxious time leading up to the vacation, because 54 hours after booking my first flight, I was in the air.

Valid 5/1/17-5/15/17.
Most GCs are 20% off, ebay is only 10%, sephora is only 5% off.

20% OFF
1-800 Flowers
BJ's Restaurant Brewhouse
Buca di Beppo
Crate & Barrel
Famous Footwear
Lucille's Smokehouse Bar-B-Q
Regal Entertainment Group
TGI Fridays

10% OFF

5% OFF

Deals/Deal Requests / $20 off $100+ Stubhub With Visa Checkout
« on: April 19, 2017, 09:38:13 AM »
$20 off $100+ Stubhub With Visa Checkout
Offer valid thru 5/8/17, while supplies last. Discount code VISACHECKOUT20. 1/person. See full terms below.
Online offer valid on a single purchase thru 5/8/17 (11:59 P.M. PT) or while supplies last. Discount will be applied to a qualifying purchase of $100 or more when you select Visa Checkout as your payment method and enter the discount code VISACHECKOUT20. Offer only available in the U.S. Limit 1 offer per customer. The offer cannot be applied to previous purchases or to purchases of StubHub gift cards, and can't be combined with any other offers or discount. Visa and Stubhub may cancel or suspend this offer and any transaction associated with the cardholder's name, email address or account and close any associated Visa Checkout accounts at any time with immediate effect and without written notice, if Visa or Stubhub determines that a cardholder has engaged in fraudulent activity or breached the terms and conditions. Offer is non-transferable, void where prohibited, not redeemable for cash, and has no cash value. We may terminate this promotion at any time without notice.

You've received this email at because you have signed up for email promotions and special offers from Visa Checkout.

© 2017 Visa. All Rights Reserved. Visa Inc. 900 Metro Center Blvd, Foster City, CA 94404-2172

Trip Reports / (Not) Born on the Bayou: Big Apple Meets the Big Easy
« on: December 13, 2016, 03:39:44 PM »
Intro - Pre-Trip
I donít remember how exactly I came up with the idea to go to New Orleans. If I recall correctly I was looking at the DDF Master Thread Of Master Threads: Links To 125+ Destination Threads! and I wanted to find somewhere different and more importantly not cold. I settled on NOLA (New Orleans -NO, Louisiana-LA) and then the research began.

I headed over to the NOLA thread and found a few small TRs but nothing big. I was planning on going Sunday-Thursday and the 2 TRs I saw were shorter than that so I headed to TripAdvisor to try and find other things to do.  I made a list and then the time came to start looking at flights and hotel options. I saw that AA doesnít fly direct from NYC to MSY so use of Avios was out of the question. I saw on UA they only fly out of EWR (a pain from Queens) and I looked at the ITA Matrix and saw that cash flights were relatively cheap. I found a DL flight in basic economy for only $177 R/T but with basic economy I wouldnít be able to upgrade to Delta Comfort or pick my seat in advance, which I planned on doing with my Ritz card. So I paid the extra $20 and booked a regular main cabin seat for $197 and use my Ritz card to upgrade to Delta Comfort.

This would be my first time sitting in Delta Comfort and let me tell you, for the extra $10 I paid, it was well worth it. The amount of legroom was huge. The entertainment system was a huge plus since I was having issues with my Kindle.

After booking and upgrading my flight it was time to look at hotels.  I looked at hotels, Hyatt, SPG, Marriott, Hilton and IHG, and nothing seemed to be really worth using points. The cash rates were either low enough or the points rates were way too high. I also figured that since I was going to be staying 4 nights I could use my Prestige and get the 4th night free. I was looking at the Citi ThankYou travel site (not realizing these werenít the same prices as the Prestige 4th night rates) and I saw the Hyatt Regency New Orleans for $411.85. Comparing that to the $204 a night pre-tax on I figured it was a mistake and I should book it immediately. I called the Prestige # only to find out that the ThankYou travel rates werenít the same as the Prestige :(.  Figuring I wouldnít be able to beat a rate of $103/night I booked the ThankYou Travel room.

Once I got the confirmation I called Hyatt to add it to my HGP account so I could earn points and hopefully apply a DSU. Apparently, 3rd party bookings arenít considered ďeligible ratesĒ and therefore arenít eligible for point accrual or DSU. They wouldnít even let me add it to my HGP account so that I could receive my Diamond benefits such as best (non-suite) room upon check-in and free breakfast. I tweeted at Hyatt and they confirmed that I should have been eligible for the benefits. Not wanting to fight with them I decided to let it go for now and Iíd either live without Kosher breakfast and hopefully be able to get the best room at check-in or deal with it later.

As it got closer to the trip I kept checking the rates at both the Hyatt Regency and the Hyatt Centric French Quarter (formerly Hyatt French Quarter). I saw they had a special rate, which required a minimum two day stay (not a problem for me since Iíd be there for four nights) and a first night deposit. That second part was an issue for me. I saw the rate on which means I should have been able to book it with the Prestige, but I didnít want to book it, pay for the first night and run into the 3rd party booking issues.  About a week before my trip, I saw that special rate drop to $129/night and I then remembered that I had the Hyatt Amex Offer which would save me $60 on every $200. Since with taxes the total would come out to just under $600 that meant that Iíd save $120 or about $30 less than Iíd save with the Prestige and I didnít have to worry about any 3rd party booking issues. I made the reservation, called Hyatt to apply the DSU and I was set with only a few days left until my trip. Thatís when I started to check the weather.  That made things interestingÖ.More on that later.

Don't worry, the rest of the TR is written, I just need to put the finishing touches on it. They'll be up soon.

Make at least three successful purchases before October 14 with Samsung Pay with an eligible credit or debit card to get free $5 Dunkin Donuts gift card!


Save 20% on Children's Place, Famous Footwear, Gap Options, JCPenny,, Panera Bread, Regal Entertainment Group, Spafinder Wellness 365, & TGI Fridays.

I assume that supplies of each gift card are limited at the discounted price like they were last time a promo like this came around.

Deals/Deal Requests / Starbucks & Lyft Partner
« on: August 10, 2016, 08:13:16 PM »
Per DoC

You should be able to get 5x on Lyft by buying GCs at Starbucks. Plus you'll get a $5 Starbucks GC when you buy a $20 Lyft GC.

Make 3 qualifying purchases between 7/12/16 and 7/31/16 and get a free $10 Amazon GC. See app for details.

Deals/Deal Requests / Targeted eBay Bucks 3x (6%)
« on: June 14, 2016, 01:19:24 PM »
Flash sale until 6pm PT
Purchases over $50

General Discussion / How to Track Gift Card Resale
« on: June 01, 2016, 03:36:56 PM »
I've recently gotten into the gift card resale game and I'm trying to figure out how to best track it.

It gets a little tricky because I sometimes buy these gift cards with eBay gift cards that I've purchased at a discount. While I would generally treat them as cash, technically they are inventory so I don't think I can use a program like Quickbooks because I don't think you can purchase inventory with other inventory.

I want to track my cost, rebates (be they Amex offers, cash back, & or eBay Bucks), sales price, buyer, and total profit (preferably by item).

Any ideas on the best way to do it would be greatly appreciated.


Deals/Deal Requests / (Targeted) 4x eBay Bucks
« on: May 23, 2016, 01:46:53 PM »
8x (8%) eBay Bucks on purchases $100+


Up In The Air / Virgin America 1 Day Sale Fares from $38 OW
« on: October 20, 2015, 11:59:26 AM »

As with all trips, this began with planning. To some of you this is the fun part (for the life of me I donít get it), for me its the nerve racking part. First was deciding where to go.  I ended up with Vancouver because I was thinking Seattle and then I started thinking about how far Vancouver was from Seattle. Then I remembered reading Mrs. AJKís Vancouver TR and (Part II) and I had heard other places that it was a nice place so I figured it was worth looking into and I decided it would be the place to go.

Next up is getting there. After the (somewhat) recent BA deval the CX flight, JFK-HKG which stops in YVR, wasnít as much of a deal as it used to be, and since I had decided I was going to splurge for first it would have been 50k with BA O/W, but I found out that it would actually be cheaper with AA, at only 32.5k, and for 17.5k less it was a pretty easy decision to go with AA. The only thing holding me back was that I had transferred a bunch of MR to BA during the 40% bonus so the 50k it would have cost me with BA only cost me about 35.7k which would have only be a difference of 3.2k. But I figured Iíd still go with AA, which turned out to be an even better decision that I had originally thought.

After I booked it, I noticed that there were more miles in my AA account than there should have been and I saw that I got a 10% rebate from my Barclays AAdvantage Aviator (formerly US Air Dividend Miles Card), so the savings ended up being 8,250 (not my only credit card related points rebate of the trip).

As some of you may be wondering, 32.5k is only one way, what about the way back, about that... I didnít really wanna spend Shabbat in Vancouver so I was looking for a redeye home Thursday night, for all the weeks I looked, I didnít find any that had availability in F in one direction and or J in the other. Not wanting to give up I decided that I would make it a multi-city trip and that I would spend the weekend and fly home from LA. There was no avios availability YVR-LAX Thursday night so I was left booking a relatively cheap ($148.88) AC flight Thursday night.

For the trip home I booked a business saver ticket on United to EWR for 25k UA. Sadly the LAX-EWR donít usually have lie-flat seats like they do LAX-JFK but since it was my first business experience I figured it would be ok, and better than a redeye in economy (or so I thought).

Now that all of my flights, which I have always seen as the hardest part of traveling, were taken care of it was time to research Vancouver and LA and decide how to spend my time. For this step I used TRs from other DDFers and Tripadvisor.

As disorganized as the rest of my life is, I like to plan out my vacations to the minute. So as I did with my vacation to Washington DC I made an excel sheet with all my plans scheduled down to the minute (with some wiggle room because things never work out perfectly).

And so it beginsÖ

[Iíve got the rest of the TR written up, I just have to play with it a little to get the formatting down and add in the pics. So this wonít be one of those TRs where you have to wait days, weeks, or even months to get to the next chapter.]

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