$25 Free Hotel Credit with HotelEngine.com - Act Fast!

Great opportunity to receive $25 free hotel credit with hotelengine.com. Hotel Engine is a new hotel booking site that is still in Beta. They are offering a referral program that gives $25 free credit for anyone who is referred to sign up. The referrer gets $25 when the referred makes their first booking with the site.

Many bloggers are posting about this deal. I have a different twist on Hotel Engine. You can get multiple $25 free credits. You can first sign up with my link. Then use your own referral link to refer yourself with a different email address. Don't have a second email address? No problem. If you have a google account, you can just add a period plus other characters to the beginning of your email address. Google sees it as the same email address. So if your email address is johndoe@gmail.com you could use 1.johndoe@gmail.com. Continue the same process of referring yourself and get as many $25 sign up bonuses as you want.

As you start to use the $25 credits from your referred accounts, the referrer account will receive the additional $25 after a booking is completed. You can earn $50 per account!

The website only includes hotels in the USA for now. Might change in the future. So you can only book hotels within the USA. Also, there is a $50 minimum purchase before taxes in order to use the full $25 credit. So for a cheap hotel you are looking at a maximum of a 50% discount, but likely less because of the taxes.

This worked for a while with Travel Pony, but got restricted to a $200 minimum purchase in order to use the free credit after so many people signed up. Get on this deal quick before it disappears. Make sure to use my referral link to get $25 hotel credit with Hotel Engine.

First seen at Extreme Hotel Deals

[DEAD] $14 OFF All Hotel Bookings Regardless of Price - ACT FAST!

Right now you can sign up with TopCashBack shopping portal and earn $14.00 cash back on every booking with Booking.com. This method for earning $14.00 cashback by linking to Booking.com through the TopCashBack shopping portal has recently hit the blogging world. I don't expect this deal to last very long.

TopCashBack is a website that offers cashback for retail purchase just for linking through to the site through their cashback portal. TopCashBack shares the referral commissions that they receive from the retailers and passes some of that on to you.

With this deal it is possible to get free or almost free hotel nights in certain parts of the world where accommodation is very cheap. This would include Southeast Asia, parts of South America, and Eastern Europe.

There is no minimum spending or minimum number of nights. It will take several weeks before the cashback is deposited into your account.

This will only work the US Booking.com site. In order to get in on this deal first sign up with TopCashBack. Then search for Booking.com within the TopCashBack site. Link through to Booking.com and book your reservation. In order to get the most out of this deal you will want to make multiple single night bookings so that you will receive $14 for each booking.

If you want to learn more about cashback portals check out my earlier post on the subject.

Happy shopping!

First seen at Extreme Hotel Deals.

How to Get Cheap United Club Lounge Passes

Access to the United Club Lounges costs $50 per person if you show up at a United Club Lounge and want to buy admission. I don't know why anyone would actually pay $50 to enter the lounge and I doubt there are very many people that do.

There are a number of ways to get access to United Club Lounges. You could apply for the Chase United MileagePlus Club Card Visa. This credit card gives you access to all United Club Lounges. But this credit card comes with a hefty $395 annual fee which is NOT waived for the first year. No thank you.

Those that apply for the Chase United Explorer Credit Card receive 2 free United Club Lounge passes every year. This will get you two passes, and this is actually a great credit card to apply for. The bonus is temporarily increased to 50,000 points over the regular 30,000 bonus points.

Because the Chase United Explorer Credit Card offers two free United Club Lounge passes is part of the reason you can come by United Club Lounge passes very cheaply. Where? Ebay!

There are many of the United Club Lounge vouchers available on Ebay. The prices vary, but the closer the vouchers are to their expiration date, the cheaper they sell for. I have been able to buy United Club Lounge passes on Ebay for as cheap as $10 each. To find them just go to Ebay and search "United Club Pass." Make sure you are aware of the expiration date.

If you have trip planned that you know has a long layover in an airport that has a United Club Lounge then this could be a great option. The top price I am willing to pay is about $13. The United Club Lounge offers free alcoholic beverages (limited choices) and complimentary snacks. You will also have access to free wifi.

For a list of United Club Lounge locations look here.

[EXPIRED] Free Hotel Rooms with Hotels.com - Seriously !! Act Quick

Holy Crap! I think this is possibly the best hotel deals I have ever seen! This is not a joke!  Right now Hotels.com  is offering amazing coupon codes that will pretty much bring your cost down to $0 for a night stay. The discount applies to 3,4, and 5 star hotels only.

You get:
  • 3 Star Hotels - $30 Off with coupon code 3STARUS
  • 4 Star Hotels - $40 Off with coupon code 4STARUS
  • 5 Star Hotels - $50 Off with coupon code 5STARUS
This deal is available to book only until August 31, 2014 for stays between 8/15/14 and 12/31/14. So the deal is available for hotel bookings until the end of the year, but you only have until 8/31/14 to make your reservation.

If you want to get the best value from the coupon codes to get almost free rooms, visiting certain destinations such as Las Vegas, Southeast Asia, Middle East, and Eastern Europe. You will only have to pay the taxes. I found many rooms available for only $1 - $5 per night.

In order to maximize the deal you will want to make single night bookings only. If you want to stay at the same place more than one night just make multiple bookings for the same place.

To add the coupon code. Do a hotel search for the area you want to stay. I usually search from price low to high and include only the 3,4, and 5 star hotels. Select Book now for the hotel you want to look at, then select book room. You will see a place to enter the coupon code on the right hand side before you have to enter any personal information.

The terms of the offer restrict the hotels to only participating Best Rate Guarantee hotels, but from my experience most of the hotels offered on Hotels.com  are in this category.

If you plan to stay multiple nights I assume you could just book many single night bookings one after the other.

Right now I am so mad at myself that I am working right now and not out traveling! This deals means I could get three and four star hotels for almost free until the end of the year!

If you have anything to add, please leave a comment.

Original posting courtesy of Extreme Hotel Deals.

I Made a Mistake While Trying to Collect Miles

I have been doing some research lately around investing and return on investment. Back in March I signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act because my current job did not provide health insurance.

When you complete your application you are given a subsidy amount that is calculated based on your income. You can choose how much of the subsidy you want the government to pay directly for your health insurance. Thinking I was being smart I opted to not accept any of the subsidy that I am likely to receive to help pay for health insurance now. Instead, I will receive all of the subsidy that I am eligible for when I do my taxes in January 2015. I did this because my health insureance premium is $333 per month and I can use a mileage earning credit card to pay for it. The way I looked at it, I was able to make 2,997 points from my health insurance premiums. If I had take the subsidy each month then I would have to pay less up front but I would receive much fewer miles. Even with my Barclays Arrival Plus credit card which gives 2.22% back for travel credits I would receive $66.53 worth of statement credits for travel.

What I failed to consider is that the federal government does not pay interest on the money that it holds for your. If I would have invested the $333 per month into the stock market assuming an 8% long term return over the 9 month period from April to December I would have made around $100 in compounded interest. So I gave this up in return for only $66.53 in credit card rewards.

Tomorrow I am going to try to figure out how to get the subsidy paid every month so I can keep more money in the bank. Before you make any decision regarding earning miles and points you have to consider the opportunity cost. In this case I did not consider the opportunity cost of have my funds tied up for 9 months without receiving any interest.

Earn Extra Money on Your Next International Flight as a Mule!

I recently stumbled upon the BackPack website. BackPack acts as the intermediary for people who fly internationally and want to bring products with them to sell in a different country.

It works like this: You go to BackPack and list the date and destination of your international flight. People wanting products from your home country contact you with specifics about what products they want to buy. You buy these products and carry them in your luggage on your flight. You meet up with the person once you arrive and they pay you directly for the products with you making a profit.

I have heard of this kind of thing being very lucrative especially with high end electronics like cell phones, tablets, laptops, etc... This is because some countries have very high import taxes and limited availability of certain high end electronic devices. This could work well if you were traveling right after Apple released its newest iphone or ipad.

Bringing in products to sell in another country isn't exactly legal. You run the risk of having the products confiscated or taxed on your arrival. Proceed with caution. Obviously, you would want to do some research about the legality of bringing in products to a particular country before giving it a trying. I'm going to post by next upcoming international flight on BackPack and see what kind of responses that I get. I'll report back what I find. In the meantime, if you have an international flight planned, sign up, post your flight, and let me know your experience.

Do NOT Cancel Your Old Credit Cards Unless You Have to!

One of the mistakes that many people new to the miles and points game make is to cancel their old credit cards too soon or unnecessarily.

There are many misconceptions when it comes to understanding ones credit score. One of those misconceptions is how cancelling a credit card will effect your credit score.

Some people think that having to many open credit cards will adversely effect their credit score. This is simply not true, and in most cases, the more credit cards you have the better off your credit score will be. This is because a major factor (30%) of your credit score is credit utilization. This is the amount you currently spend on credit cards compared to your total available credit.

In general it is a good idea to keep your credit utilization below 10% of your total available credit.

If you cancel a credit card, your total available credit will decrease which will increase your credit utilization and may decrease your credit score. Obviously, if you cancel a credit card with a low credit limit it will have a smaller effect than cancelling a credit card with a larger credit limit. If you already have very low credit utilization and high credit limits, then canceling one credit card that makes up less than 10% of your total credit limit is unlikely to adversely effect your credit score very much.

Another factor making up 15% of your FICO credit score is length of credit history. In the short term cancelling a credit card will have no effect on the length of credit history. Even closed accounts stay on your credit report for up to 10 years. But, many credit card issuers will remove record of old closed credit card accounts sooner than 10 years. Once the history is removed your credit score will no longer reflect this older account which may reduce your credit score. This is another reason to NOT cancel a credit card unless you must.

There are several good reasons to cancel a credit card:
  • You are unable to avoid paying the upcoming annual fee
  • You want to churn the same credit card again in the future and collect more points
  • You have too many personal credit cards with one credit card issuer and you cannot get any more credit cards until one is cancelled

First, I do not like to pay annual fees on credit cards, but I rarely have to. That is because I am able to get retention offers just by calling and saying that I am considering cancelling the card. I recently called to cancel my Citi Platinum Aadvantage card because the $85 fee was due. I was offer $95 statement credit and 2x points on the first $1,000 in purchase for the next 12 months. Of course I kept the card!

Another example: The $95 fee was due on my Chase Ink Bold card. I called to cancel because I was aware that there may be a retention offer available. I was told that there were no retention offers available to me. I said I would wait to decided if I wanted to cancel the card. I called back three days later and was offered 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 in 3 months. I said yes to keeping the card. Spending $5,000 is not a problem for me because of the amount of manufactured spending that I do.

So before you cancel a credit card to avoid paying the annual fee. Call to see if a retention offer is available first. If you think you should be eligible and a retention bonus is not offered, hang up and call again a few days later. As a last resort cancel the card to avoid paying the fee.

Check out these Flyertalk links to see what retention offers are available for your credit cards:

Sometimes you may want to cancel a credit card because you want to churn the credit card again to get the sign up bonus again. This use to be a very common strategy. It was well known that you could sign up for the Bank of America Alaska Airlines credit card, receive the bonus miles, cancel the card, wait three months, sign up again, and receive the bonus again. This is getting harder and harder to do as many credit card companies are catching on to this and only allowing one sign up bonus.

Another reason to cancel a credit card is because you have too many personal credit cards and are not able to sign up for more until one is canceled. I know that Chase only allows a person to have five personal credit cards at one time. If you have reached this maximum you will have to cancel one credit card in order to sign up for another.

If you cannot avoid the annual fee and cannot get a retention offer, and decide to go ahead with cancelling a credit card; make sure to first transfer all of the credit limit from the card you are going to cancel to another credit card with the same credit card issuer (if you have another credit card with the same issuer). If you transfer the credit limit to a different card, you will mitigate the effect that reducing your total credit limits will have on your credit score.

What Credit Cards Do I Currently Have Open?

I was doing some review the other day trying to figure out how many credit cards I currently have open right now. I have 13 open rewards credit cards. I have had many others, but I have since closed those credit cards. From these credit cards, I earned 645,000 points. These are not necessarily the top credit cards. There are many great credit card offers. Remember, before applying for any new credit cards, ensure that you are getting the best offer available.

They are:

Chase Ink Bold - 50,000 Ultimate Rewards Points. Rumor of a 70,000 points offer

Chase IHG Rewards Club Select - 80,000 points, currently only 60,000. may be better offer available

Chase British Airways Visa - 50,000 points

Barclays Arrival Plus World Elite - 40,000 points

US Bank Club Carlson Premier Rewards - 85,000 points

US Bank Club Carlson Business Rewards - 85,000 points

US Bank LANPASS Visa Signature - 30,000 points, currently only 20,000 points

Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Signature - 25,000 points

Bank of America Alaska Airlines Business - 30,000 points, currently only 25,000

Citi Platinum Select Aadvantage World MasterCard - 50,000 points

Citi Business Aadvantage World MasterCard - 50,000 points

Citi Executive Aadvantage World Elite Mastercard - 100,000 points currently only 50,000. May be better offer available.

Earn 5,000 Air Miles with Rocket Miles on Your First Hotel Stay

Rocketmiles is a hotel booking site that offers bonus miles for booking through their site. If you work it right, there is the possibility of earning up to 5,000 miles from a single night stay.

The first thing to note is that Rocketmiles does not list budget hotels. Rooms offered are 3 Star or better with rates starting at over $100 per night. That said even if you are a budget traveler it could make sense to use Rocketmiles one time because of the first use incentives of earn 5,000 miles for a single night stay.

Rocketmiles allows you to choose which airline you want to earn miles with and they have a large selection of miles partners including:

This is how it works to get 5,000 miles for your first night stay. Sign up with my referral link and you will get 1,000 bonus miles for your first booking. Then use this link to get an additional 3,000 bonus miles (only for first time users). On top of this you will get 1,000 miles for the reservation.

You receive 1,000 miles per night, so if you book two nights you would receive an additional 1,000 miles.

Using this method you would receive 5,000 points for your first night. Traveling with a partner? If you are traveling with a partner and want to stay more than one night then one of you can earn 6,000 points for the first night and the other person can earn 5,000 points for the second night. Just book the consecutive nights under your two different names and accounts.

The both people will get the 5,000 bonus miles. Also the first person can sign up with my referral link, receive 1,000 bonus points, then refer their partner to receive an extra 1,000 bonus points.

If you are planning on a three or more night stay, use this link to collect 5,000 United miles for your first booking. You will also receive the referral bonus and at least 1,000 miles per night. With this link you could earn 9,000 United miles for a three night stay.

If you have a one, two, or three night stay coming up, it may be worth it to splurge a little and collect extra miles while with Rocketmiles. more info

50,000 Miles for the Chase MileagePlus Explorer Credit Card with $50 Statemen Credit

For now until 9/2/14 Chase is offer the Chase MileagePlus Explorer Visa Signature card with 50,000 bonus points instead of the regular 30,000 bonus points. You will also get a $50 statement credit as well. If you were thinking of signing up for a new credit card this could be a great option.

The Chase MileagePlus Explorer Visa Signature card comes with:

  • 50,000 points after $2,000 in purchases in first 3 months
  • $50 Statement Credit
  • Free Checked Bag
  • Priority Boarding
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 5,000 bonus points for add an authorized user
So after making the $2,000 minimum spend and adding an authorized user you would have 57,000 United miles. That is enough for two round trip domestic flights.

The Chase MileagePlus Explorer Visa Signature was one of the first credit cards I applied for when entering the miles and points hobby. I used these miles for a one way trip from the USA to Bangkok.

Ridiculously Cheap Cruises as low as $129 for 4 Days

I never really considered taking a cruise. I always thought of cruises as an expensive option when compared to independent budget travel. I stumbled upon the Vacations to Go website and specifically the 90 Day Ticker. I was very surprised by how affordable many of the cruises were. I find that in many cases the cost of the cruise is much cheaper than what you could traveling independently for the same period. Many cruises are less than $50 per day per person. In many locations such as Alaska, the Caribbean, or Mediterranean transportation, food, and accommodation are likely to add up to a lot more than $50 per day per person.

I found rates as low as $129 for a 4 day cruise.

Note you will have to sign up by email before you can view the cruises at Vacations to Go. And no I do not get any affiliate commissions for any of the links in this post.

The 90 Day Ticker as the name would suggest shows all of the cruises departing within the next 90 days. This is where the best deals are found. Obviously the short time frame does not work for some people, but if you have the flexibility to just up and go with less than three months or even one month notice you can score some really cheap cruises.

Another of my favorite links at Vacations to Go is the Re-positioning Cruises. Re-positioning cruises occur at the end of a cruise season when a ship is moved from one region to another. I have found many great deals leaving Florida in the spring traveling to Europe. Many of these trips can be had for around $50 per day per person. In some cases, it would be cheaper to take the re-positioning cruise than to pay for a one way flight.

If you are willing to look into it, you could reasonably travel on a re-positioning cruise from one part of the world to another for less than the cost of the flight to the same destination.

Remember that the cruise package covers all of your food on board. If you want alcoholic beverages they cost extra. In my experience, I have just brought my own alcohol on board with me. The cruise line will tell you that you are not allowed to, but it is not illegal. Just bring it on with your luggage when you first get on. Keep it out of sight in your room and you won't have any problems.

A few examples of the cheap cruises that I found:

$299   7 Day Alaska Cruise - Anchorage to Vancouver, BC, Canada  8/11/14
That is only $43 per day

$569   8 Day Australia Cruise - Sydney to Sydney  11/11/14
That is only $72 per day

$129    4 Day Bahamas Cruise - Miami to Miami  9/22/14
Only $33 per day

$219   7 Day Caribbean Cruise - Puerto Rico to Puerto Rico  8/17/14
Only $32 per day.

$529    11 Day Re-positioning Cruise - Copenhagen to Miami  10/6/14
Only $48 per day.

If you have any comments, please feel free to leave them below. I love hearing from readers.

Meeting Minimum Spending Requirement Plus Make $25 with Lending Club

I recently stumbled upon Lending Club, a peer to peer lending site. Lending Club totes itself as the leading platform for investing in and obtaining personal loans. Basically you can loan money to others for a return depending on the risk of the particular loan. You can loan as little as $25 per loan. Your lending is combined with the lending of other users to fulfill the whole loan amount. The helps to diversify the risk.

The benefit to those who want to manufacture spend is the ability to initially fund your Lending Club account with up to $5,000 using Paypal with a credit card. Once you have funded your account you will have to invest the funds before you can withdraw the funds again. In general you are looking at a 6 month minimum investment, so this is only for those that want to invest and want to diversify their portfolio. As an added benefit, I found a link that offers a 1% bonus if you deposit $2,500 or more and fully invest in loans. You could invest the full $5,000 with a credit card and receive a $50 bonus.

For more information, this FlyerTalk Thread about meeting minimum spending using Lending Club is a great resource.

If you are interested in other methods of investing using a credit card check out my previous post:

How to Meet Minimum Spending on Credit Cards with Loyal3

IHG Hotel Point Breaks

IHG stands for Intercontinental Hotels Group. IHG Point Breaks
Last Week, IHG (Intercontinental Hotel Group) released its newest list of Point Breaks. Point Breaks are a selection of hotels that can be had for just 5,000 points per night. Many of these hotels regularly cost 30,000 points.

You may not be aware of the IHG rewards program, but the Point Breaks can be a great reason to sign up for Chase IHG Rewards Club Visa credit card. 
The Chase IHG Rewards Club Visa credit card is often touted as one of the best hotel credit cards available.

I was able to use my points on Point Breaks for a four night stay in at the Intercontinental Mendoza in Mendoza, Argentina. I visited with my parents for four nights. We had two different rooms. The cost was just 5,000 Priority Club points per night. The regular points rate is 25,000 points per night. Over the four night stay in two rooms we saved 140,000 points by paying just 40,000 points total for the two rooms for four nights versus 200,000 points. We also received free breakfast for all of us because of the IHG Platinum status that came with the Chase IGH Rewards Club Select Visa credit card.

If you wanted to maximize the points you received from the Chase IHG Rewards  Club Select Visa credit card and only use them for Point Breaks, you could get 12 free nights from this one credit card.

There are many other good value hotels in the IHG program. This winter I am planning on a ski vacation to Whistler, BC. There is a HolidayInn that only charges 15,000 points per night for a suite.

This website shares how you can buy 5,000 Priority club points for $35 with this workaround. You do need to have at least 10,000 Priority Club points in your account already to use this trick.