Credit and Debit Cards / Cruising / Manufactured Spend

Pay With Points at Chase Ultimate Rewards Cruises

Chase Ultimate Rewards Cruise Portal

You can use points to pay for the total cost of  Chase Ultimate Rewards cruises.  These rewards are earned with several Chase cards.  You can redeem Ultimate Rewards online to book airfare, hotels, and cars, but cruise redemptions must be done over the phone with a cruise specialist.

Airport Lounges / Award travel / Credit and Debit Cards / etc.

Lounge Access Options with AMEX Platinum, Priority Pass and United Club Cards–Field Testing

Before our recent Med Cruise, I investigated all our options for lounge access, and picked out an arsenal of cards to carry with us. The cards we brought along for lounge access were my American Express Platinum card, my Star Alliance Club Card, and both Bruce’s and my Priority Pass Cards. Here is our experience using these cards. Atlanta Airport The first leg of our trip was Atlanta to Amsterdam.  We were leaving out of the international terminal, but I wanted to check out the new United lounge in the T-gates. When you exit the North Terminal security you are in

Airport Lounges / banking / Credit and Debit Cards

PreTrip Planning–Part 4–Credit and Debit Cards

This is my least favorite part of trip planning–deciding what credit and debit cards to take on the trip, and notifying the banks that I will be traveling.  We like to take a several debit and credit cards from different banks.  The main criterion for the cards is that the underlying bank doesn’t charge a Foreign Transaction Fee.  Some banks will tack on a 3% fee, and we’ll use their cards only in emergencies.  The following cards charge no foreign transaction fees and will be the cards we will be taking. Credit Cards Priceline Rewards Visa It seems like

Credit and Debit Cards / Manufactured Spend / Prepaid Cards

Manufactured Spend on the United Club Card

I don’t usually go into details of how I manufacture miles and points.  There are other bloggers that specialize in this, and I also do not want to publicize fragile methods that I don’t want to disappear due to too much exposure.  I don’t mind talking about dead deals, or zombie deals that are on their last legs.  This post discusses a method that is on its last legs.  I’m posting it to explain this method to curious friends and family.  Yes, this is for you whose eyes glazed over as I was trying to explain what I do.

Credit and Debit Cards / Manufactured Spend / Prepaid Cards / etc.

AMEX Gift Cards Are Now Officially a Pain-In-the-Ass

I have come to the end of my rope with AMEX Gift Cards.  Once the mainstay of my miles and points collecting, they have now just gotten to be too much trouble to use. I have been buying them for years to offset the costs of earning miles on my credit cards.  I went through cash-back portals like Ebates and TopCashBack to earn from 1-3% cash back.  This money that I earned helped to offset the costs of buying the VISA gift cards that I used to get the money spent on the credit cards back into my hands. 

Credit and Debit Cards / Cruising / Royal Caribbean

Should I Get a Royal Caribbean Credit Card? (No)

Ten years ago I got my first rewards-earning credit card, a Royal Caribbean Visa.  It earned 1 point for every dollar of spend, and after spending $50,000 on the card, you could get a free cruise to the Caribbean.  It also had a picture of a cruise ship on it, which I thought was pretty cool.  It’s amazing how naive I was about points and miles at that time.  I did eventually did get the free cruise, although I sure did give up a lot of miles and points opportunities during that time. I’m pretty active on some cruising

Credit and Debit Cards / Manufactured Spend / Prepaid Cards

Staying the Course with AMEX Gift Cards–Reduced Portal Payouts

Now that cash-back portals have reduced payouts on purchases of American Express gift cards from 1.5-2.2% down to 1% or less, I have tried to figure out if it’s worth it for me to continue to buy them on a regular basis. The cornerstone of my points and miles accumulation has been to spend a lot of money on my credit cards.  I buy them to meet the minimum spend to earn bonuses on new cards.  I also buy them to earn extra miles on cards that give me extra miles on spend; for example the United Club card

Georgia / Hotel Rewards / Hotels / etc.

Kids Weekend in the Mountains–Playgrounds, Trains, and Rivers

We took one last getaway before the academic schedule starts again– A four-day weekend in the North Georgia/North Carolina Mountains, with an emphasis on kids’ activities. This is something we would do more often if we didn’t need to drive through Atlanta to do it.  But we steeled our nerves and just decided to deal with the traffic and go on the trip.  It’s still pretty warm at night, so instead of camping, which we like to do in the mountains, we spent all of our nights in hotels that I had booked for free on points. All of