Marines’ Memorial Club & Hotel SF

San Francisco is an amazing city at a premium price, and now I am kicking myself for not looking at Military hotels in previous visits. I often had to pay $300 a night even at the govt’ rate just for a room, or burn through points just for a decent hotel. In Tokyo we have the New Sanno which is booked out up to a year ahead of a desired date. The hotel is popular since the Hotel charges well below area hotels to give service members a chance to explore a world class city at an affordable rate.

The closest hotel price to performance equivalent I have found in CONUS is the Marines’ Memorial Club & Hotel in San Francisco’s Union Square. Thanks to a tip by reader Eddie S., I decided to check it out. Also General Goddard likes to stay there, so if it’s good enough for a flag officer, it’s good enough for me.

First off this organization is a private club, not affiliated directly with the DoD, it runs completely on donations. The club and building is a living Memorial and Museum to the USMC. I called the front desk at 1-(844)913-7703 and they said I could book for $99 a night for a standard 2 queen room, but only 21 days out. This rate goes up for O-4s and above. The $99 rate would not take effect till I showed up in person to join the cub for free. Other rooms and suites are also at a substantial savings compared to the J.W. Marriott next door. The 6 person 3MLG suite goes for $345 a night!

The 3MLG suite which presumably has a toothbrush from 3D DN BN (just kidding).

If you apply for club membership online it would be $35 for membership for the service member and a spouse. Since I was not a member yet, I was booked the room for $319 a night. Upon check-in I presented my CAC and became a member instantly for free with the room rate discount applied for $99 a night for the most basic room.

An affordable room is one thing, but I was blown away by the sheer value of the hotel stay. First off the hotel is beautiful, every floor a museum of USMC history. Nice soaps, linens, and just nice fine woodwork everywhere. The rooms are the quality of a Marriott with better furniture. Any room comes with happy hour (all you can drink) on floor 12 or floor 2 for members only between 1600 to 1800 on weekdays (not Friday night). The rooms also come with breakfast buffet every morning including made to order eggs.

Just an amazing experience, but it doesn’t end there, with over 180 private reciprocal clubs available for member use around the world. I will check out the Chicago ones and get back to you! At least check it out to get membership next time you are in SFO.

We also had dinner at the Leatherneck Steakhouse (where they have happy hour and breakfast on the 12th floor) which was an excellent meal with a beautiful view. I was also able to make reservations using OpenTable for the points. Overall the hotel is one of the greatest values to service members visiting San Francisco.


$200 US Bank Bonus

My move to play it slow with US Bank is paying off. Back in May I opened up a $1,000 CD at 0.40% interest just to get the US Bank Altitude Card. This card required an existing account holder relationship with US Bank. I was pressured into opening a checking and savings combo, but I refused because I was holding out for a $200 bonus. These bonuses don’t pay out if you had the product before, but today, right when Q3 started, I got an email for a $200 bonus. You can generate a unique code here. The offer is as such:

Earn $2001 when you open a new consumer Silver, Gold, or Platinum Checking Package between June 24 and
August 21, 2017.

To get started, request a promotion code & enter it below, before applying.
To qualify for bonus you need to also complete one of the following within 60 days of account opening:

  • Recurring direct deposits of $500 or more
  • OR make two Online Bill Pay transactions of $25 each or more

Checking Package Offer – A minimum deposit of $25 is required to open a U.S. Bank consumer checking account. To earn the $200 bonus offer, open a new U.S. Bank Consumer Silver Checking Package, Gold Checking Package or Platinum Checking Package between and including June 24, 2017 and August 21, 2017. Present your promotion code to a branch or 24-Hour phone banker or enter it online at account opening. Additionally, you must complete one or more recurring direct deposits totaling at least $500 OR complete two or more U.S. Bank Bill Pay transactions of $25 each or more (you are responsible to ensure sufficient funds are deposited to cover bill payments and enrollment in Online and/or Mobile banking is required) within 60 days of account opening. The checking account bonus will be deposited into your new consumer checking account within 60 days of direct deposit or Bill Pay verification, as long as your account is open. Bonus will be reported as interest earned on IRS form 1099-INT and recipient is responsible for any applicable taxes. Offer may not be combined with any other checking account bonus offers. Offer is not valid if you have an existing U.S. Bank consumer checking account, had a U.S. Bank consumer checking account in the last six months, or received other U.S. Bank bonus offers within the past six months. Current U.S. Bank employees are not eligible. Other restrictions may apply. All regular account-opening procedures apply. For a comprehensive list of account pricing, terms and policies see the Consumer Pricing Information brochures. and the Your Deposit Account Agreement.

I am planning on opening a Gold Checking Package since my $450 AF on the Altitude will pay for the account:

Gold Checking Package is a top-choice for credit-savvy customers.

Waive the monthly maintenance fee: With Gold Checking, you pay no monthly maintenance fees as long as you also have an open U.S. Bank personal loan, line or credit card1

I will open it for $200 and bill pay myself 2 times $25 to get my sweet $200 in $60 days, a 100% ROI! My $450 annual fee came with $325 travel credit, and my 50k points are worth $750. I am ahead $875 with the credit card alone, and now with the bank bonus I got $1,075 out of US Bank!


Forget OpenTable, Use AmEx Dining

News has spread at work about the easy shortcut to fine dining. No longer do we have to wait for an open table like a bitch. No longer do we have to call in at exactly 0600 to get a reservation for a table 3 months later. These are simply activities for the normies. Instead we have our $550 a year concierge do it. On top of that the experience appears to be elevated and extra generous.

I looked into all my previous hard to get dining reservations, such as Girl and the Goat (booked out for early dining till Aug 28, 2017), and thought there must be an easier way. Turns out all of Stephanie Izard’s places in Chicago are on the AmEx Global Platinum Express Baller Dining site. I will see if they have a standing reservation, or a table at a normal dining time in less than 3 months.

Also keep in mind there are some places that you must have an AmEx card to get in. One is Eleven Madison Park temporary location in the Hamptons. According to TPG looks like there is some pretty exclusive fried chicken there. Looks like its a bit more chill being in the Hamptons and all.

Anyone out there with a unique AmEx related dining exclusive?


Free Sprint Line For a Year!

I ended up returning my Galaxy s8 after my Samsung Pay experiment. I just could not justify a $750 phone just to get 3x points on Altitude. If any of you guys out there could suggest where to get a cheap Galaxy Note 5 used I would be down with that connected via WiFi just to use at POS terminals. I got the S8 phone back to Verizon within 14 days and paid the $35 restocking fee for a full refund. I had already paid the $30 activation fee for the new line, so I went ahead and moved the line to a unlocked iPhone 5s that I had laying around so my kid could watch You Tube Kids on long car rides.

There was an article from Greg at FM that was emailed to me that talked about transferring a line from Verizon to Sprint for an entire year worth of free unlimited data, phone and texting. I rushed to the website to get it done before the 30 June 2017 deadline. However, the deal has been extended until 31 July 2017. Take your time and think about it. Even try to pick up a SIM card from the store to avoid the $10 overnight shipping fee.

The article did not have a data point on how old an account needed to be, and suggested adding a new line to Verizon for the sake of transferring to Sprint. I added the line and just a 14 days later I logged into Sprint and entered the phone number, MEID, and it said it would send me a $3 SIM card at $10 overnight shipping. There was no place to request picking up the SIM card from the store to save $10 in overnight shipping as suggested my Greg. When I got the SIM card, I just entered the new SIM card number, phone number, MEID, Verizon account number, and account PIN. It took about 10 minutes to transfer the account over, and sure enough I am being charged only $2 a month admin fee for an additional line! The tethering and personal hot spot on the device has been limited to 10 GB a month, but still works! Planning on using this also as my loaner phone for my out of country guests. Details here:

Bring your eligible phone to Sprint and get FREE Unlimited data, talk and text for one year. There’s no annual contract and you can keep your phone, number, accessories, photos, apps and music. It’s really that simple.

You’ll get Sprint’s fully-featured Unlimited including:

  • Unlimited data, talk and text
  • HD streaming:
    • Video at speeds up to 1080p
    • Music at up to 1.5mbps
    • Gaming streams at up to 8mbps
    • Unlimited 4G LTE data for most everything else. Data deprioritization applies during congestion.
  • 10GB of high-speed data per line to use toward mobile hotspot, VPN and Peer-2-Peer usage. Once your 10GB is used up:
    • Continue at up to 2G speeds (32 Kbps) on our network for no additional cost, or
    • Purchase more on-network high-speed data for $15/1GB to tide you over for the rest of your bill cycle

This introductory pricing:

  • Free service for 1 year for new customers who switch to Sprint and sign up on between 6/9/17 and 6/30/17. Save until 7/31/18.

    • You’ll save more than $900 (compared to Verizon’s one-line unlimited rate plan) in the first year
    • Switch your whole family and save even more!
    • A standard $1.99 admin fee, $0.40 regulatory fee and other taxes and fees apply
    • Your $30 activation fee is waived as part of this promotion. The fee will appear on your first bill and a credit will appear within 2 bills.
  • Requires a Sprint SIM card, eBill and Sprint AutoPay ($5/mo./line discount applied within two invoices)

    • If AutoPay is cancelled, you’ll pay $5/mo./line
    • If AutoPay and eBill are removed, a $7.99/mo. charge will apply for Account Spending Limit customers
      • Your Spending Limit is the monthly maximum amount of spending per phone on your account based on your credit decision
      • For accounts with multiple phones, the total spending limit is calculated as the number of phones on the account multiplied by the spending limit per phone
  • You must own the phone(s) you’re bringing to Sprint.

  • After 7/31/18, pay:

    • Line 1: $60/mo.

    • Line 2: $40/mo.

    • Lines 3-5: $30/mo/line

    • Pricing shown with AutoPay. Add $5/mo./line without AutoPay

I got a follow up call today asking to transfer more of my lines. I inquired about upgrading equipment and they said I had to wait 120 days, I would not be able to use the SIM card in any other device than the one I switched with. Sure enough when I put the SIM card in another device it locks out the Sprint network. The phones listed are okay for the deal:

  • Apple iPhone 5C (Verizon only)
  • Apple iPhone 5S (Verizon only)
  • Apple iPhone 6
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
  • Apple iPhone 6S
  • Apple iPhone 6S Plus
  • Apple iPhone 7 (Verizon only)
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus (Verizon only)
  • Apple iPhone SE
  • Google Nexus 5 (Verizon only)
  • Google Nexus 5X
  • Google Nexus 6
  • Google Nexus 6P
  • Google Pixel
  • Google Pixel XL
  • Motorola E4
  • Motorola Z2 Play
  • Motorola G4
  • Motorola G4 Play
  • Motorola G4 Plus
  • Motorola G5 Plus
  • Motorola X Pure Edition
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Special Edition
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 Special Edition
  • Samsung Galaxy S8 Special Edition
  • Samsung Galaxy S8+ Special Edition

If you have a phone lying around from Verizon, it might be worth it to add a line for $20 a month just to transfer over to take advantage of the deal. I currently get a nice 10% military discount with Verizon, and have been with them for over 10 years so I don’t have any intention to move any existing service over.