If you are interested in applying for Wyndham Rewards (no annual fee) use the link above and here.
I also wanted to share Davey Nelson’s link for the Aspire Card here.
I am writing from beautiful San Diego right now, as blogger in residence with Train Wreck Trader. I am fortunate in being able to secure some no cost TAD to attend his course in Balboa. I went with no cost TAD since I am able to get my own flights on gift cards, the course was free, and lodging paid for in beer and friendship. I am a long term planner, and booked this flight 5 months ago on Sept of 2017 and saw I was able to get the cheapest round trip flight at terrible hours for $216.40! I used two $100 AA gift cards and $16.40 charged to my BarclayCard AAdvantage Silver Aviator card to get this flight. The Gift Cards came from the AmEx Platinum annual $200 reimbursement.
When you book a trip so far in advanced you are sure to experience schedule changes. Since September, the overnight flight at 10:50 pm has been canceled. I was then put on the same day earlier flight at no additional cost in November of 2017.
I always check in to my flight 24 hours before departure, and was given the option to be on stand by for an earlier flight which would get me to sunny SAN to watch the sunset at the beach.
The website asked for $75 just for the privilege of getting one of the empty seats on the 10:20 or 13:20 flight. However when we go to the American Airlines website we can find that this $75 fee is waived for military members traveling on orders or on leave. Now I could not find a way to get the fee waiver using the website. I guess I could of just paid it, and request a refund by submitting my travel orders I got from DTS:
I make it personal policy to always have travel orders in hand during travel just in case something goes down. When you travel in Japan you will need a hard copy of these to get back in the country under SOFA status. Plus some lounges like United Club require seeing these for access. On TAD travel, bring your orders, on leave bring your orders from NSIPS for stuff like this.
I checked into my flight and was able to get my boarding pass for my 17:15 flight with a seat assignment. Since I intended to take a different flight, I packed planning on NOT checking luggage. This way I could ensure my luggage ended up on the same flight I was going to end up on. I got to ORD at 0800 for my 17:15 flight and went right to the staffed counter. I showed my orders, CAC, and my boarding pass and asked nicely if I could standby on the 10:20 flight.
This is when things got a little hairy…
The first customer service rep said it would be $75 because I had no status with American Airlines. I insisted in a very friendly way that the fee was to be waived for military traveling on orders. She was very nice and called in a manager, who called another manager, who checked the website, and sure enough they honored the fee waiver. The key is to not be a dick during this whole process. Many of the customer service reps don’t know all of the policies regarding military fee waivers, and I guess not too many people come to the airport some 9 hours before their flight to stand by on a different flight.
Once she got the okay form the higher ups I was put on the standby list without any problems. She gave me a standby ticket for the 10:30 flight and told me there was only one seat left and I was the only one on the standby list. Sounds good, but there was no promise that I would get the seat assignment, anyone with any status would get that seat before me!
I went through security with the standby ticket and got into the American Airlines Admirals lounge with that unconfirmed ticket ticket and my CAC alone. When I got to the gate I was told the same thing, there was one seat and I was the one on standby, but if anyone with any status wanted that seat I would be bumped off the plane David Dao style.I was sked to wait untill the seats were all assigned.
About 15 minutes later, they cleared me and called me to the counter to trade my voucher for a seat assigned boarding pass during the time when group 3 was boarding with the same caveat, and the staff had me gate check my bag because the plane would be super full. I boarded the plane I sat in my seat waiting for them to kick me off at any time, it wasn’t until the door closed that I found relief that I was able to get to SAN a good 7 hours earlier than planned to catch the sunset:
If you have a late flight on a travel day it may be worth it to look into stand by for an earlier flight. Always bring your orders and be prepared to not check luggage to ensure maximum flexibility! I may have been incredibly lucky in this case, but even if I could not of gotten this first flight the 13:20 flight would of been nicer than taking the last flight of the day.
The most overlooked hotel award program is Wyndham which gives any night at their hotel for 15,000 points a night. The points are super easy to earn by taking advantage of bonus events throughout the years.
For this triple stack to work you need the Barclay’s Annual Fee Wyndham Card. (Referral link here)
You also need a Ebates account. (referral link here)
Finally you need a founders card account. (referral link here)
I earned 60k points by getting the annual fee Barclay Wyndham card and paying the annual fee. Barclay doesn’t wave fees for military ever since we broke them with the $995 Gold Luxury card that we had essentially used as a 0% APR $10,000 loan. I have since tried to scrap the card for its residual gold plate, but not even the scrap yard says it is worth it. I pay the annual fee because the card comes with a free night on renewal which is worth ore than the annual fee.
Right now Wyndham is offering 15,000 points with two stays at any of their properties including HoJo’s:
What is nice is most of their hotels offer a military rate of less than $60 a night. For example the one Wyndham by Great Lakes Naval Base can be had for $55 a night at the military rate:So for two nights it cost me $109.94 to get 15k points. I can use 15k points for a “go free plus” to book anywhere including downtown Chicago Wyndham River Front for 15k points:
Now you may see that spending $110 for a $174.93 hotel is not much of a savings, however the room comes with an Viator experience tailored to each hotel (use my link here for $10) if you are a diamond member of Wyndham and use points to book. I was able to get the diamond status with Ceasar’s Total Rewards and then match it to Wyndham as a benefit of my founders card membership. Examples of experiences are shown here. For the Chicago location they offered me two tickets to a prohibition tour worth $90:
Total value of a diamond member redeeming 15k points for a Wyndham room is $264.93 which is a $90 tour and a $174.93 room. We spent $110 on two nights at a chepo Days Inn to trigger the 15k bonus, but I didn’t mention that Wyndham is on Ebates which we get 2.5% cashback for the Wyndham hotel booking. We also get points for the stay:
With charging the Days Inn to the Wyndham card you get 5 points per $1 spent on Wyndham Hotel stays, that means 549.7 points from spend and then the base earn per night is 1,000 points with go get ’em! if we subtract the 2.5% cashback from Ebates we get 2,476 points from the spend and stay + 15,000 bonus =17,476 points for $107.1915 ($109.94 minus 2.5%). This makes 162 points per dollar spent while we get $264.93 in value for 15k points or 1.7 cents for 1 point spent!
Each point cost me .6 cents to earn, but I got 1.7 cents in value per point. So each dollar spent using this stack resulted in $2.74 in value received. Pretty good return on investment, and you don’t even have to stay the night, just check in the the Day’s Inn and then check out in a technique known as a mattress run.
The Hilton Surpass was replaced by two new products called Aspire and Ascend. Lots of info here on ask Sebby. The new offer of 100k HHonors points for $3,000 spend. For those who had the surpass, you can’t get the ascend offer since they are counting the ascend as a surpass. I for one kept my surpass and am hoping for an upgrade offer to the Aspire.
The aspire gives a free annual night, also $250 in Hilton Resort Credit and another $250 in airline credit much like the AmEx Platinum (can be used for some gift cards). Use my link here. I wrote an article here on my whole experience.
Use the link here for the ascend. Pretty much exactly the same features as the surpass along with no foreign transaction fees.
The ubiquitous warning on every Chase application is:
This product is not available to either (i) current cardmembers of this credit card, or (ii) previous cardmembers of this credit card who received a new cardmember bonus for this credit card within the last 24 months
Back in October of 2015 I opened my Chase British Airways card and got the bonus of 50k on 22-Nov-15, then another 25k on 22-Jan-16, and a final payout of 25k on 22-Apr-16. This was in line with the offer of 100k points over several tiers reported two years ago. I ended up closing the Avios account (no SCRA or MLA waiver) in preparation of applying for the product again to get the current 75k offer as well as MLA protection. I thought I would be eligible because I would no longer have the card, nor would I be in the 24 month window of getting the first bonus!
Unfortunately my plan was foiled because they counted the last tier, April 2016 payout as receiving a bonus! I called Chase Lending Service at 1-888-270-2127 and they explained to me that my credit wasn’t even pulled, and that the application was flagged because I was within 24 months of receiving the April 2016 bonus. SO I would have to wait till April to get my sweet MLA Waived Avios Card.
Keep in mind Chase keeps excellent records, and don’t be so quick to close accounts until your last bonus payout times out! Check those statements both on the Chase side and the awards program side. You might be surprised at how long some of these card took to get the awards!
Well it has been less than a month with the AmEx Aspire and I already hit my spend to get 100k points! Like an idiot I closed my Ascend to get under 5 cards, instead of closing another card and upgrading the ascend to another Aspire to hit the Flight and Resort bonus twice a year ($500 more).
For those who didn’t have the Aspire or Surpass before, its time to hit AmEx for another 100k Hilton Honors point using the link below:
As of 01 February 2018 United Clubs require you to bring printed travel order to access United Clubs when flying on their airlines. This was reported by reader Howie who has previously reported on the Centurion Lounge in Sweden. He reported being asked for orders in SAN and IAD this last week. From the United Club website:
United Club℠ invitation
We are pleased to invite active duty military members in uniform or with present leave orders or rest and recuperation papers to visit our United Club locations on the same day they are traveling on a United- or United Express®-operated flight. Please present your military ID, your boarding pass and sponsoring documentation for entry. Access is available to active duty military members and family members with gate passes or traveling on the same flight as the military member and is subject to each location’s capacity and seating availability. For more information about our United Club locations, please see the Club and Lounge Access page.
I guess the rule has always been there, but they are enforcing it to the letter from now on. On the Club Access website we have this:
Make sure you carry your orders from NSIPS, or TAD orders from DTS if you want access to the Club. I for one recommend getting your spouse or yourself the United Club card and using the MLA to get the annual fee waiver. This way you will have access without showing orders when traveling with the spouse, and then your spouse would get 2 free bags checked as well as United Club access when traveling without you. Keep in mind the applicant would have to be under 5/24 to get the Unite Club Credit card.
United still has to way to contribute to their gift registry outside of using their branded Chase United Travel Bank credit card. This is a bummer for those who just got the Aspire card form AmEx and are looking for a place to dump their $250 for the year. I am happy to report that American Airlines gift cards still work. I called in and chose American Airlines for my Hilton Aspire card. Then bought $100, $100, and a $50 gift card from American:
Three days later the benefit showed it was depleted:
On the fourth day the credit posted for the previous day:
Frequent miler posted an article here with an excellent go by on how to book United Flights using Singapore Miles. You can transfer the points from Chase UR or AmEx MR to Singapore Air. Keep in mind you can always book using MR or UR directly using their travel portal for 1.5 cents. SO do your calculations to see if it will be worth it to transfer.