points and miles

Off To Asia, Again.

If you are connected to me at all on social media you know that I am currently in Asia (first stop Bali) for a month long excursion. The more I travel, the more I want to travel. I thought that a 7.5 week trip (last nov-dec) would help subdue my travel bug, but alas, it has not. This trip all came together when a buddy of mine invited me to join a group of his friends in Bali for 10 days. I looked up some flight options, checked my points balances over on AwardWallet.com and the next day made my commitment. Ill try to give a brief explanation here about the flights I took with the costs. There are a LOT of flights this month and a lot of moving parts.

The Trip

If you’ve read any of this blog you know I am a miles and points junky and never pass up a good opportunity for a big win. So, now I am in Bali. How did I get here, you might ask. How much did it cost? Did I fly with miles or pay out of pocket?

The plan is to stay with my buddy and his friends here in Bali (Seminyak, Ubud, Sanur) for about 9-10 nights and then travel on with my new friend, Marina (who I met through this trips facebook group), to Cambodia for 3 days then Vietnam for about 8 nights and then spend 6 nights in Thailand. When I threw it out to the group to see if anyone wanted to continue traveling beyond the bali portion, Marina jumped right on board. She is traveling for more than 6 months after quitting her job and getting rid of her house. I was more than happy to have a travel buddy as I tend to travel alone a lot and was looking forward to having someone to share my experiences with. We met when I moved to san diego and realized very quickly that we would mesh well as travel companions.

The round trip flight cost me exactly…. wait for it…. $45. Total Freaking Score. I was able to book the flight with the help of Trav over at extrapackofpeanuts.com. I would normally book this myself, but it was a complicated routing (explained below) so I thought I would secure the help of a real award flight booking pro.

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$10,000++ in honey moon savings. not bad

I was talking to a friend thats got some big purchases coming up this year. I told him we should try to figure out a way to make the most out of them. It took about 20 minutes but we figured out a way to put him at a $500+/night hotel in maui with roundtrip airfare for 2 weeks. his cost… $0.

It’s a savings of more than $10,000 just for making the purchases he would already have been making. There’s an example spreadsheet below that details (a bit) how one might make this all happen. This is a lot of spending and a bunch of cards. So don’t just jump into this without putting some serious thought into and and preferably discussing it with me first.

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Free Travel & Lodging for your Honeymoon

The following is from an email I sent to two friends getting married this year. This will work for just about any couple with good (720ish) or better credit. Everyone’s situation is different, but I am happy to chat with you if you have questions.

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The first thing I tell anyone who is asking me for credit card help and suggestions and planning is the key to ALL of this is paying your WHOLE BALANCE in FULL at the end of EVERY MONTH. NEVER carry a balance on an interest bearing credit card (unless you absolutely have to). If you start paying interest all these points you are earning become less valuable because you are now essentially “paying” for those points with the interest. The reason credit card companies give out these bonuses is to entice people to open cards in a hope they fall into debt. But that WON’T happen with you guys. You’re too smart for that!!

The key is, don’t live beyond your means. Just because you have a shinny new credit card doesn’t mean that you have to use it. I have more than 18 cards currently open and the only one that carries any balance month to month is a zero interest card [the slate card (discussed below)] at like $900. I’ll have that paid off shortly. I only carry a couple of cards in my wallet and the rest are sitting in a drawer.

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Whats the one card you would recommend.. loaded question

Heres another “Chat With Friends Post”. This is my friend, lets call her M.E. who had some questions about what the best cards are and some ways of saving on her honeymoon travel.

PS [please excuse spelling/grammar/punctuation, etc. this convo took place on facebook chat]

PPS [please do your OWN research or contact me directly before making any decisions regarding your own credit cards, travel plans etc. information, details, offers, etc may change. i am also not an expert and do not claim responsibility if you find better offers then the ones that I discuss]

And here we go!

M.E. – hi Seth!!  Hope all is well!

I’ve been noticing all your posts about travel Credit Cards.. if you were to recommend one, which would it be?

BTW- Your upcoming trip looks AMAZING!!!   I hope you have a great time!!!!

M.E.

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A Casual, Friendly Conversation

I had a friend of mine facebook message me yesterday. He had some questions about my upcoming trip and how I was able to put it all together. He also had some specific questions about some cards he has and wanted some details about whether or not he was utilizing them properly (he was not). Please excuse grammar, spelling, etc. If there’s anything you need more information on, you can Google just about all of it.

Again, this was a casual conversation. Before you make any decisions about your own credit, cards to apply for, programs to use, etc you should do your own research. Here is the conversation below. CMZ is my friend and I’m me (obviously).

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US Airways vs AAdvantage Dining Programs

OOOPSSS…

So I thought I was a real smarty pants today. A couple of weeks ago I received an email from American Airlines inviting me to join their dining program. I was like… “What is this shit?”. After reading a little bit about it, I discovered the basics. [as in the past, I wont provide too much details as I don’t want to be misquoted. you can look this stuff up on your own, its not hard to find].

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Just A Couple Other Notes

Ok, so to be clear, this is not a “How to Get Points” blog. It’s for my travel and photography and experiences with both.

But, I thought I should let you know what other programs I utilized to make this trip possible.

Starwoods Cards: I have two of these and I used 23,000 points (and some cash) to book my hotels throughout Thailand

Iberia (Avios): I was able to transfer some (14,000) of my American Express points over to Iberia and their Avios program (it was a point for point transfer which means I wouldn’t loose any). This paid for 3 different flights throughout spain saving me around $400.

Another separate note: I used AirBNB to book some lodging in Seville, Barcelona, and a couple places in Thailand as well as Tokyo.


A Couple GREAT Offers

Want to get a round trip for you and your significant other (SO) to Europe and 4 nights at one of the nicest hotels in Paris, essentially for FREE? Keep reading.

There are a couple of offers that I wanted to mention right off the bat that played a huge part in getting me to where I want to go. There are tons of credit cards out there to choose from and tons of clubs and frequent flyer type programs to join but to me, these two are NO BRAINERS.

Granted, your credit score is going to play a big role in whether or not you are approved for credit cards and also the types of rewards you will get and the credit limits on those cards. But, if you can, here is a great suggestion.

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Clubs and Programs… Join Em All

First rule of thumb: JOIN EVERY PROGRAM you come across: There is no reason not to as pretty much all of them are free (at the least for the basic membership). This means go ahead and join Starwoods, Hilton Honors, American Airlines, JetBlue, etc. I generally join as I go and as I need to but you could start off with the big ones. Make sure to join American for sure, Starwoods, etc. Below is a short list of some of the clubs/programs I am in:

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Points, Miles and a Prayer

Doing this trip would absolutely not have been feasible without some very creative usage of my points, miles and some useful websites.

Playing the credit card game:

I took a trip in 2012 with some points that I received for opening a new american airlines card. The 40,000 point offer was enough for a roundtrip flight to Madrid. This was one of the best trips of all time for me as it lead me to the discover of a very long and intense story of my grandfather, Arthur Meyerowitz (who I never had the privilege of meeting). Here is that story www.MorhangeNetwork.com.

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