Southwest Credit Card: 60,000 Points. But More Importantly, The Calendar…

Southwest Rapid Rewards Card

Southwest Airlines runs frequent promotions for its Rapid Rewards Credit Card, but now may be an optimal time to get it, given that we are at the end of the calendar year (More on that later.). I don’t offer Chase cards, but that link will take you directly to Southwest’s website.

For those who are not familiar with Rapid Rewards, the Southwest Airlines loyalty program, it works a little bit differently from traditional plans. At the major carriers, the price of an award ticket in points depends on where you are flying, when you are flying and the class of service. And then, even if you have enough points, there might not be availability.

Southwest has gotten rid of a lot of those restrictions. Instead, the cost in points is based strictly on how much that ticket would cost you if you were to pay cash. Each point is worth about 1.5 cents. To get a quote, simply search for the ticket you want and select “Points” instead of “Dollars.”

southwest, rapid rewards

Toggle to points to get an award quote

The Southwest Companion Pass

The card offers some pretty good benefits just for having it (although the “bags fly free and no change fee” are somewhat disingenuous, since you get those without the card, as well.). Depending on which of the two cards in the link you apply for, you could get additional benefits that more than pay for the price of the card itself. Note that the card is subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule.*

But the card will also give you a head start to possibly the best perk in the airline industry: The Companion Pass (CP). A companion pass is just what it sounds like: for the duration of your status, which you earn by flying 100 segments or earning 110,000 Rapid Rewards points in a calendar year, you get to bring along your favorite companion, free of charge (Yes, you do have limited opportunities to change your companion if you get a new favorite person.). The 60,000 Rapid Rewards points you get from the sign-up bonus count, as do any that you earn from the credit card. You’ll earn 40,000 points for spending $1,000 in your first three months, as well as another 20,000 for spending in the first year.

Even if you’re not trying to earn the Pass, it is still an excellent sign-up bonus. Your 60,000 points for getting the card are worth approximately $900 in Southwest flights.

Which Card Should I Get

southwest, rapid rewards

Two cards, but one clearly offers more total value

You have two options for cards, and you likely won’t be able to get both. The basic card costs $69 and gives you an anniversary bonus of 3,000 points. If we value points at 1.5 cents each, the points are worth about $45. Your net cost is $24.

The Priority card, though, is the better deal. Yes, it costs more at $149, but it gives you a $75 annual travel credit and 7,500 points each year on your anniversary. Together, those two benefits are worth $187.50 in travel credit. You’ll also receive a number of other benefits, including upgraded boarding passes.

Why Now? 

Southwest offers bonus promotions throughout the year, but now is the optimal time to get it. Why is that?

The Companion Pass is based on a calendar year. By getting the card at the beginning of the year, you’ll be in a position to earn 60,000 points right away toward the 110,000 that you need for the CP. Thus, you will know exactly what you need throughout the year, meaning that you can shift spending onto or off of your Southwest card, depending on your needs. It also means that you’ll have the Pass for the maximum amount of time. If you earn it in December of 2018, you only have it for a month of the year. If you front-load your points and earn it in January, you’ll have it for all of 2018, as well as 2019.

The actual rewards for spending, which are a point per dollar for all purchases except Southwest (which are at two points) are not great, so I wouldn’t make this my primary card. But if you fly a lot of Southwest and have a companion that you like to bring, the card and its sign-up bonus are great to have.

 


*Beginner’s Hint: A few years ago, in order to reduce credit card bonus churners, Chase introduced what has become commonly known as the 5/24 rule. If you have opened five or more personal cards, from any bank, over the previous 24 months, Chase will not approve you for a personal card. There are exceptions, but not a lot of them.

 

Want to subscribe? Just enter your email in the box above (and to the right) and click on the confirmation. GMailers, check your Social or Promotions boxes!

Follow me on Twitter @FFMiles101 or share with the Facebook button below.

And finally, you can apply for credit cards through the Credit Cards for Charity link above. All card proceeds are donated to charity, so please do well by doing good!

Chunneling One Off The Bucket List

For those who do not know, “the Chunnel” is the nickname for the tunnel that runs under the English Channel, ultimately connecting Paris and London in under 2.5 hours. And while the the experience wasn’t nearly as exciting as I hoped it would be, it’s clear that I’ll never be flying from London to Paris again. Here’s a bit about the experience.

Booking The Ticket

eurostar, chunnel

Fortunately, there’s no Basic Economy

Operated by Eurostar, the train is easily bookable online at their website. You can either print a paper ticket, or simply upload the electronic version to your phone. Or, if you’re neurotic like I am, do both.

As you can see, there are three different classes of service. Being a man of the people, I chose the standard one, which still comes with a seat assignment and two bag allowance. You can also pay up for flexibility, a better seat, priority boarding or meal service. I booked mine a week out and the train was almost entirely full (on a Thursday night), so give yourself some time.

At The Train Station

eurostar, chunnel

Gare Du Nord

The website advised me to be there 45-60 minutes ahead of time. Since no trip ends without my getting lost somewhere along the way, I gave myself the full hour, and then some. Sure enough, the cab driver took me to the wrong station, so we had to correct course to get to Gare Du Nord. I made it with about 35 minutes to go before they could, at least theoretically, tell me I couldn’t board (Plenty of people arrived after me, so I’m guessing that they aren’t always tough about the 30 minutes.

You’ll clear customs and immigration at your origination, so you can head right into the city when you arrive at the destination. There are separate lines for EU and non-EU cardholders, but neither was bad on Thursday night (I had a 10 minute or so wait when I returned on Friday night.). I didn’t want to buy food on the train, but fortunately, there are plenty of restaurants “trainside” and after you clear customs/immigration. The train was waiting for us and boarded on time. That’s the nice thing about not having to wait on the runway.

Onboard The Train

There are several different configurations, with the most common being 2X2, or a table of four. Seats were packed pretty tight, so think Economy, rather than First Class, if you are looking for a flight comparison. There’s plenty of room for luggage, either on a luggage rack at each end of the car or on the overhead.

Entertainment is pretty much “bring your own,” although the Eurostar app will give you access to a bunch of movies or shows. No wi-fi is necessary to use the app, which is a good thing, since there was barely any signal. It also took me the entire length of the ride before I figured out where the outlet was (between and underneath the seats). Two plusses to the lack of wi-fi: I was cut off from the world for 2.5 hours, which rarely happens, and I got to start watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (available on the Eurostar app).

Sadly, riding a train under the English Channel is similar to riding one anywhere else in the world, since you’re left staring at cement walls. It was so dark out that I didn’t even notice when we entered the tunnel.

Arrival

For my outbound, we arrived exactly on time in London (On the return, they apologized profusely after we arrived nine minutes late.). You will arrive at St. Pancras station which, for Harry Potter fans, is right next to King’s Cross Station and Platform 9 3/4. Should you choose to do so, you can wait in line to have your picture taken pushing a cart that is halfway through the wall.

Since you cleared in Paris, you can head right out into the streets at the station and grab a cab. Mischief managed.

Overall

Absolutely no complaints. The calmness of the journey, as well as the ease of getting to and from the stations, absolutely make the Eurostar a better bet than the airports.

 

Want to subscribe? Just enter your email in the box above (and to the right) and click on the confirmation. GMailers, check your Social or Promotions boxes!

Follow me on Twitter @FFMiles101 or share with the Facebook button below.

And finally, you can apply for credit cards through the Credit Cards for Charity link above. All card proceeds are donated to charity, so please do well by doing good!

Ride Share Rewards Programs

Lyft and Uber are joining the rest of the world with loyalty programs. But one is clearly better.

Lyft And Uber Rewards

Lyft

Pink mustache not guaranteed; Photo Credit: Creative Commons

Following an announcement from Uber last month that it would roll out a frequent-flyer style rewards program, Lyft has also announced one, although without nearly the breadth of its Uber counterpart.

Lyft is starting a business rewards program, giving you credits for taking rides for business. I’m not sure how they will know the purpose of the ride, other than that you need to have a business account to do so. You also need to be invited to the program, which is a bit of a damper.

Overall, the Uber program looks a lot more rewarding and comes with more perks. Depending on how much you use them, you can get everything  from priority support to free Uber Eats deliveries. You can join the waiting list here.

 

Want to subscribe? Just enter your email in the box above (and to the right) and click on the confirmation. GMailers, check your Social or Promotions boxes!

Follow me on Twitter @FFMiles101 or share with the Facebook button below.

And finally, you can apply for credit cards through the Credit Cards for Charity link above. All card proceeds are donated to charity, so please do well by doing good!

Ultra-Low Cost Airlines: Coming And Going

The only constant in the airline industry, particularly on the international front, is change. New low-cost startup airlines seem to launch every day, although that could be in the face of the one that started last year ending this year. I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but the air transportation is one of the few businesses that’s incredibly easy to enter (on a relative basis, of course) and difficult to exit. There’s always somebody willing to finance a plane for you (often the manufacturers) and, when you get into trouble, there always seems to be somebody around to bail you out. Here are a couple of examples.

French Bee

french bee

French Bee flies to an odd mix of cities

I have to admit that, until a few days ago, I’d never heard of French Bee Airlines, although there’s really no reason that I would have. The airline is alow cost carrier (LCC)* that only flies to a few cities, all from Paris’s Orly Airport. It flies only widebody aircraft on long-haul routes, and tends to follow the same business plan that so many other LCC fail with: Find a pair of cities that major airlines don’t serve well and launch non-stop service between them. Keep your costs low and charge low enough fares that you can fill the plane. Then, charge those people based on the amenities they want. For instance, you can buy a premium seat, but it will cost you significantly more than the prices you see advertised.

The problem with this plan is that it assumes that the major airlines don’t react. That’s not a good assumption. The last thing that the legacy carriers like Air France want is to allow any competition, particularly from low cost carriers. Heaven forbid that a competitor do something horrible like lower prices on a route. What happens if that competitor starts to grow and lowers prices everywhere else? So even though Air France may not have a lot of demand from, say, Paris to Punta Cana, it will match competitors anyway, to keep them from growing. Air France is large enough that it can afford the losses almost indefinitely.

It’s good while it lasts.

Wow Airlines/Icelandair

Several weeks ago, Icelandair announced that it was buying ultra-low cost (ULCC) competitor Wow Airlines, and the investors were happy. Wow’s money-losing experiment would come to an end, and Icelandair would get rid of its main challenger. The latter’s stock jumped, from just under 7 to just over 12. But the government put strict conditions on the merger and, a few days ago, the merger was called off.

Wow still needed money, however, and it found the cash in the form of airline old-timer Bill Franke, whose Indigo Partners stepped in. The owner of Frontier and other carriers, Indigo provided cash to Wow in exchange for a chunk of ownership.

Mr. Franke’s money may have simply delayed the inevitable. Wow’s losses have spiked and there still isn’t a coherent business plan beyond “being cheap.” Mr. Franke does, however, have a long-standing relationship with airplane manufacturer Airbus, so he may try to lever that relationship to extend Wow’s life until they get it right.

Air France to Shut Down Joon

The only thing that is less successful than an independent ULCC is a ULCC that is owned by a traditional carrier. In other words, it’s a high-cost carrier that tries to operate a low-cost model. It just doesn’t work. So nobody will be surprised that Air France is shutting down its low-cost subsidiary Joon.

Joon, which sounds like “jeune,” the French word for “young,” was supposed to appeal to millennials, which means describing itself as a “lifestyle brand,” since 60-year old marketing executives think that the term appeals to 30-year old travelers. I’m closer to the former than the latter, but even I knew that it wasn’t going to work. Last summer, I wrote, “Do you know what millennials hate more than brands? It’s brands that pretend not to be brands to appeal to millennials. Fortunately, I’m guessing that they’re not going to have to deal with Joon for long.” 

I’m surprised that it has even made it a year.

 


*Beginner’s Hint: A low-cost carrier is similar to Southwest or JetBlue. You buy a ticket in one of several fare “buckets.” The total price depends on how many amenities you want. LCC tend to charge fewer fees and have fewer upcharges than their ultra-low cost carrier brethren, such as Spirit or Ryan Air.

 

Want to subscribe? Just enter your email in the box above (and to the right) and click on the confirmation. GMailers, check your Social or Promotions boxes!

Follow me on Twitter @FFMiles101 or share with the Facebook button below.

And finally, you can apply for credit cards through the Credit Cards for Charity link above. All card proceeds are donated to charity, so please do well by doing good!

Small Luxury Hotels Of The World: Earn/Redeem Hyatt Points

One of the downsides to the Hyatt program is the lack of luxury properties in the system. True, it has Andaz, but that’s had a hard time gaining a presence. Never heard of Andaz? Precisely.

Enter Small Luxury Hotels Of The World

small luxury hotels of the world, slh

Some of the benefits that you will get if you stay at SLH properties via Hyatt

In lieu of its own hotels, Hyatt has partnered with Small Luxury Hotels of the World, an alliance of smaller, specialty hotels that offer a product that the mega-chains can’t offer. It’s a nice way to stay at an independent luxury property using your points.

You can also earn Hyatt points at these properties. You’ll earn the standard five points per dollar spent and receive the additional benefits above.

At this point, only 50 or so properties are participating, and you can see which ones they are through the link found on their offer page. Hopefully, they’ll be expanding the partnership to all of SLH’s properties.

 

 

Want to subscribe? Just enter your email in the box above (and to the right) and click on the confirmation. GMailers, check your Social or Promotions boxes!

Follow me on Twitter @FFMiles101 or share with the Facebook button below.

And finally, you can apply for credit cards through the Credit Cards for Charity link above. All card proceeds are donated to charity, so please do well by doing good!

And Now, For Something Different: Why Business Travel Isn’t Always All It’s Cracked Up To Be

One of the questions that I see most frequently is “How do I find a job that will get me lots of travel (and frequent flyer miles)?”

I remember my first business trip, which was to New York in 2000. It was great. I got to stay in a nice hotel and order room service. I set my own schedule. When my flight was cancelled due to weather, I didn’t have to wait in line because I could just call our corporate travel agent. When I thought of business travel, before I was actually doing it, that’s how I pictured that it would be all the time.

18 years later, it’s a little more nuanced. I understand the appeal of the question above, but more and more, I’m starting to think it’s the wrong question. I’m increasingly thinking that the correct question is “Do I want a job with a lot of travel?”

I woke up thinking about this question while preparing for a week-long business trip to France*,  and the answer isn’t as easy as it sounds. Business travel is often one of those “treats” that sounds like more fun than it actually is. That goes double if you don’t have control over when and where you travel. You may take a job because of your friends in the city, only to find that you’ll never actually be in that city. Here are several reasons that business travel can be no fun, including how it pertains to the points and miles games.

Where you go

business travel

No, you won’t be traveling here for business. You just won’t.

You may not like where you end up. Sure, you may get that trip in February to Arizona which is more golf than work, but you probably won’t, especially if you are a consultant (one of the top jobs for travel). Rather, you may find yourself at a company’s remote headquarters, staying in a no-name hotel and with only an Applebee’s across the street. Speaking of which, if you’re not in a location with access to a lot of restaurant options, be prepared to eat a lot of salty and/or fatty foods.

Of course, if you end up at a conference in a great location, you’re guaranteed a good time, right? Not necessarily. A conference room in Las Vegas looks the same as any other one around the world.

How you get there

You may not like your choice of airline/hotels. The fact that you want to fly Delta doesn’t mean that your company wants you to fly Delta. Likewise for your preferred hotel program. Most companies have strict rules around travel, putting you either on a preferred carrier/hotel that gives them a discount, or the lowest fare you can find, which may include ultra-low cost carriers like Spirit, which don’t have real frequent flyer programs.

I’m also seeing an increasing number of companies that don’t let employees fly business class on international flights, regardless of their seniority. Want to know how to take the fun out of travel? Try a middle seat in coach on an overnight flight where you have to work the day of arrival. You may not be in much of a mood to function, but your company’s shareholders will be that much happier.

It’s Socially Isolating

 There’s no shortage of studies that indicate that our screens make us less happy. If you’re on the road as a solo traveler, though, you may not have much else. I was laid off in 2010 and out of work for a year, and the worst part of it was not having office mates to talk to or clients/suppliers to interact with during the day. Being on the road four days per week can lead to the same sense of isolation. Whether you’re installing a technology system or listening to speakers at a conference, you’re simply not interacting with people the same way you would at home.

Despite that fact, it is almost impossible to disconnect. Even on international flights, many employees are expected (or feel obligated) to stay connected. And since you’re not in the office, you may have a hard time switching off your phone, in case you miss something important (Hint: You won’t.).

True, many of the people asking about jobs with travel are young and unattached, so there’s a bit more appeal to getting out on the road. But when you have a spouse and kids at home, you’re always leaving somebody behind. There’s no worse feeling than saying goodbye to a child who is saying, “Daddy, don’t go!”

It’s Not Good for Your Health

business travel

Doctor poses!

It can be very difficult to stay healthy on the road. If you’re traveling a long way, particularly for a short period of time, the stress can be worse. The advice is to adapt to your new time zone as quickly as possible, but that’s much easier said than done. You may be eating exclusively at restaurants, which will make it harder to eat healthily (Delivery services may make that fact easier or harder, depending on your will power.). In other words, it can be a tough environment.

Summing up…

 First, I don’t expect any sympathy for my “plight.” As I write this, I’m waiting comfortably at Logan Airport and about to fly business class to France. The fact that the Air France product is lie-flat-at-an-angle, rather than fully horizontal, is clearly a first-world problem. Tomorrow, or the next day, I may end up writing a glowing review of the Air France business class product. But that doesn’t offset the fact that I’ll spend most of the next week jetlagged and missing my family.

I’m lucky. I usually get to choose where I go and when I go, which puts me in the minority of business travelers. And when I realized that this would likely be the last business trip that I would have to take until February, I felt relief, something that might not have been the case 15 years ago.

Overall, the opportunity to travel has made me enjoy my jobs more and probably made me a more open-minded person overall. And it has certainly enhanced my personal travel, as miles and points earned for business trips have facilitated vacations.

In other words, if you are looking for a job that offers a lot of travel, they’re certainly out there. But don’t forget that the downside to a job with a lot of travel can be…a lot of travel.

 


*People travel to France. No one ever says that they are traveling to Paris, since it sounds like bragging, or at least that it’s simply a trip for fun. It’s kind of the same way that nobody ever says that they went to Harvard (even when asked), knowing that as soon as they use the H-word, somebody will say, “Oooh, Harrr-vard,” in a mocking tone and pretend to genuflect, even if they were the one that asked the question. For what it’s worth, I didn’t go to Harvard.

 

Want to subscribe? Just enter your email in the box above (and to the right) and click on the confirmation. GMailers, check your Social or Promotions boxes!

Follow me on Twitter @FFMiles101 or share with the Facebook button below.

And finally, you can apply for credit cards through the Credit Cards for Charity link above. All card proceeds are donated to charity, so please do well by doing good!

CVS Black Friday: $17.29 In Goods For $.23

My favorite Thanksgiving tradition has returned!

CVS offers a loyalty program awards called “ExtraBucks (EB).” If you make purchases of certain products, they will give you a rebate in the form of a coupon.

Every year, CVS runs a Black Friday promotion in which it offers a certain number of products for free*. Buy the product and they will give you back EB equaling exactly what you spent for the item, i.e., if you buy the promoted item for $1, they’ll give you a dollar back in CVS currency. Then, you use that coupon to buy another “free” product for $1, etc. So part of my holiday “fun” is to see how many items you can get for as little money out of pocket (OOP) as possible. Sure, there are a number of items that are “almost free,” but what’s the challenge in that?

This year’s special is the worst that I have ever seen, but it still has some useful items that you can get for free. Remember, if you don’t want it, you probably have a friend or charity that does.

2018 Freebies (ExtraBucks)

cvs, black friday

Check your CVS circular for a page that looks like this.

I’ve seen better. Haven’t seen much worse. The trick to getting as much loot as possible for as little money is possible is to have a total value of goods that is an easily divisible number. This year’s total is $13.79, which means that there is going to be some dead money somewhere.* Fear not, you’re still getting a good deal.

There are a number of ways to break down the deals, but I’m going to use a target price of $4.08, which means that I want to look for deals that are as close in price to that number without going over. I do it based on whatever the first combination is. Here’s how to order your purchases:

  1. Buy the Ibuprofen ($3.19) and Just The Basics Bathroom Tissue ($.89). Total=4.08
  2. Buy the pantiliners ($.99), baby wipes ($.99) and razors (1.99). Total=$3.96. The dead money is $.12 ($4.08-3.96).
  3. Buy the Orbit/Wrigley’s gum ($.99), Green Giant ($1.89) and Just The Basics paper towels ($.99). Total=$3.87. The dead money is $.09 ($3.96-$3.87).
  4. Use the $1.89 EB coupon from the Green Giant to buy the Charcoal facial masks. Total=$1.87. The dead money is $.02 ($1.89-$1.87).

You should now have three EB coupons left. Two are for $.99 each (the gum and the paper towels) and one for $1.87 (the facial masks), meaning that you have $3.85 to use in the future at CVS. Your total out of pocket expense (the dead money) is $.23.

There’s Still One Left!

Now, go back to the cover page. If your circular is similar to mine, there is an offer for Colgate toothpaste in the top left hand corner. It normally costs $3.50 but, if you scan your CVS card, they’ll give you a $3.00 instant coupon to combine with a $.50 manufacturer’s coupon in the app. That’s another $3.50 for free, giving you a grand total of $17.29.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

 


*”Dead Money” is the amount you lose when the product you are buying is less than the coupon value. For example, if you have a $1 coupon and use it to buy an item for $.99, the EB  rebate will be a coupon for only $.99. Your dead money is $.01.

 

Want to subscribe? Just enter your email in the box above (and to the right) and click on the confirmation. GMailers, check your Social or Promotions boxes!

Follow me on Twitter @FFMiles101 or share with the Facebook button below.

And finally, you can apply for credit cards through the Credit Cards for Charity link above. All card proceeds are donated to charity, so please do well by doing good!

Thanksgiving (Travel) Is Back!

Well, it’s back. Thanksgiving traffic. Last night, I spent about 30 minutes in triple-parked traffic at the arrivals area at Boston’s Logan Airport, and it served as a reminder of what is to come. This year is going to be one of the busiest travel periods in Thanksgiving history and the northeast is awash in weather, so I’ve pulled some hints to help you be prepared.

I don’t have to tell anyone here that Thanksgiving is among the worst times for air travel. Flights are packed, cost a fortune and lines are interminable. Here are a few hints that might help to speed you on your way:

  • Do Anything You Can At Home: The less you have to do at the airport, the better. This means printing your boarding passes at home (or checking in by mobile) and deciding what you are going to do with your luggage. If you are checking bags, have everything tagged and ready to go for your airline’s designated “baggage drop” area. If you have Pre-Check, make sure your boarding pass indicates as such.

 

  • Have Your Kids Prepared: Traveling with little people? Assume that you will have delays and pack snacks appropriately. Here’s how to determine what you need for snacks: Determine the amount of snacks that you think you will need for the entire flight. Then double it. Then triple it. Then double it again. That amount will last you about an hour. And make sure that the iPads are charged to 100%. No guarantee of power ports on the plane. Don’t forget the books. Etc.

 

  • Know Your Airport: Remember, you don’t have to sit right next to your gate. Get to your airport early. If you have lounge access, take advantage of it. Secluded area? Good, sit and enjoy lunch.

 

  • Know Flight Alternatives: Chances are, every flight is packed but, just in case, know a few alternatives to your destination in case your flight is cancelled. Also, check with your credit card company to find out what kind of travel insurance you have. Last-minute tickets cost a fortune.

 

  • And Finally (And Probably Most Important): Don’t be “that guy.”  Something will go wrong and it’s likely not the fault of the gate agent or, for that matter, anyone else at the airport. This is definitely a situation where honey>vinegar when it comes to catching flies. As the person in my family most likely to turn into “that guy” when I get frustrated, I read this point a couple of times.

 

Good luck out there! Go in prepared and expecting the worst and you’ll have a great trip.

 

Want to subscribe? Just enter your email in the box above (and to the right) and click on the confirmation. GMailers, check your Social or Promotions boxes!

Follow me on Twitter @FFMiles101 or share with the Facebook button below.

And finally, you can apply for credit cards through the Credit Cards for Charity link above. All card proceeds are donated to charity, so please do well by doing good!

Delta Sky Club Changes: Eliminating Day Passes, Raising Prices

Delta announced two changes at its Sky Club lounges yesterday, one good and one potentially bad. Here’s a quick peek:

Goodbye, Day Passes

delta, skyclub

Getting an email with this title gives me the same feeling as when a pilot starts an announcement with, “Well, folks…” while we’re stuck on the runway

Most people know that major airlines offer lounges, which are generally membership-based and charge a fee. What a lot of travelers don’t know, though, is that some airlines will sell non-members a day pass, which gives you a nice place to relax when you get a six-hour weather delay.

That’s no longer the case at Delta, which is eliminating the ability to buy your way in for the day. I view the change as a good thing for current lounge members. Lounges are getting increasingly crowded, as increasing numbers of people own credit cards that can get them access. Delta in particular needs some crowd control, since it also lets its top-tier Diamond members in. I’m guessing that they don’t sell a ton of day passes but, combined with rules that limit access to the day of flight, it may be just a little easier to find a seat.

Hello, Higher Prices

delta, sky club

Just get a high-end credit card

Lounge memberships were never cheap, and that won’t change in 2019, as Delta announced a price increase of $50-100, depending on whether you get the individual or “family” membership. It shouldn’t move the needle too much, though. For most people, it makes more sense to get the Delta Reserve American Express card, which comes with lounge access, as well as a bunch of other benefits. It costs $450 per year which, last time I checked, was less than $450.

 

Want to subscribe? Just enter your email in the box above (and to the right) and click on the confirmation. GMailers, check your Social or Promotions boxes!

Follow me on Twitter @FFMiles101 or share with the Facebook button below.

And finally, you can apply for credit cards through the Credit Cards for Charity link above. All card proceeds are donated to charity, so please do well by doing good!

Cash And Miles Back From Holiday Shopping

With Thanksgiving coming up in a week, it’s about to be that time of year, when advertisements turn from politics to shopping.

One of my major rules for shopping on the internet is never to buy anything without getting something back for it, although that rule is increasingly beginning to apply to brick and mortar stores, as well. Here are a few ways that you can earn some cash back, some of which I have discussed before, some of which are new.*

Online Shopping Sites

cashback shopping

Get something back for buying these

Buying stuff online? Be sure to do so through one of these online shopping sites. You can get either miles or cash back, although the cash is probably worth a bit more than the miles. You’ve probably heard of Ebates (also listed through that link), but there are others that are even better.

It’s simple. Just go through one of the listed portals to access whatever merchant you are shopping at. They’ll link you right to the store’s website and the store gives them a commission for doing so, which they share with you. In other words, you can go directly to the company’s website and earn nothing, or access it through one of the above sites and get something back. Which sounds better?

Note: There are about a million of these shopping portals, almost all of which can get you rebates at just about any store you can think of (with one big exception; Amazon doesn’t participate in most of these programs, although there is a way around that, as well). But if you want a good one that works consistently, my favorite is Mr. Rebates.

Amazon Smile

cashback shopping

Amazon Smile will give you one of those smiles

And, possibly the best of the cashback shopping programs is Amazon Smile. You get nothing from Amazon Smile, but every time you shop there, they donate 0.5% of the total amount to a charity of your choice.

Amazon is one of the most popular merchants in the world and they don’t participate with many other cash back programs, so this is a good way to do well by doing good.

Earny

earny

Cool site, creepy logo

Last on the list is Earny. Earny is a bit different and has potentially the biggest upside for money back.

Many retailers and credit cards have policies that, if you spot a lower price within a certain period of time, they’ll give you the difference. The problem is that nobody wants to take the time to look for it. Earny does the work for you.  It tracks your purchases, looking for a lower price, either at the same store or a competitor. If it finds one, it applies for the rebate on your behalf and automatically credits the card you used to make the purchase. You don’t have to do anything. It keeps 25% of the refund as a fee. Truthfully, I had completely forgotten that I had ever signed up for it until last week, when I got an email alerting me to a $90 price adjustment on a $275 purchase. that I had made a few days earlier.

Earny will rebate you in one of two situations:

Retailer Price Protection

earny

Get cash back for up to 30 days after your purchase

Retail protection takes advantage of price match guarantees offered by the retailers themselves. The above retailers offer to match lower prices so, for the first 30 days after your purchase, regardless of which credit card you use, Earny will do the searching for you at the above merchants. I’m pretty sure that that’s how I got my refund.

Credit Card Protection

earny

Stores covered under the credit card protection

Credit Card Protection is a bit more robust and is based on the policies of the card issuers themselves, many of whom also offer price protection. You are covered for 90 days if you use a participating card and shop at a participating store. Participating credit cards are all Citibank cards, as well as MasterCards from Capital One, US Bank, Barclays, Bank of America and First Premier Bank and select Visas. The covered stores are listed above.

Earny Security

As you can imagine, the company is pretty particular about security, and their policy is here. Here’s a hint: If you don’t want to share your email info with them, establish a second email just for Earny. For example, if your email is 12345@gmail.com, sign up for an account with the email earny12345@gmail.com. Problem solved.

Earny is a referral website, and I really appreciate it if you use my link to sign up. Feel free to add your own link in the comments.

The Bottom Line

There are a ton of opportunities either to earn cash or help a charity with your holiday shopping. Be sure to take advantage of them.

 


*Some of these links are referral links and I may get something if you sign up. I really appreciate it and you will likely also get a sign-up bonus. Per my policy, if I know of a method to get you a larger sign-up bonus, I will do so, even if it’s not a referral link. It’s all part of the service around here.

 

Want to subscribe? Just enter your email in the box above (and to the right) and click on the confirmation. GMailers, check your Social or Promotions boxes!

Follow me on Twitter @FFMiles101 or share with the Facebook button below.

And finally, you can apply for credit cards through the Credit Cards for Charity link above. All card proceeds are donated to charity, so please do well by doing good!