Cash back for Valentine’s Day flowers; where to buy for your loved one

Really, you can get cash back at any time of the year for buying flowers, but there’s always some good specials around Valentine’s Day.  The trick, of course, is to use a cash-back shopping site.

Big Crumbs has merchants offering anywhere from 6% to 12% back on your purchases.  But be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the screen to click on the link for up to 40% off your 1-800-FLOWERS order in addition to 10.8% back.  Just put “flowers” in the search bar on the site and it will pull up all the relevant offers.

 

Mr. Rebates is offering from 3 to 18% back on flowers purchases.  You’ll likely be able to find similar deals to the ones at Big Crumbs above.  Just keep an eye out for the restrictions, including those on using bonus codes found outside of Mr. Rebates.  You want to make sure to get your cash.

As always, shop around, but before you make your purchase, clear your cookies so the purchase tracks correctly.

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Miles for Valentine’s Day love; bonus codes for extra miles

Note: When it comes to big holidays, the best offers for online shopping often aren’t on the carrier’s website.  Frequently, they offer bonuses that aren’t listed.  Here’s a few codes for February 14:

American’s website is offering 15 miles per dollar at FTD and 1-800-flowers.com, as well as 1,000 miles per order at Telaflora.  But head over here for 30 miles per dollar at 1-900-flowers.com or here for 30 miles at FTD.  Secondary bonus: at the latter, use your American Airlines credit card (if you have one) for an extra 200 miles.  Hey, every bit counts.

United Airlines is good enough to match the offer, with 30 miles per dollar spent at FTD here.  No matching offer from 1-800-flowers yet, but I’m sure they’ll come through for us.

FTD also came through at US Airways, but only to the tune of 25 miles per dollar spent.  Check it out here, although you might as well get the American miles, since your US Airways miles will become American miles once the two merge.

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FTD and Delta: Up to 35 miles per dollar spent

So I’m starting with the Valentine’s day posts, given the mileage earnings opportunities out there.  For Delta, you can earn as much as 35 miles per dollar spent, with an additional 500 just for placing the order.  The standard pricing is 20 miles per dollar spent, but there is a special elite code that gets you the bonus miles.  There’s no reason not to try out that elite code, even if you do not have elite status.  If you are placing the order over the phone, use promo number 34825.

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It’s been a quiet week…

So I didn’t want you to think that I had forgotten about you.  🙂

Next week, I’m going to prep for Valentine’s Day by seeing where you can get the most miles for your dollars on flowers.  Hey, every bit helps!

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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!

American, US Airways: bonus miles for flying each other

Here’s a new one: As American and US Airways work through the merger, they’re trying extra hard to make the passengers see them as one airline.  Bonus miles always does that for me.

 

Click here to register for the American side of the promo, which gives you 50% extra AA miles when you fly on a US Airways plane but give them your AA number for your frequent flyer miles.  You won’t get US Airways miles, but you will get the 50% bonus and, since US Airways will eventually be American anyway, your accounts will get merged.  Promo is good from January 13-March 2.

It works the other way, as well.  Click here to register for the exact same program, except you’ll get the bonus miles for your US Airways account when you fly AA.

Hey, it’s free to register, so go ahead and do so.  It doesn’t cost you anything if you don’t fly.

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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!

Why you need a Facebook and Twitter account, even if you hate Facebook and Twitter

This post is for those of you who don’t have FB or Twitter and don’t want one.  Yeah, I know, they’re annoying and generate privacy concerns.  But those problems are solvable.

The fact remains that social media is becoming the number one outlet for airlines to release specials and bonuses, and the gap versus other means will widen.  If you don’t have an account, you’ll miss out on those.  Furthermore, problems get solved a lot faster on social media than on the phone or by email.  If you have a customer service model and tweet it, tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people will see it.  Phone call or email?  Only you.  Guess whose problem the airline wants to solve first.

The number one reason that people stay away from social media is privacy concerns.  Fortunately, if you have a FB or Twitter account, there’s a simple fix: no one says you have to use your real name or personal information.  You can sign up for FB as Joe Blow and nobody will be any the wiser.  In fact, it’s becoming increasingly acceptable, particularly for those who just want access to deals.  You never need to post anything or put up any personal information.  Heck, you can make up an email address just for these accounts.

The bottom line: A FB or Twitter account costs you nothing.  Using a pseudonym protects your privacy.  And you’ll have access to a lot of great deals and superior customer service.

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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!

Jet Blue: What are badges?

As a way to make the loyalty program “fun and competitive,” Jet Blue offers its TrueBlue frequent flyer members an additional “award” known as badges.  Primarily just fun to look at and keep track of your trips, certain badges also offer you free points.  Connect your Twitter account, for instance, and get 250 points.  Connect your Facebook and get another 500.  And so on and so forth.

The badges are cheesy, but many offer free points and can be fun to collect.  I wouldn’t fly Jet Blue just for the badges, but they’re an extra freebie for you.

Note: My next note will be on why you must, and I mean must, have a Facebook and Twitter account, even if you hate everything they stand for.  No personal information necessary.

In the meantime, read about badges here.

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Jet Blue adds promotions

There’s nothing like the smell of desperation in the air, and the odor is coming from Jet Blue, which is becoming increasingly marginalized as the major carriers merge.  Fortunately, Jet Blue has been kind enough to throw a few bonuses our way.

The first one is double elite status points through March 3.  You need to register, book and fly during the period and, unfortunately, flights booked prior to the beginning of the promo period won’t count.  You can register for the promo here.  Look down the left-hand side and click on “Current Deals.”

Bonus 2: Take seven flights in 2014, get 7,000 True Blue points.  No registration needed.

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How much is a mile worth, anyway?

As you’ve noticed, in the areas where I reference earning miles for shopping, I also offer options for receiving cash back.  That may not make sense on a site dedicated to frequent flyer miles, but I don’t want my readers to lose sight of one fact: While frequent flyer miles are fun to collect (Some of us are a bit obsessive.), they may not be worth what another reward would get you.Let’s break it down by value.

On average, I value a mile at somewhere between a penny and two cents per mile.  That’s the simple answer and will work for most people.  Domestic economy tickets are at the low end of value, while international first class tickets are way, way above the high end.  For example, I looked at a flight from Boston to Los Angeles, roundtrip, in coach, on American Airlines.  The flight was $318, or 25,000 miles (plus $20 in fees).  Under this scenario, your miles are worth $.012 each ($298/25,000).  Furthermore, that flight would generate an additional 5,000 or so miles if you paid for it, but nothing if you used miles for it (Tickets booked on miles don’t earn miles.).  So, after all is said and done, you are only get a penny of value per mile.  Numerous credit cards will give you this value or better.

But miles can also give you tremendous value.  For instance, let’s say you’re going from Boston to Bali.  Given the distance, you can now fly an international carrier, which generally offers better service than US carriers.  Much better.  So let’s go to the top of the food chain and fly first class on Cathay Pacific.  You’d end up using 135,000 miles roundtrip, plus pay approximately $290 in fees.  Wanna pay cash?  That ticket will cost you $23,000.   And change.  Those miles have just earned you $.17 per mile.  Try finding a credit card that will give you $.17 per dollar spent (as opposed to a mile per dollar spent, standard for a credit card)!

But that leads to another, more philosophical question: Would you ever have spent $23,000 for that ticket in the first place?  Because if you wouldn’t have, you can’t value the miles as $.17 each.  If you would have only been willing to spend, say, $2,000 for that ticket, those tickets are worth only $.013 each.  Now, it’s highly unlikely you would have ever gotten those tickets for $2,000 each, so you can argue that the whole argument is futile.  But it leads us where I’d really like to go, to the more sophisticated answer: the miles are worth exactly what you are trading off for them, or your point of indifference.

Huh?  Miles shouldn’t really require this much work, but this post is all for theoretical fun anyway, so let’s go with it.

Example: Let’s say you have two credit cards, one that gives you back 2% on all purchases and one that gives you one mile per dollar spent.  If you make a purchase that gives you miles instead of cash, you value your miles at at least $02 each.  Why is that?  Because you’re giving up $.02 per dollar spent by not using the cash back card.  If you used the cash back card instead, you’d be valuing your miles at some figure less than $.02 per mile.

Here’s the bottom line: There is no bottom line.  Even if you get a great deal using miles, you also have to factor in such things as award availability (i.e., is the award going to be available when you want to use miles) and the miles that you are giving up by not paying for the ticket.  And in a scenario where the value of the mile equals what you could get in cash, take the cash.  The more fungible, the better.

Obviously, when you are flying, you have no choice but to get miles, but when you are doing any sort of shopping, you’re almost always better off with the cash back.  It’s rare that the miles will end up being worth more than a penny each, and that’s just too low a trade-off.  You could make the argument that the first class, international tickets are worth collecting miles for, and that’s absolutely true, but it will take a while to get there.

One more thing: You might question why I would be writing a blog about frequent flyer miles but, in this post, advocating that you use an alternative.  The answer is simple: While I’m explaining how the miles work and what you can do with them, I’m not going to be an advocate for frequent flyer miles simply because I write a blog about them.  You’ll obviously get plenty of miles for flying and you can do well by opening a new credit card with a great mileage offer, but be aware of what you are getting when you have alternatives.

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Orbitz: My top choice for online travel sites

One of the mistakes that I make is assuming that readers always read through these posts in chronological order.  Most just start from the top and go backwards.  Thus, I’d suggest reading the Expedia post below before reading this one.

Bottom line: Orbitz is by far the better program.  It’s not even close.  Here are some of the keys:

  • Flights: Earn 1% on flight purchases.  You can earn up to $50 per year this way (i.e., no more than $5,000 in spend on flights per year).  You’ll also earn your airline’s frequent flyer points.  Taxes and fees are excluded.
  • You earn 3% on hotel bookings, but that number goes up to 5% if you book on a mobile app.  For 5%, I’d consider giving up the hotel points that you would have gotten if you’d booked on the hotel’s direct site.  But be sure to check on Big Crumbs or Mr. Rebates for a possible rebate first.  That way, you could get both a rebate and hotel points.
  • Packages: Earn 1%.
  • Earn through the referral program.  You both win.  If you refer somebody, they will get a $25 promo code for their first hotel and you’ll get $25 in Orbitz bucks (Orbucks) when they complete their first hotel stay of at least $50.  For those who choose to sign up and pick up the extra reward, my referral code is here.  Many thanks.
  • One downside: Orbucks expire 12 months after you earn them.  In other words, don’t horde them.

Elite Status

Orbitz has two levels of elite status, Star and SuperStar, which are achieved after four and 12 nights, respectively.   The first level gets you priority customer service access (handy when your flight gets cancelled) and extra benefits at hotels.  The second gets you concierge service.  Not a big deal, but it helps.

The bottom line is that you should definitely consider booking airfare and possibly hotel rooms (after checking for potential rebates at cash back sites) through Orbitz.  There’s some big upside.

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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!