How To Get To Israel Cheaply

How To Get To Israel Cheaply

There are few places on earth that hold the special place that Israel does for Christians (and Jews). When it comes to taking a pilgrimage to a religious site, none will rank higher than the geographic location that Jesus actually inhabited during his time on earth.

Most Christians will likely think that getting to Israel is beyond their means. This is not necessarily the case, and singles and couples can find it fairly easy to check Israel off of their travel bucket lists with fairly small out-of-pocket expenses. Even families have options that can help them alleviate many of the costs. The following post will look at 1. How to get to Israel with frequent flyer miles, 2. How to cut down on lodging costs, and 3. How to save money on day trips from Tel Aviv to some of the leading sites within Israel.

Travel To Israel

The first step to take when looking at how to get to Israel cheaply is to find out what airlines will actually get you there from the US. Fortunately, there are three major alliances that allow travelers from the US to get to the Holy Land without actually flying on United, Delta, or American all the way over. With partner airlines, it is possible to fly to Israel without breaking the bank. Unless you’re looking to stop over in a European city that allows for cheap flights to Israel from the continent, you’ll probably be better off using Star Alliance, which is United’s partnership, or SkyTeam, which is Delta’s. You’ll want to search for flights to Tel Aviv (TLV), as it is the main airport in the country.

It should be possible to get enough frequent flyer miles to travel to Israel with one or two credit card signup bonuses. United will get you to Tel Aviv for 42,500 miles and $5.60 in economy class, depending upon the airport you leave from. Periodically, the United Mileage Plus credit card will offer a signup bonus of 50,000 miles, and this cache of points would pay for a one-way ticket on its own. It’s also possible to get to TLV for 35,000 Delta SkyMiles and $167 or to get back for the same number of miles a $208.49.

Note the image below that shows a flight from the US to Tel Aviv on United in April 2017 for 42,500 Mileage Plus miles and $5.60. I chose to search from Fargo, ND, to show that it’s possible to get to Tel Aviv on points without departing from a major hub.

United Airlines flight to Tel Aviv
Fargo to Tel Aviv, on United Airlines award ticket

American Express will frequently offer bonuses that are higher than the 35,000 needed for a one-way flight to or from the Middle East on a Delta credit card. Additionally, both American Express and Chase offer flexible points programs that allow for transfers to Delta, United and other airlines that could be beneficial toward getting to Israel. Both of these programs allow for trasnfers to the Flying Blue program that’s run by KLM and Air France. Flying Blue treats the Middle East as part of Europe so it might be possible to save points this way. The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on the card in the first three months after approval. The annual fee of $95 is waived for the first year.

Staying In Israel

There are some pretty reasonable lodging options in Tel Aviv. Expedia lists several apartment options, and the cheapest rate for one of these apartments is lower than $100 a night for Spring Break. There appear to be similar options available for Jerusalem although they are fewer in number. Those who want to stay on points at the same time could have nearly enough for three free nights at the Sheraton Tel Aviv just by meeting the minimum spending for the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card from American Express.

It would also be possible to get two nights from the signup bonuses from the Marriott Rewards Premier card or the IHG Rewards card. The Marriott card has an $85 annual fee, but its 80,000 point bonus could be used in coordination with the Starwood bonus to get five nights at the same hotel in Tel Aviv. Marriott recently bought out Starwood, and it offers the fifth night of a stay on points for free. The Hilton properties that are available would be cost prohibitive when paying with points, but the Hilton HHonors Reserve card offers two free weekend nights for a $95 annual fee. All of these cards could be mixed and matched to extend the length of your free stay.

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem
The Temple Mount in Jerusalem CC BY-SA 4.0 via Andrew Shiva, Wikimedia Commons

When considering how to get to Israel cheaply, lodging is definitely a portion of the expense that needs to be taken into account. On that note, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card offers users at least $530 of free travel that could go toward lodging or the taxes that arise from flying to Israel, but this might also be useful for another purpose as noted below. When thinking about where to stay in Israel, remember that Jerusalem is going to have more of the holy sites, while Tel Aviv is going to be better for those who want to spend some time on a Mediterranean beach. Of course, staying in Tel Aviv and taking day trips from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem or other famous sites could give you the best of both worlds.

Day Trips In Israel

Now that you’ve figured out how to get to Israel, regardless of where you’re looking to stay during your time in the Holy Land, it’s probably going to be necessary to take a couple of day trips to places like Jerusalem, Masada, the Sea of Galilee or the Dead Sea. There are Christian and Jewish (and even Muslim) sites all around Israel, and if you’re looking to walk in the steps of Jesus, these trips can help you check some important items off of your bucket list. Again, credit card signup bonuses can take care of some of the costs. A card like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus could reimburse you for your day trips in Israel if your tour operators code their transactions in the travel category. Here are some of the best day tours from Tel Aviv as noted on Trip Advisor.

When Looking At How To Get To Israel Cheaply, Credit Cards Can Make It Happen

With even one or two credit card signup bonuses, it is possible to substantially cut the cost that you might think necessary to visit Israel. With three or four, it could even be possible to spend just a few hundred for ground transportation , food and souvenirs with lodging, flights and tours taken care of. Families might have to be a bit more creative, but it is still possible to save hundreds, if not thousands, on a trip to Israel when pooling the bonuses and thinking about one-way tickets and other nontraditional options.

Have any other ideas about saving money on a trip to Israel? Any questions? Be sure to let us know in the comments.

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Setting Goals To Achieve Success

Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. This is a common refrain that I’ve heard many times in my life. Another example is the statement that those who aim for nothing will hit it every time. I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t want to fail to hit anything. This is why I’ve set some long-term goals. The beginning of a new year is a good time to set up new goals.

Consider How To Get There

The most important step in setting goals is knowing where you want to go in life. Perhaps you want to become an engineer. This would require going to school for an engineering degree. The same goes for becoming a teacher, a lawyer, or a doctor. If you’d rather become an entrepreneur, schooling might not be quite so necessary. There are many successful entrepreneurs who haven’t completed a degree, among them are such billionaires and Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. However, these innovators had big ideas and the technical know-how to achieve their goals.

Set Up Checkpoints To Measure Success

It’s a good idea to break up major goals into smaller chunks. This is where short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals come into play. In the example of getting an engineering degree, the long-term goal is getting the degree and getting licensed. A good short-term goal might be passing Calculus 1. After getting through the short-term goals, the medium-term goals will become the new short-term goals. Evaluating goals is a constant necessity.

Here are some goals that I’ve been interested in.

Passive Income Can Lead to Financial Success

I recently read the book Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin. Questioning some of the purchases that we frequently make can help us cut expenses that require life energy to pay for. When we make more money than we spend, what’s left over is capital that we can use toward an emergency fund or toward building passive income. I’ve decided after reading up on blogs like Dividend Growth Investor that trying to build up a portfolio of dividend growth stocks like Omega Healthcare Investors and Coca-Cola can provide a growing stream of passive income through growth in the annual dividend payments and through the deployment of additional capital. My long-term goal is building up enough passive income to pay for living expenses. My short-term goal might be to get to $1,000 in forward dividend income by the end of the year.

B & O Stock Certificate
B&O Stock Certificate, public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Online Earning Could Be A Smart Goal

While it’s possible to build up passive income with many jobs, many people will have a problem having enough excess capital to grow much passive income on their main salary. This is where earning a bit of money on the side can help. This excess money can then go toward savings if it’s not required for paying ordinary living expenses. It’s also possible to earn quite a nice sum from making money online. There are many lists online that offer ways to make money, some without spending a penny. I’ve used these methods to earn thousands over the past few years.

Paying Off Debt

Debt can really be a drag. The more you have, the closer you might be to financial ruin. It’s hard to grow a strong stream of passive income and a solid net worth with massive amounts of debt. Setting a goal for paying down debt over time can be a worthy goal to achieve that can definitely aid in your overall financial success.

Achieving Travel Goals

I love to travel. Therefore, some of my goals have to do with visiting some cool places around the US and the world. I had a goal of taking my family to Europe on the cheap. I was able to do so, but before I could, I had to figure out a way to pay for most of the trip’s possible expenses with frequent  flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. I achieved this goal with some well-timed credit card signup bonuses like the ones offered on these five credit cards that you could get in 2017.  I’m already strategizing two trips ahead with the credit cards I’m using.

The process of setting and achieving goals can be a great process that can help you gain the success that you’re looking for.  Setting up mileposts along the way can help you gauge how you’re doing in the process. If you don’t set any goals, one thing is certain. You won’t accomplish them.

Have you set any goals this year? Let us know in the comments.

Also, if you’d like to keep up with new posts and ideas for maximizing your resources in life (including time), be sure to sign up for email updates in the box at the top of the page and via our Twitter account @moneyinpajamas.

$20 for Signing Up to Rent Games

If you’re looking to build up your budget post-holidays and you have a gamer in your life, Swagbucks (the online rewards site that puts cash back in your wallet) has an AMAZING offer through Gamefly where you get 2000 SB (which is the equivalent of $20 in gift cards) for signing up.

Gamefly allows you to rent games for lots of different consoles including Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii, PS3, PS4, etc, with no late fees ever. Members can also play 100’s of PC games for free! You can try it out for 2 months at a price of $10 AND get 2000 SB by using this link!

Haven’t tried Swagbucks yet? This is a great way to do it, and when you sign up through the link above and get your 2000 SB, you’ll get a bonus 300 SB at the beginning of February. So that’s $10 for trying Gamefly, which gets you 2300 SB, which means you make $13 off the deal!

Swago Shopping Edition for January

Swagbucks is hosting another round of Shopping Swago! What is SWAGO you ask? It’s a bingo-inspired promotion run by Swagbucks, a website that rewards you with points (called SB) for completing everyday online activities. You can redeem those SB for free gift cards. If you’ve never used Swagbucks, participating in SWAGO is a great introduction to the site and an easy way to earn a good amount of points quickly. Now that the holidays are over and you bought presents for everyone else, why not treat yourself to some online shopping and earn cash back while you’re at it?

Here’s what you need to know to get your 200 SB ($2) Bonus (and don’t worry, you don’t have to make a purchase to complete a pattern):

    • Shop Swago will begin on Monday, January 9th at 9am PDT/12pm EDT, make sure you hit “Join” otherwise you won’t get credit for completing the action items. Each square on your Swago Board will contain an action item to complete.
    • Once you complete the action item in a particular square the square will change color signifying the action item is complete.
    • You have a limited amount of time to mark off as many squares as possible so use your time wisely.
    • Be mindful of the patterns and their corresponding bonuses located on the right of your Swago Board. The patterns will vary in difficulty and bonus value.
    • Once you’ve achieved a pattern the corresponding “Submit” button will light up. You can have multiple patterns available for submission, however, you can only submit ONE pattern so choose wisely.
    • The game ends Thursday, January 12th at 12pm PDT/3pm EDT. So make sure to hit “Submit” on the pattern you wish to submit. If you don’t hit “Submit” before the game ends you won’t receive your SB bonus.

Earn $5 By Signing Up For Swagbucks in January

Now that the holidays are over, a lot of us have gone into savings mode again as we rebuild our bank accounts from all that gift buying! Some of us have already started saving for the 2017 holidays! If you’re looking to extend your budget or just say within it, Swagbucks is a great resource for that.

You’ve probably seen me write about Swagbucks a lot on here. It’s a site where you earn points (called SB) for things you’re probably doing online already, like searching, watching videos, discovering deals, and taking surveys. Then you take those points and exchange them for gift cards to places like Amazon, Starbucks, Walmart, Target, or PayPal cash.

Here’s how you get your bonus:

1. Sign up using this link

2. Earn 300 SB total before 2/1/17. You’ll get a $3 (300 SB) bonus for it!

3. If you spend at least $25 through Swagbucks Shop* you’ll get another $2 (200 SB) bonus on top of the cash back you’ll get from shopping. If you have some shopping to do online, just go to Swagbucks first and visit the store through them. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but you’ll get SB points for every dollar you spend (on top of the bonus)!

That’s it. It’s super easy, and Swagbucks is for real. I use it myself, and I’ve earned more than $1,300 overall (more than $450 just last year). I’ve been using my SBs for PayPal cash that I then use to build up my investments and dividend income for the past year and a half. I’ve also used them for gift cards on Amazon and Wal-Mart in the past. Swagbucks is a great way to supplement your income.

*You must receive your shopping SB before March 1st

Chase Sapphire Reserve Take Two–Approved

Back in August, when the Chase Sapphire Reserve card first came out, I was super excited at the opportunity to get the killer 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points that came with the card after meeting a minimum spend. I’ve referred to this as the “Mother of All Credit Cards.” As I’ve noted before, I was rejected when I applied for the Sapphire Reserve.  I decided then to bide my time and wait a few months before applying again. I intended to wait until February or March because I wanted to make sure that I was able to offset the entire $450 annual fee , which is quite hefty, over two calendar years.  Imagine my surprise when I woke up on Wednesday morning and found out via Million Mile Secrets that the Reserve’s sign-up bonus was about to get halved.

Applying for the Chase Sapphire Reserve

I decided to jump immediately and go ahead and try to get the top travel credit card that I wanted to get in 2017, albeit a bit earlier than I wanted to get it. Applying was the first thing that I did after logging onto my laptop that morning. I sat down and filled out the three pages on the application and then waited on the decision. It seemed that it was taking quite a while, but it was probably less than a minute. Regardless, I was a bit nervous that I would again get the notice of a pending application, which generally means no. I was thrilled, however, when the next page popped up and noted that I’d been approved for the card.

Visa, MasterCard, and American Express
Credit cards via Wikimedia Commons

After I get the Sapphire Reserve in the mail, I intend to start using it exclusively so that I can meet the $4,000 spending requirement so that the 100,000-point bonus will kick in.

What To Do With the Sapphire Reserve’s Bonus

There are several different options when it comes to spending 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points. You could take four round-trip saver flights within the US on United Airlines.  I’ve seen one-way flights from Denver to Las Vegas or Los Angeles for just north of 2,000 Rapid Rewards points on Southwest Airlines. This bonus would take care of nearly 50 one-way flights between many US cities, and could also pay for at least four flights to Mexico from the US on Southwest, depending upon the date and whether any sales are ongoing from your departure city at the time you book. I got four tickets to Puerto Vallarta for about 23,000 Ultimate Rewards points when transferring them to Southwest last year.

It’s also possible to get two round-trip tickets from the US to Europe on Air France/KLM’s Flying Blue frequent flyer program with some of the discounted options that these companies offer from time to time. 100,000 would also be more than enough to get a one-way business-class ticket at the saver level or a round-trip economy ticket to just about any region of the world on United Airlines. These are just a few of the options that you could use to spend this massive cache of points, as they transfer at a 1:1 ratio to some of the leading loyalty programs around.

Additionally, if you’re looking to pay directly for flights, you could get 1.5 cents per point in value by going through the Chase travel portal. This could allow you to get multiple tickets to Europe with some of the sales that have been going on recently. Finally, you could just redeem them for 1 cent apiece and get a cool $1,000 in cash which is a pretty easy way to earn money in pajamas. Keep in mind that the sign-up bonus gets halved on January 11, so if you’re looking to get the Sapphire Reserve and the bonus, be sure to apply sooner, rather than later.  Also, be sure to check out more of my top credit card recommendations for 2017.

Snow Much Fun Collector’s Bills at Swagbucks Through January 8

One of my favorite things about using Swagbucks is that I can get rewards for searching the web through their search engine. Every now and then they have “Collector’s Bills” worth bonus SB points that you can collect by simply searching the web. Collect them all, and you get an SB Bonus! Once you’ve collected enough SB, you can redeem them for gift cards to stores like Walmart, Target, and many more!

Here’s all the information for this week’s Snow Much Fun Collector’s Bills:


Search the web through the Swagbucks search starting Monday, January 2nd through Sunday, January 8th, and when you get a search win, you may get a special Collector’s Bill valued at either:

  • 5 SB
  • 7 SB
  • 9 SB
  • 11 SB
  • 16 SB
  • 22 SB

When you get a Collector’s Bill you’ll receive the value of the bill and the bill will be added to your “Collector’s Bills” ledger. Collect all 6 Collector’s Bills and you’ll instantly earn a 20 SB Bonus!

Keep searching til you find them all!

December 2016 Passive Dividend Income

2016 is nearly in the books. It’s now officially December 31, and all of my dividend payments for the month, and year, have posted to my various accounts. I can’t believe that it’s been more than a year and a half since I first started the process of purchasing dividend-paying stocks in an attempt to increase passive income over time. As I’ve noted on more than one occasion, I truly believe that passive income is the best income. The more passive income that I have coming in, the better my cash flow, and the better my ability to retire one day will be.

I earn dividend payments no matter what I’m doing in a given month. I’m currently on a trip to visit relatives for the holidays. I’ve had some passive income show up in my accounts while on the road. I’ve read several personal finance blogs that have effectively stated that your money can work harder than you can. This is decidedly NOT the case for me at present, but over time, if I’m able to continue the process of saving and investing in companies that pay me, I’ll be able to have money that works harder than me.

View from CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta
A view that I’d like to see in (hopefully) early retirement.

How is this possible, you might ask? I get tired. I have to sleep for hopefully somewhere around 6-7 hours every night and then take a nap on some afternoons. The money that I’ve deployed doesn’t have to sleep. I own shares of McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Unilever, and these companies sell their wares all over the world in just about every time zone that’s inhabited. Therefore, while I’m sleeping, my companies keep on making money for me, a small percentage of which will come to me in the form of dividends. I occasionally get sick. My companies still make money and pay me from their income. It’s a pretty good deal, if you ask me. In the month of December, I did better than I’ve ever done. Without dragging on the suspense any longer, here are the payments that I received in December:

Taxable Accounts:

Starbucks (SBUX)                                                                  $0.68
Unilever PLC (UL)                                                                 $0.26
McDonald’s (MCD)                                                             $2.10
Coca-Cola (KO)                                                                      $2.14
Kraft-Heinz (KHC)                                                               $0.86
Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDS.A)                                    $0.42

IRA

Southern Co. (SO)                                                             $11.20

401(k)

JP Morgan Equity Income R5 (OIERX)                  $8.11
Cohen and Steers Realty Shares (CSRSX)         $40.99

TOTAL Dividend Income in December:          $66.76

This total of $66.76 was by far and away my highest dividend income ever in a single month. I had not been including income from my 401(k) account, but decided that there were dividends coming in through it and that it would be a good idea to include it since I’m tracking dividend income. The dividend income that I reported last year was only $9.67. Had I included my 401(k) income, it would have raised that amount to $29.55.  My December 2016 income therefore more than doubled over the amount I received the previous year.

My income of $66.76 for December increases my total dividend income for the year to $241.61 if I go back and add in my 401k dividends for the year that I’ve not reported previously. These came to a total of $81.57. The $241.61 was slightly more than $20 a month on average, which would allow my to take off about one hour each month. My estimated dividend income for the coming year of 2017 is now up to $281.24 in my taxable and IRA accounts that I manage myself. I will not add in the estimated income from the 401(k) account at this point, because I have no idea how much it will be because of variations in the payouts that can be expected from mutual funds. If I estimated the same dividend income from the 401(k) in 2017; however, that would put my forward income at more than $360, or 18 hours when thinking of how much work I would have to replace in a given year at a wage of $20/hour. This is nowhere near enough to pay for my lifestyle, but its much more than the $0 that I was making just 18 short months ago.  I’ve updated my monthly dividend income earnings page to reflect my December earnings.

How was your dividend income in December? Feel free to let me know in the comments.  If you’d like to keep up with my progress, be sure to go to the top of the page and sign up for updates. Also, feel free to follow me on Twitter.  I appreciate any support that you decide to give. Happy New Year.

Disclaimers: Long SBUX, UL, MCD, KO, KHC, SO; I am not a financial professional. Information listed in this post does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell. It is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Equities can increase or decrease in value, and losses up to and including all money invested can occur. Consult with a licensed professional before making an investment decisions. 

Top 5 Travel Credit Cards To Get In 2017

2016 is about to pass into the record books, and 2017 is about to commence. One of the major strategies I’ve been thinking about as I get ready to embark upon the new year is what the best credit cards for travel that might help me achieve my goals in the near future would be. I’m already planning what cards I might like to apply for to maximize my travel benefits over the next few years. Here are 5 cards that I’m seriously considering having myself or my wifedoodle apply for in 2017.

1. Chase Sapphire Reserve

When Chase first announced its new Sapphire Reserve card in mid-2016, I must admit that I was really stoked. 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points made up what I’ve been referring to as the “Mother of All Credit Card Bonuses.” Unfortunately, I ran afoul of the infamous 5/24 rule with Chase and was denied getting the Sapphire Reserve in a fail of epic proportions.  Fortunately, the wife was able to get the card, and we set up a European itinerary of epic proportions.  While I’d like to start on the bonus ASAP, I’m waiting until around February to try my luck with another application so that I can maximize the travel reimbursement to offset the hefty $450 annual fee that comes with the card. I’ve already gotten this card as of 1/4. I learned that the 100,000 bonus was getting slashed in half on 1/11, so I risked the hard pull and got approved. 

2. Chase Sapphire Preferred

I already have this card, so you might wonder why I’d want another. It’s not for me. My hope is to cancel my card when I (hopefully) get its more impressive brother, the Reserve. However, the 50,000 Ultimate Reward point signup bonus is nothing to sneeze at. For this reason, I’ll have the wife attempt to cash in on this card around the time that her Reserve card is up for a renewal of the annual fee. That way, we’ll earn more than 150,000 Ultimate Rewards points this year from the signup bonuses and minimum spends. Keep in mind that this is all subject to approval in relation to the infamous 5/24 rule.  While the two Sapphire cards might not seem like the best credit card for travel miles, the ability to transfer them to airlines like United, Southwest, British, and Air France/KLM, among others, make them a great flexible option. They’re also two of the best credit cards for travel because they don’t carry any foreign transaction costs.

If you’d like to help support this site while signing up for a credit card, you can apply for the Sapphire Preferred with the 50,000 bonus after spending $4,000 in three months. This card has a $95 annual fee that’s waived for the first year if you’re worried about having to pay out the $450 that the Sapphire Reserve requires.

This is the best offer that’s currently available publicly, but I’ll also earn 10,000 points for the first five approved referrals if you apply through the link above. You can go straight to Chase to get the same benefits, but I definitely appreciate any support you might choose to give.

3. CitiBusiness AAdvantage Card

This card currently has a nice 50,000 mile bonus in return for spending $3,000 over three months. These miles are limited to the American Airlines AAdvantage program, and I’m looking to top these off as we go into 2018 as I have another family vacation that I’m hoping to take to Europe and perhaps a bit beyond.  Both the wife and I have recently had the personal version, so this is likely the only chance we’ll have to score a bonus in the near future because of tighter restrictions with Citi approvals (although there is also the new 40,000 bonus from Barclaycard and the AAdvantage Aviator Red card). H/T to Million Mile Secrets for this last little bit of info.

The Eiffel Tower in Paris, arrived at via AAdvantage miles and Marriott Rewards points.
AAdvantage Miles and Marriott Rewards Points got me to Paris with my family to see the Eiffel Tower.

4. Starwood Preferred Guest (Personal Version)

I’ve already gotten to bonus for this card, which was 35,000 StarPoints when I first picked it up. I transferred all of my points to American Airlines when there was a 20 percent bonus promotion going on, and it went along with 10,000 bonus miles because of the 5,000 bonus for every 20,000 transferred. Now, I’ll have to let my wife apply for this one. The reason? All of the points from the bonus, currently at 25,000, can be transferred to Marriott, which is my favorite hotel chain. They’ll transfer at a 1:3 rate, which means that the bonus plus the automatic spending would be worth at least 84,000 Marriott Rewards points. I’ve never done this before, but I’m thinking of attempting to get one of the vacation package deals with Marriott that give a week at a nice resort (hopefully in some tropical location in Hawaii, Mexico, or the Caribbean) and some frequent flyer miles to get there in addition to the hotel stay. I would recommend going directly through the Starwood site to get this card. I could refer you, but I think that the flexibility of the points is better than the two nights you’d get from my referral, so I won’t even give it. If you’d like to build up some Marriott points, however, feel free to check out my link to that deal by clicking on the Twitter link like the example above. Again, I appreciate any support that you decide to give the site.

Also, if you’re not yet a member of the Marriott Rewards program, you can get 2,000 bonus points for each of your first five stays for a possible total of 10,000 bonus points by letting me refer you to the program. You should let me know you want referred in the comments of this blog (you have to give your email address to post a comment), and I’ll send the email. Then you can also apply for the Marriott Rewards Premier card. You’ll get 80,000 points, which is the current standard offer, and in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll get 20,000 points for the referral. Again, I appreciate any support you feel free to give me.  I would also point out that there is the possibility for 5 points on the first $30,000 of spend in the first year with another link, but the 80,000 points for $3,000 in 90 days is easier to attain and you could earn even more signup bonuses from other programs during the same year.

A Room at the Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino in Oranjestat

You could use your points for a room like this one that I enjoyed at the Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino.

5. American Express Gold Card (Personal Version)

This card does not come with a massively huge signup bonus at this time. It’s only 25,000 Membership Rewards points, but the annual fee of $195 is waived for the first year and the minimum spending level is $2,000 in three months to earn the bonus. This will pair quite nicely with my recent acquisition of my first business card, the Amex Blue for Business. I’ve gone away from Delta after having been pretty much locked into them because of geography for about three years in the fairly recent past and because of its reputation of having a loyalty currency derisively known as SkyPesos by those in the travel rewards community. However, I recently did a few searches and found quite a bit of low-level availability to Europe…in the summer even. This made me rethink the value of Membership Rewards, and since neither I, nor my wife, has had many Amex cards, I decided it might be time to start collecting them.

These are only five of the cards that I’m considering this year. There are others the I might get depending on what comes down the pipe. Perhaps Amex will offer another 70,000 bonus on the Delta cards, or the Alaska Airways cards will increase their bonuses to 50,000. Maybe a card issuer will come out with a card that no one yet knows about that will have a bonus that even eclipses than the “Mother of All Credit Card Bonuses” of the Sapphire reserve. My goal is always to find the best credit card for travel miles at any given time. These five applications are not set in stone, but they are definitely on the radar. What cards might you want to get this year to help fund your travel goals? Be sure to let us know in the comments

Disclaimer: You can go into serious debt with credit cards. I recommend only using them if you can pay them off in full on a monthly basis. Otherwise, the travel or cashback rewards are eaten up with interest charges. Apply at your own risk.

Offsetting the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s Annual Fee

Earlier this year, I wrote about getting rejected for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card and its bonus that I’ve since started calling the “Mother of All Credit Card Bonuses” because of having too many recent accounts opened in my name.  Luckily, however, my wife was able to get this card because she had not run afoul of the infamous 5/24 rule that Chase has instituted. This led to our getting enough bonus points to book a round-trip flight with stops in four European cities on United Airlines for only $165–and most of the points came from this one signup bonus of 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the top five travel credit cards for 2017.

The big downer for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, however, is the massive $450 annual fee. This would cause many people to take pause. If you time your application and travel purchases right, you can also do much to alleviate this annual fee. You can actually get a $300 credit for travel each calendar year (defined by the statement end date). This means that you could possibly get paid $150 in free travel for the first year you have the card, in addition to the huge sign-up bonus. I was running down to the wire, but as the article linked above regarding booking our tour of Europe noted, I still had to book a flight from Prague to Lisbon.

I searched on Expedia.com for flights and the date that I wanted because the aggregator shows just about any flight that you can take on any airline. For a bit, the best price on this trip was a $127 direct flight on TAM Airlines, a Portuguese carrier. Just a couple of weeks ago I ran the search again, and a $95.50 flight on Czech Airlines came up. I snagged it and dutifully used both my wife’s and my Delta  Skymiles frequent flyer numbers in the process. I’m not a huge Delta loyalist, but I try to get every single mile or point I can and I figure that I’ll be flying Delta at some point in the future for one of the trips that I have planned after 2017. It took awhile for the charge to go through, but when it did, it was automatically refunded.  Furthermore, while doing a bit of traveling to visit family for Christmas, I had to stop at a hotel. Thanks to the remainder of the $300 credit, I paid a whopping $6 for the night, all while earning some Marriott Rewards points in the process.  Here’s a graph that shows we completed the credit for 2016.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Travel Credit of $300

I’ll have to stop at a hotel on the way back. Marriott will be the chain of choice, because one more stay before January 15 will result in the regular points for the stay, a credit for the night since the $300 calendar year rebate clock will start over again, and 5,000 bonus points that are a part of Marriott’s Fall MegaBonus. That’s what I call stacking rewards that are beneficial to my both my bank account and my rewards account. How have you been able stack rewards like this? Let me know in the comments.

Making Money without Leaving the House