One of my favorite topics on this blog involves documenting some of the strategies I use to travel cheaply. Signing up for credit card bonuses periodically is one strategy I use.
I don’t sign up for every credit card bonus that rolls around, but I do take advantage of some that help me achieve some goals
. I’m looking to build up enough points to travel to Japan for the Olympics in 2020 as well as a trip or two in the intervening couple of years.
I’d like to travel in business class for the trip to Asia. I’ve never done it, but if I’m going to, I think that a long flight to Hong Kong or Japan would be a good time to try it out. I need a few big signup bonuses to make this happen, which brings me to my latest credit card.
The card that I chose to make my latest signup bonus was the AAdvantage Aviator Red from Barclaycard. (This is not a referral link. I do not get any compensation, but I think it’s a good option that I wanted to share.)
The reason? It’s about the easiest signup bonus that I, or anyone else can hope to get.
The card comes with a nice 60,000-mile bonus with American Airlines’ Aadvantage program. There have been options that offered more AA miles before. However, they have required a relatively high level of spending.
Especially when compared with the Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard. You get the 60,000 Aadvantage miles after making a purchase. ONE. Of anything…a pack of gum or a Coke will work. You also have to pay off the $95 annual fee.
Therefore, you could get 60,0001 miles for spending $1 and paying off $95. That’s a total expense of $96, which is not huge when taking into consideration what you could get. Here are some other benefits of the card:
2 miles per dollar spent with American Airlines
1 mile per every dollar spent on everything else
A free checked bag on domestic flights
10% of your redeemed miles back each year, up to 10,000 total AAdvantage miles
These are pretty good benefits for no more than you have to spend.
What Can You Get With the Bonus?
With the bonus from the AAdvantage Aviator Red, you can get some pretty good flight options. This bonus of 60,000 miles should get you at least two round-trip economy flights in the continental US. American Airlines also offers many cities at some pretty hefty discounts. These reduced mileage awards could mean that you could nearly get three round-trip flights in the US with just a little more spending.
Additionally, it’s possible to get an off-peak saver award to Europe for 45,000 miles. It’s 60,000 miles during the peak season, which means that you can get a round-trip flight to Europe with the signup bonus alone. Just make sure that you take American planes to avoid hefty fuel surcharges that partners like British Airways charge.
This signup bonus can also possibly provide a round-trip flight to the Caribbean or Hawaii if you can find award space.
American Airlines is probably not the best frequent flyer program out there, but this hefty bonus for relatively little effort was too hard to pass up.
Have you signed up for any credit card bonuses lately? Let me know in the comments.
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Disclaimer: This site contains affiliate and referral links. Should you choose to sign up with these links, I may be compensated. I appreciate any support you choose to give.Late last year, I discussed how I’d snagged some great (and cheap) tickets to Europe for this summer thanks to frequent flyer miles. My main goal was to take my wife to Prague, Czech Republic. I’m now going to discuss how to get to Prague and then give five recommendations for sites to visit once there.
Prague is one of my all-time favorite cities, and there was quite a bit of availability on United Airlines for this summer when I booked the flight in October. The link above gives the general process I used to book the flight (and a trip to Lisbon with lengthy layovers in Munich and Geneva).
How To Get To Prague With Miles
To make a long story short, I used the 100,000 point signup bonus from my wife’s Chase Sapphire Reserve card along with some Ultimate Rewards points that I already had to book two one-way tickets from Cleveland to Prague and then two one-way tickets from Lisbon to Cleveland. I purchased a flight for cash on CSA Czech Airlines to get from Prague to Lisbon.
In addition to the two main cities, we had an 11-hour daytime layover scheduled for Munich, and a 15-hour overnight layover scheduled for Geneva, Switzerland. The layover in Munich actually turned into an overnight stay after Lufthansa canceled our flight.
Credit Card Signup Options
The big 100,000 signup bonus for the Sapphire Reserve is no longer available. You can still get 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points for signing up and meeting the minimum spending requirement. This minimum spend is currently $4,000 over three months, but there’s a hefty $450 annual fee.
If you’re looking for other options, the Chase Sapphire Preferred comes with less bells and whistles. It does, however, come with the same signup bonus for the same minimum spend. The $95 annual fee is actually waived the first year, so this might be a bit more palatable for those who want to avoid the fee. You can sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred here.
The signup bonus for each of these cards will come close to allowing you to snag a round trip ticket on United. It will totally get a low-level round trip ticket via Flying Blue. This program is a venture of Air France and KLM. Using Flying Blue, you’d only need 50,000 miles. This latter program is a partner of Delta. Both United’s Mileage Plus Program and Air France/KLM Flying Blue are transfer partners for Chase. You’ll get one point per mile that you transfer to these frequent flyer programs.
These are just a couple of the options that are available when thinking about how to get to Prague on miles. You might also look at co-branded cards for the airline you’d like to fly, as well as American Express cards that offer Membership Rewards.
Five Things To Do Once In Prague
Now that you’ve figured out how to get to Prague, you might wonder about the great sites and activities the city has to offer. If you’re into traditional European architecture, you’re in for a treat. If you’re into history, Prague has you covered. I cannot stress that I really enjoy spending time in Prague. Here are five things you might want to check out on a visit.
1. The Astronomical Clock/Old Town Square
Prague has the oldest astronomical clock that’s still in operation. It’s located on the facade of the Old Town Hall building. Unfortunately, on my most recent trip, this was about the only part of the facade that was visible. The city had the rest of it covered up while they performed renovations.
The Astronomical Clock chimes every hour, and there are doors that open while the Twelve Apostles (or at least an artist’s rendition of them) rotate through the open doors for visitors to see. There is also a skeleton, representing Death, who rings a bell while this presentation goes on.
Additionally, there are museums and art galleries to visit in the Old Town Square, as well as a monument to Jan Hus, one of the biggest heroes in the history of the Czech Republic. The Church of Our Lady before Tyn is also a prominent feature of the Old Town Square.
2. Take a Walk Over the Charles Bridge
The Charles Bridge is one of the more iconic sites in Prague. There can be hundreds of people walking it at any given time. The Bridge is the site for many street vendors and artists. It provides great views of the Prague Castle, as well as of the Vlatava River.
On the Old Town side of the Bridge, there is a Museum of Medieval Torture that is quite interesting. This museum has lots of instruments of torture, as well as woodcuts that depict exactly how they were used, sometimes in graphic detail. Those bringing kids along should be forewarned.
3. Visit The Prague Castle
A visit to Prague would not be complete without a trip to the castle. There are several sites within the walls of the castle that are worth viewing. The first image in this article at the top of the page depicts the front of St. Vitus Cathedral, which dominates the hill that sits opposite Old Town.
In addition to visiting St. Vitus, there is another church that’s open for viewing. This is the Basilica of St. George. One of the more interesting parts of this church is a reliquary that holds actual bones.
In addition to these churches, one of the more interesting things to visit within the Prague Castle is the Golden Lane. I had not visited this on my previous trip to Prague, but I’m glad I got to this time. There’s a hall with quite a bit of medieval armor and some weaponry. I was even able to try my hand at shooting a medieval crossbow and hit the bullseye on two of three shots. This was a well-spent $2 or so.
If you’ve not already visited the Museum of Medieval Torture at the Charles Bridge, you can check out some instruments of torture on the Golden Lane. There’s a torture chamber set up, as well as a dungeon. One of the more interesting parts of the Golden Lane was the apartments and businesses that are set up for viewing as they were in the nineteenth century. They are really, really small. Some of the rooms on the Golden Lane are pretty hard to access from spiral staircases made of stone. Some of the steps are really narrow.
4. The Jewish Quarter
There was, as there was in many European cities, a Jewish Ghetto in Prague. This is definitely a spot most will want to visit. There are multiple synagogues that are open to the public. One has the name of each of those lost during the Holocaust painted onto the wall. One of the buildings has an interesting display that describes Jewish funeral practices.
These funeral practices would likely end with a burial in the Jewish cemetery. This portion of the ghetto was the only place that Jews could bury their dead for centuries, and the oldest grave goes back to the 15th century. This portion of Prague gives some understanding of how European Jews lived.
5. The Museum Of Communism
This particular attraction was a bit difficult to find. What I’d read before arriving said that this museum was above the McDonald’s just a few meters from the Mustek Metro station off of Wenceslas Square. It turns out that there were two McDonald’s within a few meters of the Mustek station.
We went to the wrong one first.
Then we found the right McDonald’s and promptly learned that the museum had moved that very day. It was a 10-minute walk from the old site to the new address at Republiky Square , but it was worth the trek.
One of the darkest periods in Czech history was the Communist era. The Museum of Communism seeks to commemorate this chapter in the history of the Czech people. There are displays in both Czech and English, as well as subtitled videos of those who went through the Communist period, that describe the horrors that people endured.
Vaclav Havel, the playwright turned dissident turned first democratically elected Czech president is given a prominent place toward the end of this exhibition. For those interested in history, it is definitely well worth the visit.
There you have it: tips on how to get to Prague using frequent flyer miles and some spots that you might want to visit once you’ve arrived. The city is amazing, so much so that this was my second trip. If you have any questions, be sure to let me know in the comments. I’d love to answer any that I can.
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I absolutely love to travel. I don’t have enough money to travel as much as I’d like. This means that I have to come up with creative ways to satisfy my wanderlust. One of the strategies that I use is credit card signup bonuses. I recently listed five cards that I planned to get in the next year. I successfully got the Chase Sapphire Reserve card on my second try. The United MileagePlus Explorer card was not one of the cards on this list. However, I got a mailer with an invitation to earn 70,000 bonus miles in one signup bonus.
Since I was pretty sure that I was under the infamous Chase 5/24 rule and I had not applied for any cards since the Sapphire Reserve success, I decided to apply. The screen after the application gave me a pending status. I figured all was lost. It was not, however. I called the reconsideration line and learned that Chase had approved me. The 70,000 is not a public offer, but if you get the mailer, it’s probably worth going after. Additionally, if you’re already a United MilagePlus member, you might be able to get a link by filling out a dummy flight reservation.
Current Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Card Bonus
The current public signup bonus on the United MileagePlus Explorer Card is 50,000 (it’s usually 30,000), and this bonus is good until 7/31/2017. After spending $3,000 over the first three months after approval, you’ll earn the 50,000 bonus miles, plus at least 3,000 miles for meeting the spending requirement. You’ll earn at least one mile per dollar spent. There’s a $95 annual fee that’s not waived, but the miles you’ll earn will more than offset the fee.
Your first checked bag is free on domestic flights with the card. That’s a plus, but I may not even benefit from this. Also, there are no foreign transaction fees. I can earn the bonus partially from spend on my upcoming European vacation to the Czech Republic. I’ll incur no foreign exchange fees on the trip, which is great. Another great benefit is the two United Club passes that the offer provides. I’ve never spent any time in an airport lounge before, but I’m planning to utilize a couple on my upcoming trip to Prague. My United Club passes came in the mail today.
Where Can You Go With the United MileagePlus Explorer Card Bonus?
Obviously, you can go further on the 70,000 miles that I’ll get after meeting the minimum spend than you would on the 50,000- mile public offer. 53,000 miles is nothing to sneeze at, however, and this bonus could get you to some cool places.
The United MileagePlus award chart shows that 50,000 is a great bonus as long as you stick with Saver level awards. This bonus could get you two round-trip tickets within the US (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) and Canada in economy class or one round trip in business class. You could get a round-trip economy ticket to Hawaii (45,000 miles), or a one-way business class seat to the island paradise.
As long as you stay in the Saver-level award category, you can also get one round-trip ticket to Mexico, Central America, or the Caribbean (35,000 miles). A business class seat to the same destinations will set you back 30,000 miles, so you can only get a one-way ticket in business class with the award. Northern South America will set you back 40,000 for a round-trip ticket in economy or 35,000 for a one-way redemption in business class.
Additional Redemption Options With The United MileagePlus Explorer Card
With the current 50,000-mile bonus from the United MileagePlus Explorer Card, you can also snag a one-way economy ticket to these destinations:
Europe (30,000 miles)
Middle East (42,500 miles)
Africa (40,000 miles)
Southern South America (30,000 miles–spend $2,000 more and you could get a one-way business class ticket for 55,000 miles!)
It’s easy to see that this one signup bonus can get you to just about anywhere in the world that United Airlines or its partners fly. You might have to come up with an alternate way to get back if you don’t have enough Mileage Plus miles, but you could pay for the cheaper leg of such a trip or use another credit card’s program’s points or another airline’s miles. The options are basically only limited by your imagination and creativity. You can sign up for the Chase United MileagePlus Explorer card with this link. Keep in mind that you have to have solid credit to earn approval. Also, you’ll have to get past the Chase 5/24 rule. Do NOT apply if you can’t pay off the bill in full every month.
Where would you like to go with 50,000 United miles? Let me know in the comments.
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Weddings can be a pretty expensive proposition. The average cost of a wedding in the US is more than $26,000, although most people spend less than $10,000. I guess the multiple Kardashian weddings skew the number up. After spending all of that money on a wedding, who wants to spend lots on a honeymoon? Yet many Americans do. They don’t have to, as there are ways to get a free honeymoon.
I Did Not Get A Free Honeymoon
I recently wrote a post related to how I got involved in travel hacking. It was quite eyeopening to learn that I could travel for pennies on the dollar. However, this knowledge came a bit late for my own honeymoon. My honeymoon was probably the last major trip I took at full price. Had I known about the ease of scoring frequent flyer miles, my trip to Cancun would have been quite a bit cheaper.
You Can Get A Free Honeymoon
Through the use of travel hacking, you can get a free honeymoon. All that it takes is a couple of strategic credit card signup bonuses. I do want to note that by free, I’m referring to highly discounted flights and hotel rooms. Food, ground transportation, and attractions would require more than the two signups that the title suggests. There are taxes on any flights that you can’t get around easily without certain credit cards that give credits for purchases. Additionally, there is the possibility that the hotel will charge a resort fee.
Get The Starwood Preferred Guest Card
The Starwood Preferred Guest credit card is offering a 25,000 that’s paid out after spending $3,000 within three months. You’d need to spend $5,000 and $3,000 over the same time frames to get the same bonus on the business version. **Please note that you cannot get this bonus if you’ve ever earned it before.
While this number of points might not sound as impressive as some other cards that might be offering 50,000 or even 100,000, it can actually provide even more value.
When I first started reading travel hacking websites a few years ago, this card was the number one recommendation for everyday spending. Users of the Starwood Preferred Guest (personal and business versions) can transfer to just about any airline that has a frequent flyer program. These points transfer at a 1:1 ratio in most, but not all, instances.
Transfer Starwood Points To Marriott
Those who transfer in 20,000 point batches get a 5,000 mile bonus. This results in what is effectively 1.25 miles per dollar spent, which is a pretty good deal.
However, for the strategy that I’m recommending, you’d want to transfer these points to Marriott Rewards. Marriott recently bought out Starwood, and those who have an account with both programs can link and transfer back and forth between them. Starwood points are worth 3 Marriott Rewards points each.
If you spend the required $3,000 to get the 25,000 bonus points, you’d also earn at least 3,000 additional points at one point per dollar of spending. These 28,000 would then equal 84,000 Marriott Rewards points.
If your spouse-to-be has not earned the bonus before and you still have some wedding expenses coming up, you both could possibly get the bonus by applying before April 5. These two bonuses would equal nearly 170,000 Marriott Rewards points, and you’d be set. I’ll show you how below.
Sign Up For the Marriott Rewards Card
If you’ve only signed up for one of the Starwood cards, your second application should be the Marriott Rewards Premier card (sign up the the highlighted link–I may receive bonus points if you do, and I’d definitely appreciate your support–this is the highest offer currently available so you lose nothing by using my link).
This card offers an 80,000 point bonus after spending at least $3,000 in the first 90 days after your application. This will result in at least 83,000 points. 80,000 of these points will come from the bonus, and the additional 3,000 Marriott Rewards points will come from meeting the minimum spend.
You’ll earn one point per dollar spent on everything outside of restaurants and travel. These purchases earn two points per dollar. Additionally, purchases at Marriott properties earn five points per dollar.
If the Marriott Rewards Premier Card is your second card, you’d now have at least 167,000 points after transferring the points from the Starwood card. If you both decide to get a Starwood card and then get the Marriott card, you’d then have more than 320,000 points should you be able to meet the required spend.
This is where it gets really, really interesting and where the free honeymoon comes into play.
Get A Marriott Vacation Package
Marriott is pretty unique among loyalty programs, because it provides the option of getting a week at a hotel AND frequent flyer miles. For 200,000 Marriott Rewards points, you could stay a week at any of their category 1-5 hotels and get 50,000 miles in most domestic airline programs (as well as a few international ones). These miles could get you to many places throughout the continental United States, including California and Florida.
The 320,000 points that you could get should you choose to get two Starwood cards (one for you and your significant other) and a Marriott card would get you 7 nights in a category 6 hotel and 120,000 miles. This would be enough miles for a trip to Europe for both of you in economy class. You could also get 7 nights in a category 7 hotel and 100,000 miles, which would be enough for a trip to Hawaii if you can find availability.
If you both got a Starwood card and a Marriott card, you’d have more than 400,000 Marriott Rewards points available, and that would score you a week at just about any Marriott property in the world and some lower level Ritz Carlton properties. You can search the various Marriott vacation package options at the Marriott site. These options open the possibility of a free honeymoon to just about anyone who has solid credit.
Disclaimer: Some of my links on this site are affiliate links. I may receive compensation should you choose to sign up using them. I appreciate any support. One of the coolest opportunities that is out there for most people is travel hacking. This “hobby” gives ordinary people who are far from trust fund babies like Donald Trump’s or Bill Clinton’s kids the chance to get out and see the world without spending a fortune. I had no idea that it even existed until I was well into adulthood, but I soon learned that it could really benefit me.
My Idea of a Great Vacation as a Kid
When I was a youngster, I really enjoyed going to amusement parks. My family went to Kings Island in Ohio just about every year in my youth. I really liked it and pushed to go back. My youth group at church would go. My family would go. Some years, we’d go to Kings Island and Carowinds in North Carolina if we were lucky. My parents got bored with the whole “let’s go back to Kings Island” spiel, but it’s what I was comfortable with. I went on a few trips to church camp and three trips in high school, one of which took me to Arizona, that I really enjoyed, too. Flying across the world never really crossed my mind at this point.
My Introduction to the World of Travel Hacking
After I proposed to my now wife, I set toward planning a honeymoon. I’d never been outside the US at this point, and we decided upon a week in Cancun. This would be my very first time ever on a plane. It would also be pretty much the last vacation that I’d pay full price for. About this time, a new accountant started working at my office. This guy told me he’d been to Hawaii. FOR FREE. I pretty much thought this was an impossibility, but I asked all about how he got to a tropical paradise that I figured I’d never visit because of the cost.
Enter Marriott Rewards
He then proceeded to tell me about the Marriott Rewards program. Needless to say, I wanted to learn more. He told me about the vacation package that you could get through Marriott’s loyalty program. Enough points would give you a free week at a Marriott hotel and frequent flyer miles to get you there. Wow. How can one get these here Marriott Rewards points? I wondered.
He then told me about the Marriott Rewards credit card that gave you points every time you stayed in a hotel owned by Marriott and a point for every other dollar you spent. Beside that, if you got approved for the card and made a single purchase, you’d get a bonus of 10,000 free points. This bonus is laughably small compared to what Marriott offers today, but back in 2003, it sounded like a good idea.
My First Travel Card
I talked to the new wife about this idea. She was cool with it, so I ditched my old AT & T Universal card that acted as a calling card and a credit card (I’d gotten it before the days of anyone and everyone having a cell phone. People actually used pay phones and hotel phones in those olden days). I applied for the Marriott Rewards card. I excitedly used it as soon as it came in to get the bonus points.
Not long after, we decided that perhaps my wife could qualify too. We saw an ad for 20,000 bonus points after the first purchase, plus a FREE NIGHT. We thought this was a great deal. Again, this bonus is pretty laughable compared to what’s available today. The newer Marriott Rewards Premier card now offers 80,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in three months. It also offers a free night to offset each renewal of the annual fee.
Off to Hawaii Via Marriott Rewards
It took more than two years of spending on the card, the two bonuses, and staying at Marriott hotels when out of town to build up nearly enough to pay for a week at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa in Honolulu. Back in those days, seven nights at what was then a category 5 hotel took 110,000 points. I was just short and bought a few thousand points to make it happen.
My account didn’t have enough to get the package deal with the airline miles, but I did get tickets for $448 from my small-town airport in the Eastern US. I also had a $50 coupon for a United flight from an Entertainment book that I bought to get buy-one-get-one deals at restaurants. This brought the final cost for $398 for each ticket to Honolulu. Needless to say, I thought this was a big score. I got to Hawaii for about $1,200 total and got to stay in a nice resort.
Travel Hacking Since
In those early days, I rarely got new credit cards, thinking it was a good idea to avoid having too many. I’d heard that too many would hurt your credit score. If you’re responsible with them, they really don’t. It took me several years to get enough miles and points to get my next trip, which landed me at the Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino, another Marriott property in a tropical paradise.
Since the trip to Aruba, I’ve been more aggressive with the travel rewards cards. I’ve earned bonuses from the new Chase Sapphire Reserve, as well as the older, but still good, Chase Sapphire Preferred, and the Chase Freedom. An upgrade with a new Marriott Rewards Premier card also earned me a hefty bonus. I’ve been able to take highly discounted trips to Los Angeles/Disneyland, Paris, and Mexico over the past few years. Additionally, I’ve got another trip to Europe planned with points and miles taking care of most of the cost.
Bottom Line on Travel Hacking
If you’re responsible with your finances, and you can pay off all of your credit card bills every month to avoid interest costs, you too can travel the world. Signing up for one of the cards listed above can be a good start that can help you achieve some dreams you might have thought outside your ability to achieve. Travel hacking has changed over the past couple of years, and it’s more difficult to score as many bonus points. However, the opportunities that remain are definitely worth taking advantage of.
Have you been able to take advantage of travel hacking? If so, let me know in the comments. Also, be sure to sign up for updates by filling out the email form at the top of the page or follow me on Twitter.
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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. Here are some tips that can help you get to Israel without totally breaking the bank.
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. Cutting down on lodging costs, and 3. Saving money on day trips from Tel Aviv to some of the leading sites within Israel.
How To Actually Get 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.
Have Plan, Will Travel
Once you have a plan in place, you can start to look for actual flights to get to Israel. 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.
American Express frequently offers 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 airlines that could help. 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. 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.
Get To Israel, Then Use Free Nights
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 you could use its 80,000 point bonus 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.
When considering how to get to Israel cheaply, lodging is definitely a portion of the expense that you need to take 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 be possible to spend just a few hundred for ground transportation , food and souvenirs. You can handle lodging, flights and tours with points and miles. 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. You just need to pool 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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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 decided to start setting 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.
Setting Goals for 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.
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 goals for paying down debt over time can lead to a great achievement 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, and I was able to do so. However, 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.
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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. (This has since dropped to 50,000 UR points.) 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 happy, however, when the next page popped up and noted that Chase approved me for the card.
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. UPDATE: I got the bonus in March.
What To Do With the Sapphire Reserve’s Bonus
There are several different options when it comes to spending 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points. You could take two 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. 50,000 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.
If You’d Rather Have Cash Value
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 with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. 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 $500 in cash which is a pretty easy way to earn money in pajamas. Keep in mind that the sign-up bonus dropped by half 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.
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 travel credit cards 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 it piqued my interest. 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points made up what I’ve been referring to as the “Mother of All Credit Card Bonuses” and puts the Reserve at the top of my list of travel credit cards for 2017. 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 got 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, and Chase waives it 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
Another of the travel credit cards I want to get this year is the 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.
4. Starwood Preferred Guest (Personal Version)
I’ve already earned the 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? You can transfer all of the points from the bonus, currently at 25,000, 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.
Pair Starwood With Marriott
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.
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)
The last of the travel credit cards I’m looking at is the American Express Gold. This card does not come with a massively huge signup bonus at this time. It’s only 25,000 Membership Rewards points, but Amex waives the annual fee of $195 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 avoided Delta after having been pretty much locked into them because of geography for about three years in the fairly recent past. I also ignored them because of their 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 travel credit 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 travel credit cards. I recommend only using them if you can pay them off in full on a monthly basis. Otherwise, the interest charges eat up the travel or cashback rewards. Apply at your own risk.
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.
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 actually earn $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.
How I Offset The Chase Sapphire Reserve Annual Fee
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 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.
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.