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Old 04-22-2016, 02:32 PM   #21
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I used to get free meals, but now I'm too old and slow to run out of the restaurant and ditch the check.
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Old 04-22-2016, 03:18 PM   #22
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+1

I have found that these deals, if used wisely, are cheaper than 'happy hour' prices.
+2. We have discovered many nice restaurants with Groupons. We use Entertainment Book coupons, too, and to a lesser extent restaurant.com
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Old 04-23-2016, 08:34 AM   #23
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Just curious, Kmm, how you were able to get seven free flights in one year? Even the best rewards programs that I know of only give you like 3% net rewards based on spending, so to get seven free flights you must have spent a LOT. Or is there something I'm missing here?
We received four free tickets this year; three to Mexico and one domestic. We play the credit card game, rotating and signing up for new cards/promotions every two months or so. This year we have received tickets from US Bank Visa and US Bank AMEX, BofA Aeromexico, and Delta AMEX. I have never added them up, but I would guess 30-40 free Mexico/Caribbean tickets over the past decade
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Old 04-23-2016, 01:52 PM   #24
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We received four free tickets this year; three to Mexico and one domestic. We play the credit card game, rotating and signing up for new cards/promotions every two months or so. This year we have received tickets from US Bank Visa and US Bank AMEX, BofA Aeromexico, and Delta AMEX. I have never added them up, but I would guess 30-40 free Mexico/Caribbean tickets over the past decade
Aren't there limitations on the credit card game? I was just approved for the Chase Freedom card and will receive the $150 sign up bonus after $500 purchases within the first 3 months (already have the purchase planned as soon as I get the card). I thought other cards wouldn't approve you if you were opening too many cards. If I'm mistaken, please correct me, because I was sure pleased to know I have $150 in free money coming.
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Freebies and deep discounts?
Old 04-23-2016, 02:13 PM   #25
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Freebies and deep discounts?

I had 18 credit cards, one for my husband and one for me separately. From American Express Delta Skymiles, it was 4 cards. The minute we harvested the bonus points, we closed it. Total 134,000 Delta Miles for $4k spent in 3 months. I think I got maybe 2 round trip tickets to Europe. Some I gave to my kids.

I wouldn't close them so soon, but the AE people pissed me off so I closed them. They returned portion of the card fee or all if you close soon enough.


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Old 04-23-2016, 02:31 PM   #26
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Aren't there limitations on the credit card game? I was just approved for the Chase Freedom card and will receive the $150 sign up bonus after $500 purchases within the first 3 months (already have the purchase planned as soon as I get the card). I thought other cards wouldn't approve you if you were opening too many cards. If I'm mistaken, please correct me, because I was sure pleased to know I have $150 in free money coming.
We both opened 2 new cards last year for the points after having a few already, and my FICO score went up 40 points. Not sure what the limit is but I'm guessing I'm good for another round of sign up bonuses this year. On a per hour of work required, the $400 - $500 sign up bonus cards are hard to beat.

I'm going to try to do more bank bonuses this year, too.
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Old 04-23-2016, 06:17 PM   #27
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We both opened 2 new cards last year for the points after having a few already, and my FICO score went up 40 points. Not sure what the limit is but I'm guessing I'm good for another round of sign up bonuses this year. On a per hour of work required, the $400 - $500 sign up bonus cards are hard to beat.

I'm going to try to do more bank bonuses this year, too.
Thank you, that's great to hear. I plan to do the same because that $150 per few minutes of work to apply online felt great. Funny thing is, I already had a Chase CC which I haven't used in a few years, and which they had converted to a Freedom card without my knowledge. Yet they approved me for another Freedom card from which I'll earn the $150. I'm quite pleased.
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Old 04-23-2016, 09:20 PM   #28
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I've read that Chase has a 5/24 rule. That is, you can only get 5 new cards within a rolling 24 month period. I'm not sure if business and personal cards are subject to the same 5/24 cap. To me that means 5x2 = 10 new cards every 2 years just from chase if we're maximizing the game (we come close). Next up is another Chase Sapphire Preferred (or 2) for another quick 40-55k points per card.

Just did 2 Barclay Arrival cards for $500 bonus per card redeemable for any travel expenses. Used it to snag a $400 (after 1 $500 discount) Airbnb apartment rental in Toronto for almost 2 weeks.

Last year we used a British Air sign up bonus of 50k pts to buy 5 1 way non-stop tickets from Charlotte to Mexico city. Then used 44,000 or so Southwest pts (from another 50k sign up bonus) to return home from Cancun to Raleigh (via ATL). 2 cards, $3000 in tickets.

On that same trip, we booked 6 nights in Four Pts by Sheraton and Aloft hotels in Mexico with regular rates of $100-250/nt but we used points instead at a rate of 3000-4000 pts per night. Probably $1300 worth of hotel nights for 20,000 points (less than the 25-30k pts you get with 1 Amex Starwood Preferred Guest sign up bonus).

I just figured out after writing my latest blog post that this year we're doing even better with Starwood Preferred Guest pts. Close to a month on the road and we booked 9 nights in Four Points by Sheraton and Alofts for 24,000 points. One hotel in particular, the Four points by sheraton Niagara Falls Fallsview, was a screaming good deal with points. $400 Canadian per night and we booked for 3000 points per night. That's over 10 cents per point (in USD terms) implied value.
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Old 04-24-2016, 09:30 AM   #29
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I used to get free meals, but now I'm too old and slow to run out of the restaurant and ditch the check.
Invite an older and slower person to come with you.
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Old 04-24-2016, 10:29 AM   #30
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I like the freebie $1 credit on movies when making a no-rush order from Amazon. I even think I can play the order by ordering something as no-rush with the $1 credit, then ordering something using regular Prime and the no-rush thing sometimes gets included in the Prime package.
I haven't quite gone as far as to intentionally order Prime stuff one at a time to get a $1 credit on each, but I no longer try to wait and group things together into one order if I'm not really in a hurry. In other words, if I want 3 things, I still order them together and will take the $1 credit if I'm in no hurry, rather than putting each in its own order to get $3 in credits as it looks like I could do. But if I have something small that I'm in no hurry for, I no longer hold it in my basket for a few days until I have more stuff to order. I guess Amazon doesn't care that much since they don't always put everything in the same shipment anyway.
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Old 04-24-2016, 10:53 AM   #31
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Citi is tightening up the rules:

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Here is the language that was just added to the application page:
“Bonus miles and any other special offer not available if you have had a CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® opened or closed in the past 24 months”
Bad News: 24 Month Rule Now on Both Business & Personal AAdvantage Cards | Well Traveled Mile
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Old 04-24-2016, 11:03 AM   #32
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I just figured out after writing my latest blog post that this year we're doing even better with Starwood Preferred Guest pts. Close to a month on the road and we booked 9 nights in Four Points by Sheraton and Alofts for 24,000 points. One hotel in particular, the Four points by sheraton Niagara Falls Fallsview, was a screaming good deal with points. $400 Canadian per night and we booked for 3000 points per night. That's over 10 cents per point (in USD terms) implied value.
Those are good rates of return on the points. If one looks for the 'deals' that are offered from time to time, one can get a lot of extra miles out of the points.

From my experience, I find the Starwood hotels are often not where I want to be. It's a good idea to make sure that the hotel group offers hotels in the areas one wants to travel to and through. Starwood seems great for big cities and popular vacation resorts, but if one is visiting Backwater National Park, I have found it hard to find Starwood properties in those areas.

OTOH, they will soon be part of Marriott so there will be more properties to visit, but the effect on the points plan is yet to be decided.
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Old 04-24-2016, 11:27 AM   #33
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I used these hotel points but I'm not efficient in milking them. Only card I opened was Hilton honors, then cancel immediately after I hot Gold status. I like the Gold status because I get free buffet breakfast and happy hours food. Especially for 4, it's like $100 a day. But so far no free nights from any hotel.


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Old 04-24-2016, 11:43 AM   #34
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I had Chase refuse to open a rewards Visa because I already had 3 visa cards with them. It was the first new card I tried to get for several years. Also, I once had a Delta Airlines card, got the bonus, and later closed it. Two years later I could get the card again, but not the bonus.
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Old 04-24-2016, 03:10 PM   #35
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Those are good rates of return on the points. If one looks for the 'deals' that are offered from time to time, one can get a lot of extra miles out of the points.

From my experience, I find the Starwood hotels are often not where I want to be. It's a good idea to make sure that the hotel group offers hotels in the areas one wants to travel to and through. Starwood seems great for big cities and popular vacation resorts, but if one is visiting Backwater National Park, I have found it hard to find Starwood properties in those areas.
That's our experience, too. We couldn't find anything near Mammoth Caves National Park even though it's near a freeway. But the SPG points are nice if you're traveling long distance and have the flexibility to stop anywhere along the way. That's how we're able to find category 1 and 2 redemption options that only require 2000-4000 points per night.
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Old 04-24-2016, 03:44 PM   #36
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When I buy stuff on Amazon, I look to see if there are any "used" for sale. These tend to be new in beat up boxes and often 30% off.
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Old 04-24-2016, 05:23 PM   #37
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The DGF and I eat at Outback steakhouse about 2x a month. I buy gift cards from Sams club, $71.88 for $85 worth.

I use them at the restaurant, combined with my 15% off AARP discount. That's $100 worth of dinning for only ~$72. 28% off.
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Old 04-24-2016, 06:19 PM   #38
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The DGF and I eat at Outback steakhouse about 2x a month. I buy gift cards from Sams club, $71.88 for $85 worth.

I use them at the restaurant, combined with my 15% off AARP discount. That's $100 worth of dinning for only ~$72. 28% off.
We do the same thing with a local restaurant chain - $100 gift cards to Cohn Restaurants (The Prado restaurant is our favorite of the group they own.) At costco the $100 gift cards are $80.
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Old 04-24-2016, 06:49 PM   #39
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We do the same thing with a local restaurant chain - $100 gift cards to Cohn Restaurants (The Prado restaurant is our favorite of the group they own.) At costco the $100 gift cards are $80.
I love those Cohn gift card deals from Costco. (I recommend trying their Sea180 if you ever get down to IB.) Burger Lounge also has a Cyber Monday deal after Thanksgiving with $150 worth of cards for $100. That lasts us most of the year.

I also watch out for locals discounts and "Date Night" deals for week nights. Eclipse Chocolate in San Diego has my current favorite, with a bottle of wine, 2 mains, 1 side, 1 dessert and 2 truffles for $40.
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Old 04-24-2016, 08:08 PM   #40
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Most semesters I am enrolled in the local college or university for ceramics classes. All classes at the university are free for seniors and I have free classes at the college as professor emeritus. I pretty much have access to the studio every day from 8am to 10pm. It takes care of the cost of glazes and the chemicals to formulate glazes as well as kiln firing. I only have to pay a small studio fee.
My vegetable garden provides free food other than the cost of soil amendments and seed.
Library has free books, magazines, videos, and CDs.
Free magazines and Wall Street Journal for cashing in air miles that will never be enough for a flight.
Pretty much free medical care through Medicare and Tricare for Life. Came in real handy for 5 major surgeries, medications, and rehab in the past 6 years.
No cost for Executive Costco membership due to annual rebate.
We live within walking distance to the ocean and tennis courts for my wife so it's like a permanent vacation to the islands for free.
First show of the day at the movie theater is reduced.
Then there is always Groupon for 1/2 price dining, and other fun activities (we have gone skydiving, ultralight flying, and bi-wing airplane flying.

Cheers!
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