How I made an easy $62 with my Discover Card.

Remember if you don’t have a Discover It Card, use our link to sign up for an exclusive 18 month interest free period!

Discover Card is having a promotion through Sept 30 where they are giving you 5% cashback on all gas purchases up to $1500 in spending.Discover GasI sold my car to travel full time back in February so I’m not spending much on gas, but I found a creative way to maximize this bonus!  This process is:

  1. Make sure you are registered for the bonus on Discover’s web site
  2. Find a gas station that sells gift cards
  3. Buy $1500 worth of visa gift cards or Vanilla Reload cards
  4. Convert those gift cards into cash by using BlueBird or Money Orders

1. Make sure you are registered for the bonus on Discover’s web site

Log onto your account at Discover’s web site, then click on Cashback Bonus Program then 5% Cashback Bonus Program.Discover CashbackClick on sign up now then it should look like this!Discover Signed Up Gas

2. Find a gas station that sells gift cards.

If you click on this link, you will see a list of stores and gas stations that sell Visa gift cards.  While it isn’t 100% accurate, the second gas station on the list near me (A Daily’s market inside of a Shell gas station) had this gift card rack:Gift Card Rack Gas Station

3. Buy $1500 worth of visa gift cards or Vanilla Reload cards

I was surprised to see both OneVanilla Visa and Vanilla Reloads at this location, but figured one or both might be cash only.  vanillareloadVanilla VisaWell, lo and behold, when I went to the cashier, they confirmed that I could buy BOTH with my Discover card.  I bought two Vanilla Reloads for $503.95 each ($500 for the card plus a $3.95 fee) and one Vanilla Visa ($500 for the card plus a $4.95 fee) and paid using my Discover card.

4. Convert those gift cards into cash by using BlueBird or Money Orders

I loaded both of the Vanilla Reload cards onto my Bluebird card, then did an online billpay to Discover.  Since Walmart recently updated their systems to not accept Vanilla Visas as debit cards, I took it to Kroger instead and bought a money order using the gift card as a debit card with PIN.

Conclusion

Total Cost: $1513.54 (2 VR @ $503.95, 1 VV @ $504.95, 1 Money Order @ $0.69)

Total Benefit: $75 (5% of $1500 in Discover Cash Back)

Net Profit: $62

Having a Discover It card is a no brainer.  They have great 0% balance transfer offers if you ever need them (including an 18 month one through our link), they have promotions like this one where you can make a profit, and they give you a free credit score each month on your statement!  All that and there is no annual fee!

 

How to Book an IHG Pointbreaks 5000 Point Hotel

Since tomorrow is the release of the latest IHG Pointbreaks list of rooms you can book for just 5000 points a night, I wanted to do a quick article about how to book it. This is the best way to use your IHG points by far. This is how I am using the 101,000 IHG points I earned during their last Big Win promotion!  You will obviously need an IHG Rewards account and at least 5,000 points to book a night.  If you don’t have an IHG account yet, why not check out our Getting Started page to sign up for free.

You start out by going to the Pointbreaks page on IHG’s web site (although they show up on the individual hotel listings page a little earlier than this page is updated). This page shows all of the available hotels for the period and when the 5000 point rooms sell out, they remove them from the list.  At the time of this writing, this is what the page looks like, but it will change tomorrow when the new list goes live.

IHG Pointbreaks

Notice the tabs along the top for the different regions around the world.  You can simply click on the hotel you are interested in and it will take you to their web site.  I’m going to choose the Arizona Holiday Inn Express Pinetop property for this example.  Put your dates in the appropriate spot, make sure Rewards Nights is selected under the rate drop down box.IHG Pointbreaks 2Then click Check Availability and it should bring up a page that lists the available room types and looks like this:IHG Pointbreaks 3Click Book This Room on the room type you want, and it will take you to a confirmation page where it confirms the dates, the point amount, and gives you the cancellation policy.  IHG Pointbreaks 4Usually if you cancel up until the day before they will put the points automatically back into your account.  You may have to use your credit or debit card to hold it but they won’t charge anything to your card because you are using points, even if you don’t show up.

Hit Confirm Reservation and that is it!  You have just booked a hotel room for the steal price of 5000 points a night!  Now tell us in the comments where you booked!

As always, reply with any questions and follow me on Google+FacebookTwitter and Instagram to make sure you don’t miss any great info!  And don’t forget to share this article with anyone who might be interested using the handy social share buttons right below this post!

 

 

Book Fast! 8 Amazing Pointbreaks Hotels for 5,000 Points til 9/30!

IHG Pointbreaks are a list of 5000 point per night hotel awards that they release every other month. There are 167 hotels on the list this time.  They are normally much more per night, sometimes as much as 50,000 points, so 5000 is a steal!   I love IHG Pointbreaks Hotels!  In my eyes this is the best value in hotel award stays.  I stayed 11 nights for free (55,000 points total!) during my April trip to China at incredible hotels like the Intercontinental Hangzhou. intercontinental HangzhouThis list won’t go live until Monday morning, July 28 usually between 9 and 11 EST and the most popular hotels (usually the Intercontinentals) will sell out within an hour or two.  Since there are no cancellation fees, it is best to book first and cancel later if you are possibly interested in the hotel and have the points to speculatively book.  Since I got 132,000 points in the first Big Win promotion then another 101,000 in the second Big Win promotion, I certainly do!   See our article on How to Book an IHG Pointbreaks Hotel  for a step by step of the booking process. You can only make two bookings per hotel, but the bookings can be for as long of a stay as you have points for.   To put this in perspective, if you get the Chase IHG Rewards card that has an 80,000 point sign on bonus after spending $1K, then you could redeem those points for 16 free nights from hotels on this list! You can access the whole list here, but I am going to highlight some of the choices that look pretty awesome to me!

Holiday Inn Jiuzhai Jarpo, China"VFMLID=53656178"

Holiday Inn Resort Batam, Indonesia"VFMLID=60637076"

Intercontinental BucharestBucharest

Crowne Plaza Xiangyang, China"VFMLID=37218013"

Crowne Plaza Zhongshan Wing On City, China"VFMLID=39926452"

Crowne Plaza Sahara Sands Port Ghalib Resort, EgyptSahara Sands

Crowne Plaza Antalya, Turkey"VFMLID=61639764"

Crowne Plaza Toluca-Lancaster, Mexico"VFMLID=32835869"

These are some of the more exotic ones, but if you just want to get a hotel in the USA, there are plenty of those as well, so take a look at the list. IHG is also a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards so you can transfer part of the 40,000 Point Sign up bonus for the Chase Sapphire Preferred or part of the 70,000 Point Bonus for the Chase Ink Plus I wrote about last week too.

Hat tip to our friends at Loyalty Lobby for the letting us know about the list.

Which of these look the best to you? As always, reply with any questions and follow me on Google+FacebookTwitter and Instagram to make sure you don’t miss any great info!  And don’t forget to share this article with anyone who might be interested using the handy social share buttons right below this post!

 

And the TWM Guru Contest Winner is…

The Winner isTo celebrate passing 2000 Facebook fans we ran a contest where we gave the winner 3 months of intensive one on one miles training to become a TWM Guru!  The entrants had to like and share one of our Facebook posts and join our newsletter (see entry form to the right). We are guaranteeing that the winner will earn enough miles for their own ticket to Cancun during the 3 months and if not, we will get them a ticket using our miles!

For those of you who didn’t win, why not start with our Getting Started Program which is completely free and only takes about 45 minutes to complete.  Then you can move on to either the 3 Best Cards for Building your Credit if your credit history isn’t established or the Easy Quarter Million if your credit is already good.

Without further ado…. The winner is

Cary Garcia!

Congratulations Cary!  You don’t know it yet, but in 3 months you should have lots and lots of miles so you can travel the world for free! You will have to be willing to trust our expertise and put in a little work, but the world will truly be your oyster when we are done!

To everyone else?  Better luck next time!  Who knows what we will give away at 3000 fans? :)

 

Chase Ink Plus 70,000 Point offer available in Branch

Chase has made a 70,000 point offer for the Chase Ink Plus business card available in their branches.  As of right now this isn’t available online.  You have to spend $5K in the first 3 months to get the bonus.  This is the credit version of the Chase Ink Bold charge card.  I have made hundreds of thousands of miles from my Chase Ink Bold card with the 5X points bonus it gives you for Office Supply stores.

Thanks Cyin on FT for the pic!

Thanks Cyin on FT for the pic!

This is the best offer I have seen for these cards since they originally came out, so if you were thinking about getting one, then now would be a good time.  Note that you will have to pay the annual fee on this one, but the $95 is worth it for the extra 20K Points over the standard 50K offer.

As always, reply with any questions and follow me on Google+FacebookTwitter and Instagram to make sure you don’t miss any great info!  And don’t forget to share this article with anyone who might be interested using the handy social share buttons right below this post!

 

Is it safe to fly right now?

With the not too distant disappearance of MH370, the recent shooting down of MH17 over Ukraine, the crash of TransAsia Airways G222 in Taiwan in inclement weather, the FAA banning flights to Tel Aviv after a rocket hits just a mile from the airport and just today Al Algerie flight 5017 crashing, it begs the question Is it safe to fly right now?

Armed pro-Russian separatist stands on part of the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane after it crashed near the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk regionI personally have been to both Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur so I feel a little more of a connection to the recent missile attack.  This isn’t the first time the FAA has blocked access to certain country’s airspaces.  In fact, they even have a graphic prepared about the most dangerous places to fly.FAA AirspaceBut as I do with anything when I want to make a decision, I want to look at the numbers: The Wikipedia page for Aviation Incidents and Accidents makes me feel even worse showing 20 major incidents since 1980 with hundreds of lives lost in each one.  Air FatalitiesAck!  I don’t want to be in a plane at all looking at that graph!

But when I look at the total number of Airline Movements for 2007, I see numbers like 76 Million airline movements per year so you do have to put things in perspective.  This quote from that Wikipedia article puts it better than I could summarize:

Per every billion kilometers traveled, trains have a fatality rate 12 times over air travel; by comparison, fatality rates for automobiles are 62 times greater than air travel. By contrast, for every billion journeys, buses are the safest form of transportation. By the last measure, air transportation is three times more dangerous than car transportation, and almost 30 times more dangerous than bus”

So that means on any given trip, it is more dangerous to be in a plane than a car. But when you are deciding between air travel and car travel you have to look at the number of miles you are going because each additional mile in a car increases the danger of an accident.

The best statistic to look at to make you feel better is that your odds of dying in a plane crash are 11 million to one.  The odds of being struck by lightning in any given year is 700,000 to one.Back to the FutureSo if you don’t sit around worrying about dying from 2.31 Gigawatts of electricity, then I wouldn’t think twice about getting onto a plane.   Especially if it is going somewhere fun like Ibiza!  And remember too, that 74.2% of all statistics are made up on the spot! ;)

As always, reply with any questions and follow me on Google+FacebookTwitter and Instagram to make sure you don’t miss any great info!  And don’t forget to share this article with anyone who might be interested using the handy social share buttons right below this post!

 

Get paid $13 for earning 400 miles with Amex and Best Buy!

Don’t forget to enter our TravelWithMiles Guru contest that ends Friday.  A free plane ticket to Cancun is guaranteed but maybe even more!

I’ve talked about Amex Sync offers in the past and have made money and miles with them several times.  I even recently gave away one of the CPK gift cards that I received with a Sync offer to a lucky Facebook reader.

Best Buy has a current Amex Sync offer for $25 back with a $250 purchase. It is super easy to get.

  1. Register for the Promotion
  2. Buy $250 worth of anything at Best Buy (including gift cards)
  3. $25 credit will automatically post to your Amex account

1. Register for the Promotion

You can register for the promotions within Amex online account (where you pay your bill online), or via Facebook, or via FourSquare, or Via Twitter.  I prefer using Twitter because it is fast and I get an instant tweet back confirming my sign up.  I don’t really use Twitter but set up an account just for promotions like this.  If you haven’t linked your Amex Card to the Sync Program yet then Click on this link and then Click on Sign in with Twitter.Sync TwitterIt will then pop up an authorization screen where it lets you connect your twitter account to your Amex Sync account.  Just put in your Twitter login information here (notice the site is on Twitter.com so you aren’t giving your login info away to some third party site).  Don’t worry if this sounds complicated.  It’s not!Amex Sync AuthOnce you get logged in you link your Amex card to your twitter account.

Once all that is done, you just Tweet #AmexBestBuy and you should get a tweet back as well as an email confirming your signup (or letting you know if there is a problem like they have reached capacity, which happens sometimes).  If you want to use Facebook or Foursquare then follow the directions at this page, but I find Twitter to be the quickest.  Keep in mind if you have multiple Amex cards, you can sync each one with a different method and get multiple sync bonuses.  At that point you are ready for Step 2.

2. Buy $250 worth of anything at Best Buy (including gift cards)

I didn’t need any electronics right now so I decided to go with my favorite thing to buy, gift cards!  They mainly have Best Buy gift cards, but if you look carefully in the same section, they also have Best Buy branded VISA gift cards.  Score! They look like this. Best Buy Gift CardsI bought two of them for $205.95 each for a total of $411.90.  At the cashier I had the cashier put $250 on my Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express, and then the balance on my US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® (I am trying to build up my US Airways miles so I have enough for a fun trip).  So total I will receive 250 SPG points and 162 US Airways miles. I will have paid $411.90 and receive a $25 credit back, for a net profit of $13.10.  Which brings us to the easy part, step 3.

3. $25 credit will automatically post to your Amex account

This part happens really quickly.  More or less immediately after you make the charge, you should get an email thanking you for using your synced card at Best Buy.Amex EmailThe credit should post to your account within one or two days even though it says it can take up to 90.

What now?

Now that you have $400 in Visa gift cards, what to do with them?  You have several different options.  Of course you can just spend them for day to day expenses.  Or you can load them onto your Bluebird card and use them to Pay your rent or Mortgage.  Or you can even get money orders for them from Walmart or Kroger! So many options and all of them are great!  You will need to set the PIN on these Metabank VISA cards before you can use them for this by calling 1-888-524-1283.

I know it doesn’t seem like this is a huge deal.  And it isn’t.  But if you look back at all of the Manufactured Spend posts we have made over the last few weeks, you will see that they really add up over time to a decent chunk of miles!

As always, reply with any questions and follow me on Google+FacebookTwitter and Instagram to make sure you don’t miss any great info!  And don’t forget to share this article with anyone who might be interested using the handy social share buttons right below this post!

 

TWM, Take Me Away to Croatia for Free!

Don’t forget to enter our TravelWithMiles Guru contest that ends Friday.  A free plane ticket to Cancun is guaranteed but maybe even more!

This is another in our Take Me Away series of articles.  We first showed you how to get to Bali for free then tackled Costa Rica, then showed you how to get to the World Cup!  I took my own advice and ended up flying to Costa Rica in May for only $45!  If you don’t have miles yet, take 30-45 minutes and complete our free Getting Started page so you will be ready next time.

Croatia

When I dug into how to get to Croatia using miles, I checked the main three alliances of OneWorld, SkyTeam, and Star Alliance for routing to Croatia.  If you want to know more about alliances and how they work read our ABC’s of Airline Alliances article.

What I found was that to get to Split, Croatia (which is on the coast and where Yacht Week Croatia leaves from ), Star Alliance had the best routes and availability.  Skyteam only can route you to Split through Moscow so I eliminated that option.  That leaves Star Alliance and OneWorld so today we will show 2 different ways to get to Croatia for free!

Option 1: Use 60,000 or 100,000 United Miles

Star Alliance has the best routing and availability to get to Croatia and you can get there for 60,000 United Miles in coach or 140,000 United Miles in Business Class. We looked for seats in June 2015 and found several options such as Miami to Split via Frankfurt on Lufthansa for 60K + $139.
MIA-SPU United If you have the miles, Business Class across the pond is always preferred.  Although with the extra connection in Lisbon and the miles savings even I might choose coach over 140K + $139.MIA-SPU United BizGetting these miles is actually quite easy.  I would recommend getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred card with its 40,000 point sign on bonus then transferring those points to United.  For the remaining 20K miles, I would Spend Money Without Spending Money, or Get Frequent Flyer Miles by Paying your Rent or Mortgage.

You could also get the Chase Ink Bold card with its 50K bonus and get the remaining 10K from the same ways listed above, or of course, just normal spending.

You could also get the United Explorer Card which will give you 30K to 50K depending on what your account is targeted for. You may have to be logged into your United account to see the higher bonus.

Option 2: Use 60,000 or 100K American Airlines AAdvantage Miles

For this one award seats aren’t available yet for next summer so I searched for this summer to see what sorts of flights would be available, and it doesn’t look good.  3 connections and two overnights on the way home for 60K miles and $311 in fees and taxes.

MIA-SPU AA

To get the miles you could just pick up the US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® with it’s 40K bonus after spending $1 or the Citibank AA Platinum Personal MC with its 50K bonus after spending $3000.  Make up the different in miles needed by Spending Money Without Spending Money, or Getting Frequent Flyer Miles by Paying your Rent or Mortgage.

Finding Business Class options for 100K was a challenge so if you wanted to fly Biz you would need to be even more flexible with your dates and routing.

Conclusion

As you can see, the Star Alliance / United option is really much better than any of the other ways to get there.  That is what I would focus on to get there.  Since Croatia and Europe are much more popular in the Summer, now is the perfect time to start getting your miles together for a trip next year.

As always, reply with any questions and follow me on Google+FacebookTwitter and Instagram to make sure you don’t miss any great info!  And don’t forget to share this article with anyone who might be interested using the handy social share buttons right below this post!

 

1500 US Airways miles for Spending $1? OK.

Don’t forget to enter our TravelWithMiles Guru contest that ends Friday.  A free plane ticket to Cancun is guaranteed but maybe even more!

Barclays Bank just loves to keep on giving!  I received a 40,000 US Airways Mile sign up bonus after spending just $1 on my US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® a few years ago.US Air Bonus Banner

Since I have been out of town, I haven’t been able to activate a replacement card they sent me.  Well, I guess they really wanted me to activate it because I got this in the mail as well.US Air 1500This is one of the reasons I tell people not to cancel their cards right away after they get the sign up bonus.  Sometimes they will surprise you with little bonus offers during the year that are a great deal.  In this case, I just have to make any purchase, even if it is $1 and I will get 1500 US Airways miles!  And then when I logged onto my account online, I got another offer!US Airways 20 PercentThis means I’ll get 1.2 Miles per dollar for normal purchases and 2.4 miles per dollar for US Airways purchases for the rest of the summer.  Nothing earth shattering, but free miles are free miles!

So US Airways card holders check your email and online because you might have a similar offer.  And if you don’t have this card yet, then why not apply now for 40,000 Miles after spending $1!

As always, reply with any questions and follow me on Google+FacebookTwitter and Instagram to make sure you don’t miss any great info!  And don’t forget to share this article with anyone who might be interested!

 

Become a TravelWithMiles Guru Contest!

Iguazu Banner

Iguazu Falls, Argentina

The winner of this contest has been chosen!  Thanks to everyone who entered!

What would you do if you had a frequent flyer expert like me sitting right beside you telling you exactly what to do to earn the miles and book an amazing vacation?

Someone who could:

  • Help you repair your credit (Imagine our Credit Repair 101 but with custom advice!)
  • Give you personalized recommendations on the best credit card to reach your goals (Did you know you can get 40,000 miles with no spending requirement just by getting one card?)
  • Show you other completely free ways to earn miles
  • Show you how to get miles for money you already spend every month
  • Show you ways to get miles for any dollar you spend including rent, car payments, student loans and more
  • Walk you step by step through sophisticated manufactured spending strategies (such as How to Spend Money without Spending Money)
  • And do all of it either in person or via Facetime / Skype!

To celebrate passing 2000 Fans on our Facebook page, we are running a contest that will give you exactly the personalized help I mentioned above for a period of 3 months.  I am so confident that I can help the winner earn miles that I will make you a guarantee!

IMG_5915

Cancun, Mexico

If at the end of 3 months of my guidance, you haven’t earned enough miles for a free plane ticket to Cancun, Mexico from your location in the continental U.S. , then I will give you one completely free using my miles!

To Enter:

  1. Like TravelWithMiles on Facebook
  2. Like and Share this picture on Facebook as a “Public” share so we can see it and count it.
  3. Sign up for our email newsletter
Sign Up Today!

* required

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*

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Now there are a couple of terms & conditions:

  • You need to be willing to commit to one hour a week via in person or Facetime / Skype
  • You need to be willing to try new things including applying for a credit card or opening a miles earning debit card.  We won’t make you do anything you aren’t comfortable with and will show you how and why we are making every recommendation.
  • Open only to U.S. residents (Sorry International Fans!) and one entry per person.
  • If at the end of the 3 month Guru Training period you don’t have enough points or miles for a coach ticket from your home city to Cancun, Mexico, then we will use our miles to get you one subject to award availability dates
  • The winner will be chosen from the eligible entries in one week on Friday, July 25th at 5 PM EST.

That’s it, good luck and thanks for being a fan!