Get PAID $9 to take 3000 Ultimate Rewards Points with OfficeMax

Sometimes these deals come around that seem too good to be true but they aren’t!  What if I told you I would give you 3000 Ultimate Rewards points and pay you 9 dollars for your trouble.  This is 1/3 of the amount you need to go from Miami to Cancun as I mentioned in the 5 things you can do now to go to the BPM festival article. This deal is good until March 8, 2014.

What do I need?

  1. Ink Bold Card or Ink Plus Card
  2. Free Bluebird Account

How do I do it?

Overview: From March 2 – March 8, Office Max is having a special where you get a $15 discount when you buy $250 in Metabank gift cards.  There is a limit of two discounts per customer.OfficeMax Gift Card AdStep 1: Go to your local OfficeMax and pick up three of the $200 Visa Gift cards.  Only the Visa’s are on the special. If they don’t have $200 gift cards, you can buy five $100 gift cards instead.  If your OfficeMax only has the $100 ones then you will still make the 3000 UR points but will make $1 instead of $9 due to the additional in fees paid. (5X$5.95 instead of 3X$6.95) 20140306-004431.jpg

Step 2: Buy these three gift cards and the sales associate will scan a code from their sale book that gives you a $30 discount.  The normal price of each of these is $206.95 so your total should be $590.85 for $600 worth of gift cards!  Pay using your Ink Bold or Ink Plus card and you will get 2950 Ultimate Rewards points.

Step 3: From this point on follow our how to use the Walmart Money Pass Kiosk to load gift cards onto your BlueBird for no fee article.

Step 4: Use your Bluebird account to pay off your Ink Bold card as explained in our How to Spend Money without Spending Money article.

Conclusion

If you have an Ink Bold card and a Bluebird card then you should really be able to go to OfficeMax, stop by home to set the PIN code, then go to Walmart, load your Bluebird and then pay off your Ink Bold card all within about an hour.  Do this 3 times before the 8th and you have enough points for a free ticket from Miami to Cancun!

As always, feel free to comment with any questions and follow me on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

Ibiza 2013: Part 7 – Lufthansa Old First Class Frankfurt to Toronto on an A-340

This is the seventh post in a series about my 2013 trip to Ibiza for the closing parties. Part of the free plane tickets were funded by the 40,000 point sign up bonus of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. I redeemed 135,000 points for First Class flights from Miami to Ibiza on Lufthansa.

When you book last minute, you are often at the mercy of what equipment is available in the class you are flying in.  In my case, First Class was available for both leaving and returning, but only one of them had the new First Class configuration.  Coming back from Frankfurt to Toronto was in their old First Class on an Airbus A-340.  Well, my loss is your gain because now you get a review of both the new and the old!  The old Lufthansa First Class is a “Throne” configuration instead of the “Capsule” configuration of the new. This type is actually a bit more comfortable in the seating position and it feels like a big Lay-Z-Boy chair.IMG_7048 It has this strange metal box towards the front part of the seating area that is used when putting the seat into the fully lie flat bed position.IMG_7049Lufthansa gave the first class cabin an amenity kit by Bogner that included lotions, toothbrush and toothpaste, socks and a hairbrush.
IMG_7051 I’m not much of a champagne and wine connoisseur, but I did try some bubbly before takeoff.  When in Rome…..IMG_7052 IMG_7053 I did try their special “Monthly Proposal” which was called Etter Vielle Quitte, Schweiz and made from pear quinces.  It was quite tasty but strong!  Whiskey fans will note that Jack Daniel’s Blue Label is available.IMG_7054 The menu looked quite good but they were surprisingly out of the lamb shank by the time they came to me since I was at the back of the First Class section.IMG_7055 It started out with the usual caviar service to go with my champagne. I skipped the vodka sidecar this time.IMG_7057In an attempt to make up for not having the Lamb Shank main course, they brought me all of the starters which I didn’t complain about. I liked the lobster and artichoke salad the best.
IMG_7058 I don’t normally include bathroom photos, but when there is a window in the bathroom, I think it warrants a shot!IMG_7059 And here is the seat in the fully flat bed position which was comfortable enough to get several hours of sleep on the way to Toronto.IMG_7060I have to say that while the old Lufthansa First Class was certainly comfortable, it really felt a bit dated and the new First Class is really a superior product.  If your schedule allows it, I would arrange my flights around the new First Class to get the best value for your miles.

I actually am doing one more quick article in this series on the lounge in the Toronto airport.  That should be up in a few days.

As always, feel free to comment with any questions and follow me on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

Reader Question: What is the difference between miles and points?

One of the things that trips up newbies as they go through our Getting Started Guide and our Easy Quarter Million program is that we sometimes use Miles and Points interchangeably.  Why do we sometimes say one and sometimes the other and is there a difference?  To understand, you need to look at the history of the frequent flyer programs.

History of Mileage Programs

Texas InternationalBack in 1979, Texas International Airlines created the first Frequent Flyer program that gave you “miles” for each mile flown and then gave you rewards for the accumulated miles.  Other airlines eventually followed suit with mileage based frequent flyer programs of their own.  So far, so good.  The problem came when hotels wanted to have loyalty programs too.  Miles doesn’t make as much sense when it comes to hotel rooms and while “Nights” would have been easy, it made it hard to offer promotions without strange fractions so they came up with “Points” instead.  Almost all of the hotel programs award points based on dollars spent which makes it fundamentally different than airlines which are independent of price.

Things get more complicated

Chase Ultimate RewardsWhen they started to tie credit cards to award programs, it initially was pretty straightforward.  One mile or point for each dollar became the standard.  But when American Express came out with their Membership Rewards program and then Chase followed with Chase Ultimate Rewards it created a new type of Hybrid program.  If you look at our Top Credit Cards page you will see what I mean. Hybrid programs allow you to redeem your points for cashback, merchandise, or transfer to both airline and hotel programs.  This additional flexibility increases the value substantially.  If you are a few thousand miles short for an award ticket, transfer some points to your airline of choice.  If you have a great fare where you will earn a ton of miles, maybe using the points to pay cash for the ticket makes sense, etc.

Things get even more complicated

Arrival BannerIf that wasn’t enough, some new credit cards have programs that call themselves “miles” programs but really are cashback programs.  For example, the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® gives you two “Miles” for each dollar spent, but those miles can’t be transferred to any airline or hotel program.  Rather they have a fixed redemption value of 1% when you use them for travel expenses.  So this is really a cashback card masquerading as a miles earning card.  But that is why you are reading this blog to make sense of all of this, right?

So what is the value of a point or mile?

I will give you some rules of thumb in a minute, but first want to say that the value can be highly variable depending on how you want to use them.  For example, if you redeem 25,000 American Miles for a flight from Miami to Orlando that would have cost you $119 to buy, you are only getting about 1/2 a cent per mile ($0.005 cents per mile).  If you redeem 100,000 American Miles for a business class ticket to Europe that would have cost you $5,000, you are getting 5 cents per mile ($0.05 cents per mile).  So you can get 10 times the value for your miles if you are smart about it! Whether I would actually ever pay $5,000 for that ticket is something that needs to be considered in determining value but I’m not going to discuss that today.

For some rules of thumb I usually won’t redeem airline miles unless I get at least 2 cents of value on the ticket.  Hotel points are more variable than airline miles, with SPG and Hyatt points being the most valuable at around 1 cent per point (although I have gotten as much as 8 cents per points with SPG before with cash and points bookings) but with other hotel programs you are lucky to get 1 cent per point in value.  Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards are the most valuable I would say at a minimum of 2 cents per point since you can transfer them to multiple airlines.

Conclusion

I hope this shows you the difference between miles and points and how the value can vary depending on how you redeem them.  The best way to learn the tricks of how to get the most value is by reading our articles here on Travel With Miles!

As always, feel free to comment with any questions and follow me on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

Ibiza 2013: Part 6 – The Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt

This is the sixth post in a series about my 2013 trip to Ibiza for the closing parties. Part of the free plane tickets were funded by the 40,000 point sign up bonus of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. I redeemed 135,000 points for First Class flights from Miami to Ibiza on Lufthansa.

In the points and miles world, the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt is the stuff of legends.  A whole separate terminal at the airport restricted to just First Class passengers.  And not just any first class passengers: Only Lufthansa First Class passengers.  A place where unicorns roam freely and mermaids serve you drinks out of a conch shell.  Well, maybe I am exaggerating a bit there, but it is awesome.  Let’s start with the building itself which is completely separate from the main terminal.

photo 5You can either enter at the dedicated drop off area on the top floor, or walk over like I did from the main terminal and enter on the bottom level then take the elevator up.  As soon as you get there, someone quickly approaches you, confirms your Lufthansa First Class status and gets your personal concierge for your time in the FCT.  At this time, they will take your checked baggage and lead you through a dedicated metal detector before you enter the terminal. My first stop was the sleeping area for a nap since I arrived right when the terminal opened at 5:30 AM and I was still a bit worn from Ibiza.IMG_7019My flight didn’t leave until 2:15 PM so I had time for a couple of hours nap before my flight left. My next stop was a relaxing soak in the bathtubs they provide in their shower rooms (yes, they have bathtubs in the airport lounge).photo 4They had an assortment of Etro products to choose from to make your soak and / or shower a pampered life.photo 3 (1)I was upset to find out that they were out of the signature Lufthansa Rubber Duckies that come when you reserve one of the bathrooms with a tub.  They did have a nice selection of past duckies that my friend Scott would love.IMG_7044I then took a stroll around the terminal and checked out the extensive amenities.  My first stop was the cigar lounge.
IMG_7020There was a nice selection of complimentary stogies.IMG_7043The lounge was very comfortable and had all sort of chairs that you could lounge in depending on your mood.
IMG_7021I started with an excellent Bloody Mary from the attentive bartender.IMG_7026I was a bit hungry at this point so I decided to try their sit down complimentary dining that was available. They had an Oktoberfest special going on.IMG_7024You could also order from a comprehensive menu.IMG_7036I decided to just roam around the buffet and see what looked good.
IMG_7033
The freshly shaved pork was particularly yummy.IMG_7034For drinks they had a comprehensive water bar.  Yes this is a whole bar of different types of water from around the world.IMG_7030If you wanted something a little stronger they also had an area devoted to other liquors including a ton of different whiskies.IMG_7031After I ate, I still had a few hours to relax before my flight and have a few beverages.
IMG_7022I have a pretty big sweet tooth so I was happy to see all sorts of candies spread out through the terminal.IMG_7025If you needed to get some work done or check your Facebook, they had private offices available with computers.IMG_7027They had these things called “PowerKiss” that you could get for your phone to wirelessly charge it on any of the tables around the lounge.IMG_7029I found these amazing rocking massage chairs and was in heaven.

IMG_7028Just when I got comfortable in this chair, an attendant came up to me and asked for my passport so he could go get my immigration stamps and he offered me some champagne.  Ummmm, I don’t mind if I do!  He brought back my passport when it was time to board and took me downstairs to the limousine department for my Mercedes ride over to my waiting plane.
IMG_7045I have to admit that the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt surpassed all of my expectations.  This is truly a different way to fly and now that I have experienced it, I want more! 🙂 If this sounds like something you would enjoy (and really who wouldn’t enjoy this) then why not apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred today and get 40,000 points as a sign on bonus?

In our final article, I will review the First Class flight home on Lufthansa that was in their old first class seating.

As always, feel free to comment with any questions and follow me on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

How I made 16,000 points and $215 on Black Friday shopping

Note: We are in the middle of a contest to give away two round trip plane tickets to The BPM Festival in January.  Make sure you have gotten your entries in!

Have you liked TravelWithMiles on Facebook yet or followed us on Twitter?  Make sure to do it today so you don’t miss any of our great deals to travel the world!

Black Friday is a crazy time of year for promotions and this year was no exception.  I thought it might be interesting to share some of the deals that I came across for Black Friday and took advantage of.

Earlier in the week, Amazon had a promo on the Nexus 7 32 GB tablets that I like to buy for resale for $239.99 including free shipping and no tax.  I had a bunch of Amazon gift cards I had gotten from Plink so this was a perfect way to turn those gift cards into cash when I resell that same tablet in my Amazon store for $269 after the Black Friday sales are over!

Nexus7

Then on Wednesday, I got an email from Staples with a $50 off coupon for any tablet so I ordered another of the Nexus 7 32 GB for $269-$50 = $219.  I had to pay tax on this one so my total cost was $234.33.  If you read my article on Shopping Portals for Mega Miles, you know that I always get extra miles by starting at a portal.  This time I used UPromise for an extra 5% back in cash.  Staples also has a rewards program where I get another 5% back in Staples bucks to use towards a future purchase.  I also get Plink Points for Staples so will get another $3 back. I used my Ink Bold card to pay for it which gives me 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent. This makes my net cost $210.09 plus I get 1174 Ultimate Rewards points.  I will resell this for around $269 through my Amazon store.

The last deal I was really happy about.  OfficeMax was offering a promo where you could buy a $200 gift card for $180.  Since there is a $6.95 activation fee, this means you would make $13.05 on the card after the promo.  And since I was going to use my Chase Ink Bold Card, I would get 5 Ultimate Reward points per dollar since it is an office supply store.  I got there shortly after they opened at 8 PM on Thanksgiving (we did a Thanksgiving lunch instead of a dinner so I was free).  They had them right up front when I asked about them and they told me “You can buy two per transaction but there is no limit on the number of transactions.”  What!?!  OK, I will take them all then!

officemaxEach of those is two $200 gift cards.  So I ended up with 16 $200 gift cards for a total of $3200 in cards for a total cost of $2984.  Since I used my Ink Bold, I will get another 15,000 Ultimate Rewards on top of making $215!  Gotta love it! If you read my article about Spending Money without Spending Money you know I can use my Bluebird account to take these gift cards and immediately pay off the Ink Bold card I just used to charge it!

I am not sure if there is anything else I will be buying this weekend, but I wanted to share these deals with you so you could get some ideas on how you can make extra miles too! How did you make miles on Black Friday?

How to use shopping portals to make mega miles!

I love shopping portals.  I have literally made hundreds of thousands of points all at one time by taking advantage of shopping portals. See how I made 264,000 Ultimate Rewards Points + $1000 shopping at Sears or how I made 189,000 Rapid Rewards Points + a companion pass shopping online. But what exactly are shopping portals and how do they work?

What are Shopping Portals?

A shopping portal is just like the name describes it is a portal (like a doorway) that takes you shopping online.  Think of it like a mall.  It is full of many shops that are all owned by different companies.  What if I told you if you went through one entrance of the mall that you could get 5 miles for every dollar you spent? And if you went through another entrance you could get 10 miles for every dollar?  And if you went through yet another entrance you would get no miles at all!  That is how they work!  But it’s easiest to explain with an example.

How do Shopping Portals Work?

Let’s say you have gone through our Getting Started Page and have already signed up for a free United MileagePlus number.  If you haven’t, go do it now! We are going to use the MileagePlus Shopping Portal in our example. This portal gives you United Airlines Miles for shopping in their mall.  Some malls you need to create a separate login, but this one you can just log in with your United MileagePlus number and PIN or password you use to access your MileagePlus account online.

After logging in, search for the store you want to go shopping in. FYI here is their version of how the online shopping portal works.

shoppinghowitworks

In our example we are going to use Walmart.  Online is about the only way I will ever go to Walmart. I search for Walmart in the search box and it brings up a screen that shows details about that merchant.UnitedWalmartYou can see that they are offering 1 Mile for every dollar that you spend. This means if you buy a $500 LCD TV from Walmart on Black Friday, you can get an extra 500 United Miles just by starting your shopping session through this portal!  They also list some sale and coupon codes that you can sometimes use. Since you are already logged in just click on the Shop Now button and you will be transported to the exact same Walmart.com as if you went their directly.  Same products, same prices.

1 Mile per dollar is pretty much the bare minimum you will find and many of them offer much higher rates.  I have even seen up to 60 Miles per dollar on occasion which is incredible!

The miles will typically show in your account after a week or so, but sometimes it might take up to a month to see them reflected. You can see your earning history by clicking on the My Account link at the top right of the screen.

recenttransactions

What shopping portals are there?

Almost every major US airline, most hotel chains and even some random point programs have shopping portals.  Here are a few of them.

There are also some straight Cashback shopping portals that give you cold hard cash instead of miles such as:

How do I know which shopping portal to use?

Luckily there are web sites whose whole purpose is to help you decide which portal to use.  Of course if you are specifically after United Miles then that might be the best one to use.  But you should at least compare a few of the portals to make sure a much better deal isn’t available.  The shopping portal comparison site I like to use is EVReward.com.  If I go to that site and type in Walmart for instance, here is what I see.

EVRewardAs you can see, UPromise and ShopDiscover are offering 5% cash back.  I would rather have that than 1 mile per dollar all day long!

Conclusion

I hope this has showed you how easy it is to make extra miles and cash by shopping online.  You really shouldn’t shop online without utilizing a shopping portal.  If you don’t, you are simply leaving free miles on the ground that you should be picking up.  If you have any questions then leave them in the comments and I will answer them.

Southwest Fare Sale. Good deals Fort Lauderdale to Atlanta, New Orleans, Austin, Buffalo, San Juan, Denver and more!

Have you liked TravelWithMiles on Facebook yet or followed us on Twitter?  Make sure to do it today so you don’t miss any of our great deals to travel the world!

Southwest has sales pretty much every week, but I found some good deals during this combination of 4 fare sales and I thought I would share.

Southwest Fare SaleFares have to be booked by November 4 and are good for travel all the way until March 14 so take a look if you have travel planned.  The other great thing about this sale is the point prices drop as well (they don’t always drop along with the fares).  If you get the Chase Sapphire Preferred card which has a 40,000 point sign on bonus, you can transfer some of those points to Southwest Rapid Rewards to redeem for this sale. Here are the sales that seemed like a decent deal to me, but I just searched for places where I might want to go so feel free to check the ones you are interested in.

SouthWest SaleWith prices this reasonable, you could take 4 of these trips with the 40,000 points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred! What are you waiting for?  Let’s travel!

How I flew to Panama for $62.50.

IMG_7140
The view from my resort in the rain forest in Panama

I just got back from a quick 4 day trip to Panama which included a night at a beachside resort, a night in Panama City and a night at a resort in the rain forest near the canal.  And I only paid $62.50 out of pocket for my flight!  Here is how I did it.

  1. I had received 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points from the sign on bonus for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. I had to spend $3,000 within 3 months to get the bonus.
  2. I priced out a trip from Miami to Panama on British Airways.com and saw that it was 20,000 Avios round trip plus $62.50 in taxes.mia-pty2
  3. I transferred 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points to my British Airways Avios Account online via my Chase Ultimate Rewards account.UR Transfer to BA
  4. It took a few minutes to transfer the points to British Airways but then I was able to book my flights on British Airways web site!

Now it is your turn! Start with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and start planning your adventure today!

 

How I made 1800 United Miles from $75 in online shopping. Debit cards OK!

United 1500Check your email for one from United Mileage Plus Shopping titled “Earn 1,500 miles simply by shopping”.  If you have it like I did then you have been targeted for a special promotion for extra miles.  This promotion is only open to those who received the email.  If you didn’t receive the email, sign up for mileage plus shopping so you can get the next one! The promotion gives you 500 United miles after you make a $25 purchase, then 1000 miles when you make two more purchases totaling $50 more. This ends up being 24 Miles per dollar on these purchases which is pretty awesome! All of the purchases have to be made by November 11, 2013. Here is how I am going to maximize it:

  1. Click through the United Mileage Plus Shopping page to K-Mart and buy one physical $25 gift card using my Chase Sapphire Preferred that I have registered with Plink.  You can use your debit card if you don’t have a miles earning card yet.  This will give me 25 UR points for the purchase plus 100 United Miles for the 4 miles per dollar plus 500 Miles for the first bonus plus $1.25 in Plink points.kmart mileage plus
  2. One day later I will buy two physical $25 Kmart gift cards in separate transactions, again with my Chase Sapphire Preferred.  For each purchase this will give me 25 UR Miles, 75 United Miles, and $1.25 in Plink points.  I will also get the 1000 bonus United Miles.
  3. Keep in mind that you can do this even if you only have a debit card and still get the 1800 United Miles and the Plink points.

This means I will receive a total of 1800 United Miles, 75 UR Points and $3.75 in Plink points for $75 in purchases.  I will receive even more miles and points when I use the gift cards at Sears or K-Mart.  What a deal! I love this game!

Feel free to comment on this post if you have any questions and don’t forget to Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter!

1800 Delta Skymiles with a total of $100 in online purchases. No Credit needed!

DeltaSkymilesShoppingCheck your email for one from Delta Skymiles Shopping titled “Member Exclusive! Make 1,500 Bonus Miles When You Shop Three Times”.  If you have it like I did then you have been targeted for a special promotion for extra miles.  This promotion is only open to those who received the email.  The promotion gives you 500 Skymiles after you make a $50 purchase, then 1000 Skymiles when you make two more purchases totaling $50 more. All of the purchases have to be made by November 4, 2013. Here is how I am going to maximize it:

  1. Click through the Delta Skymiles Shopping page to Sears and buy one physical $50 Sears gift card using my Chase Ink Bold that I have registered with Plink (with K-Mart chosen as one of my wallet entries since Sears issues their gift cards from K-Mart).  This will give me 50 UR points for the purchase plus 150 Skymiles for the 3 miles per dollar plus 500 Skymiles for the first bonus plus $3 in Plink points.searsskymilesbanner
  2. One day later I will buy two physical $25 Sears gift cards in separate transactions, again with my Ink Bold.  For each purchase this will give me 25 UR Miles,75 Skymiles, and $1.25 in Plink points.  I will also get the 1000 bonus Delta Skymiles.
  3. Keep in mind that you can do this even if you only have a debit card and still get the 1800 Delta Skymiles and the Plink points.

This means I will receive a total of 1800 Delta Skymiles, 100 UR Points and $5.50 in Plink points for $100 in purchases.  I will receive even more miles and points when I use the gift cards at Sears.  What a deal! I love this game!

Feel free to comment on this post if you have any questions and don’t forget to Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter!