Amex and Bluebird users! Don’t miss Small Business Saturday November 29

Small Business Saturday 2Every year around this time American Express has a promotion called Small Business Saturday where in an effort to support local small businesses they give away free money!  This year’s offer is a bit different than the last time I participated in 2012, but it is possibly even better than ever! This year Amex cards as well as Bluebird prepaid cards will work. Continue reading “Amex and Bluebird users! Don’t miss Small Business Saturday November 29”

Amex Sync Offer: Free $150 for your AT&T Wireless Bill

Whenever the annual fees come due on my cards (such as the $65 annual fee for my Starwood Preferred Guest Business American Express), I look and see what value I have gotten for the card throughout the membership year and compare it to the fee.  I love Amex Sync offers and have written about them many times in the past.  The latest Amex offer though is a doozy! This one offer will pay almost 3 years worth of annual fees on this card! To take advantage of this offer you will obviously need an American Express card that has this offer available in your online account (my SPG Business Amex did). Continue reading “Amex Sync Offer: Free $150 for your AT&T Wireless Bill”

1000 bonus Hyatt Gold Points per booking for using mobile app

Hyatt 1K BonusHyatt is having a promotion from now until the end of the year where you can get 1000 bonus Gold Points per booking by making your reservation using their mobile app.  Free points are always good in my book.  There is no need to register, you just make your booking using the Hyatt mobile app and you will get 1000 bonus points for your eligible stay. Continue reading “1000 bonus Hyatt Gold Points per booking for using mobile app”

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 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 Bali, Indonesia for free!

This is the first in a series of articles called TWM Take Me Away! where I will pick a destination a reader wants to go to and show you how to get there for free with miles!

A reader contacted me recently:

“I am taking the time to message you right now because I want to go to Bali at the end of August for my birthday and I’m trying to figure out how much to save to have. And also around what months should l look into buying a flight ticket.”

Bali is definitely on my bucket list due to the amazing culture , beautiful scenery and friendly people.Bali


I priced out a ticket around those dates on and the cheapest I could find was $1401 on Delta for JFK to DPS (the airport in Bali) via LAX and TPE which seemed like a decent price since you are flying halfway around the world.  Business class was over $6,000!  But the name of this site is Traveling With Miles not Traveling with Cash, so lets see how we can get there for free.

1. Use 70,000 or 110,000 American AAdvantage Miles to book OneWorld flights.

According to the American Airlines OneWorld chart on this page, you can go from North America to 70,000 Miles round trip in economy class and 110,000 Miles Round trip in business class. I checked and there is some availability on Cathay Pacific which has a great business class product if you can be flexible on dates throughout August.

Cathay Business
Cathay Pacific New Business Class Seats

It is a 15 hour flight from JFK to HKG so I would definitely recommend business class.  As a general rule, for any flight 5 hours or more, I try to do business class if I have the miles because it makes the experience much more pleasant.

If you wanted to get these miles, you could get 50,000 from the Citibank AA Platinum Personal MC, then wait 65 days and apply for the 50,000 Mile Citibank AA Platinum Business Mastercard.  That will give you more than enough for a coach ticket and almost enough for the business class seat.  With a some of our online shopping deals for American Miles, you should be able to make the difference up easily.

2. Use 65,000 or 120,000 United miles to book on Star Alliance

This price will change drastically on February 1 when United changes their award chart so if you happen to want to book this trip, do it now.  I just did a search and found a coach flight departing from EWR to DPS via TPE on EVA and then returning from DPS to EWR via TPE and LAX (on EVA and United on the way back).United Bali CoachThere was also business class availability for 120,000 and $25!

United Bali BusinessNote that these prices will be going up to 80,000 for coach and 160,000 for business after February 1.

To get these miles, you could start with the 40,000 miles from the Chase Sapphire Preferred card you get after spending $3,000.  After 93 days (the minimum for chase to apply for multiple personal cards) you could get another 50,000 from the Chase United Explorer (will need to be logged into your MileagePlus account to see this offer).  You could also take advantage of some online shopping for miles like I did with the 1800 Miles for $75 shopping and 12-16X Miles shopping at Sears.

3. Use 80,000 or 120,000 Delta miles or 70,000 or 125,000 Korean Air to book on SkyTeam

Korean Air Prestige Seat
Korean Air Prestige Seat

I have included two options here because you may have either type of mile.  I picked up 30,000 Delta Miles when I got a Suntrust debit card, and 100,000 when I did some Skymall shopping.  I am also including Korean Air because they are a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards which might be easier to earn miles with. FYI, the Delta business prices are going up February 1, and the Korean Air prices are going up on June 1.

If you can find availability on Korean Air flights (which you could book with either type of mile) for JFK to DPS via ICN (Seoul), then you should be able to get the above pricing if you are flexible about your travel dates.

To get these miles you could get 30-50,000 Skymiles by getting the Delta Amex card at this link. But I would recommend getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred card for 40,000 Ultimate Reward Points, then getting the Chase Ink Bold for 50,000 more.


Grand Hyatt Bali
Grand Hyatt Bali

For hotels, it looks like the best values are either the Grand Hyatt property or use cash and points at one of the SPG properties.1. For 12,000 Hyatt Gold Points per night you can stay at the Grand Hyatt Bali

W Bali
W Retreat & Spa Bali – Seminyak

2. For 10,000 SPG points + $180 cash a night you can stay at the W Retreat & Spa Bali – Seminyak.  This can be especially rewarding if you have Platinum status with SPG and could possibly get upgraded to a suite.

Le Meridien Bali
Le Meridien Bali

3. For 6000 SPG points and $110 a night you can stay at the Le Meridien Bali

Sheraton Senggigi
Sheraton Senggigi

4. And for only 3000 SPG points per night you can stay in the super secluded Sheraton Senggigi (although it is on a different island than bali so you might have to find your way there)

For the Grand Hyatt property, they are a transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards so the Chase Sapphire Preferred 40,000 bonus could help you out. For the SPG properties, the 25,000 mile bonus from the SPG Amex and the SPG Business Amex could get you some free nights.

5. Another good option might be to get the Barclays Arrival card and then use the $400 sign up bonus (40,000 points you can redeem for $400 in travel expenses) just pay cash for a reasonably priced hotel or hostel or bed and breakfast you find there.

Whew!  That was a lot of information!  But I hope that this shows you how you can get to Bali for free with a little planning.

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

Why I’m NOT requalifying for SPG Platinum this year.

Living Room in Suite at Sheraton Lima
Living Room in Suite at Sheraton Lima

Last year at this time I was doing a series of mattress runs to take advantage of several promotions and get my last few nights to qualify for Platinum Elite Status.  I was getting 5,000 Aeroplan miles, 500 Starpoints per booking for using the iPhone app, double Starpoints on one night stays, and 250 points for checking in via foursquare. This year the Aeroplan offer returned, but the SPG offer stayed at double Starpoints, but lost the 500 points per booking and the 250 foursquare bonus.  You could get the 500 points back as long as you kept your number of bookings to multiples of 5, but there was an exclusion list that unfortunately caught some of my stays during the quarter. At the end of November, this is where my elite search ended up.

SPG GoldI was one night award from Gold and would need a massive 16 more nights to get to Platinum.

Why were my SPG nights so low for the year?

Simply put, the other hotel chains came up with much better offers than whatever SPG was offering each quarter.  Marriott with their Megabonus stay 2 get 1 offer, Hilton with their triple points offer, IHG with their Big Win promotion that gave me 20 free nights were all head and shoulders better than SPG’s double and triple points offers during the year. I enjoyed my SPG status when I used it for free upgrades to suites, and I got extra night credits from my SPG Business Amex.  But at the end of the day if there is a much better offer available, it would be silly for me not to take advantage of it regardless of status. Why take double points this quarter when I can get close to 100,000 points at one time with IHG?  SPG also changed their cash and points rates last January which made them less valuable to use.

Should I go for Gold?

Since I am only one stay away from gold, it will probably be worth making a mattress run for the final night I need before the end of the year.  Gold with SPG still gives some decent benefits.SPG Gold BenefitsThe extra Starpoints would be nice, but the late checkout and enhanced room at checkin (but no suites) really provide extra for my SPG stays.


This year it is a very different situation for me compared last year due to the competitive landscape and my stay patterns during the year.  If Starwood comes up with some better promotions during 2014, I can always try to reestablish Platinum status with them at that time.  But as long as the competitors are having better offers, I see my hotel loyalty going to other programs.  What is your hotel strategy for 2014?  Is brand loyalty dead?

As always, feel free to comment with any questions and follow me on Facebook or Twitter!


Make 1565 UR Points, $35 in gift cards, when you buy $300 in gift cards at Staples. Or more!

Staples is having a promotion this week where if you buy $300 in Mastercard Gift cards, they will mail you a $20 gift card for Staples.

300StaplesGiftcard If you buy a $200 GC for $206.95 and a $100 GC for $105.95, you will have a total cost of $312.90.  If you charge this using your Ink Bold card you will get 5X Ultimate Rewards Points or 1570 points and they will mail you a $20 Staples gift card. This would give you a total of $320 in gift cards and 1570 UR points for a cost of $312.90. If you can’t find the $200 gift cards you can do 3 $100 gift cards for a total cost of $317.85 instead and still make money.

But wait, you can make more with Plink!

Staples is a Plink vendor that is currently offering 300 Plink points (worth $3 in gift cards) for each $60 purchase.

PlinkStaplesSo to maximize the Plink points when they have you rung up, tell the cashier you want to pay with multiple credit cards.  On the first charge, put $60 and use the card you have linked with your Plink account. Then do the same thing 4 more times, putting the final balance on the 5th charge.  So you will have charges of $60, 60, 60, 60, and then $72.90.  This will get you $15 worth of Plink points that you can use for Walmart or Amazon gift cards.  If you check in to Staples as well using the Plink mobile app, you will get another 25 points (5 points for each transaction).

But wait, you can make more with American Express Sync!

American Express currently has a sync promotion for Staples where if you spend $75, they will give you a $25 credit back to your card you use.

amexsyncstaplesSince I have my SPG Business American Express, I can use this card to make this deal even sweeter!  If you are not familiar with the Amex Sync program, check out this article we did on how it works.

So if you have an Ink Bold card as well as a Amex, this is how the deal could work out.

  • Buy a $200 MC GC and a $100 MC GC for $312.90
  • Charge the first $75 on your Amex card after you have registered for the Staples Sync offer.
  • Split the remaining balance into multiple charges on your Ink Bold card of $60, $60, $60, and $57.90.
  • You will end up with 1190 UR points, a $20 staples gift card, $300 in MC GCs, $10.25 in Plink gift cards, and a $25 Amex statement credit for a total cost of $312.90.

Wow!  What a great deal!  But this deal ends today 10/19/2013 so head to Staples now!

Edit:  When I went to Staples to buy the cards, I decided to get two $200 gift cards since I could get another 500 UR points for just another $1 paid.  I also split my payment up $75 on the Amex then made four payments of $60 and one of $98.90.  This will give me $15 in Plink earnings, $400 in gift cards, $25 in Amex Credit, a $20 gift card, 50 SPG points, 1695 UR Points for a cost of $413.90. Not bad!

Get paid for getting miles with Plink and Gap. Really!

We talked a bit about Plink in our Quadruple Dipping at Sears article, and there are having another promotion right now that is pretty sweet. Plink is a rewards program that gives you “Plink Points” for making purchases at certain merchants over a certain dollar amount (for example, 250 Plink points for a $25 purchase at 7-11).  You can then redeem those Plink points for a variety of gift certificates such as at a rate of $1 / 100 Plink points. They will email you the Amazon gift certificates right away.

Through Sunday, September 8, 2013 Plink is having a promotion where they double their normal rate of 1200 Plink Points / $100 purchase at The Gap clothing store.

plinkgapThis means you will get 2400 Plink points for every $100 you spend. 2400 Plink points has a value of $24 when redeemed for gift cards.  Here is how the deal would work:

  1. Start with a points earning card such as the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Amex which gives 1 Starpoint / $1 spent.
  2. Go to your local Gap store and make 10 separate purchases of $100 gift cards.
  3. For these purchases you will get 24,000 Plink points which you can redeem for $240 worth of gift cards.
  4. If you “Check In” using the Plink mobile app after your purchase, you will get an additional 5 Plink points per purchase (every bit helps!)
  5. You will now have $1000 in Gap gift cards which you can sell to a site such as ABC Gift Cards for either $810 in a check or $850 if you can use gift cards.abcgiftcardsgap

So for spending $1000, you end up with $240 in gift cards plus an $810 check, and 1000 Starpoints.  That’s a $50 profit for earning 1000 miles (Starpoints in my example)!

What a deal!

How I got 257 miles by buying … Protein Powder?

I have started going to the gym regularly lately with the whole 9 yards of a controlled diet and protein shakes, fish oil, creatine etc.  I recently ran out of my “Whey Protein” and hadn’t planned ahead.  I usually buy almost everything online so I can get miles or cashback by going through a shopping portal.  But in this case, I needed to buy it today and locally.  I know that GNC is a good albeit sometimes overpriced vitamin shop that carried the Optimum Nutrition brand I use.  I checked online and it was on sale for $56.99 which was about what I had paid before.


The normal method of getting miles for purchases is to just use a card such as my SPG Business Amex to get 1 point per $1 spent, which would have given me 57 points.   But I can do better than that! There is a Staples close to where I live that has GNC gift cards.  And since Staples is an Office Supply store, if I use my Chase Ink Bold, I receive 5X points for anything spent there, including gift cards!  So into Staples I go and I pick up two $25 GNC cards.


For this purchase I will get 250 Ultimate Reward points ($50X5) that I can eventually transfer to airline miles or hotel points or even cash! I then went to my local GNC and paid for my purchase with the gift cards and put the additional $7 on another card that earned me 7 more miles. This netted me a total of 257 Miles instead of just 57. Nice!

But I could have done even better if I hadn’t been in a rush and had planned ahead.  By going to the site, I see that if I had shopped online at using the ShopDiscover portal, I could have gotten an additional 15% back in cold, hard, cash through my Discover It® Card.


As you can see from the above chart, there are many different ways to get miles and cash at  Pick the one you value the most! And you can use this in combination with the gift cards you got from Staples with your Chase Ink Bold!

I know this is a simple example and not a whole lot of points or miles, but I hope this makes you think next time you need to buy something about how many miles or points you should be getting!

The Starwood Preferred Guest American Express 30K Offer is back! Get $1200-2400 in value for this sign on bonus!

September 4, 2013: This offer has expired and it is back to the usual offer of 25K SPG Points for both the consumer and business versions.

Maybe twice a year, the SPG Business Amex and SPG Amex run a special for 30K SPG points instead of the normal 25K. This is one of those times!

Starwood are in my opinion the most valuable points and in the past I have gotten great value from my points.  On my most recent Europe trip, I received 4.1 cents per Starpoint in value at the fabulous Turnberry Resort.


I also received a Free Upgrade to a giant suite in Lima for only $30+1600 points per night earlier in the year.

Couch in Living Room
Couch in Living Room

It never seems that I have enough Starpoints and I am constantly trying to keep my balance up so I can have the juicy redemptions at Starwood’s awesome properties around the world. This limited time sign on bonus (ends Sept 3, 2013) is the perfect way to boost your Starpoints account.

30,000 points is as good as it gets for these particular cards so if you were thinking about getting it, now is the time! The worst value I have gotten from my Starpoints is around 4 cents per point and the best value is around 8 cents per Starpoint. This means if you redeem the smart way like I do, this sign on bonus is worth between $1200-2400!  Here are some of the details:

  • 10,000 SPG points after the first purchase
  • 20,000 SPG points after spending $5,000 in the card in the first 6 months
  • No fee for the first year, then $65
  • Instant Preferred Plus status which can give you free room upgrades, 4 PM Checkout and more
  • 5 nights or 2 stays worth of credit towards your gold or platinum status qualification.
  • Up to 5 points per $ spent at SPG properties (2 starpoints per dollar spent on the card plus the starpoints you get as a SPG member), 1 point per $ everywhere else

If staying in awesome suites for peanuts sounds like something you are interested in, then apply for the SPG Business Amex or SPG Amex before September 3, 2013