I Think This is the BEST Airline Credit Card……Do You Agree?

Sometimes choosing the best of anything can be difficult.  When people often ask about my favorite place I’ve ever visited, or my favorite trip, and I avoid the question by explaining that I have a favorite beach, waterfall, culinary trip, or something else. Other times choosing the best is easy.  When someone asks my which Airline credit card is the BEST, I can answer with confidence it is the Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage.  This card is a beautiful thing, check out why I feel this way.

best airline travel credit card

This is it. Check it out!

Best Airline Credit Card Benefits

This card comes with a few incredible benefits that I love.  Let me know what you think of these bennies.

$95 Annual fee is waived the first year

Yes.  Paying annual fees is a bummer, and waters down the value of the card.  Plus these guys usually will waive the annual fee when you call up at the end of the year.

50,000 Bonus AAdvantage miles

Check out their award chart.  You’ll quickly see that their program has some sweet spots when traveling to Central America or to Europe in the offseason.  These awards are much lower than their competitors. This is one of the many reasons that makes this card the BEST airine award credit card.


American Airlines Award Availability

If you’ve ever tried booking an award ticket with US Airways, or Delta, you already know that points can be dang near worthless.  Not the case here with American.  American has some of the best availability to use the miles, which means that you actually get to use the miles. Sweet!

checked bag

Photo courtesy of Tnooz.com

Free checked bags

Checking bags these days can get expensive!  Seriously they want $50 for a round trip bag, yuck!  This card offers a free checked bag for up to four total people on your itinerary.  This should be enough for most families, even if they have more people. You should just carry-on a few smaller bags to make up the difference.

10% of Your Redeemed Miles Come Back to You

I had read about this benefit, but hadn’t even paid attention to how it actually works until last week.  It was the reason that inspired me to write this post!  I recently booked a trip to Europe for the wife and I, which is going to be awesome!  The normal guy booking my exact same trip would have paid 80,000 miles for booking this trip, but not me!

I used the 80,000 miles to book the trip, but having this card allowed 8000 miles to back into my account, only really costing me 72,000 miles.  Sweet!  They say this benefit may take up to two months, but it happened almost instantaneously for me.  When booking a big trip it really is worth making sure this card is still in your arsenal.

Citi AA Reduced Mileage Awards

This benefit is another way to stretch the 50,000 miles, and it’s easy peazzy lemon squeezie to book.  First you check out what destinations are on the list. Then you choose one of these places that you’ve always wanted to visit Jackson Hole for some fresh powder skiing.  Find the location:

Jackson Hole

Then you cruise to the AA website to find the SAAver Award for the dates that work, pray for tons of powder to fall from Heaven, then call the AAdvantage Award desk to book the flight.  You might even get a customer service rep who helps you find the dates.

This can save you 7,500 AAdvantage miles round trip!  That drops your price from 25,000 miles to 17,500 for a roundtrip ticket within the USA.  You can’t even get that with Southwest most times!

They even have some warm weather destinations for those who are sick of the cold.

best airline credit card

You can get this bonus every 18 months

Per the terms and conditions:

Citi AAdvantage Select

I haven’t tried lately, but this hasn’t been a big deal in the past with an opened account. They’ve usually allowed me to get this bonus again and again. Hopefully they don’t clamp down on this anytime soon. Make sure you have the card open when you need to book the trip so you can get the 10% of your miles back in your pocket again.

Do you think this is the BEST Airline Award Credit Card?

What are your thoughts?  Do you agree that this is the best airline award credit card? What features do you like about this card most?  If you have another card that you like more, what do you like about that airline card?

Posted in American Airlines, Citi, Credit Cards, How to Wanderlust | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Travel Rewards Combo That Will Give You 100k Miles!

Peanut butter and chocolate.  Pineapple and the grill.  Oreos and milk. Bread and cheese. Apple pie and ice cream. These are all things that are good individually, but even better in a combo.  As you might imagine, it’s no different in the world of frequent flyer mile credit cards.  I’m going to tell you about the best combo in all of almost-free travel-dom.  Are you ready?

Here it comes:

  1. Citi Platinum Select American AAdvantage, and
  2. Barclays US Airways World Mastercard

Why these two? And why together? Because they complement one another, of course… no different from the way the salty peanut butter just perfectly connects with the sweet chocolate.

The Citi Platinum Select card waives the $95 annual fee for the first year, but a $2000 minimum spending requirement. The Barclays US Airways card has no minimum spending requirement, but does charge the $89 annual fee the first year.

Wait, it’s about to get even better.  Both offer a bonus of 50k miles for a total of 100k.  Where US Airways is merging with AA, they will soon be the very same program.  If that weren’t enough, the program, American AAdvantage, is hands-down the most efficient of all the major carriers – offering the most availablility for the lowest point amounts.  We are talking Hawaii for 35k, most of Central and South America for 30k, and Europe for 40k!

And with the special feature of the Citi Platinum Select card’s handy little 10% point-kickback benefit, you can go ahead and shave 10% more off those already low rates.  That really means your flights to Europe are about 36k miles each.  Yes, these two cards alone are almost enough to get three round-trip flights to Europe.  Take it from me, having just booked two 36k mile flights to Ireland.

There’s more.  I can’t make any promises, but as a general rule, Barclays wants to check your Transunion credit score while Citi generally pulls from Experian or Equifax.  This means you’re not compounding any effect on your credit score by applying for both.

We’re going to keep going.  Of course it’s also nice to have both a Visa and a Mastercard at the ready, to say nothing of the free first checked bag on both US Airways and American Airlines. Oh, and how about Reduced Mileage Awards (saving 7500 points on some flights) with American. We’re starting to get trivial, now, but there’s even savings on in-flight purchases.

It’s just clear as day.  There’s no better combination of travel reward cards available than these two together.  Just about every other day I’m helping people see what amazing opportunities their American miles will bring them.  I hope you’re filling your pockets with them, because I just can’t see this going on forever.  At some point the merger will be complete and it won’t make sense to run two different credit card loyalty programs, but for now, we have to take AAdvantage.

The best way to compound your mile-accumulation is, of course, to get both of these cards for you and your spouse.  With 200k AAdvantage miles, you’ll run out of vacation time long before you run out of almost-free travel. In the past four years, we have used AA miles to go to Colombia, Hawaii, Italy, and soon to Ireland. I lick my chops for whatever opportunity I can get to accumulate more.

Just to offer you a little taste… I’ve been planning our trip to Ireland and I want to show you some of the things we anticipate seeing.


Rock of Cashel


Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge


The Barbican Gate at Tollymore Forest


Giants Causeway

As always, thanks for wanderlusting with us.  Please tell us where your American AAdvantage miles are taking you.

Posted in American Airlines, Barclays, Citi, US Airways | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Stay 3 Nights, Get 10 Nights Free With IHG

Obtaining frequent flyer miles and hotel points from credit card offers has a tendency to dominate the discussion on our blog, simply because it tends to be the easiest, quickest way to get them, but in today’s post I want to tell you about an opportunity to earn a stack of hotel points that could get you as many as 10 nights in hotels, simply by meeting the terms of a promotion which may only require you to stay 3 nights.

Intercontinental Hotels Group wants your loyalty, as do all hotel loyalty programs – that’s why they’re created.  And if they’re willing to reward your commitment to them, then by all means, take advantage of it. In this case, to launch 2015, they’ve created a promotion that’s targeted specifically at their members.  It varies by if and how much you’ve already participated in their program, but for the sake of ease, I’m going to assume that you’ve not even registered.

The first step is simply to create a membership with the IHG Rewards Club by giving them your name, email, and physical address at this link.  By so doing, you register for this promotion and commit to nothing more than receiving promotional mail from them.

Once you’ve registered, they’ll create a list of offers for you that will probably look something like this:

IHG Set your sights

This, quite simply, is your roadmap to 50k IHG points, and it’s remarkably simple.  In this case, it asks you to do 5 things, each of which has a specific bonus points value. These do not have to be performed in any particular order, but they do need to be completed by April 30th.

  1. Download the app. Well that was easy!
  2. Stay a total of 3 nights.
  3. Book 2 stays directly on IHG (or with the app).
  4. Stay over a weekend.
  5. Stay at 2 Holiday Inn hotels.

This sounds like a lot, but you could achieve this in 3 paid nights over 2 separate stays by doing it just like this:

  1. Download the app and book a weekend stay at a Holiday Inn (2 nights ~$220).
  2. Book (directly) another stay at another Holiday Inn.

Those two simple things could get you well on your way to an epic almost-free vacation.

Just to give you some ideas, you could book a short romantic weekend over Valentines Day and book the second near a ski resort for a quick getaway. Or you could take advantage of a business trip you already plan to take and use IHG in lieu of Marriott or Hilton, or wherever else you usually stay. I’m not against manufacturing some short little vacations in order to build up for a big one.  Keep in mind that you’ll also get your standard points for these stays so you’ll probably end up with even more than the 50k points.

But what does 50k points get you?

Ahh yes, this is where it gets exciting.   If you take a look at the category chart, you’ll see that there’s a possibility you could use all 50k points in a single night, and that may be fun, but we’re not going to tell you to do that.hotel points

Our niche has always been to help you maximize the points you have – how to get the most bang for your points-buck.  Nowhere in the land of almost-free travel is there more value than in the IHG PointBreaks that are offered every quarter.  This is a special offer that comes out, allowing you to book a specific list of hotels for only 5k points/night. The most recently released list has an abundance of amazing places you could use your 50k points to book as many as 10 nights or break them up and stay 5 nights in 2 different locations.  While you may not have your points in time to take advantage of the opportunities on this quarter’s list, here are just a few sample ideas for you:

  • InterContinental The Palace Port Ghalib Resort (Egypt): This resort property in Egypt is a destination unto itself, to say nothing of the beautiful beach, scuba diving, desert safaris, emerald mines, and Egyptian temples.Egypt
  • Crowne Plaza Liège (Belgium): This is an amazing town that hosts the oldest Christmas Village in Belgium and again, the hotel is an incredible property.Liege Belgium
  •  Holiday Inn Express Washington DC – BW Parkway: You like this idea because you’re cheap, right? Well nowhere are there more free museums than in DC.  It’s a great place to spend some time.Smithsonian

There are so many more opportunities beyond just these – historical sites, beach destinations, exotic getaways – the sky is the limit.  Take a look at the list and tell us which destinations appeal to you.





Posted in Hotels, Priority Club | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What’s the Best Travel Rewards Card to Get Right Now?

We’re excited to say that what we felt like was already the best card available has now gotten even better with a 50k bonus for an undetermined limited time. The links in this post and on the right sidebar will take you to the 50k offer.

“Best” is, of course, a relative term, and yet we get this question ALL the time.  I generally try to answer by asking some questions of my own: “Would you like to travel internationally or domestic?” “Do you normally spend $1000/mo on everyday expenses?” “What airlines service your closest airport(s)?” All of these may potentially feed into what may be the “best” travel rewards card for every individual.

Yet there are some considerations that are universal – and one of those is scarcity – which reminds me of a story.

As I have written before, I am the oldest of four boys, and as the oldest, I always held a strategic edge over them when it came to cold, calculating slyness. My mom used to buy these 36-packs of Pop-Tarts from Sam’s Club, and they came with three flavors – cherry, strawberry, and brown sugar & cinnamon. Of the four of us, I was the only brother who actually enjoyed the brown sugar & cinnamon Pop-Tarts… the other three would eat only the cherry and strawberry.

A natural resolution would have been for me to eat what the others didn’t prefer, and let them eat what they enjoyed… but that wouldn’t have been cold, calculating, and sly. The element of scarcity didn’t exist in the brown sugar & cinnamon Pop-Tarts, but it did in the cherry and strawberry, which is why I always opted to eat the fruity ones first, and then to enjoy the others without any competition.

I tell this story because it’s because of scarcity that I’m going to name the US Airways Premier World MasterCard® as the best travel rewards credit card you can get right now. It’s scarce because US Airways is merging with American Airlines, and it’s presumably only a matter of time before the card is no longer available.  The same thing happened with the AirTran card when they merged with Southwest, and I didn’t take my own advice and let that one slip by without getting it to join the list of 39 travel reward credit cards I’ve applied for and recieved over 3 million points in bonuses on over the past 4 years.

But if “scarcity” were the only reason I liked this card, it wouldn’t be nearly enough for me to say it’s the best option out there.  There are a lot of reasons this card is such a great way to build your reward balances up.

  • No spending requirement: Unlike many other cards, this one doesn’t require you to make thousands of dollars in purchases to get your 40k bonus.  In fact, it’s applied after your very first purchase – be it $1 or $100.
  • A 5k discount for booking reward flights with US Airways: This makes it so that the 40k bonus could actually get you 2 roundtrip domestic flights.
  • The $99 companion pass: In addition to the bonus, you’ll also recieve a companion pass that will allow you to have up to two companions travel with you on a paid flight for nothing more than $99 and the taxes.  Show me a coupon, any coupon that will save you the kind of money this does – we’re talking $500+.
  • A free checked bag for you and up to 4 companions on the same itinerary: We are talking up to $250 in value on a RT flight with this one.  This is a great way to make those pesky fees go away.
  • The combination of US Airways and American AAdvantage programs: In Q2 of 2015, we’ll see the two airlines’ loyalty programs merge and your miles will become AAdvantage miles – which are far and away the most efficient airline miles in all of frequent flyerdom.  Those 40k points could get you a RT flight to Europe!
  • The possibility of switching your account to a no annual-fee card after your first year: They don’t promote this, but I know of many cases in which cardholders have been able to change their card account to a no-annual fee version, keeping the line open to extend the length of your average credit history (helping your credit), but still avoiding continuous fees.

That said, there are some drawbacks.

  • There is an $89 annual fee, not waived for the first year.
  • The companion pass is only valid for flights in the US and Canada.
  • This card is really only available to people with excellent credit (Above 725).

And really those are hardly drawbacks.  That’s where it comes back to what we keep saying about this whole world of travel reward credit card bonuses – it’s really the only thing there is that sounds too good to be true, but isn’t.

What will 50k US Airways/AAdvantage miles get you?

This is where it gets really exciting.

  • 1 round-trip ticket to Europe, plus a domestic one-way flight
  • 2 domestic round trip tickets (Including Alaska and Canada)
  • 1 round-trip ticket to Northern South America (Peru, Colombia, Ecuador), plus 1 domestic roundtrip ticket
  • 1 round-trip ticket to Central America (Peru, Colombia, Ecuador), plus 1 domestic roundtrip ticket
  • 2 round-trip tickets to the Carribbean

The only way to really help you, our readers, understand just how amazing it really is, is to tell you how it’s worked for us and how it’s working for hundreds of others who visit our blog each day.

I still have my US Airways miles that I got from this card and so does my wife, so there’s no awesome story about using these miles – at least not yet.  But I can tell you how I’ve done some other incredible things.

Or, take it from our readers and see the list of guest posts that have been written by our readers over the past 4 years.

Now, you tell me, is it too good to be true? Or is it too good to ignore?

Start wanderlusting with us and pick up the US Airways Premier World MasterCard®.

Double your award bonus to 100k by applying separately for your spouse.

Mini FAQ (a longer FAQ post here)

  • Doesn’t it hurt my credit? We have an entire post dedicated to this subject, but the short answer is: not much.  As long as you make your payments on time and in full, the impact to your credit score will be minimal.
  • If I decide I don’t want to keep the card, can I still keep the points? Yes, the AAdvantage mileage program just requires “activity” every 18 months to retain your points.
  • Is it impossible to find dates to use the points?  American is actually pretty good about this – far better than Delta. The more flexibility you have, the better off you’ll be. Finding the MileSAAver level awards is certainly possible, though.  Sometimes I use different airports and the nice thing about AA is that you can also fly into one airport and out of another one.
  • Can I only fly on AA? No, AA is merging with US Airways and many of the flights available are still theirs.  I’m flying to Hawaii on Alaska Airlines with AA miles.  You can also find routings on Air Berlin, Iberia Airlines, and British Airways – though I don’t recommend flying BA in Europe because of their massive fuel surcharges.
  • Is booking it complicated? No, AA.com is simple and intuitive. You won’t have any trouble using their online system – plus they allow you to hold an itinerary for 24 hours which allows you to pin something down and then think about it.
  • Could I use all the points for a single Business Class ticket? Yes, as you can see in the award chart, the requirements for Business Class tickets are roughly double.  If you’re in need of greater comfort, it’s certainly an option.
  • Are there hotel cards that could get me free hotel stays, too? But of course. Click the category dropdown in the right sidebar and see all our posts on various hotel programs.
  • Could my spouse apply for these cards, too? Yes, now you’re catching the vision, you greedy wanderluster.
  • How long will this last? Well, the US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® is most certainly on its way out.  With the programs finalizing the merger next year, it won’t be around for long.  The Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® World MasterCard® offer has been around for a while, but who knows when and how they may change it.

Still have questions? Comment or check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Posted in Barclays | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

On My Way to 105,000 More Miles

Collecting points and miles is a fun hobby.  Spending them is a lifestyle.  Lately my lifestyles has been stagnant, but the hobby has kept me busy.  Like a busy little bee I’ve been working on accruing more miles as long as this hobby exists.  Just yesterday I took a step to get on my way to  105,000 more miles.

It’s been a while since my wife has applied for any credit cards.  Somehow a year has passed and she’s been flying under the radar.  Most of the cards I’ve picked up lately have been in my own name.

I chose two cards and applied and was accepted for both of them yesterday.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase SapphireLink: Chase Sapphire Preferred

This is one of the most versatile cards that you can get out there.  These points can be used to book travel directly from most airlines, but my favorite way to use the Ultimate Rewards is to transfer them to one of the many partners.  It’s great because these points transfer 1:1 to most programs without any fees.  Currently they partner with:

  • United MileagePlus
  • SouthWest RapidRewards
  • Marriott Rewards
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • IHG Hotels
  • Amtrak
  • Korean Airlines

I recently had to cancel an Ink Bold business card and transferred my points to United, Southwest, Marriott, and British Airways.  Most frequent flyer rewards programs require you to have activity on the account to keep your rewards from expiring.  Transferring as little as 1000 miles to each program helps keep those miles alive for another 12, 18, or 24 months depending on the program.

Other Posts on Ultimate Rewards:

Terms of the Sapphire Preferred

I just barely missed scoring this card with a lower spending requirement.  Dang.  They just moved it up to $4000 within the first 3 months of card membership.  I’m still going to meet the spending requirement, but the increased amount makes my planning a little bit more strategic.  One day they’ll crank up these spending requirements to something astronomical and they’ll take away the benefits, so now is the time to jump on board.

After meeting the spending requirement I’ll get 40,000 bonus miles, which is worth over $500 in travel.  Plus, by adding myself as an authorized user I’ll pick up another 5,000 miles.  This is an easy way to get an additional 5,000 miles.  At the end of the spending requirement I’ll almost at 50,000 Ultimate Rewards to my Award Wallet.  Great Success!

Hilton HHonors American Express

American Express Hilton HhonorsThis card popped up with a 60,000 point bonus, which is above standard for a card that doesn’t charge an annual fee.  This offer expires 12/31/2014.

Link: Hilton HHonors American Express

It is always nice to have a “staple” card with all of the issuers.  My wife has had two American Express cards, and she has had to cancel both of them because their annual fees became benefit prohibitive.  Getting this card will allow her to establish a long term relationship with American Express without paying for that relationship.

Plus each year with an American Express card you get the chance to participate in the Small Business Saturday.  I hope this card arrives before Saturday so I can register the card and pick up an additional $30 by spending at least $10 at three merchants or in three transactions from the same merchant on the upcoming Small Business Saturday.

The 60,000 points won’t last forever, but it should be enough to get me two free nights out of the card somewhere fun.  Here is their award chart:

Hhonors award chart

Hilton’s Award Tiers

It appears as though I could get lots of nights at the tier 1, but they only have a handful of hotels in that category.  Even in category 2 they only have about 115 hotels or so, which isn’t very many.  More than likely I’ll have to use them on category 3 or 4.  They have 335 hotels in the USA that fit in their category 3.  If I could get three free nights from the card it would be awesome.

The spending requirement for the card is only $1000 within 3 months, which is easy.

Slowly Building my AwardWallet

I’m really starting to rack up points and miles these days.  These two cards will help me put up another 105,000 miles for my upcoming travels.  It makes trip planning easy when I can use my miles at Hilton, Marriott, Starwood, and Club Carlson hotels all on the same trip.  None of this happened overnight, but with some diligence and work ethic it can happen to you too.

The thing is that you’ve got to start today.  Don’t wait for the opportunity to take a trip to come up before you start racking up points.  You’ll need the points ready to roll.  Choose cards that don’t charge annual fees, or those that waive them for the first year.  Doing so will keep your costs down and your amount of travel up, which is right where it should be.

What card(s) will you be getting next?


Posted in American Express, Chase, Chase Ultimate Reward Points, Hilton, Hotels | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How Spending $1000/month Will Get You to Hawaii – Plus 2 Resort Nights!

Here’s the executive summary:

  • Sign yourself up for the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard
    • Spend $1000 in everyday expenses the first month on this card, pay it off immediately
    • Pay an $89 annual fee the first year
    • Collect 36,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles
  • Sign your spouse up for the Hawaaian Airlines World Elite Mastercard
    • Spend $1000 in everyday expenses the second month on this card, pay it off immediately
    • Pay an $89 annual fee the first year
    • Collect 36,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles
  • Book 2 free flights for 35k miles each (pay only taxes and fees ~$70) from the US to one of the Hawaiian Islands
  • Sign yourself up for the Chase Hyatt Credit Card
    • Spend $1000 in everyday expenses the third month on this card, pay it off immediately
    • Pay no annual fee the first year
    • Collect 2 free nights in any Hyatt hotel
  • Book the two nights and start daydreaming!

Now, before you get too crazy excited, please realize that this post is mainly targeted to people who live in or near Hawaiian Airlines hubs like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Las Vegas and New York.  If none of those are close to you, you may also want to read our post about getting to Hawaii on American Airlines. Or check out How the AA/US Airways merger could get you 2 tickets to any of 64 countries.

Now for the more exciting version.  This is something we’ve been doing for four years, telling the stories right here on this blog in over 600 posts on opportunities just like this one.  It just so happens that I returned from a trip exactly like this just a week ago… and I can tell you it was amazing.

We visited Maui and Kauai and blended adventure with relaxation and some delicious food. We paid something like $60 per flight and stayed 2 free nights in the Hyatt Resort Kauai… which is really not a bad place to spend two nights…

We splurged on a $165 meal for two at Mama’s Fish House and didn’t feel the slightest bit of guilt (ok, maybe just a little bit).

We scuba-dived at night, watching an octopus crawl across the reef, changing colors and textures, and seeing an eel stalk a fish and then swallow it whole.

We rode bikes down the Haleakala volcano. We hiked through bamboo forests and bathed in 400 foot waterfalls. On the Road to Hana, a gecko hitchhiked on our windshield. We laid on the beach.  We relaxed by the pool.

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It was everything a vacation should be, and just as we always do, Nicole and I were left wondering how other couples manage to get the time together that we are only ever able to get by traveling.

But this wasn’t something we achieved by scrimping and saving, it’s something we did by prudently using our everyday spending to meet credit card minimum spending requirements to obtain frequent flyer miles and travel for free.  It’s the same recipe that’s taken our entire family of six to five different countries, and opened the door to the world of almost free travel… and it something you can do, too.

Almost-free flights

Right now there’s an offer on the Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard that will earn you 35k points after spending $1000 within the first three months. Applying for this card will affect your credit score slightly, as any credit inquiry does, but not to a degree that offsets the amazing benefit you get. As I mentioned in the summary, the card does charge an $89 annual fee – but when you’re comparing it to a $1000 flight price, it seems pretty minor.

supersaver hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines SuperSaver

Because your spouse has separate credit, they can also apply independently and reap the same reward.

If you’re like us, spending $1000/month comes pretty easily and between fuel, groceries, utilities and some entertainment, you can just replace spending that you usually put on a debit card or pay with cash.

After two months you’ll have met the requirements and the points will be on their way.  Once they arrive, you log on to www.HawaiianAirlines.com and find availability at the SuperSaver level for dates that will work for you.  Because you’re a cardmember, you’ll have a 5k point discount on RT travel, so knock 5k off the 40k and you’ll have enough. You may need to be somewhat flexible to make it work, and maybe it will even mean going to a different island, but I’m here to tell you that there’s nothing disappointing about any of them.

2 free nights in a Hyatt Resort property

One of the most awesome deals out there in the world of travel-reward credit card usage is the offer on the Chase Hyatt Credit Card.  It’s as simple as signing up for the card and spending $1000 within the first 3 months.  Then you get a certificate to book 2 nights at any available Hyatt Property.

It works out nicely that there are 5 Hyatt resorts across 3 different islands, so you have a lot of options.

As I mentioned, we stayed at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and I have to say that the place is absolutely incredible.  The grounds are unlike anything you could imagine – with a lazy river flowing through an abundance of flowers, a meandering saltwater lagoon, and, an abundance of gorgeous beach.

Hawaii Hyatt

No, this is not a Hyatt advertisement, but it should be. This is Nicole on the balcony.

Almost no matter how you go about it, the benefit on this card is going to be in the $800 range because these hotels are not cheap.  Consider this your splurge and find a quaint B&B to spend the rest of your time in.


When do the points expire? Your Hyatt certificates must be used within 12 months, and the Hawaiian Airlines points require activity every 18 months in order to keep them.

What if you don’t keep the cards? From Hyatt’s terms: “If your account is not open for at least 3 months, Hyatt and Chase reserve the right to deduct the Free Night Awards from your Hyatt Gold Passport account.” On the Hawaiian points, even if you don’t keep the card, you can keep the points, but it’s probably best to book while you have the card or you don’t get the 5k point discount.

Aren’t rental cars in Hawaii expensive? Not a chance.  We booked a full-size car for $200 for 5 days.  Be smart about it.  Use www.CarRentalSavers.com.

Doesn’t it hurt my credit to apply for credit cards? Probably not as much as you might think.  We have a whole post about this.

More questions?  Ask them with a comment, below.

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Thanks for wanderlusting with us.

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What Kind of Travel Excites You?

I was complaining to my wife the other day that we simply haven’t gone “anywhere” lately. She promptly reminded me that this year we’ve been to Florida, North Carolina, and San Diego.  Somehow it felt like those trips didn’t count.  It has caused me to ponder the question, “What kind of travel excites you?”

Angkor Wat

Sunrise over Angkor Wat…..Yes Please

It had never occurred to me that some trips simply wouldn’t be exciting enough to count as an exciting trip.  Don’t get me wrong here, I love traveling and going to those locations was a blast, however none of them seemed to “count” as a valid vacation.  It further confirmed that I am a Travel Snob.

Reflecting on my snobbery has caused me to think about the requirements for me to be excited about a trip.  Check them out and let me know what you think.  Am I crazy?

Blood Pressure Must Rise

For most people trying something new causes them to be nervous when they do something for the first time.  Booking a trip to Asia with my wife in tow less than a year after we had been married definitely fit the bill here.  Some of my in-laws were demanding that we cancel the trip and that they might even cover the sunk cost of our flights.  After I booked the flight at midnight I went to bed but didn’t fall asleep forever.  My heart was racing and my mind was wandering about putting it all together.

You Gotta Leave the USA

playing dominos

When else do you get a chance to compete with local Haitians playing dominoes?

I love America.  This place is amazing.  You get free refills on your Mountain Dew, paper towels abound in our bathrooms, and you can almost always drink the water.  Traveling within the USA is easy because you know that you English will get you anywhere.  The menus will be easy to read, and you’re never far from a million chain restaurants.  These are huge benefits to most people, and sometimes I feel that way, but for the most part a trip outside the USA gets me more excited!

Leaving America puts all of those feelings behind you.  Of course it provides more challenges when ordering from a menu that you don’t understand.  Just look around the restaurant and order what someone else has on their plate.  Visiting locations like this will provide experiences that you’ll never get anywhere else.  These feelings of vulnerability make you think harder, and appreciate more of what you have.

Another Pin On the Map

It’s no mystery that I’m counting the number of countries, states, continents, and basically anything else that you can count.  Sure it is a competition.  Life is a competition, and everyone wants to win.  Seeing others who go to new places causes me to want to expand my horizons and put a new pin on the map.  Visiting the same old places doesn’t get me excited.  It doesn’t mean I won’t return to the same places, but I simply won’t be as excited the second time.

Stamps in the Passport

This isn’t too different from the “Pin on the Map” idea listed above, but flipping though an empty passport is boring.  Seeing a single stamp on 25 pages is embarrassing. Flipping though an old passport brings back memories of border crossings and things that happened as I embarked upon new territories.

New Foods

I still dream about eating another Nutella crepe on a park bench while pondering the beauty of the Eiffel Tower.  What about eating a delicious pizza on the Grand Canal in Venice?  Been there and done that.  Those memories make my vacations memorable when you can associate your taste buds with travel.



Tyler and I in Tikal (circa 2007)

This is a bit of a broad category, but traveling to places with interesting architecture can make my trips much more fun.  I want to visit buildings, castles, temples, and more every time I take a vacation.  I often find myself exploring post offices, courthouses, and other municipal buildings because of their beauty.

One day in Moscow I spent the day exploring all of their remarkable subway stops, and you should too.  Each stop isn’t the scariest place on Earth like the ones in NYC.  They’re adorned with statues, fountains, paintings, murals, mosaics, and arches.

Wonders of the World-(Natural and Man-Made)

Heading down to Peru sounds exciting, yet hiking to the top of Machu Picchu so I can watch the sunrise from one of the most picturesque spots in South America is over the top. Somehow adding a visit to a huge wonder of the world can really get me excited.  Visiting Egypt would be incredible to visit, but wouldn’t be the same if I missed the Great Pyramids.


The idea behind the “How Stuff is Made” show is awesome.  The problem is that I have a hard time getting excited about it sitting in my living room.  That’s because they can’t bring all of the five senses to you.  Walking through a chocolate factory when you can smell melting chocolate and even give it a taste at the end holds my attention much longer than the tube.  I love visiting factories and learning how things are made.


Walking through Gettysburg could give me chills.  I love visiting war sites and museums that are dedicated to historical events.  I’m always down to visit these locations.

What Kind of Travel Excites You?

Everyone is different.  Some people are excited about trips to WalMart, and I guess that’s cool.  They know what they like, and it works for them.  I want to know what makes a trip exciting for you!




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