A Different Kind of Anniversary Trip…

Let me preface this by saying this isn’t a normal points/miles/credit card rewards post at PointsCentric. So if you do not care for a personal anecdote, you can skip the rest of this post… Today is quite a special day for my wife and I as we are celebrating our 3rd wedding anniversary and this time […]

Let me preface this by saying this isn’t a normal points/miles/credit card rewards post at PointsCentric. So if you do not care for a personal anecdote, you can skip the rest of this post…

Today is quite a special day for my wife and I as we are celebrating our 3rd wedding anniversary and this time of year always brings back amazing memories of our wedding night 3 years ago. In fact, it reminds us of our journey together as we’ve actually been together much longer  – in fact almost 4x as long (since my junior year of high school in fact). And every year around this time, we go on an extraordinary trip to celebrate, always seemingly topping the last amazing “once in a lifetime” trip. It started with our honeymoon to Moorea & Bora Bora in 2013, continued with a surprise trip in 2014 that my wife only found out our destination when we got our boarding passes at the airport and culminated with a Dubai/Maldives mega-trip last year. Of course, trips like these wouldn’t be possible without points & miles and I’ve included a quick synopsis on how we made each trip possible (I have to have some points angle in my posts).

1) 2013 Honeymoon – Moorea & Bora Bora

We used 62,500 American Airlines miles per person to fly business class JFK-LA-Tahiti and back on a combination of American Airlines / Air Tahiti Nui followed by a ferry to Moorea and a short flight to Bora Bora. For hotels, back in the day you could redeem 145,000 Hilton HHonors points for a 4 night stay at top-tier hotels using AXON awards. I redeemed 290,000 Hilton HHonors points total for 4 nights at the Hilton Moorea followed by 4 nights at the Hilton Bora Bora.

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2) 2014 First Anniversary – Bali & Thailand

We used 140,000 United miles to fly first class JFK-Seoul-Bali-Phuket-Seoul-JFK on a combination of Asiana / Thai Airways and my wife had no idea about the destinations or airlines involved. At the time it was only a 10k premium for first class over business each way so it was a no-brainer for a chance to fly Asiana first class suites and on the way home, we had the whole first class cabin to ourselves! For hotels, we were able to get great cash rates at the Conrad Bali and Le Meridien Phuket so it didn’t make sense to redeem points.

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3) 2015 Second Anniversary – Dubai & Maldives

Quite possibly our most memorable trip, I redeemed 90,000 Alaska miles per person to fly first class JFK-Dubai-Maldives on Emirates. For the return, I redeemed 90,000 American miles per person to fly first class Maldives-Abu Dhabi-JFK on Etihad. For the hotels, I used two free Hyatt anniversary nights at the Grand Hyatt Dubai and 150,000 Hyatt points for a 6 night stay at the Park Hyatt Maldives.

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Over a three year stretch, we got to experience several of the most exotic and beautiful locations on Earth that I promise would have never happened without points and miles. However as amazing as those trips were, our lives changed drastically earlier this year to the point where we knew jumping off to some exotic locale for a week wouldn’t be feasible for a while…

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Our family now feels more complete with the addition of our little Krista and we wouldn’t have it any other way. In fact, do you want to know our big “trip” this year to celebrate our anniversary? A nice 7 minute drive to a local steakhouse where we can enjoy probably our nicest meal in months before returning home and reliving the grandparents of babysitting duties.

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I’m sure there will be times we wish we could jump on a plane and vacation for a week at some crazy locale (in fact, that may have happened earlier this week when I saw my buddy fly Emirates first class to Dubai and the Maldives) but my trip planning will now focus on family friendly destinations and resorts (paid with points of course). Suffice to say, this  anniversary trip will be just a bit different than year’s past but coming home to this smiling face makes this “trip” seem the best of them all. And compared to the journey we are currently on watching Krista grow and develop daily before our eyes, I’m not sure anything could top this adventure. 

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Filed under: Other Tagged: Anniversary Trip to Bali and Thailand, Anniversary Trip to the Maldives & Dubai, Moorea & Bora Bora Honeymoon

Book Two Car Rentals via United and Earn 10,500 United Miles

A quick post as I’m running out the door but United sent an offer for Chase United MileagePlus credit cardholders who can earn 10,500 United miles after just two car rentals with Hertz. I value the 10,500 miles at around ~$150 dollars so this is a pretty substantial offer for a car rental promotion.  To […]

A quick post as I’m running out the door but United sent an offer for Chase United MileagePlus credit cardholders who can earn 10,500 United miles after just two car rentals with Hertz. I value the 10,500 miles at around ~$150 dollars so this is a pretty substantial offer for a car rental promotion. 

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To book this offer, you must book on United.com and use discount code (CDP) 62455 and promotion code (PC) 305023. Here is the breakdown of earning miles:

– 750 miles per rental 

-1,500 bonus miles per rental for mid-size vehicle or larger 

-3,000 bonus miles per rental for Chase UnitedMileagePlus cardholders

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I don’t have time right now to look up rental rates but if they are in the ballpark of what they normally are or comparable to other sites (Kayak, Costco Travel, Autoslash..) this could be a very good deal.

Filed under: Car Rentals, United Tagged: United Car Rental Mileage Offer

Starwood American Express Card Signup Bonus Changed to Two Free Nights Instead of Points

A few weeks ago I posted how there was a strong rumor that the signup bonus on the Starwood American Express cards would be changing and sure enough, the signup bonus has now changed to a brand new and different type of offer. Instead of points, the signup bonus for both the personal and business card is […]

A few weeks ago I posted how there was a strong rumor that the signup bonus on the Starwood American Express cards would be changing and sure enough, the signup bonus has now changed to a brand new and different type of offer. Instead of points, the signup bonus for both the personal and business card is for 2 free nights at any category 1 to 5 SPG hotel. This new offer is valid to 10/19. Here is the direct link to the personal SPG card and a direct link to the business card offer

This new offer is quite interesting so here are a few things to consider about this new offer as this offer is really worth a maximum of 24k to 32k Starpoints if redeemed at the highest level category allowed, a category 5 hotel.

  1. American Express limits an individual to only one signup bonus per card in their lifetime. As such, it is imperative to only apply for an Amex card when an offer is at its peak. While this offer does not match the best over ever of 35k points, see points #2 & #3.
  2. The SPG-Marriott Merger is scheduled to close this week and it is still unclear on what bank will offer the new Marriott credit card. It is probably a safe bet that Amex will be forced to stop issuing new Starwood Amex cards so it is very possible this could be the last time the bonus is increased before the card goes away for good. In fact, there are already rumors of a Chase Starwood card coming out in February…
  3. There is no doubt that the previous 35k (and the 30k with one specific exception) were stronger offers as per the award chart below a free night at a category 5 hotel would cost between 12k to 16k points. So at best this offer is potentially only better if redeemed for category 5 hotels. 

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Obviously I don’t know this for sure but I think might be the last time this card has a signup bonus of something other than 25k points. I think to figure out if this offer is better than the standard 25k offer, it comes down to the following:

  • Are you sure you will redeem two free nights at a category 5 hotel? If not, take the points offer.
  • If you are sure you would redeem at a cateogry 5 property, will it be during the hotel’s high season where it could cost 16k points a night? If so, take this new offer of free nights.
  • Do you want flexibility to use points for lower level SPG hotels and/or transfer some points to airline miles? Take the points offer.

In short, I’m disappointed by this offer as in most cases the 25k offer is better and I was really hoping to see a 30k or 35k offer. Interestingly the refer a friend offers only show the old 25k offers for both the personal and business cards. I’m not sure if Amex is still updating those links or if it will be possible to choose between the free nights offer (public link) or points offer (refer a friend links). Additionally this offer is only through 10/19 so you could potentially wait for the public 25k offer to return. 

If you would like to support the blog and my efforts as a non-affiliate links blogger, I can refer others for either Starwood card as I am a current cardholder for both the personal and business card versions. I do receive 5,000 Starpoints for referring you but you will receive the 25k offer via email from American Express. If you are interested, please leave a comment asking for a referral (only I will be able to see your email address) or email me directly at ralph@pointscentric.com and I will promptly refer you for the card. Thank you in advance for your support!

Filed under: Starwood Tagged: Chase Starwood Credit Card, New Starwood Credit Card Offer, Starwood 2 Free Nights Offer Credit Card

Free 500 to 750 US Bank FlexPerks Points Offers

I love free point offers and there are two quick & easy opportunities right now to earn 500 to 750 FlexPerks points. I know many of you recently applied for the US Bank FlexPerks Visa with the increased signup bonus of 34,500 points due to their Olympics promotion in which the signup bonus was tied […]

I love free point offers and there are two quick & easy opportunities right now to earn 500 to 750 FlexPerks points. I know many of you recently applied for the US Bank FlexPerks Visa with the increased signup bonus of 34,500 points due to their Olympics promotion in which the signup bonus was tied to Team USA’s performance in Rio so these free points offers are quite timely.

Offer #1 – Earn 500 FlexPerks Points for Enrolling in Real-Time Rewards

One of the features of the FlexPerks program is the ability to redeem rewards instantly right after a purchase and right now you can earn 500 points for simply enrolling in this program. You do not have to make a redemption to earn the 500 points. Of course, I would never recommend redeeming points this way but I don’t mind an easy 500 points for signing up.

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Here is a direct link to the landing page with more detailed instructions about the offer and Real-Time Rewards. Alternatively you can access this offer by logging into your account, going to the Rewards section and looking for the Offers tab towards the top of the page.

Offer #2 – Earn 250 FlexPerks Points for Visiting FlexPerks Promo Site (this one is a bit more YMMV)

You simply need to click the link below and see if you are eligible for the offer as occasionally FlexPerks will run promotions on their promotions site for various bonus point offers. The initial landing page does not show the offer but it should be available once you fill in the information.

Here is the direct link to the offer. This is not working for everyone so this must be targeted (hence the YMMV title on the offer) but worth the 10 seconds to check.

I took advantage of these offers as I hope to get my FlexPerks balance for my wife and I at the 40,000 point level so I can redeem them for airline tickets up to $800. The signup bonus and minimum spend will count for 36,500 points of those points and these offers bring us over 37,000 points each so this was a no-brainer for us to each try.

(H/T to Doc, SJ0 on Reddit)

Filed under: FlexPerks Tagged: FlexPerks Bonus Offers, Free FlexPerks Points

New Chase Reconsideration Line Phone Number

You might want to bookmark this post for future reference as it appears the reconsideration phone number for Chase cards has changed. Per Reddit, it appears the old reconsideration number of 1-888-245-0625 is no longer in service but there is a new, working reconsideration number which is 1-888-270-2127. I’ve confirmed the old number is not in service […]

You might want to bookmark this post for future reference as it appears the reconsideration phone number for Chase cards has changed. Per Reddit, it appears the old reconsideration number of 1-888-245-0625 is no longer in service but there is a new, working reconsideration number which is 1-888-270-2127. I’ve confirmed the old number is not in service and this new number takes you to a Chase credit analyst. This number is working for both personal and business cards.

Frankly, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if this was a result of the volume of calls received on pending/denied applications for the Chase Sapphire Reserve. I mean interest in the card is so popular they ran out of metal to make the card….

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Once you start applying for several credit cards, you’ll undoubtedly need this number as it is tougher now to get an instant approval with Chase. If you are eligible for a Chase card (i.e under 5/24 or applying for a card not subject to 5/24) and get a pending message, I recommend calling this number to figure out what can be done to approve the application. Many times the representative will state Chase can’t extend you any more credit but will allow you to shift credit from an existing card to the new one to get it approved.

Good luck with all the reconsideration calls!

Filed under: Chase Tagged: New Chase Recon Phone Number, Working Chase Reconsideration Line Phone Number

Rumor: Starwood American Express Card Signup Bonus Possibly Increasing in Two Weeks

I want to stress the following information is simply a rumor but I believe the signup on the American Express Starwood personal and business cards will increase to either 30k or 35k Starpoints in the next two weeks. I have a friend of a friend who is “connected” at American Express and he claims that the go live […]

I want to stress the following information is simply a rumor but I believe the signup on the American Express Starwood personal and business cards will increase to either 30k or 35k Starpoints in the next two weeks. I have a friend of a friend who is “connected” at American Express and he claims that the go live date for this offer is the week of September 19th. He didn’t know whether the offer would be for 30k or 35k like it was in March.

The offer from March 2016

The offer from March 2016

Could this information be accurate? Well in years past usually around summertime, though there was a curveball with the 35k offer in March this year, American Express has typically increased the signup bonus on the SPG cards. I went back and put a list together of when over the past few years the publicly available bonus has increased to 30k or 35k Starpoints. Anyone spot a trend?

  • March 2016
  • August 2015
  • June 2014
  • August 2013
  • August 2012
  • August 2011
  • July 2010

That is some serious consistency and only further makes me believe the information I received could very well be accurate. The current signup bonus is 25k for both the personal and business cards so I’m sure some of you might be questioning why I’m recommending you should wait a few weeks for an offer that is only 5k-10k points higher. Here are some of my reasons:

  • Starpoints are incredibly difficult to earn – the only feasible way to earn them is via the Starwood credit card and staying at SPG hotels. Since it is difficult to earn these points in bulk, an extra 5k Starpoints is a big difference to me. And to the average person who doesn’t manufacture spend that equates to spending an extra $5,000 on your SPG Amex to make up that extra 5k points.
  • American Express limits you to one bonus per lifetime on their cards. Basically you only get one shot to signup for this card to earn a bonus so you better make it count. I won’t signup for an American Express card unless I know at that point in time, that is the highest ever known offer on a card.
  • Starpoints are one of the most valuable, if not most valuable, points out there. Great flexibility with dozens of airline transfer partners, a transfer bonus of 5k when transferring in 20k increments and some great hotel redemptions in the Starwood chain. You can redeem points for weekend nights at lower tier SPG hotels for 2k or 3k points a night.

My advice is to resist the temptation to signup for the next two weeks just in case the offer is increased unless you have an absolute urgent need for this card. While American Express might very well match you to the new bonus anyway, remember that American Express limits you to one bonus a lifetime, so you always want to get each Amex card at its peak signup bonus offer. Again I do want to stress this is only a rumor (some will argue I shouldn’t even post unconfirmed information like this) but based on past history, there could be some merit to this information.

I’ll be sure to post an update in two weeks if/when the offer is increased. If my information is correct & you plan to apply for this card at that time, I hope you will consider using my referral links for either the personal or business card (for being a current cardmember, not an affiliate link) for possibly earning you an extra 5k to 10k Starpoints by advising you to wait.

Filed under: American Express, Credit Cards, Starwood Tagged: American Express Starwood Bonus Increased

500 Free Virgin America Elevate Points

Virgin America is giving away 500 Elevate points for subscribing to the Virgin Hotels newsletter. It took me less than 10 seconds to fill out my name, email address and Elevate number.  Here is a direct link to the offer.  500 points for 10 seconds of works seems like a good deal to me. This […]

Virgin America is giving away 500 Elevate points for subscribing to the Virgin Hotels newsletter. It took me less than 10 seconds to fill out my name, email address and Elevate number. 


Here is a direct link to the offer. 

500 points for 10 seconds of works seems like a good deal to me. This is also a good way to extend the expiration date of your current point balance. 

Pro tip – use a throwaway email address. 

Enjoy the long weekend!

Filed under: Virgin America Tagged: 500 Free Virgin Elevate Points