Monthly Archives: September 2011

Amex Membership Rewards – Possible 40,000 Extra Points

For those of you who got the 50,000 point sign-up bonus Amex Gold card this past May, you may want to check your Membership Rewards balance.  Some people (including me – yea!) just had an extra 40,000 points deposited into their accounts.  If you recall, the original offer was 10,000 points after first purchase and another 40,000 points after $500 spend.  However, it turned out the offer was targeted (which most people didn’t realize when they applied).  Before I called to activate the card, I checked with a customer representative to make sure the offer was still the same as what I applied for.  They said they couldn’t offer it to me because it was targeted, but they did say they’d give me 40,000 points as good customer service. 

At this same time, many other people got American Express to bump the signing bonus to 100,000 points based on a different offer code that was floating around at the time.  From what I’m reading on the different blog sites, people who didn’t bump their offer to the 100,000 point offer are seeing an extra 40,000 points in their account this week.  Now there is no guarantee that they won’t pull these 40,000 points back, but hey, it will be awfully nice if they don’t.  Do not call American Express about this.  If it is a mistake, you’d be alerting them to it and I guarantee they will pull the points back.

And another thing you might want to consider this week is transferring your Membership Rewards to Continental Airlines.  Amex’s relationship with Continental is ending on September 30.  And those Continental miles will then transfer into United when the United/Continental merger is complete.

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Credit Card Reconsiderations

If you are playing the travel hacking credit card game, you may run into initial denials due to activity.  I say initial denial because you can always ask to be reconsidered.  I recently applied for the Chase Sapphire card.  I really wanted this card because you can transfer points from Chase Freedom accounts to Chase Sapphire and then on to an airline account.  I applied and waited.  I called back about 3 weeks after I applied and there still wasn’t a decision.  They told me that it sometimes take a month to get an answer.  So I called back at one month and unfortunately I was told I was denied.  I asked them if they could transfer me to the department that makes the decision on cards so I could understand why I was denied.

The lady in the reconsiderations department was very friendly.  I explained that I was denied and told her that I was wondering why.  She said it was because I opened 2 cards with Chase in the last 9 months and I had several inquiries.  I asked her if there was a way that I could be reconsidered.  She said I could be if I closed one of the 2 cards that I opened in the last 9 months.  Not a problem for me at all because I didn’t want those anymore.  So I asked her to close one and do a reconsideration.  It took less than 5 minutes and she came back and said I was approved!  Woohoo!

So if you ever get an initial denial, don’t give up.  Always call the credit card company and ask for a reconsideration.  Usually you can get an approval if you do one of the following:

  • Transfer part of a credit line from an existing card (this is the best option, since it allows you to age your credit with the existing card)
  • Close an existing card

Ask the representative if there is a way you could be reconsidered.  Based on the reason for your denial, they may be able to offer a suggestion.

Here are a couple of Chase numbers that are useful to know:

  • (800) 432-3119 – Application Status: Use this number to check on the status of your application.  It’s an automated system.  You’ll either get a message saying you’ve been approved or it’s still under consideration.  If you don’t want to wait on a decision, they have an option to talk to a representative and you can usually get a decision made that day.
  • (888) 245-0625 – Application Reconsideration: Use this number if your application has been denied and want to be reconsidered.
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Eric Carle Book Signing

Wow!  We had such an amazing time at the Eric Carle pre-release book signing of The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse!  The feeling at the museum was electric.  We got to the museum a half hour before the museum opening (an hour and a half before the book signing) and there was already a line outside the museum.  As suggested by a friend, I brought a picnic lunch for us to eat while we waited.  I struck up with a nice, young family behind us in line who had driven an hour and a half to be at the book signing.  They mentioned that Mo Willems will be at the museum next weekend for the installation of his first life-sized sculpture right in the museum courtyard.  There will be a presentation about the sculpture followed by a book signing.  One of our sons’ favorite books is Knuffle Bunny so you better believe I’m going back next weekend!

The museum staff was so friendly and efficient.  As we were moving in the line for admission to the museum, they were asking people if you pre-ordered the book.  I had pre-ordered books.  I gave them my name and less than 30 seconds later, they brought a bag with all of my books over to me.  We then moved over to the book signing line where I had a lovely conversation with 2 retired elementary teachers.  They were buying several books as gifts for their grandkids, former students and to have on hand as a special gift.  Everyone was abuzz about Eric Carle, favorite books, and who they were going to give their books to.  About 20 minutes before the official book signing time, the museum staff informed us that Eric Carle was in the building.  That certainly got everyone excited and looking around.  Eric came out about 15 minutes early donning a Very Hungry Caterpillar baseball hat.  My kids were peering around the crowd, the older one lifting the younger one up, to get a view of Eric Carle.

The line moved fairly quickly.  Photographs were allowed as long as you didn’t use flash.  And the museum staff asked us if we wanted them to use our camera to take a picture when we went up to the signing so we could all go up.  When we got to go up, Eric Carle talked with the boys which I thought was so nice.  You totally didn’t feel rushed at all.  He asked them what their favorite book was.  I told him that The Very Hungry Caterpillar was our guest book at our baby shower for our older son.  My boys asked him if that was his first book.  And he explained that his first book was Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See, but he said he didn’t write it; he illustrated it.  And his second book was 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo and The Very Hungry Caterpillar was his third.

After the book signing, we checked out the art gallery.  They had switched out all of the Eric Carle artwork since we were there last to all the artwork from The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse.  They boys thought it was so cool to see the artwork from the book we just bought.

We then headed over to the art studio.  And, thankfully, they actually wanted to do the art work this time!  Today they were creating artwork using punctuation marks in unique ways.

It was such a magical day!  If you ever have a chance to go to a book signing at the Eric Carle Museum for Picture Book Art, do it!  I know I’ll be there again this Saturday.  My mom’s going to be in town and I know she’s just going to love it.  One of her best friends is a children’s book author, Virginia Kroll, so I think it will be an extra special experience for her.

Waiting for the Museum to Open

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Checking Out the New Book

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Book Signing

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Art Studio

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Museum Shop

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United 60,000 Mile Sign-up Bonus – October 4 – 6

Chase will be rolling out a new sign-up bonus for their United Airlines credit card.  The sign-up bonus will be 60,000 miles (enough for a coach round-trip to Europe).  I don’t have a link yet, but will put one up when I do.  I wanted people to know about it in case they are trying to decide what credit card to get next.

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Cheap Flights to Warsaw, Poland

My mother’s ancestry is 100% Polish.  My parents are thinking about taking a trip to Poland in the next year or two, so I’m always on the lookout for tickets to Poland or an airport close to Poland.  I found a thread on Flyertalk about flights between JFK and Warsaw, routing through Canadian cities for as low as $303 round-trip (including taxes/fees).  People have also had luck with BOS, DCA, ATL and LAX.  (Note: when they reference the Big O, they are talking about Orbitz.)  The flights are on Delta.  The travel dates that seem to be working are from November (including over Thanksgiving) through March timeframe.  Most of the routes go through Monteal, Toronto, or Vancouver and then Amsterdam on to Warsaw.  I did a search on several dates and was able to confirm that the prices are still available.

This is a great, cheap way to get butt in seat (EQM) miles while going on a wonderful trip.  You want to look for these flights using the multi-city search.  If you need someone to walk you through how to search for these flights, let me know.

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