Monthly Archives: July 2012

Cheap East/West Coast Fares and Southwest 50K Sign-up Bonus

The Points Guy has a post today about real cheap fares ($137 round-trip) between LAX/SFO and Pittsburgh.  The flights connect through various cities.  If you’re looking for a one-way ticket to places like Minneappolis, Detroit, Cinninati or NYC, you could book a one-way ticket and get off in the connecting city.  Of course, that’s not technically allowed and you cannot check any luggage if you do it.

Also on Slickdeals today, there’s a post about new Southwest offers with a 50,000 mile sign-up bonus after you spend $1,000 on the card within the first 3 months.  These points do count toward getting the free companion ticket for a year.  You need to get 110,000 points in one year to get the free companion ticket.  So if you get both a personal and a business card, you’ll already have 112,000 points (from the sign-up bonuses and your minimum spend).  These are Chase cards so make sure you prioritize which Chase cards you want to apply for – since so many travel credit cards are issued by Chase.

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus Card – $69 annual fee – 3K bonus points on your anniversary
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premiere Card – $99 annual fee – 6K bonus points on your anniversary Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus Business Card – $69 annual fee – 3k points on your anniversary
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card – $99 annual fee – 6K points on your anniversary

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Special Experiences

It is still amazing to me the world of special experiences that opens up when you play the travel hacking game.  In yesterday’s post, I talked about how I got $10 to upgrade to first class.  And today I have another special experience to talk about. 

My husband has a close group of friends who get together for activities like a beer swap (around Christmas time), biking and playing poker.  It’s been awhile since they’ve had a get together because of schedules.  Well, one of them just turned 40 and I thought it was a great excuse for an outing.  So I suggested that they have a guys weekend.  They talked through several possibilities including going to Montreal, the Connecticut casinos, Atlantic City and they finally Niagara Falls. 

As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up south of Buffalo, so I’m familiar with Niagara Falls.  They decided on the Falls because it had casinos, plenty of fun activities and was close to some foodie hot spots (like the Anchor Bar and Duff’s).  Here are the suggested activities that I sent to them to help them plan for the weekend:

  • Friday night, the Falls has a Fireworks display.
  • You must go on the Maid of the Mist (you can get it on both the US and Canadian sides) and the Cave of the Winds (US). 
  • There are casinos on both the Canadian and US sides. 
  • Go to the Anchor Bar or Duff’s.  My family tells me that they think the wings at Duff’s are better.  You could also head out to West Seneca to enjoy some Beef on Weck at Schwabl’s.
  • I checked to see if there were any outdoor events at Art Park, etc, but didn’t see anything that I thought you guys would like.  I also checked to see if Old Fort Erie had any special events for the War of 1812 that weekend, but didn’t see anything.
  • You may like to visit the Skylon Tower.  They have a fancy revolving restaurant and a more casual (non-revolving) restaurant (Summit Suite Restaurant).  I’m not totally up on all of the best dining and view locations, so you might want to do some research of your own.  The Skylon has been around for years, so I remember hearing about it when I was a kid.  Some of the sites I looked at said that the Hilton restaurant had the best dining view of the Falls.

A trip like this doesn’t require a ton of travel hacking because we live driving distance from Niagara Falls.  But they did need to book a hotel room.  And nice hotels near the Falls can be quite expensive.  That’s where travel hacking comes in handy.  I recently got the Virgin Atlantic credit card which you could get a 50,000 mile sign up bonus.  Those points could be transferred at a 1:2 ratio to Hilton.  So I ended up with over 100,000 Hilton points.  That allowed me to book a night at the Embassy Suites in Niagara Falls.  Now they get to stay at a nice hotel right next to the Falls.  I love this game!

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I Got $10 to Upgrade to First Class

The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind.  The kids finished up school, started summer camp and my older son and I went to North Carolina.  In a previous post, I talked about how I was using vouchers we got from being bumped (on our Wyoming trip) to help pay for our trip to North Carolina.  That allowed my son to have a special week with his cousin.  They attended a detective summer camp, went to a fun park, went rock climbing and had an all around fantastic time.  You can imagine that at the end of the week, he was pretty sad to leave his cousin.

When we checked in at the airport, the kiosk asked if we wanted to upgrade to first class for $45 each.  It’s a short flight (about an hour) and normally I wouldn’t upgrade.  But then I remembered the 2 new American Airlines credit cards I just got will give you a $100 statement credit after you make a qualifying purchase with American Airlines (which we were flying).  So, in total, it would cost us $90 to upgrade, but we’ll get a $100 statement credit – netting us $10.  (I’m not planning on taking another American Airlines flight this year, so I wouldn’t have a chance to get the credit another time – although some people have had luck getting it buying gift certificates.) Taking his first class flight certainly helped take the sting off of leaving his cousin and luckily we’ll get to see them again in August when we both go back to Buffalo.

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