2 Free United Club Passes

I have 2 one-time United Club passes that expire on 1/31/2013.  We aren’t going to be using them.  So I’m giving them away for free to the first person to post a comment to the blog (website, not on Facebook or Twitter) saying that they want them.  We can then email so you can tell me how to mail them to you.  Just post that you want them.


50% Bonus on Transfers from Amex to British Airways

It’s all over the blogs this week.  I’m posting it in case you don’t read many others.  Until May 31, 2012, you will get a 50% bonus when you transfer Membership Rewards points from American Express to British Airways.  The Points Guy has a great post on examples of good ways to use British Airways miles.

I have family in NC and could travel there for 9,000 point round-trip if I redeem the British Airways Avios on American Airlines.  I had a few Membership Rewards sitting around that I wasn’t sure what to do with.  Now I think I know what to do with them.

Another nice thing about Membership Rewards is that you can generally transfer the points to other people’s accounts if you do the transfer on-line.  So if you’re feeling extra nice today, maybe you could transfer the points to some friends or family.  Think of the experiences you could give to people by transfering a few thousand points.  Any trip that has a air miles distance of 650 or less is only 9,000 miles round-trip.  Remember that each segment has to be calculated separately.  So British Airways miles aren’t great if you have many connections.  (You can check out this post of mine if you need more of an explanation.)

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Chase Freedom 5% Categories April – June

Chase has announced the 5% cash back categories for April – June, 2012 for the Chase Freedom card.  They are groceries and movie theaters.  I’m not a big movie theater goer, but I’m always happy when groceries are on the 5% cash back list!  If you have a Chase Freedom card, make sure you go to the Ultimate Rewards site to activate your card for these categories.  The link is already active.

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Maui’s Northwest Region and Iao

We had nearly a full day on our last day in Maui because our flight left at 10 PM.  We asked the hotel for a late checkout to give us a little more time at the resort.  But even with the late checkout we had many hours until our flight.  I had read in Maui Revealed about some cool sites along the Northwest coast and my husband really wanted to visit Iao.  Since we were staying in the Ka’anapali Beach area, we decided to take the northwest road clockwise from Maui and hit the Nakalele Blowhole, then the Olivine Pools and finally Iao.  Let’s just say that the day didn’t turn out the way we expected.

On our way up to the Nakalele Blowhole, we started hearing a clicking coming from our tire.  My husband thought that a rock may have gotten lodged in the tire, so we pulled off the road to investigate.  He did find a rock and removed it.  However, when we started moving, we continued to hear the sound.  He pulled off a second time and found a bolt (washer included) stuck in the tire!  The tire didn’t appear to be losing pressure, so we continued on.

We pulled off in the first parking area for the Nakalele Blowhole (I think we should have gone to the second one).  There were a lot of trails and absolutely no signs as to where to go.  We headed down the path that seemed the most well traveled. 

The dirt path area changed to a landscape that looked like it was from another world.  (The first picture looks scarier than it was.)

When we got to the cliff over the ocean, but weren’t sure where the blowhole was.  (I saw a little nervous being near the cliffs with the boys, so we had a rule that they had to be over 30 feet away from the edge.) We saw one blowhole that came out of the side of a rock.  Luckily I had seen pictures of the blowhole and knew it was came out of the ground and not the side of a rock.  We continued on about another 3 – 5 minutes and then found the Nakalele Blowhole.  I have to tell you that was one of my favorite parts of the entire trip!

We spent quite a while at the Nakalele Blowhole and the bolt in the tire was making us nervous so we decided to skip the Olivine Pools.  (I had also read a story on the internet of a couple that got swept out to sea when they were at the Olivine Pools and got too close to the ocean – which the guidebook discouraged.)

After passing the area for the pools, the road became very narrow.  This road already had a lot of switchbacks.  One of my coworkers told me I should skip the Road to Hana and just take this Northwest road.  I have no idea what he was thinking!  We were white-knuckling it almost the entire road.  I kid you not that the road was barely wide enough for one car in most places.  You are driving right next to a cliff with a hundreds of feet drop to the ocean with no guardrails.  I was nervous to look out the window at views because I didn’t want my husband to do the same and accidentally drive off the road.  Add on top of all that scariness that we were worried that the bolt in the tire would cause the tire to pop.  We had no idea how we would get any to help us if that happened given the road was a single lane and cell phone service was non-existent.  The picture below does not do it justice.  Trust me – do not take this road!

Luckily, we did survive!  And we headed over to Iao.  On our first trip to Maui, we asked people we encountered where they would suggest we visit.  A local told us that whenever he has people visit, he takes them to Iao.  He would take them around and they would go swimming in the streams.  We didn’t have a long time, so we just took the paved path up to the Iao Needle viewing area. 

It was a really quick trip.  The Needle is a cool sight and when you turn around you see an amazing view of the valley with the airport in the distance.


Ka’anapali Beach

The Ka’anapali Beach area is one of the most popular resort area in Maui (the other being Wailea).  It is a 3-mile stretch of white sand beach.  It is consistently named to many “best beaches” lists.  We stayed on Ka’anapali Beach during both of our Hawaiian vacations.  Last year we stayed at the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas and this year we stayed at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa.  There is a reason that this beach is so highly regarded.  The beach is absolutely beautiful, is not incredibly crowded and has decent waves and good snorkeling.

I was surprised how few people spent time on the beach in front of the Hyatt Regency.  Most of the time we went to the beach, we were one of the only people on the beach.  I’m guessing there were a few reasons for this.  The pools at the Hyatt Regency are great and many people stay at them all day.  The sand area in front of the Hyatt Regency isn’t huge and it’s non-existent during high tide.  There is an area further down the beach that has a much larger sand area.  You can see it just by looking at the map below.  The Hyatt Regency is located at the bottom of the map.  About half way up the map, you’ll see an area with much more sand.  That’s located around where the Westin Maui Resort & Spa (different hotel than the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas).  It’s not a very long walk at all.  This area also has decent waves.  You’ll see people surfing, boogieboarding and skimboarding.

The kids in front of the Hyatt Regency

At the sandier part of Ka’anapali Beach

Capital One 100,000 Promotion

Last year, Capital One ran an incredible 100,000 promotion where they would match the number of miles in one of your frequent flyer accounts up to 100,000 miles.  That promotion is what made a lot of our Hawaii trip possible.  I got the card with the 100,000 miles match and redeemed the miles for Hyatt gift certificates. 

This year, Capital One is re-running the promotion but it is not nearly as lucrative this time around.  Personally, I don’t think I would apply for the card this time around (I’m not eligible anyway because I got the card last year).  This year, they will only match the amount that you spent on a travel credit card (not including sign-up bonuses).  They will give you 2 miles for every $1 you spent on the other card.  So you’d have to have spent $50,000 on one travel credit card last year to get a 100,000 match.  Plus those 100,000 miles are really only worth 1 cent per mile (or $1,000).  Capital One also pulls your credit report from all 3 credit bureaus. 

Given all of that, if you want to get a credit card that will give you about $1,000 in sign-up bonus value, I would suggest the Chase Sapphire instead.  Their current offer is a 50,000 point sign-up bonus after spending $3,000 on the card within 3 months.  Those points can be transferred to a number of airlines and hotel frequent flyer programs.  And since I value airline miles at 2 cents per mile, that would give you $1,000 in value.  This card has become my go-to card.

I do not get any sort of compensation for my opinions or links.  These are my personal thoughts and you need to decide for yourself what cards work best for you.