I just executed what is known as a product change, where you exchange one credit card for another from the same issuer. Specifically, I product changed from a Citi Double Cash Card to a Citi AT&T Access More Card, a discontinued card that I cannot receive an initial bonus from (which PREVIOUSLY was a $650 credit towards a new AT&T cell phone). Why? Well, I’m glad you asked.
First thing, this is both what credit cards are for and advanced technique at the same time. The basic goal of travel hacking (and credit card use in general) is NEVER PAY INTEREST. Say it out loud with me: NEVER PAY INTEREST!!! Got it? Because none of this travel stuff makes any sense if you’re paying the man.
But, sometimes, you have to think ahead. Let’s say you have a big international trip coming up. You know – you just know – you’re going to go nuts and spend everything on everything. It’s not a great idea, but when are going to be back, right? Okay, so here’s what you can do (and if you’re independently wealthy – or have already saved up a travel budget, which is recommended – feel free to skip this whole post): Continue reading “Tips, Tricks & Tactics: Shifting Payments to Hack a Travel Budget”
I pay my mortgage via credit card.
I rely on a third-party payment service called Plastiq to cut a check every month and send it to the financial institution that holds my mortgage. I trust that they’ll send my payment on time and in the right amount. I trust that the delivery service correctly transits my payment from Point A to Point B. I trust that my mortgage holder will accept these checks on my behalf and correctly apply them to my mortgage payments. For this service, I pay Plastiq a 1.5% fee (because I got in on a promotional deal; the regular fee is 2.5%). Meanwhile, my credit card that I make payments with earns 2.1%. Ultimately, I will collect 0.6% on the balance of each transaction. This is called arbitrage. This is also called crazy. Continue reading “Tips, Tricks & Tactics: Paying with Plastiq (aka Treading the Fine Line Between Travel Hacking and Madness)”
TSA Pre-Check is a pre-screened traveler program begun in 2011 by the Transportation Security Administration. TSA currently allows only US citizens and permanent residents to apply for a Known Traveler Number (KTN). Currently, 180+ airports and 30 airlines participate with the program. The application fee is $85, there is an application, in-person interview, and fingerprinting, and if you’re accepted by the program, for a 5 year period, you’d have access to an expedited screening line at airports, and you don’t need to remove your shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets.
For international travelers, Global Entry is a U.S. Custom and Border Protection program that allows pre-approved, low-risk travelers expedited customs clearance upon arrival to the United States from abroad. This program is open to US citizens, permanent residents, and citizens of certain other countries. Currently, 42+ airports participate with the program. The application fee is $100, there is an application, in-person interview, and fingerprinting, and if you’re accepted by the program, for a 5 year period, you will not have to complete a paper form upon re-entry to the country, and have access to a “fast-track” electronic kiosk customs line. In addition, this program confers TSA Pre-Check privileges for eligible applicants. Continue reading “Tips, Tricks & Tactics: TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry (for free?!)”
So, this is a tricky subject. Especially when the answer is usually: nothing. Points and Miles (that are not strictly cash back) are generally best used for travel to achieve maximum value. But sometimes there are opportunities and exceptions. Because sometimes a gift from 1800-Flowers just isn’t enough.
Let me give you a few examples:
On the top of the list is Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) Points. These (flexible) points can be redeemed for cash on a 1:1 ratio. So if you have 100,000 UR points, you have $1,000 cash (or $1,000 in gift cards). This is fine in a pinch, but you can easily squeeze $0.015-0.02+ out of each point (for a $1,500-2,000 value). Continue reading “Tips, Tricks & Tactics: Best Uses for Points and Miles Other than Travel”
T and I and the two kids had to go to Hilo for the day for a family commitment. Trip report to follow (maybe), but most of you guys have been interisland and know the drill.
Prices were a little over $100 each way in coach, so for 3 round trips (and one lap-riding kid) we’re talking $600+. So, obviously, we started looking into points and miles options. Continue reading “Tips, Tricks & Tactics: Travel Hacking an Interisland Flight on Hawaiian Airlines”