Trip Report: Two Simple Trips (to Japan) with Credit Cards

My cousins are not great planners. Fortunately for them, I am a great planner. These are their stories.

Two travelers, two cards. It was late November when J and D mentioned they wanted to go to Japan in March but they hadn’t started planning. After I got over the shock, we jumped into action. We starting searching for cheap flights and hotels (not cheap, no availability), and in the mean time, I had them both apply for the Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard (review). As the cards were en route, we found non-stop roundtrip economy flights on Korean Air for around $920 each and held them for 14 days without paying (which is a nice feature). And as this was going to be a Tokyo only trip, so we eventually found an inexpensive no-frills business-type room at the Pearl Hotel Yaesu, about an 8 min. walk from Tokyo Station (Yaesu North Exit), 8 nights, $1,100. Which, for late March with last minute planning, was about as good as you could ask for. Cards arrived in the mail, they started making their minimum spend, and $3,000+ each later, they exchanged their 46,000+ miles earned (40,000 bonus plus spend) for $460+ in credits for a total of $920+ in savings. Continue reading “Trip Report: Two Simple Trips (to Japan) with Credit Cards”

Strategies: Two Simple Trips with Credit Cards

Okay, I think I’ve shared enough of the basics to talk some simple trip strategies. These strategies may or may not result in a (mostly) free trip but a highly subsidized one. But if you plan ahead (and get the right card — by which I mean I hope you got a Chase Sapphire Reserve VISA Infinite (review) when the bonus was 100,000 UR points), you can still do very well.

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The Basics: an Introduction to the Major Credit Card Players

 

Credit cards have had a short but vital life in the US (and world) economic landscape. Not until 1958, with Bank of America’s Bankamericard, was a revolving credit financial system issued by a third-party bank finally established (to later become VISA in 1976). Things really took off from there. MasterCards’ early ancestor, Master Charge, popped up in 1966. Then Discover was introduced by Sears in 1986. And American Express introduced their first credit card in 1987 (after many years of being a charge card issuer where balances have to be paid in full every month). While I’m probably skipping over various important points in credit card history (which you’re not here for), here’s where the industry currently stands: Continue reading “The Basics: an Introduction to the Major Credit Card Players”

Review: Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

Sometimes you need a little bit of flexibility in your travel game, and the Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard provides it. Whether you’re upgrading your award seats to “economy plus,” checking out at a random hotel without a loyalty program, or getting two tickets for the Shinkansen, this card can assist in bringing your travel expenses down to zero.

Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard. Image Credit: courtesy of Barclay and MasterCard.

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Review: Barclay (American Airlines) AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard

The new iteration of the Barclay (American Airlines) AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard has arrived. New, because this is the first time the card has been offered to the public (having previously been a conversion from the U.S. Airways Premier World MasterCard after the merger of the two airlines). It has one of the easiest bonuses to earn in all of credit cards: make one purchase, pay the annual fee, earn 40,000 AAdvantage Miles.

Before getting to the review, a story about the previous iteration of this card: Continue reading “Review: Barclay (American Airlines) AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard”

Review: Barclay (BoH) Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard

Let’s start at the beginning. This is the credit card that graces the majority of cardholder’s back pockets and purses in Hawaii. It’s the World Elite MasterCard issued by Barclays but administered locally by Bank of Hawaii. This card enables trips to see tutu and Las Vegas, so it’s basically invaluable, right? Well, let’s take a look:

Barclay Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard

Barclay (BoH) Hawaiian Miles World Elite MasterCard. Image Credit: courtesy of Barclay, Bank of Hawaii and MasterCard.

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