BOGO Movie Tickets!

A quick non-travel related post!

I love going to movies (and now P does too) , but it is getting so expensive! Here’s a great way to save some money on movie tickets this summer.

If you have a valid, U.S. issued VISA Signature card, you can get a buy-one-get-one-free movie ticket on Fandango on Fridays from April 25-August 8.

VISA_moviefridays_microsite_FINAL

Visit this site and enter your ZIP code for a theatre near you.  For my Northern Kentucky friends, Fandango issues tickets for Florence, Wilder and Newport! Select 2 or more tickets to a Friday showing and get the lowest priced ticket free! (up to $19.50)  You have to purchase the ticket on Friday as well as go to the Friday showing. Continue reading

Is It Worth Keeping the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card?

A few months ago, American Express announced it was increasing the annual fee on the Platinum Delta Skymiles card from $150 a year to $195, effective May 1, 2014.  That is quite a jump! And what were they giving us to justify the fee increase?  Not much.  The only noticeable change was that they are getting rid of Foreign Transaction Fees, which were 2.7%  There are plenty of other cards out there that do not charge a Foreign Transaction Fee so that alone is not enough to keep my business.

deltaplatinum

Is this card worth $195 per year?

Smart Chip Technology

All new Delta American Express cards issued after May 1, 2014 will have the Smart Chip technology.  If you don’t know what a Smart Chip is, read this.

Eventually all US issued cards will convert to Smart Chips, but again this is not a justifiable reason (in my opinion) for a $45 annual fee increase.

Incidentally, on our recent trip to Thailand we used our Citibank AA Executive card with a Smart Chip.  Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.  I was dismayed at the lack of credit card acceptance across Thailand in general, the Smart Chip not working at places that did accept cards, just made it worse.

Companion Certificate

The biggest benefit of the card, for me, is the free companion certificate you receive every year upon renewal of the card.  Of course, it’s not “free” is it?  It costs $150 (or $195 after May 1, 2014)  However, with domestic airfares hovering in the $300-$500 range, you could look at it as a “discounted companion ticket”.  I have used the certificate every year and never let it go to waste.

I have already started thinking about Spring Break next year.  There is a strong possibility we will take a domestic trip.  Grand Canyon and The Keys are two places I’m kicking around right now.  I prefer to save my miles for international travel so I will probably purchase at least 2 tickets for next year’s Spring Break trip.  Right now, fares to PHX are around $555 and MIA is around $288.  I would get a better value on the PHX companion ticket, so Grand Canyon is looking like a strong possibility.  But…sometimes it’s nice to go to the beach.

Whatever we decide, I think I will hang on to the card for one more year.  I will, however, call them and try to cancel.  Hopefully they will offer me something to keep the card and then I will “change my mind”, but I have to be prepared to follow through on the cancel if they don’t try to offer me anything.

I consider Delta to have one of the worst and most difficult to use programs out there, so miles earned on this card are of little value to me.  I have plenty of Delta miles already that I need to burn through.  I have been an American Express card member since 2002, which helps my credit score, but I think it might be time to let this one go.  I will still keep my Starwood American Express card, which is a much more versatile card.

Happy Travels!

Coming Home to Changes

We have just returned from a wonderful 3 week trip to Thailand booked entirely on Miles & Points.  Once all my bills come in, I will share with you the complete total cost of our trip, including meals, activities and transportation costs.

There were definitely some not-so-great moments on the trip, such as P getting sick, Hubby taking his iPhone for a swim and me getting an ear infection after our first dive.  But those small negatives in no way outweighed the many positives of the trip.  Over the coming weeks I will post some trip reports and hotel reviews AND how P met his school goals in science, culture, reading and math on the trip.

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Wow…did many things change while I was gone.  I’m sure if you read other Miles & Points blogs you already know all about them.

The worst one for me was the decision by CVS to go “nationwide” with their policy of not accepting credit cards for purchasing Vanilla Reload cards.  That really hurts!

VanillaReload

My precious. No more.

In my area, it was already difficult to buy Vanilla Reloads with a credit card.  The 2 CVS stores in my area would sometimes allow it, depending on the clerk.  There was a sign on the register stating that they could only be purchased with cash, however, the register would still allow a credit card purchase.  So if you pushed the clerk a bit, they might try it.  But I was denied more times than I was allowed.  There were a few CVS stores in Ohio that would do it, and Hubby had some luck buying them in other states on business trips.  There are a few other retail outlets that will still allow you to purchase VRs with credit cards but sadly, none are in my area.  Hopefully I can have Hubby do some recon on his next business trip, as there are a few stores in Oklahoma City where he travels most often.

There are still other options to load your Bluebird card to pay bills.  Such as buying VISA gift cards from giftcardmall.com.  This is not a good option if you require immediate gratification, as it takes about a week to receive.  I usually only do 2 of these a month.

Yesterday I did a “test purchase” of a VISA gift card at Kroger.  I got burned once in the past with a Mastercard gift card I bought at Kroger.  I was stuck with the $500 gift card after it would not load to my Bluebird account.  (of course there are other ways to liquidate it, but it was still a pain) But I read recently that people have had luck with the VISA version of the card that looks like this:

VisaGiftCard_USBank

 

I bought a $50 card, which cost $4.95.  That’s kind of an expensive test, but it will be worth it if it works.  I plan to take it to Walmart today and try to load it to Bluebird.  Remember, you can load $1,000 a day and up to $5,000 a month to your Bluebird account and then use their online bill pay or checks to pay your every day bills such as mortgage, car payments, utility bills etc.

Award Program Changes

Both American Airlines and US Airways made some pretty big changes to their programs in the past couple weeks.  American did so without warning! Ouch!

One of the big changes at American was no longer allowing a stopover at a North American gateway city.  This didn’t really impact me personally because CVG isn’t an international gateway (for anyone).  But I could have made it work with some creative routing.  Basically if you lived in (or near) a city with international service on American Airlines you could basically book 2 flights for the price of one.  Your home city being your stopover.  This would only work in cities like New York, Miami or Chicago on American.  Partner airlines could open a few more possibilities but again, not for CVG.  I won’t get into any more details about how it worked because you can’t do it anymore.

American also changed the structure of their award chart and the names of their redemptions, but fortunately the miles required for awards did not change.  Only the names.  They also kept their “off peak” awards in place which was a huge relief to me.  I have used those several times for off-peak travel to the Caribbean.

US Airways Free Checked Bag

The US Airways credit card was unique in that it did not allow cardholders a free checked bag, which is usually a standard benefit of other airline credit cards.  That is changing on April 30, 2014.  If you have a US AIrways card with at least a $79 annual fee, you will receive a free checked bag for the primary cardholder and up to 4 companions.

One Bright Spot!

IHG announced that redemption levels for 100 IHG properties will be going DOWN on April 15, 2014 and that for the remainder of 2014, there will no increases in reward night pricing!  Yay! I have not yet seen a complete list of properties, which is surprising as this change takes effect today.  I am hoping that the property in Munich I want to stay at this summer is one of the 100 properties!  Once I come across a list, I will post it here for you!

Use Those Miles!

The fact that these American Airlines changes were made without any advance notice just shows how fast the value of your miles can change.  Earn ’em and burn ’em!   They may not be worth as much next month (or tomorrow) as they are today!

Happy Travels!