A Credit Card Mistake (my first)

You'd think that, especially with a near-perfect credit score, a co-branded card from a lesser-known bank might be easy to get. But that's not always the case, I suppose. I've written about which cards we personally use . And my belief is still that a person does not need more than a few well-selected cards to wring maximum benefits from the points & game. So why did I apply for this (problematic?) card? Well, I had grand plans for a trip to Europe this winter. And when I saw a nice sign-up bonus for the Best Western Mastercard ($89 annual fee), I started scheming. I've been a loyalty member with Best Western since 2008, so I am familiar with their offerings, and used to stay with them a few times/year when I did fieldtrips in the US. And I also know Best Western hotels in Europe can be very different than their US counterparts, especially in the countryside. I've stayed in Best Westerns that were manor houses, Victorian mansions, previously-esteemed estates, a

US Folks have the Best Credit Card Options

Although I certainly knew this earlier, it occurred to me the other day that US folks have waaaaaay more credit card options than other countries. And can receive waaaaaay more benefits for having/using them. Granted, some non-US banks have "rewards" credit cards, but they pale in comparison to US bank credit card rewards. Especially over the last couple decades or so. As you can find throughout my blogs (and on a plethora of other sites as well as YouTube videos), credit card rewards options abound in the US. Particularly when it comes to rewards/benefits focused on travel and lifestyle. The main US credit card issuing banks (e.g., American Express, CapitalOne, Chase, Citibank, etc.) offer multiple co-branded and non-co-branded rewards cards with some truly outstanding benefits. Really. Often, for a few hundred dollars, you can get elite status, lounge access, and a host of other travel/lifestyle credits. Not so in most other countries around the world. You might get one po

Lure of Regional Airports

When engaging in international travel, most folks use the large airports like LAX, JFK, ORD, MIA DFW, SEA, ATL (and others). These airports are important since most all incoming and outgoing international travel routes through them. The terminals at the larger airports are roomy, have an abundance of amenities like restaurants and shopping, and generally host at least a couple lounges. And that's all fine and dandy. As I've noted elsewhere , I don't like to give away my travel secrets very often. But since my blog posts aren't that popular anyhow, I guess it's not a big deal. My secret for this post? Using regional airports. Especially if you live more than a couple/few hours away from an international airport. Why? I can offer a number of reasons, but a main one is they're not very crowded, meaning check-in and security lines are usually non-existent. Which means workers are generally less stressed, and that positive energy rubs off on you, making for a more pl

Flying a Non-hub Airline

Almost everyday I see people complaining on social media about the woes of airline (and hotel) elite status being downgraded or devalued. Like, just because they're the highest frequent flyer tier on an airline, they never get an upgrade. Or the points aren't as "valuable" as they were previously. I get it  –  those people likely spent thousands of dollars on a product and want to be rewarded for it. But that kind of entitled and whiny attitude bothers me. A lot. So much so that I'm writing a blog post about it. First off, I believe travel is a privilege , not a right. Until the turn of the twenty-first-century or so, flying was classy. You dressed up and the on-board service often reflected the classiness. Even in coach/economy you had space and a decent meal, even when flying a shorter hop. Nowadays economy-class meals aren't served unless it's a long/international flight, leg-room is tight, and people wander on an airplane in their pajamas and make life

Maximizing Miles & Points

If I could say one thing to people beginning the points & miles game, it is this: earning and then making the most of your points and miles accumulations takes a LOT of work and time . So, in the interest of that advice, here are my tips for wringing the maximum value from your hard-earned miles and points. Monitor points & miles blogs and promotions  daily . Most mainstream, for-profit blogs have email newsletters and/or social media accounts, so checking in with them during your downtime is important. They have cadres of people researching the latest changes, promotions, and perks. You can also sign up for hotel and airline email newsletters and promotions, or check their app every few days. Just be consistent. You never know when a good value might appear. I follow ThePointsGuy , One Mile at a Time , and Loyalty Lobby . But there are hundreds of other blogs and sites. (Unlike those blogs, I do NOT receive any compensation from any corporate sponsors, but if you want to use m

Basics of Credit Card Perks

The first thing to know about credit card perks is, they are ever-changing and always evolving. So you need to KEEP UP with the promotions for each card you have, especially if your card(s) have an annual fee. Second, most banks have different "tiers" of cards, and some can be co-branded , like the cards my wife and I personally use . These tiers represent this post's focus. Most every bank has a basic, no annual fee card . These usually have no perks, though some co-branded cards might come with basic/limited perks like low-tier hotel elite status, point earning bonuses for certain purchases, and interesting redemption/credit offers. By and large, however, if you want to utilize your points and miles for travel on a yearly basis, consider at least a mid-tier or higher card, which will likely represent a better value than a no-fee card which offers no perks – as long as you are only spending what you normally spend and pay off your credit card bill monthly. Mid-tier car

Personal Credit Card Choices

As noted in another post , we utilize co-branded credit cards almost exclusively. This post details those (few) cards we tend to use and why  –  basically the story of how we got into the points & miles game. Even before I started playing the points & miles game I traveled internationally a couple times each year. Throughout all of it, I mainly flew American Airlines (or its partners). I believe this stems from my first "real" job after college, which sent me to Chile. While waiting at the airport (almost 30 years ago), I thought: it's a lot of miles to Santiago, I should probably sign up for their frequent flier program. I should have done it earlier of course, but didn't know what it really entailed. Nowadays it's easy to glean information from a Google search, but back then, pre-internet, it all was kind of word-of-mouth, and I was totally a cheap-ass budget traveler, and didn't travel in the frequent flyer community (or really know anything about i