Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Chase Ink Plus 70,000 Bonus Point Offer

This is it, the best Chase Ink Plus business card sign up bonus offer: 70,000 Ultimate Rewards points for spending $5,000 within 3 months.  How good is this deal?  Normally, the Ink Plus offers a 50,000 point sign up bonus.  With this new promotion, you get an extra 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points, worth at least $200 cash (much more if redeemed for airline miles).

This card has a $95 annual fee, and it is NOT waived for the first year.  This being said, the extra sign up bonus points are well worth the $95 fee.  Heck if you wanted you could redeem 9,500 points to cover the annual fee, and you would still be up 60,500 points!   

This card has some excellent benefits including:
  • 5x points on the first $50,000 spent at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services
  • 2x points on the first $50,000 spent at gas stations and hotel accommodations
  • 1x points on all other purchases
  • And no foreign transaction fees

Chase transfer partners

You all know how much I love Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  We usually transfer our Chase points to Southwest Airlines or United Airlines for free travel around the world.  The Ink Plus and Ink Bold cards are hands down the best business credit cards available.  Oh and by the way, I just applied and was approved for my own Ink Plus!

You can apply for your own Ink Plus here (my friend’s referral sign up) or directly at Chase.com.   The promotion ends October 20th.    

Monday, September 29, 2014

MyVegas and our Las Vegas trip, round 2

Last weekend, my wife and I took a short road trip to Las Vegas, Nevada.  I was there for an annual business conference and my wife joined me.  This was our first time driving to Las Vegas in a while and it wasn’t too bad.  Without traffic, the drive took us around 3 hours and 30 minutes.  I’m not convinced that we save a lot of time flying from Orange County to Las Vegas, especially if you factor in time to get to the airport, go through security, wait to board and exit the plane, and then take the shuttle bus to the Las Vegas airport car rental.  Driving just seemed like a lot less hassle this time.   

MyVegas is a Facebook app where users can earn Las Vegas rewards for playing casino games.  MyVegas is part of the MGM loyalty program, Mlife.  In Las Vegas, MGM owns Bellagio, Aria, Vdara, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Mirage, Monte Carlo, New York – New York, Luxor, and Excalibur.  I’ve written about my prior experience redeeming MyVegas rewards here.    

This trip, we redeemed the following rewards:
  • 2 free regular tickets to Jabbawockeez show at the Luxor ($121 value).  This show was very entertaining and a lot of fun to watch!
  • 2 premium seat tickets to Zumanity, the sensual cirque du soleil show at New York - New York ($231 value).  This show was very risqué – not what we were expecting at all!
  • 2 free entrance tickets to the Shark Reef exhibit at Mandalay Bay ($36 value). 

Sharks at Mandalay Bay

Redeeming these rewards from the MyVegas app gave us total value of  $388!  You can search for the MyVegas app on Facebook, or you can download the app onto your iPhone, android or kindle device here. 

Some tips for playing MyVegas:
  • The more you play, the more automation you can incorporate, such as setting the slot machine on “auto spin” for up to 200 spins. This allows you to do other things and have myVegas app running in the background, earning loyalty points.
  • There are a limited amount of rewards you can redeem per month, so choose your rewards carefully!
  • You max out at 2,000 loyalty points a day, playing more won't earn any more loyalty points
  • This program is constantly going through changes, including devaluations of rewards; so don't delay in redeeming rewards.  Last year we redeemed for 2 free passes to Bellagio Buffet.  This year the same reward could only be used Sunday through Thursday. 

Westin Las Vegas
We stayed at the Westin Las Vegas, a Starwood Preferred Guest category 5 property.  We enjoy staying at the Westin because it is a smaller hotel, but still very close to the action of the Las Vegas strip. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Citi Double Cash Card

Earn cash back twice
Citibank recently introduced a brand new 2% cash back credit card called the Double Cash Card.  This MasterCard offers unlimited 1% cash back on all of your purchases, and then offers an additional 1% cash back when you pay for those purchases.  If you’re looking for a straight cash back credit card, this one is hard to beat. 

Previously, the best option for earning 2% cash back on all of your purchases was the Fidelity 2% American Express card.  The Fidelity 2% card has a few downsides.  Not all merchants accept American Express.   Also, you need to have a Fidelity Cash account to deposit your rewards into. 

My favorite daily spend credit card has been the Barclaycard Arrival Plus MasterCard, since it earns 2x miles on every purchase.  With a 10% rebate on miles redemption, the Arrival Plus credit card is effectively a 2.2% cash back credit card when used to make travel related purchases. 

If you’ve used up all of your Arrival Plus miles (including the big 40,000 mile sign up bonus), the Citi Double Cash Card is a great card to switch your daily spending to.  This card earns 2% cash back on every purchase.  Minimum redemption of cash back is $25.  There are no restrictive categories.  There is no limit to how much cash back you can earn.  To top it off, the Citi Double Cash Card has no annual fee.

Citibank product conversion
If you have an old Citibank credit card that you’re not using, you can have a Citibank representative perform a product conversion of your old Citibank card into a new Double Cash Card.  In my case, I downgraded my American Airlines Visa Platinum credit card (with $95 annual fee) into this new card.  Product conversions are completely free.  Downgrading your card allows you to keep your existing credit history.  No new hard inquiries are applied to your credit report when you downgrade a card.

To downgrade my American Airlines Platinum Select Visa card, I simply called the number on the back of the card.  I asked a rep to perform a “product conversion” of my current card into the new Double Cash Card.  It took about 10-14 days for me to receive my new card.  This will be my new go-to card for everyday spending. 

You can read some more discussion about the Citi Double Cash Card here on Flyertalk. 

If you don’t have and old Citibank credit card to convert, you can apply for a new card at Citibank.com.  However, there are much better credit cards with much bigger sign up bonuses I would apply for before the Citi Double Cash Card.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Make your own Frontline Plus kit

If you are a pet owner who has an outside dog, or if you take your indoor dog on outdoor walks, blood-sucking fleas and ticks can be a nuisance.  Squirrels, raccoons, and rodents can carry fleas and their eggs onto your lawn.  If you go hiking, flea eggs can hitchhike on your shoes.  While you may keep your dog very clean, fleas may still find a way onto your pet’s fur.

Female fleas can lay 20 eggs at a time, up to 500 eggs in their lifetime.  These flea eggs hatch in about 12 days.  Fleas can transmit serious conditions like tapeworms, bubonic plague, typhus and stomach flu.  If you’ve ever had an itchy flea bite, you know that it is annoying as hell. 

We walk our puppy Abby 3 to 4 times a day.  It’s been a relaxing way to get some low impact movement on a regular basis.  Since I no longer bike to my office, I wake up at 6am every morning to take Abby on a brisk 20 to 30 minute walk.  She is full of energy. 

Abby picked up a few hitchhiking fleas on one of her outings.  We noticed her scratching her fur, then picked off the few fleas we found with tweezers.  Our friend gave us 2 months worth of a topical flea treatment made by Hartz; we used it right away.  Luckily, Abby’s flea problem has not come back and we did not have a flea infestation at home.  I’ve heard how absolutely terrible a flea infestation can be.

Frontline Plus
Frontline Plus is one of the most popular over the counter flea and tick products.  It kills 100% of adult fleas within 12 hours and 100% of all ticks and lice within 48 hours.  It’s also waterproof in case your pet likes to swim.  Frontline Plus is topical and applied monthly.

Frontline Plus comes in a variety of sizes, designed for dogs of different body weight.  For instance, Frontline Plus for small dogs is designed to work on dogs 22lbs or less.  Frontline Plus for large dogs is designed to work on dogs between 45 to 88lbs.  Both products have the exact same cost and the exact same active ingredients.  The only difference between the “large” and “small” Frontline Plus products is the amount of medication used per dose. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The end of Amazon Payments

A friend of mine just linked me to this Fatwallet Finance discussion about the end of Amazon Payments.  It looks like the end of the program is near.

It’s been a great run for Amazon Payments
I first wrote about Amazon Payments in April 2013 here. Amazon Payments has been a great way to earn some extra points and miles by sending someone up to $1,000 per month with your credit card without paying any fees.

As of October 13, 2014, Amazon Payments users will no longer be able to send, receive, or request money from other Amazon Payments users.  I’m not complaining too much because this method of manufactured spending has lasted quite some time!

This means you can still send up to $1,000 until the end of September, and another $1,000 until October 12, 2014.  But that’s it.

The game keeps changing and we will find other ways to earn more points and miles.  Read more about the upcoming changes to Amazon Payments here.   

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Flying Cathay Pacific First Class from Hong Kong to Los Angeles

The Cathay Pacific first class experience
In the frequent flyer community, Cathay Pacific has the reputation of offering one of the world’s best flying experiences.  In July 2013, Cathay Pacific refreshed and upgraded their first class cabins on their 777-300ER planes to make the experience even better. 

The first class seats are extremely spacious, have massage functions, and can recline fully flat to transform into a comfortable bed in the sky.  Cathay Pacific first class bedding has 500 thread count cotton duvets, pillows, cushions, and a thick bed mattress that rests on top of the seat.  Each suite has it’s own multi-port iPhone connector and USB port for charging your electronic devices 

First class male passengers are provided an Ermenegildo Zegna amenity pouch while first class female passengers are provided a Trussardi amenity bag with Aesop skincare and toiletries.  First class passengers are also given 100% organic cotton pajamas and slippers made by PYE, and Bose Quiet Comfort 15 Acoustic Noise Canceling headphones.

Dining in the sky includes a full menu of unlimited free champagne, caviar, steak, fruit, snacks, desserts, and more at your seats.  

How much room is available in Cathay Pacific’s 777 first class?  This 275 passenger airplane only has 6 seats in First Class.  The 6 first class seats are spread across two rows.  For comparison: in economy class, each row has 9 seats, versus the 3 seat row in first class.  First class passengers won’t be bumping elbows on this flight.  Here’s the seat layout of the plane. 

Why am I writing about Cathay Pacific’s first class offering?  Because we will be experiencing it soon!

Monday, September 1, 2014

August side hustles 2014

The great thing about doing side hustles to generate extra income is that you can hustle on your own terms.  The more hard work, time, and creative effort you put in, the more extra money you can make.  You can hustle as little or as much as you want, whenever you want.  It’s your extra money, and you can choose how you want to spend it.  You can pay off your debt faster, or invest more money to work for you.

Welcome to September, a brand new month.  Here’s our monthly summary of side income that we’ve generated in the previous month of August.
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