Last week, Chase announced the Freedom’s 5% cash back (or 5x Ultimate Rewards points) categories for 2013! Yippee. I can’t believe 2013 is just around the corner. 2012 was a great year to earn points & miles, but I can’t wait to see what 2013 has in store for us. Hopefully, more ways to earn valuable Ultimate Rewards...
Last week, I wrote about the new Ink Plus® Business Card coming out. Before that, I wrote a blog about getting 2-3-4 Ink Bolds. Great news: now it’s even easier to pad your Ultimate Rewards balance. If you’ve already applied for the Ink Bold, you can now apply for the new Ink Plus 50,000 offer under the same...
Happy Monday, Noobs. Today, I have a special treat to help beat the work week blues. Check out this sweet confessional video by Noob reader Chase, a musician from Austin, TX, and see how he is traveling the world Noob style- for pennies. Chase has, as he said, entered the “Noob Zone” and is balling out of control with...
Every summer, Jordan and I meet family in Mexico for a quick all-inclusive escape from the daily grind. This is mostly awesome, but usually we have to connect to and from Mexico, since there aren’t direct flights available (not awesome).
BUT, this year is different. Air Tran has a non-stop to Cancun from Austin, which makes me very happy. I didn’t have any Air Tran credits, but that wasn’t a problem. Since Southwest has acquired Air Tran, you can transfer Southwest Rapid Rewards points to Air Tran (and vice versa).
I actually didn’t have Southwest Rapid Rewards points because I’ve exhausted most of them by taking advantage of our Companion Pass. But…Ultimate Rewards points earned from the Ink Bold® Business Card, Ink Plus® Business Card, or Chase Sapphire Preferred® cards can transfer into Southwest, which can be transferred into Air Tran. Winning.
If you’re looking for a killer beach getaway, AirTran has non-stop service to destinations such as Aruba, The Bahamas, Bermuda, The Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Here are some recently added non-stop routes:
- Chicago – Cancun
- Denver – Cancun
- San Antonio – Mexico City
- San Antonio – Cancun
- Austin – Cancun
- Orange County – Cabo San Lucas
- Orange County – Mexico City
And here’s how I transferred my Southwest Rapid Rewards points to Air Tran and booked Business class flights to Mexico…
Checking Air Tran for availability
If you’re not an A+ member, you can sign up here. After you create an account, log in and click on “book a reward flight.” Enter your dates and destination.
From there, you will see a calendar with availability. I like that Air Tran will show you 3 weeks of availability. You can also see if there’s coach or Business availability. Unlike Southwest, there’s a Biz class on Air Tran. You know I like that.
After seeing the dates you want, click “continue” and then decide between a one-way coach trip for (8) A+ credits, or Business for (16) A+ credits. My dates only yielded Biz class award availability, which is fine, but I was actually looking for economy since it’s only a 2.5 hour flight to Mexico. I usually save Business bookings for longer flights when it really counts, but hey, it’s peak season. Do whatcha gotta do.
Now that you’ve found the flights that work for you, it’s time to book (or transfer Southwest Rapid Rewards points to A+ credits).
Transferring Southwest Rapid Rewards points to Air Tran
You can get to the Southwest conversion site from the Air Tran site. Go to the My Account page and click Rewards Conversion in the top right corner. You will be directed to this page, where you can start transferring Rapid Rewards points.
Here’s the transfer table when transferring Southwest currency to A+ credits:
- 1,200 Rapid Rewards Points = 1 A+ Rewards Credit
- 1 Rapid Rewards Credit = 1 A+ Rewards Credit
- 1 Standard Award = 16 A+ Rewards Credits
- 1 Freedom Award = 32 A+ Rewards Credits
In most situations, you will probably be transferring Rapid Rewards points to A+, so it would cost 19,200 Southwest Rapid Rewards (Ultimate Rewards points) for a one-way in Business class (38,400 for roundtrip), or 9,600 points for a one-way flight in economy (19,200 roundtrip).
I highly recommend going for the cheaper option in economy and paying for preferred seating or the ability to select your seat, which you can do with Air Tran. Of course, if the trip is longer, then going for Business class could be worth it. I’m easily convinced to fly Biz.
Beware: Once you transfer Rapid Reward points to Air Tran, you can’t transfer them back as “points” – they will instead be transferred back as “credits.” Southwest credits are more restricting than points, so be sure before you transfer any points over to Air Tran.
Booking Air Tran flights
Once you have the necessary Air Tran A+ credits in your account, it’s time to book. Booking was pretty easy, even though the Air Tran site is very slow. I had to change the dates after I initially booked and that was really easy and didn’t cost me a thing. I did it all online and was done it 2 minutes. I like that.
I love that Air Tran gives me another option when I’m looking to fly to Mexico/Caribbean. Here’s Air Tran’s interactive flight chart. I found it pretty handy to see where they flew.
I don’t love that Air Tran doesn’t honor our Southwest Companion Pass, but that would just be too good. I guess I won’t be too greedy. I’m just happy to get a non-stop flight to Cancun from Austin. Really, any non-stop from Austin puts me in a good mood.
You can fly Air Tran Atlanta/Fort Lauderdale without having to transfer Southwest Rapid Rewards points to Air Tran, but that’s the only destination for now. Hopefully, they will open up more Air Tran flights that you can book with SW points on the SW wesbite soon. Also, watch out for bag fees when you book flights on Air Tran.
There is an Air Tran rewards credit card from Chase (of course). I’m not sure it’s worth a Chase inquiry, but you can read my review here. It may be going away once the Southwest-Air Tran merger is complete, but it could be used as a way to pad your Southwest account since you can transfer A+ to Southwest, too.
I hope this helps by giving you another way to use your Ultimate Rewards or Southwest Rapid Rewards points.
(Disclaimer: I do receive a referral credit for the cards mentioned in this post. Thanks for the support if you decide to apply!)
— Noob MasterRead More
In case, you missed some of the news this week, here ya go:
Starwood Double Take
Starwood Preferred Guest has a new promotion where you can earn double points. Everyone likes double points, right?
From the SPG site:
“Register now and start earning on the double. First, earn double Starpoints® on all eligible stays from May 1 through July 31, 2013, at more than 1,000 participating Starwood hotels and resorts worldwide.
Plus, get 500 additional bonus Starpoints for each eligible booking made through our spg.com mobile site, the SPG® App for iPhone, or the SPG App for Android™ — and that’s at all our more than 1,100 hotels and resorts in the SPG program. Go ahead, do a double take.”
If you’re already spending $$ on SPG hotel stays, then you might as well register for this promo and then book through their app. They have one of the best hotel apps around.
Club Carlson’s new promo is no “Big Night Giveaway”
The last two years, Club Carlson has had some really lucrative promos like, “Book a room and receive 50,000 Gold Points.” This isn’t that. You will receive 10,000 Gold points for every two night stays. Ehh…
You already receive 20 points per $1 on your Club Carlson bookings, so it’s easy to stack up the Gold Points if you’re paying for hotel stays regularly. Gold Points aren’t the most valuable points, but you can really stretch our their value if you have a Club Carlson Visa. You get the Free Award night benefit if you hold the card, meaning a 2 night stay at a Radisson Blu property would be 50,000 points instead of 100,000. Killer.
Southwest extends promotion
Southwest has extended their “double points and double tier qualifying points promo” until June 15, 2013.
You have to book your flights on Southwest.com and complete your flights by June 15th. I took advantage of this promotion when I had to buy Jordan a cheap one-way ticket to Dallas on the fly a couple of weeks ago. Plus, I used her Sapphire Preferred card, so I received an additional 2x Ultimate Rewards points.
Cheap AAdvantage Awards to Las Vegas
If you travel between May 7th and May 31st, you can get a reduced mileage rate of 10,000 one-way in economy to Las Vegas.
Southwest has a direct flight from Austin to Vegas that’s usually less than 10,000 one way, but if you don’t have that option, this might work out for you. It’s 5,000 cheaper than the normal redemption rate with AA!
— Noob MasterRead More
I had to do the unthinkable today….cancel a trip.
I know, I know – Something terrible must have happened, right? Don’t worry, Jordan and I are well. The truth is, our lives are just crazy busy right now. We just sold our house in 12 hours (weren’t really expecting that, even though the Austin market is crazy right now), Jordan had a work opportunity that was too good to pass up, and some other things arose that started to make this trip feel more like a burden than a blessing. So regrettably, I had to go and cancel our flights to Dublin, London, Maldives, and other spots. An epic trip indeed, and now I’m working through the depressing aftermath of having to cancel a trip I’d been longing to take.
Here are 6 things getting me through the lowest of times.
1. There will be other trips
I keep telling myself this, but I’m not sure I believe it. Beaches, treks into the countryside, rubbing shoulders with another culture, and eating foreign foods will happen again. I hope.
2. Now I have more miles
I do like this perk. But even though it’s nice to see my balances go up instead of down, I’m a firm believer in “earn and burn.” I almost hate seeing a large balance, because I know it’s most likely being devalued every day it’s in my account. Wait, this was supposed to be a plus. So I do enjoy seeing my million mile stash get larger. Makes me sleep a little better at night.
3. The trip was too much to bite off and chew
It was too long of a trip with too much packed in. One of those trips that you were dying to go on, but overwhelmed by at the same time. Plus, there really wasn’t enough time in each place to fully soak in the destination.
I actually enjoy the constant traveling, but it stresses Jordan. And keeping Jordan happy is #1 for me!
4. I get to plan these trips again
Nothing is stopping me from booking this trip again, but I’ll probably make two trips out of it instead of one now. That’s something to look forward to. Booking and planning trips is half the fun for me anyway, so I get to double up on the planning (stretching on this one). But planning trips really is kind of fun. I’m sick like that.
5. Make it a staycation
I love my hometown of Austin. And you probably know that, since I blab about it often. I do enjoy staycations because there’s always something in the area I haven’t explored yet. I’ve really been wanting to try the Hyatt resort in San Antonio, just an hour south. Wait, this is getting depressing again.
What we have here is a classic opportunity for me to work on my patience. I wanted to go on this trip and I wanted to go now, but it didn’t work out like that. Roll with it, noob.
7. Don’t have to leave my dog
I love our new pup that we adopted last December. I love her so much that it makes it hard to leave her. Yes, I’ve become that guy. And now I don’t have to leave her for over 2 weeks, so that does make me happy. Stop laughing.
Thanks for letting me pound out some frustrations. Now I don’t have to reach for the bottle of wine in the same way. I feel better already. Life happens and there will always be other opportunities.
— Noob MasterRead More
Barclays is moving and shaking. They recently increased sign-up bonuses on their Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard and The Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World MasterCard®. Any time that happens, it’s a good thing. Plus, the NFL card still has a generous offer, and people are snatching up the US Airways card (read t&c’s to see the offer) before the merger with American Airlines is complete.
(Disclosure: I receive a referral credit for the Arrival and Lufthansa cards, but not the NFL or US Airways cards. Thank you for your support if you apply through my links!)
With many readers taking advantage of the recent Barclays offers, I’ve gotten quite a few emails highlighting the quirkiness of Barclays. Yes, Barclays is quirky, so I thought it would be a good idea to address their curious ways in a post.
You’ve got to earn their trust
It’s a good practice to apply for one Barclaycard if you haven’t already established a history of 4-6 months with them. To put it simply, don’t apply for two Barclaycards if you haven’t ever applied for another Barclaycard before.
Stefan from Rapid Travel Chai applied for 2 Barclaycards at once without a previous history and was denied his second application. He then waited 6 months before reapplying for anymore Barclaycards and was auto-approved for 4 more.
I can’t say that you would have the same results, but it appears that waiting 6 months after your first Barclaycard is the wisest decision. I was able to get my second Barclaycard 4 months after my first, but that was a year and a half ago.
They could close your account
There have been reports of Barclays closing accounts if you haven’t used their cards in the last 6 months. But that’s bad form. Always swipe your Barclaycard at least once every 6 months. I set up a custom reminder on Card Watchdog, so I didn’t forget.
Barclays will often have some pretty decent targeted promos, like the “spend $750 for 3 straight months and receive 15,000 US Airways miles” with the US Airways cards. It’s not guaranteed that you will receive the targeted promo, but Jordan did when she applied for the card a couple of months ago.
The Arrival card gives you 2x points back on all purchases, so it can be a great daily card if you’re wanting to use your Arrival points for free travel. Plus, you get 10% back on all redemptions.
If you’re wanting to take advantage of all the new Barclaycard options available now, it’s in your best interest to do some spending on your current Barclaycards. Show some activity, don’t be scared.
Applying again may not work
There was a time when you could apply for the same card that you currently held or had recently canceled. This has gotten extremely hard as of late, so I would tread lightly. Does anyone have a recent experience they would like to share?
I have two US Airways cards, but was denied when I tried applying for a third, even though my credit is in excellent condition and I had a good reason explaining the need for the card (separate spending, etc.). I’m not sure I will go for it again. But if I do, I will close out one of my current ones.
(If your application isn’t instantly approved, you can call a credit analyst at 1-866-408-4064. Check online here.)
They could approve you for a lower version card
I hate this bait and switch maneuvering that Barclays will do on some of their applications. It’s very important that you check the t&c’s before applying for any Barclaycards. In some cases, if you’re approved for a lower version, you will get a lower sign-up bonus. This is a good way to upset customers, and a practice that just drives me bonkers.
Things do seem to be improving in this department because both the Arrival and Lufthansa cards give you the same sign-up bonus no matter which version of the card you’re approved for. I like seeing Barclays showing signs of improving here.
It appears that Barclays is here is stay, which is s w e e t. I hope they continue to roll out new products and increase their sign-up bonuses on the rewards travel products.
And since they are here to stay, it’s important that you know their ways. (If that’s even possible – they can be quirky, after all.) My plan is for both Jordan and I to apply for the Arrival card during our next app parties. Diversity is good, and I’m hoping the 50,000 Lufthansa premium hangs out for a while, because I wouldn’t mind taking advantage of it. You know I love me some pretzel rolls.
I hope this helps as you consider adding any Barclaycards to your wallet, or if you’re just trying to figure Barclays out.
— Noob MasterRead More
Amex is at it again. Another 75,000 offer, but this time the spending requirement is $10,000 in 3 months.
Link: 75,000 Business Gold
(Disclosure: I don’t receive a referral credit for this offer, but don’t let that stop you from applying. Also, take screen shots so you can show proof of the offer if you need to. This is a link from ebay’s site.)
Important to remember: ”Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have had this product or any other Business Gold, Green or Platinum Card® account within the last 12 months. To be eligible to receive the additional points, you must (1) apply for the Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN using Bonus ID A3ZA on May 14, May 15, May 16, or May 17th 2013″
You can apply for a personal American Express card and a business American Express card on the same day. Some of the best personal Amex options are:
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, Mercedes- Benz Platinum , or you can see if you’re eligible for the 45,00o Delta offer through the CARDMATCHTM tool, but ymmv.
This isn’t as sexy as the 75,000 offer with a $5,000 spending requirement in 3 months, but it’s still a good offer. You can do things with 75,000 Membership Rewards points. If the $10,000 in 4 months isn’t something you’re comfortable with, the public offer is 50,000 MR points after meeting a $5,000 spend in 3 months.
You have until May 17th to apply for the 75,000 offer.
Hat tip: Frugal Travel Guy
(Disclosure: I receive a referral credit for the Starwood Preferred card, but not the others.)
— Noob MasterRead More