Travel Hacking, for Normal People

Travel hackers are a really weird bunch. After all, who in their right mind would spend their time chasing deals that earn 1000 miles here or a slim 1-2 points per dollar spent? This doesn’t even count for all the time we spend feeding various obscure routings into award flight searches in order to find that “perfect” redemption that includes the newest plane model or an amazing lounge stop (you know who you are).

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Bad News From Ebay: No More Bucks on GC Purchases

Busy day today.

Many people are logging into their Ebay accounts and seeing the following:

Thankfully, Ebay will be giving us one quarter to cash out our current bucks for gift cards, but earnings will stop next week.

/ht to Doctor of Credit readers, who prompted me to check my account.

Another one bites the dust….

Lock in an Extra 20% off Any Hotel!

Currently, Ebay is offering $50 Hotels.com gift cards for $40! Hotels.com has the best inventory of any OTA that I’ve seen, so this basically nets to an extra 20% discount on any hotel that you want, in addition to portal cashback and any other promotions Hotels.com may be offering at the time you book. You can find the deal here:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/50-Hotels-com-Gift-Card-Gift-Card-For-Only-40/152242949031

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How Much Is Enough?

In my most recent post I explained how I’ve started to think about travel hacking in relationship to my finances. As my rate of credit card approvals has slowed drastically, I have shifted to other means of earning miles, specifically by manufactured spend.

Unfortunately, manufactured spend is not with out some real cost. If I spend more than I can put on all my cash back cards, each transaction is no longer cash-flow positive: on average, I spend $60 for every 10,000 miles I earn. That’s $60 I could be using to go see a concert of my favorite band, or $60 I could be putting towards my nest egg for when I decide to have a family. To put it in starker terms, in order to manufacture 1 million miles, it would cost $6000! Yes, that’s a lot of future free travel, but it’s also a hefty chunk of change.

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Airline Miles are Stock Options in Disguise

I’ve been spending the last few weeks reading about financial independence and early retirement (colloquially known as FIRE; there’s a good subreddit for it) because of their natural intersection with travel hacking. Roughly, if the goal of financial independence is to save more, then travel hacking is an incredibly useful tool for those who travel a lot or have large families because of the way it can minimize expenses and free up money to save or invest.

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Saving on Cruises

My family and many of my friends are huge fans of cruises, primarily because it’s a fun way to take a vacation and pre-pay for virtually everything up front (read: no need to figure out splitting bills at dinner). Very little pre-planning is needed and there is something for everyone, and it’s convenient to find each other to meet up. It’s basically an all-inclusive resort (fine dining meals and incredible entertainment) on water, and being from the Bay Area, being on water is definitely something we appreciate! But it’s even better than a typical all-inclusive resort in that you get to go on awesome day-trips in interesting cities, so you’re not “resort-captive” for days. My past cruises have been:

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Another way to earn miles based on distance on AA – IRROPs

A couple of weeks ago, Rapid Travel Chai posted about a flyer who earned distance based redeemable mileage by booking flights through though the Citi ThankYou portal. I wondered if there were other ways to still earn distance based redeemable mileage and discovered one way inadvertently a few weekends ago. Obviously, IRROPs isn’t a controllable situation, but it’s something to keep in mind when you are deciding how to resolve it.

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Something that might hold up your US Bank FlexPerks application (or other US Bank applications)

EDIT: The referral link for the US Bank FlexPerks does NOT give the full Olympic bonus. We’re really sorry to anyone who applied through our link–if it makes you feel better, we also applied using a referral link and will not be getting the promo bonus either. Be sure to use the normal application link to qualify for the promotion.

I applied for the US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards card the other day. Now the Olympics is over, the bonus is 34,800 points (20,000 is the standard bonus, plus 14,800 for the medals Team USA won), which is a great offer.

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Another caveat to IHG’s Best Rate Guarantee

I’ve been of the opinion that IHG’s Best Rate Guarantee is just a marketing gimmick and really hard to actually apply practically, but I discovered a NEW caveat to the guarantee that further strengthens my opinion.

I was booking a hotel for my parents because they needed an overnight stay at Newark Liberty Airport on their way to Europe. Given that I was trying to finish some Accelerate promos, I opted to book them at the Crowne Plaza Newark Airport in a King room at the IHG Member advanced purchase rate for $132.89 + $23.92 of taxes and fees for a total of $156.81, which was the lowest rate at the time.

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awards.flights adds SkyTeam (Air France/KLM’s Flying Blue) search option

I’ve been using award.flights for quite some time to help easily run multiple award searches on different alliances for some time. However, there was always lacking a SkyTeam search option. Perhaps the author of the plugin didn’t really redeem for SkyTeam awards. However, that is no longer! As of yesterday, Air France/KLM’s frequent flyer program, Flying Blue has been added as a option for awards.flights.

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