Thursday, 31 May 2012

Weekly Photo - Panama Canal

This is from part of my Central America trip to Panama a few years ago.  There is a restaurant and bar at this site where you can get a splendid ceviche and a cold beer as you watch the ships pass thru the strategic canal.


Tags: ..Weekly Photo - Panama Canal..
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Monday, 28 May 2012

Travel Hacking - Tip #15 – Investment Account Sign-up Bonus

UPDATE: 06/23 - Deal appears to be dead: Here is a fairly simple way to get 100,000 free miles / points by just opening a brokerage account. Fidelity are offering a 50,000 mile sign up bonus with either United or American airlines for new brokerage accounts if you deposit a mere $100,000 – ouch! You get another 50K Delta miles for being an existing Fidelity customer.



So if you don’t have that kind of cash lying around don’t worry because cumulative deposits count which means you 1.) deposit 2.) withdraw 3.) repeat step 1 & 2 until you have deposited $100K.  If you did this with $10K you would get the bonus after 10 iterations of step 1 & 2.  Fellow travel hacker The Travel Abstract explains it much better than I can so head over here for the details. 
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Tags: .Travel Hacking - Tip #14 – Investment Account Sign-up Bonus..
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Sunday, 27 May 2012

Travel Hacking - Tip #14 – Transfer / Exchange Points and Miles

There are numerous options for exchanging points and miles from one program into another e.g. Starwood and Ultimate Rewards points have numerous transfer options to airline and hotel points.  With these and other transfer options, sometimes the exchange rate is great and sometimes it’s not so good e.g. with points.com but when you need extra points to get that coveted award it’s important you know what your options are.


There is a very useful point conversion calculator at WebFlyer here. It shows how you can convert from one award partner to another.  It also lists options for how to top up a specific account.


You should also keep your eyes open for limited time deals and promotions e.g. American Express are currently offering (until May 31st) a 50% bonus on Amex Membership Reward Points transferred to British Airways Avios points.  As I mentioned here I have signed up for numerous credit card sign-up bonuses including the 180,000 MR points I earned from applying for 2 AMEX credit cards, so today I availed of the transfer bonus into 270,000 Avios points which posted instantly.  I had already got the bonus of 100,000 Avios points from signing up for a British Airways Visa credit card so now I have 370,000 Avios points for future trips by simply opening 3 credit cards. Not bad for a few minutes work.  Let me know of any good transfer promos you know of.

Check out the rest of my travel hacking tips here.
Tags: ..Travel Hacking - Tip #14 – Transfer / Exchange Points and Miles..
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Saturday, 26 May 2012

Step #13: Travel Hacking with FREE ONEWAY Award Flights

Did you know that when you book an award flight (i.e. with miles) on many of the big airlines you can get an extra free one-way flight? I had no idea until fellow travel hacker Scott Grimmer brought it to my attention.  The general idea is to be creative with the use of permitted stopovers and open-jaw bookings. 




Rather than me trying to explain the process it’s probably much easier if you head over to the Scots blog 'MileValue' where he has a topic with easy to follow instructions and even videos dedicated to  FREE ONEWAYS.


Check out the rest of my travel hacking tips here
  
Tags: .Travel Hacking with FREE ONEWAY Award Flights..
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Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Weekly Photo - No Swimming

I took this photo in a parking lot in Florida with no water in sight...

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Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Travel Hacking - Tip #12 – Auto Foursquare Check-in = 100,000+ points/miles

As I mentioned here, this is an easy 100,000+ points but since some reward sponsors are getting wise to the hacks e.g. the gmail hack, I recommend you take a few precautions and play it safe by opening some new accounts (which I will detail below). It adds a little extra setup time to this hack but this should minimize the chance of being flagged, as I was, for flouting the T&C for earning ‘too many miles’.


This is actually a combo hack which uses 1.) The previously mentioned TopGuest Foursquare  hack with the 2.) Foursquare spoof location hack and 3.) a tip from blog reader Jim to automate the process with a Foursquare add-on app called Auto4SQ which lets you auto check-in on Foursquare whenever / wherever. Once you set this automatic routine up, your miles and points will auto post i.e. you don’t even need to check-in on Foursquare. THIS IS HUGE!


Before you start the hack you need to do some prep work


PREP STEPS:


A. Install Google Chrome as a browser as you will use a cool feature it has called “incognito mode” to prevent your pc remembering who you are – Important - since you will be switching between multiple accounts! 


B. Sign-up for AwardWallet if you haven’t already to keep track of your existing and new reward accounts you may need to set up during the hack


C. Since the gmail hack may not work with this hack you will need to sign up for at least six new email accounts to get the full 100K points – gmail is my fav so I will assume this is what you will use below (feel free to use another). For now just sign up for one extra account as I’m sure you want to test the hack (if prompted for telephone # during the gmail sign-up just leave it blank) – Keep a note of the new email account id’s & pw’s.  To be safe, avoid very similar email addresses like emailbob1@gmail.com and emailbob2@gmail.com


D. Sign-up for a reward account (if you don’t already have one) with the following travel partners. United, Best Western, Hilton, Priority Rewards, Virgin Elevate, Wyndham.  There are a few more options with Topguest but not worth it in my opinion.


Repeat this step for each friend/family member to multiply the bonus many times. For now just try one account.  Record the ff#’s with AwardWallet so you can track your bonus miles.


After the prep steps above - You need to follow yet another 10 easy set-up steps per rewards partner. You only need to do this once per mileage / hotel account and then the points will post everyday without you needing to do ANYTHING! (pretty cool eh! – Read On..)


IMPORTANT: All steps below occur in 1 session of the Chrome Browser using new tabs for each step.  To avoid cookie issues use a clean browser session e.g. Chrome Incognito mode. After completing all steps – close Chrome and start again.


1. Sign in to one of the new gmail accounts you set up above in the prep steps
2. Sign-up for a new foursquare account using your real name and a new gmail account
3. Confirm/Validate your new foursquare account in your gmail
4. Sign up for a new account with TopGuest (except for United - see note below) for one of the following partners using the new gmail a/c but use a bogus (made up) name to avoid being flagged for multiple sign-ups (they seem to check for duplicate names and gmail hack email addresses)



  TopGuest United  (Update 06/17: The signup page should look like this 


but currently the link redirects to the main topguest site with no option to enter United#)
( - note: the UNITED link is not part of TopGuest but on this you DO need to use a foursquare account with your real name as it appears on your United air-miles account)

The following are all part of TopGuest so use a bogus (made up) First Name, Last Name when signing up to avoid being flagged


(Wyndham have 2 rewards programs with 2 Loyalty member numbers- The one to use is Wyndham by Request which starts with 2 alphas i.e. letters AND you need to check in at a Wingate by Wyndham hotel only) - Update: Note some say the Wyndham Rewards # works also and potentially for a double dip


5. Validate your new Topguest account in gmail (except for United see above)
6. Add one of the partner frequent flyer id’s to Topguest by clicking 'Programs' then 'Add Member id' and here you add just one of your Frequent Flyer or Hotel id#


7. Click ‘Get Points’ in Topguest and then ‘Points on Foursquare’ and ‘Connect with Foursquare’ (links to the foursquare id you are already logged into above)



8. Open m.foursquare.com (mobile version) and fake your location to a partner location e.g. google the zip code of 'Best Western LAX Airport' and choose option '7. Change location' and enter that zip code - then choose option '4. Search venues' and choose the above location then option '2. Check-in'  


9. Open auto4sq.com and select 'login in using foursquare' using the account (above) - your latest check-in will now show up in auto4sq under the venue drop down
10. Schedule your daily check-ins - best to add a few to mix it up a little in terms of check-in times to avoid attention


Once complete - Close your browser and repeat all the above steps adding a new Topguest,  email and foursquare account for each reward partner.  


Congrats! – you will now earn 275+ miles/points automatically on a daily basis without doing anything!  275 x 365 days = 100,000+ points per year per person!


Note: Topguest seems to miss at least 1 or 2 foursquare logins per month for me – YMMV!

Check out the rest of my travel hacking tips here. .
Tags: .Travel Hacking - Tip #12 – The Mother of all Hacks!..
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Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Weekly Photo - San Juan, Puerto Rico

A work colleague is on a cruise right now and sent this pic from the ship...

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Monday, 14 May 2012

Travel Hacking – 100,000+ FREE POINTS (easy)!

I’m a little hesitant to publicize this hack in case the rewards sponsor pulls the plug.  The invite I posted on my recent travel hacking article was inactivated by the sponsor within 24 hours but I think I’ve found a way whereby this hack should remain safe if you follow my rules.


This new hack was brought to my attention by a reader (thanks Jim) a few weeks ago. I got a little lazy and greedy and got busted by the rewards sponsor within a few days for not adhering to the Terms & Conditions A.K.A – I was earning TOO MUCH, TOO FAST! so I had to go back to the drawing board.  I’ve now come up with what I believe to be a sure fire way to get an easy 100,000+ points/miles per year, per account. Multiply that by each family member / friend to earn oodles of free points.


I know this is cruel but I don’t have time to post all the details right now so stay tuned!

Check out the rest of my travel hacking tips here. .
Tags: .Travel Hacking – 100,000+ FREE POINTS (easy)!..
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Thursday, 10 May 2012

Weekly Photo - George Washington Bridge

This is a commuters nightmare most of the time but makes for a great photo!

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Monday, 7 May 2012

Travel Hacking - Tip #11 – Mattress Runs - Hotel Promotions

Many hotels offer bonuses for staying at their properties and most require registering for the bonus even if you are already a member of their loyalty program.  A mattress run describes the process of staying in a specific hotel just to qualify for a specific bonus. It can be very worth while.


Most of the deals can be found here 


e.g. One of the best mattress run promos I’ve benefited from is for the Radisson Hotel – Big Blue.  I got 50K points for wife and another 50K points for myself back in November for simply registering and staying one night each at a hotel we needed to stay in anyway. I’m delighted to say the offer is back on.  Rules (from the previous promo) as follows:


If you don’t already have an account use this link to get a 4,500 Club Carlson sign-up bonus.


Sign-up here after midnight on May 15th and complete the T&C i.e. stay 1 night in a qualifying hotel by July 15th and get an easy 50,000 bonus Club Carlson points.  


This will get you a free night in any of their top end Club Carlson hotels e.g. (Radisson) worth several hundred dollars or you can get several nights in a low-medium end hotel.


UPDATE: 3 more deals with Carlson below:


SOGOCountry.com
ParkInnOnePlusOne.com
ParkPlaza

Check out the rest of my travel hacking tips here.
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Tags: ..Travel Hacking - Tip #11 – Mattress Runs - Hotel Promotions..
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Sunday, 6 May 2012

Travel Hacking - Tip #10 – E-Rewards

e-Rewards is a rewards program that gives money (sort of) for taking online surveys.  You sign up by invitation only thru a partner / sponsor.  If you have signed up for e-mails with your frequent flier account there is a good chance there is already an invitation in your inbox already.  Here is an invitation for e-rewards with a bonus 250 US Airways Dividend Miles if you complete just one survey - Update: Above link not working  but stay tuned I'll get you another :-( 

ok - got some more links thanks to blogger 'New Girl in the Air' here.

  


For me it’s too time consuming to do the surveys and the ‘money’ you earn must be redeemed for miles/points/gift cards at a pretty bad exchange rate.  However, you can choose to only sign up with the different e-rewards partners and collect the sign-up bonuses which are usually instant miles. You should first sign up for all the bonus emails with e-rewards partner sites and once you get the invitation from the partner to e-rewards just be sure to use a different email address or the gmail hack.


Right now there is an e-rewards bonus offer of 4,500 Club Carlson points for registering as a new Club Carlson member.  The T&C say you need to be an existing e-rewards member (use the link above if you are not) and you need to use your e-rewards email address when you register with Club Carlson (not sure if this is true – in fact I doubt it is!) and it is for new Club Carlson members only.  You can exchange Club Carlson points into miles at a fairly awful rate of 8 to 1 so the above bonus would only equal 500 miles. It only takes 30 seconds to sign up and if you sign up for a new account ten times using the gmail hack you could earn 5,000 miles for 5 minutes work.  YMMV


Rumor has it Club Carlson will be giving away 50,000 points in a repeat of the Big Blue promo to each person who registers and stays a night at a qualifying hotel.  More on that when the details are published. Update: Rumor confirmed here .


Check out the rest of my travel hacking tips here

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Tags: .Travel Hacking - Tip #10 – E-Rewards..
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Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Weekly Photo - Atlantic City

This is from a recent stay in Atlantic City. We stayed in the Sheraton and used points so it was technically a freebie. At night the city looks impressive but it ain't no Vegas!

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