How To Score a Samsonite Luggage Set for Cheap!

If you are in the market for a new luggage set as I am, you will find this latest Google and American Express offer enticing! Currently, there is an offer available to American Express card holders for $20 off $50+ at Google Express. Google Express is a convenient online shopping experience, in which all the stores are available in one place. You order everything you want from one site, and they ship it to you. No need to login different store sites, remember passwords etc etc. Pretty handy shopping site, especially with the holidays closing in.

If you haven’t used Google Express, you are in more luck, because on top of that offer, there is an additional 20% off promo code available to new users!  So currently, there is a nice Samsonite Ziplite 3.0 Hardside Spinner Luggage set for $129.99 there from Kohls. Add this to your cart and click on the up arrow for promo code FIRSTORDER20 (should do it automatically) and click APPLY. I would also uncheck any marketing and promotions selections, unless you like junk mail. Also, you might notice at the top right, there is an estimated tax charge. Ignore that if you are in a state that doesn’t have sales tax (like myself in Oregon). So the breakdown should be
$129.99 Total
– $26.00 (20% promo code discount)
– $20.00 (American Express Offer $20 off $50)
Total should be $83.99 for a nice set of quality Samsonite suitcases with a 10 year warranty.

Now you aren’t obligated to use this offer and promo code for a nice set of luggage. You can get whatever your choosing on Google Express. Just do the math on whatever you buy and make sure it works out for you, as some merchants have shipping charges and minimum purchases for free shipping.

Also make sure you load the offer to your American Express card FIRST before you click the Place Order button, otherwise you won’t see the statement credit. To do that, login to your American Express account online, and scroll to the bottom for Amex Offers.

Let me know what you all plan to get if you’re going to use the offer. I’m interested to learn what other great deals on there.  I have the offer available on 3 of my American Express card accounts!

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How to Get a Free Passport

Qantas is running a promotion currently, which is discounting your tickets to Australia by $135 for each ticket.  Apparently, they took notice that not a lot of Americans have passports, and they want to help fix that.  Simply go to qantas.com/passportredeem and enter the promo code “PASSPORT”, and select your flights.  Depending on where you are flying from, the savings could be real, or they may be more expensive than competitor flights.  You will either way, save $135 for most flights selected.  If you happen to have a passport already, you still get the promotional savings.  Just make sure you enter the promo code when making the booking.  This is a great offer, if you were heading over to the land down under in the coming month or so. Getting a discount of $135 for each passenger is pretty good. You can also credit your miles to American Airlines, or Alaska Airlines if you like, since they are partners. Check your dates and make the booking, and let me know how much your flights came to. From Portland, Oregon, it was still too expensive for me to drop on a trip to Sydney. However, originating at a gateway city such as LAX, or SFO might yield lower prices.  Happy Travels!

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How to Use Hilton Points at Amazon.com

It looks like Hilton Honors is now letting giving its members the ability to pay for purchases at Amazon.com with points.  Check your emails, on instructions on how to link the two programs together, so you can start using points to pay for purchases at Amazon.  This adds to the long line of rewards programs from various cards, such as Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards, Discover, and now Hilton Honors.  Having the flexibility to pay for purchases at Amazon with points from other programs is good, but you have to weigh in the advantages and disadvantages.  I personally, value Chase Ultimate Rewards, for redeeming for travel purchases, so I would never use them at Amazon.com for making purchases.  I would however, use my Chase Ultimate Rewards cards for making the actual purchases. This opportunity is nice if you are sitting on some Hilton points, and have no idea what to do with them, and would rather spend them on everyday purchases, that you would normally make at Amazon.

Now with that being said, Hilton Honors aren’t the greatest points to keep or hoard, as they have been devalued tremendously in the last couple years.  You need A LOT to stay in some of the nicest properties, such as The Conrad Rangali Maldives, or The Grand Wailea in Maui.  These require usually 75,000 to 95,000 PER NIGHT! …..ouch!  However, they do have some sweet spots, and if you are like me, sitting on a few tankers full of points, then I do NOT recommend blowing them on toilet paper, or selfie sticks at Amazon.  Redeem them for those magnificent properties that are category 8 or higher.

 

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Spanish Low Cost Carrier Vueling to use Avios

It looks like another airline will be using Avios soon as its frequent flier program. Spanish carrier Vueling, which is based out of Barcelona will replace its current loyalty program, Punto, with Avios. This is turn will let Vueling Club members to receive bonus Avios points for flying on basic fares, or less restricted fare classes.  Furthermore, members will be eventually be able to use Avios points to redeem for the entire cost of a flight, as long as they have enough points to do so. This will include everything, including taxes. They now join British Airways, AerLingus, and Iberia, that use the currency.    I’m glad to see this, as this opens another avenue to take a low cost carrier in Europe and be able to use points that are available to members in the United States, such as myself.  Avios are pretty easy to get these days, considering there are credit card bonuses out there.  Having this flexibility is great, as it gives you more options to use when flying around Europe.  I am not familiar with Vueling, but with this news, it may be a good to know what to expect, and any other pertinent information, should I need to book an Avios ticket in Europe. Looks for these changes to occur in the next month or so.  Happy Travels.

 

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Delta Offering New Amenity Kits

Looks like after September 1st, Delta passengers flying in premium cabins will be offered the hard and soft cased TUMI kits. The kits will be available on all Delta One flights, including coast-to-coast flights between JFK and LAX/SFO, BOS-SFO and DCA-LAX, and will feature the hard- and soft-cased TUMI kits. The cool part is you can have them custom monogrammed for free at retail TUMI locations. Included inside will be a patch that will be required upon request to have them monogrammed. The new TUMI kits will include hand cleanser, mouthwash stick, TUMI eye shades, and updated striped socks, along with travel necessities such as lip balm by Kiehl’s, a dental kit with Crest toothpaste, tissues, and ear plugs. You can read more about it on Delta.com.

Customers flying in the Delta Premium Select cabin, will be gifted with the soft TUMI blue pouch, which includes Malin+Goetz lotion, a dental kit, eye mask, socks, and ear plugs.

You can read more about the TUMI kits and the refreshed changes at Delta.com. TUMI is undoubtedly awesome at making amenity kits, and I hope to book myself on one of these flights just to score one.  Let me now if you get one and what you think of it. Also let me now which amenity kit you like the best. Happy Travels.

 

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Update: Chase Offers Me (sort of a) Compensation

A couple of weeks ago, I received a letter from Chase informing me of an annual fee increase on my Chase Sapphire Preferred. This is one of my favorite credit cards, and its ability to transfer points into numerous airline and hotel programs, makes it one of the heavy contenders out there. Ultimate Rewards points are one of the best points currencies out there, and I would hate to lose them. Furthermore, I have plans for future travels to Asia, and Europe using these points. They basically told me if I did NOT agree to the increase, then I would have to close out my card. I wouldn’t forfeit the points because I also have the Chase Freedom card, which is also an Ultimate Rewards account, but there is no ability to transfer into airlines. Its mainly cash back.
I decided to write them a snail mail letter asking them for compensation, and they have replied.

I was hoping for something a little more than $60, which is really 6000 points, but I guess at this point, its better than nothing, and will offset the cost for the next 6 years, if you think about it. I was paying $85 rather than $95. This also is a lesson in that if you are not happy with the service, say something. Otherwise, you have no reason to complain.

Happy 4th Everyone.

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Skip That North Korean Trip

The death of Otto Warmbier should be a reminder for us all that traveling to places like North Korea isn’t a great idea.  Honestly, I don’t think we will really know the facts why he was detained, and any statement regarding his detainment from his captors, shouldn’t be taken seriously. This article in The Independent UK highlights some of those points, and is written by a former North Korean, who luckily escaped to South Korea. Check it out as it is very interesting.  I have seen documentaries of people who have sneaked out footage of stores, hotels, and restaurants, and put them on YouTube for everyone to watch, and I cant help wonder what a big risk they took to do that.  They very well could’ve ended up like Otto Warmbier, seriously.  I personally have no ambitions to visit North Korea, or to fly their state carrier Air Koryo, in light of Otto’s death, because they could just apprehend you for no reason, and you really don’t have any rights.  There won’t be a phone call to mom and dad, and you’ll end up in a kangaroo court, and get served the most idiotic definition of justice there probably exists in this world.

Brave Tourists Looking for Instagram Fame

There are several tour companies that arrange North Korean tours. Though I don’t recommend them, you can check out their offerings and get an idea of costs.

The Young Pioneer Tours – this is the company that handled Otto’s trip to North Korea. They have probably the most experience in handling a trip there, but also have come under fire now with the recent event. Therefore, they are no longer offering tours for Americans to North Korea, but still open to other passport holders.

Uri Tours – This is another company that boasts travels to the DPRK. They also take Americans, and also offer packages that include skiing, snowboarding, and even a marathon.  Run for your life!..you may need to.

Koryo Tours – this Beijing based company, founded by two British guys, hosts tours as well. They are a bit smaller, but account for 50% of travels by Westerners to North Korea.

I would take my chances on a trip to Iran before North Korea. If anything, if I do get detained, I know at least the food will be better….or at least I hope.

Happy (and safe) Travels.

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A (not so good) Surprise from Chase

I love surPRIZES of all kinds…especially ones that come in the mail.  You never know what you are going to get (insert Tom Hanks image here in your head) and hope that it’s something really cool.  However, yesterday I got a surprise from Chase which I didn’t really like.  It was a notice of an annual fee increase on one of my favorite cards – the Chase Sapphire Preferred VISA card.  I have had this card for sometime, and enjoy the many benefits, which include 2x on dining purchases, 2x on travel purchases, which include rental cars, hotels, and airfare.  Just with the dining perks alone, I rack up tons of points because those morning lattes & raspberry scones can add up.

Currently, I am paying $85 annually to keep this card, which I think is fair, but starting late summer, the fee will be $95.  Like any other institution, Chase has to make a profit…okay, I get that.  However, its the terms of the increase that I am not happy about.  The letter states:

Rejecting this change: you the right to reject the change in the Revised Terms table. You want to reject it, you must contact us by 08/20/17. If you reject this change, we will close your account and you will not be able to use it for new transactions.

For this loyalty, I am not compensated for the upcoming increase.  They are not offering any other alternatives, other than to close the account, if I am not in agreement with the new fee.  This in my opinion is just bad customer service, from a customers point of view.  If you get a bad meal at a restaurant, rest assured your bill will decrease, or that chocolate molten lava cake will be given to you at the end, for compensation.  Chase isn’t doing anything, according to this letter, for those who signed up early for this card.  An additional $10 is not going to bring the house down, but money is money.  It’s also fair to note I actually had decided to cancel this card after two years, but the Chase rep on the phone raved about how I was special and only paying $85 rather than $95, which made my mind to keep the card ever since.

In all fairness, they should compensate folks who are on the old annual feel structure with additional Ultimate Reward points for the increase.  I have not reached out to them, yet, but will do so in the coming days and see what they propose to do on compensation, if any.  I will update this post with my results.  Anyone else get this letter, or similar? I’d love to hear what strategy you took on it.

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The Most Annoying Travelers in the World

Let’s take a break for the usual talk of earning free travel, and talk about something that, I guess, as all American travelers, we are guilty in some way or another–Annoying others when traveling. I have personally experienced this first hand when traveling internationally, and I if you have crossed either ponds, I’m sure you have too.  I found a really funny article from one of my favorite sites talking about it.  I remember some lady in first class, who boarded with her pillow, and flip-flops, and I thought that was pretty annoying. You don’t need to BYOP on first class–if they give you free booze, and caviar, I’m sure you can get a pillow, no problem.  Any-hoo….click on the picture below, sit back, sip your latte, and enjoy this read…it’s pretty entertaining.  Have you seen anything that annoys you that didn’t make the list? Do Share!

Happy Travels!

 

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