Valuable Credit-Card Bonuses Other Than Miles and Points

Credit card bonuses are the driving force behind the miles-and-points game that many play. Card issuers offer huge numbers of frequent-flyer miles and hotel loyalty points to those who sign up for and use certain credit cards. But, the signup bonuses aren’t the only benefit of those cards. This blog post lists nine more:

Of the nine listed, I believe that these are the most valuable to many frequent flyers:

– American and JetBlue airlines and IHG hotels, a 10% rebate on awards
– American Airlines, reduced mileage awards on certain (changing) routes
– Several airlines, free in-flight wi-fi
– United Airlines increased award availability
– United Airlines upgrades on award travel
– Virgin America, waived cancellation and change fees

The blog post linked above has the details and tells which credit cards give which benefits.

Credit cards

Nationwide Sale for USA to Europe on Delta & United Happening Now

UPDATE: United Airlines is in the game also. See

ORIGINAL POST: Destinations include Athens, Barcelona, Budapest, Dublin, Lisbon, Madrid, Prague, Shannon and maybe others.

Departing from Boston, Chicago, DFW, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philly, Phoenix, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington and probably others.

Most round-trip fares are in the $500s and $600s.

Travel dates extend now until early May, and late August to October.


Portland, Oregon to Sydney This Fall, on American Airlines, Just $798 Round-Trip

American is my favorite airline, so this sale is especially interesting:

Minimum 10-night stay.

Depart July-November, so winter / spring in Australia.



Winter Southwest Airlines Schedule Goes Live June 2

Many of us who regularly fly Southwest Airlines know that the early bird usually gets the cheapest airfares on that airline. So it is important to book SWA flights as early as possible. At the present time the calendar for bookings extends only to November 4.

A blogger has noticed that the next calendar extension is scheduled for June 2. As of that date, you will be able to book flights as far out as January 4, 2017…covering Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.

Booking Southwest Flights for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years

A great thing about Southwest is that cancellations are free of penalty. So, you can make multiple reservations on June 2, then cancel the ones later that don’t actually fit your schedule.

“Free of penalty” should be clarified: If you pay with Rapid Rewards points, they will be returned to your account if you cancel (or don’t actually board) a flight. You can find the official rules on this Southwest Airlines page.


Guest Post: Is the Train System Really Too Outdated for Visitors in the US?

_MG_6765The first thing that needs to be said is that the US Rail Transportation system is not used as frequently for passenger transportation as in other parts of the World, like Europe for example. After all, who in their right minds would want to use trains when they can simply fly there? But, what if you are more interested in sightseeing the US countryside, would the trains be an advantage? What about the cost? There are many variable factors which would need to be kept in mind to tackle these questions.

The Costs
Let us start with pricing. Say that you wanted to visit New York and Washington. Both lie on the opposite ends and you will have to cross the whole mainland. Here is a curious comparison of the times it would take to go through them using Trains and Airplanes. The figures may vary in reality, but they will give us a pretty accurate idea.

160425 airline v train travel cost comparison tableAs you can see that for the above routes the savings are there, but clearly the San Antonio – Dallas trip would not be worth the savings, as it would take a lot of time. However, for the New York to Washington Trip a lot of savings can be had, which can then be spent on the accommodation and other expenses. Plus, it would give you a very good idea about the countryside as well.

The savings using Amtrak can be compounded even more, if you use their day passes, which depending on your choice can be issued for a specific number of trips or a specific time period. That is ideal if you wish to travel frequently only spending a day or two at the destinations.

The Experience
Once again, there are a lot of variables that need to be accounted for. But, the major ones include the overall time for travel and your budget. Long flights tend to be generally hectic, when compared to long train commutes. The main reason is that you are advised to remain in your seat in the Airplanes, but you can walk around freely on the train. There are other advantages too. Usually long routes on the trains have comfortable seats even in the economy sections, which can be reclined back fully to sleep. And if you are booked in the sleeper car, then it isn’t very different from a hotel. Then there are the dining and lounge cars. Plus, they have free Wi-Fi on board which means you can stay connected on the go.

You can ensure an even better experience if you take the necessary items with you on the train. These would include light hand carry luggage, a few toiletries, your phone charger, a power strip – if you plan on using multiple devices and having them at full charge, books, and anything else which you need. Most of these, including the bag and power strip, can be bought at really cheap prices using these coupons from Groupon.

Is it viable?
Generally speaking the trains have much going in their favor, except for the overall time taken. And despite my love of trains, even I would not venture to take an 8 hour journey to Dallas. Well not unless, I had a lot of time. If you do have time then even the longer trips can be fruitful. You can watch the beautiful country side or just binge watch Game of Thrones, before the upcoming season 6. So, in conclusion, the train system is not outdated in the US and is ideal for some trips. But on others, it just wouldn’t make sense to spend about 12 hours, if you can fly there in 3.

Credit Card Travel Protection for Cruises

My wife and I take a cruise every year or two, so we read this MileCards blog post with interest.

The post describes automatic trip coverage from various credit cards, as well as separate cruise insurance that is available.

Some common reasons why you might need to cancel a prepaid cruise are described and analyzed, including “you lose your job” and “you get ill before / during the cruise” and “your flight arrives late.”

Carnival Cruise Ship \

Review of Norwegian Airlines’ Rewards Program

Ric Garrido, the author of LoyaltyTraveler blog, has written a lengthy post about Norwegian Airlines’s reward program called Norwegian Reward.

Norwegian Reward gives free seat selection and/or checked baggage after you pay for 12+ flight segments in 12 months. Ric’s blog post has the details.

Norwegian Airlines is one of the low-cost trans-Atlantic carriers which are an increasing presence in the US-Europe route market. The airline also has a lot of low-cost intra-Europe flights.

How to Complain to an Airline, Hotel or Rental-Car Company

These ideas are lightly distilled and amplified from the end of a post at  The entire post covers a variety of topics and is a worthwhile read.

How to Complain Effectively to an Airline, Hotel or Rental Car Company

  • Remain calm. Whoever raises their voice first, loses. If it’s you, you might even be detained and questioned by the TSA or local police.
  • If possible, talk to a person with the ability to give the outcome you desire. Don’t complain to a flight attendant about the price of airline tickets…s/he has no control over that. Some airports have desks of specially-trained airline agents in the secure area, who can help resolve issues. If you have access to an airline lounge, the agents there can be exceptionally helpful.
  • Distill your complaint down to one specific item, maybe two. For example, “The room smells like mildew.” Any more will overwhelm the person you are complaining to, so they won’t do anything helpful. (I use the term mildew rather than mold, to keep the discussion more civil.)
  • Decide in advance what compensation you will accept. Is it 5000 frequent-flyer miles, or a free drink, or a room upgrade, or a free night, or elimination of toll-road charges?
  • Ask questions that require more than a yes/no answer, because it’s too easy for the person you are speaking with to just say “No.” Example questions are “What can you do to help me?” and “Can you see my frustration?” and “What do you typically do in a situation like this?”
  • Follow the airline or hotel chain on Twitter in advance, so you can Direct Message them a tweet about a situation that arises. This will often lead to a good outcome, even if you are a relative nobody in the Twitterverse.

With luck, you will get at least as good a result as you had hoped for. If you are offered more, graciously accept and don’t argue or prolong the conversation.

Mad Hatter - (Explored) by stewartbaird / Flickr