I have to apologize to all our readers for my post yesterday (this is Andy, not COL Glenn, BTW). As you may know, I have another blog over at Saverocity, called Millitary Finance, which is more personal finance stuff than frequent flying. There is also a forum there, with a particularly popular subforum about manufactured spend techniques. Part of the rules of the forum are, if you learn something within it, not to share those techniques outside of it.

 

Two nights ago, in a lapse of judgement, I decided that if I told people that an opportunity existed, but didn’t give them the exact steps, that it wouldn’t break the rules. Well, by promising to email all commenters, that was breaking the rules; I modified the post saying that I was not going to email anyone anymore.

 

Again, I’m sorry if I broke your trust, but I can’t email anyone those techniques. If it makes anyone feel any better, the technique is not scalable (only $1k per month), uses Paypal, which has in the past shut down people w/o notifying them, and, at least in my city, no longer works. The store where I purchased the cash equivalent no longer takes miles-earning credit cards for that product, similar to Vanilla Reloads at CVS.

 

I can assure you my intent was not to bait-and-switch. I’ve already rightfully taken a beating up over it at the forums. I can answer any additional questions but I can’t reveal the steps.

 

-Andy

 

Posted by glenn | 3 Comments

EDIT: THE MODERATOR AT SAVEROCITY HAS ASKED ME NOT TO EMAIL YOU, AND SINCE THAT’S WHERE I GOT THE TRICK, I WILL OF COURSE COMPLY. PLEASE SIGN UP AT THE SAVEROCITY FORUMS TO ACCESS IT, AS I AM NOT GOING TO INDEPENDENTLY REVEAL IT. I APOLOGIZE FOR THE MIX-UP.

 

We all know how awesome and terrifically user-friendly USAA is as a bank, so I feel as though a review would be superfluous for most people. However, I just discovered a new way to manufacture spend using USAA. However, I learned it not independently, but through a forum.

usaa

For those of you into manufactured spending, credit card churning, or just personal finance hacks, I cannot recommend enough the Saverocity Forums. (In full disclosure, I have another website there, called Military Finance). Just shoot Matt an email, and you’ll get signed up.

 

Probably the most robust subforum with the forums is the manufactured spend one. Just today I was browsing, and found an ingenious way to manufacture spend, using Paypal and USAA.

paypal

In the name of good stewardship, I’m not going to post the trick publically here, because I did not independently discover it, and don’t want to ruin it. To get you the info, I recommend one of two things: either sign up for the forums and discover it there, or post a comment below, and I’ll email everyone that responds within 72 hours.

 

Two requirements: you must be a USAA member, and you must be a Paypal member.

 

Posted by glenn | 181 Comments

In case you were not aware, the TSA fee built into every ticket purchase will go up on 21 Jul 2014 for all tickets bought after that date.  The existing fee is $2.50 a segment with a max of $10 for one RT ticket.  Now the new plan is for a flat $5.60 each way, meaning $11.20 for a RT flight.  Note that more than four hours between stops will count as a new flight and thus a new fee.

Since the fee has not been raised since it was imposed in 2002, this raise does not seem unfair, however, there is more to the story.  You see Congress actually increased the fee to $5.60 which was more than the $5.00 per trip that the TSA actually requested.  More importantly, the majority of the money raised from this new fee will not go to the TSA!  This raise in fees is estimated to collect $332 million next year, but $200 million of that is designated to go into the general revenue fund with only the smaller amount going to TSA.  Congress is sneakily trying to raise tax revenue to lower the deficit by taxing flyers.

Not only is TSA not getting most of the fee, but they are actually planning ways to reduce staff and cost over time.  I am sure most people will hear about the fee increase and get angry (or angrier) at the TSA when it is really Congress’ fault and TSA will just bear the brunt.

Just as we often see with travelers having to pay higher than normal taxes for hotels and rental cars, they are now eyeing ways to soak the flyer.  Congress is not the only one with their sights set on this new revenue stream.  The facility fee charged to each ticket by the airport is set to almost double its current limit of $4.50 and Customs and Border Protection wants to raise the immigration fee from $7 to $9.  Scott McCartney, from the Wall Street Journal, says that there are as many as 11 different taxes and fees on an airline ticket so that 27% of a typical tickets price is now taxes and fees.  This “death by a thousand cuts” method has worked well with the hotels and especially rental cars.  Have you looked at all the fees on a recent rental?  Or a phone bill for that matter.  Having a huge amount of small fees makes it really hard to single a particular one out and complain about it.  I doubt that it will go anywhere but up given the current trends.

Airlines are stuck with advertising the entire price of the ticket due to legislation that started about two years ago.  Thus, they would like the traveler to be hit some other way than adding on taxes to the ticket which they then have to advertise.  Expect the airlines to be pushing hard for some other way for the government to get it money.

Posted by glenn | No Comments

I have blogged a number of times about LoungeBuddy, the App to help you find a lounge in over 500 airports including the location of USO Clubs.  500+ is pretty outstanding when you realize that they are just reaching their first year anniversary.  They even were named in the top 100 of companies in Entrepreneur magazine!

They have always been very customer drive including coming out with an Android version and adding the airports you asked for.  One thing that I just started reading is their blog.  They have some really great content and I think you can get something out of it if you check it out.  For example, here is a great table for OneWorld Airlines  that lists all of the airlines and pretty much everything you need to know about miles for each airline.  I imagine similar “ultimate guides” will be coming for the other airline alliances.  There are a wide variety of topics on their blog beyond just lounges and I see this developing as a great resource for all of you frequent flyers.

Disclaimer:  For being a swell guy and writing about LoungeBuddy, they sent me a free T-shirt.  I feel so dirty…

Posted by glenn | No Comments

My wife and I just got back from two days at Caesar’s Atlantic City; our son is at his grandparents, so we thought we’d get away for two days to the shore. This is not a review of the hotel, because honestly I don’t think we’d go there again. It was nice enough, but Atlantic City is not the nicest city on the shore, and the nightlife is not so great. The reason I’m bringing it up is I found a great deal on Travelzoo. I’ve become a Travelzoo VIP, after only purchasing two local deals from them, one for a massage and one for a restaurant. When you become a VIP, you get targeted for special local deals, and one of the most recent ones was for a night at Caesar’s AC, with $58 per night dining credit and spa passes for two ($100 value). When I called in with the promo code, that I got from Travelzoo, the rooms were only $120 per night, so we actually made money on the deal. (I splurged on dinner, so we didn’t actually make money…) I get a lot of crappy or unwanted travel subscriptions and newletters, but Travelzoo’s is quality, often has sharply discounted deals, and targets deals much better than other sites, and is definitely one I recommend (I get no compensation from them).

 

travelzoo.png

 

Check out Extreme Hotel Deals; it’s somewhat infrequently, but awesome! You can get $52 in HotelQuickly credit, or a $45 mistake fare at the IC Frankfurt!

 

extreme.png

 

Time for some shameless link-whoring. We don’t have affiliate credit card links on this site, and don’t make much more than beer money from google adsense, so using our links is appreciated; however if you’d rather not, we’re not offended.

 

link whoring.jpg

 

For those that don’t yet have Uber, and want $30 in free credit, click on this link:

https://www.uber.com/invite/uberMFF

 

If you’ve been thinking about getting in either the 30k Amex SPG personal or business cards, please send your contact information to my email, sheepae@gmail.com, and I’ll send you the referral link.

 

Similarly, if you’re interested in either the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Freedom (with $200 signup bonus), send me your info and I’ll send you a signup link.

 

I have all 4 of the above cards, and would not likely pimp a card I wouldn’t personally use. Remember that active duty servicemembers get annual fees waived on Amex cards and on Chase cards. All four of the above cards have a panoply of reviews, so I won’t bore you with those. These offers expire on June 30th.

 

Finally, two posts talking about Singapore Airlines Krisflyer Miles. First, FrequentMiler posted about how to get 17,000 Singapore miles for $10! Then, Milevalue post about an amazing sweetspot in the Singapore Airlines award chart for US-based flyers. Check them out!

 

Posted by glenn | One Comment

You may remember that we first told you about using Loyal3 as an alternate way of manufactured spending now that Vanilla Reloads and even Vanilla Visa Cards are being denied for that purpose at CVS and Wal-Mart.  Loyal3 is a way to buy stocks using a credit card and then selling the stocks a day later.  Here was our original post on the subject.

I just received the email below from Harry at PF Pro who writes of his experience getting $8,000 spend on his new CC.

FYI guys, I just wrote an updated article on my experience using Loyal3 to MS $8,000 for my second AA Exec card: http://yourpfpro.com/racking-miles-points-loyal3/

Check out his story and decide for yourself if it is worth a try.  I know a number of readers have commented that it seems risky, but I believe if you choose a big stock, it is not likely to change much in the day or two that you hold it.  One way to measure this is by examining the Beta of a stock.  Beta measures the volatility of a stock (or mutual fund) and the higher the Beta the more likely you are to see big prices swings up or down.  I haven’t tried it myself so let everyone know your experiences if you give it a shot.

Posted by glenn | 5 Comments

It looks as though there’s more bad news coming from the major US carriers – last week Gizmodo reported that the 3 major US carriers, United, Delta, and American Airlines have decreased the size limits for carryon luggage. The width max has been decreased from 15 inches to 14 inches – not a huge change, but perhaps huge if your main carryon luggage is 15 inches!

 

Remember that as an active duty military member, you can check a bag or two for free on all the major carriers, even for leisure travel. As I’ve said before, I almost exclusively only with a carryon bag, so this hits me where it hurts.

Here are a couple options for carryon luggage that will still work within the new restrictions:

Briggs & Riley @ Baseline Luggage Baseline Domestic Carry-On Expandable Upright Suitcase, Black, Medium

Travelpro Luggage Platinum Magna 21 Inch Expandable Spinner Suiter, Black, One Size

CalPak Valley 20″ Carry-On Spinner (Black)

or, my personal favorite, a great carryon/backpack combo and one I’ve been using for about a year,

eBags Mother Lode TLS Weekender Convertible (Eggplant)

 

If you need to check a bag, I still recommend the REI Wheely Beast, as it’s absolutely impenetrable, easy to wheel, and has tons of handles for easy movement.

Posted by glenn | No Comments

The President’s Air Force 747-200 is coming up on 30 years of age and in need of replacement.  The Government has let a contract for a new jumbo four-engine jet, but it looks like Boeing will be the only bidder.  It doesn’t surprise me that Airbus is not bidding; can you imagine the fallout if the Commander-in-Chief was riding a French jet?  Looks like the next Prez will be flying a custom 747-800.

Air Force One

A little trivia – there are two jets.  Whichever one the President is riding on is called Air Force One and the VP’s jet is Air Force Two.  The VP also has his own 757.  This procurement is only for one jet (for over $1B) so I guess the VP will have to continue to slum it in his 757.

Here is the news article from Bloomberg.

How many miles would you redeem to get a ride on Air Force One?

Posted by glenn | 2 Comments

Andy and I have been going for a while with this blog and covered a lot of topics.  We don’t have a particular order to what we post, mostly we look for news items and trip reports/ planning.  This August we are going to have a couple of weeks as a featured blog on Boarding Area.  Last year I posted most of the boot camp pages that you can see on the sidebar.  So the question is what would all of you like to see?  Anything that you have always been curious about?  Any other areas that you would like us to cover?

Thinker

Here are suggestions, but please post your own ideas.

- Mileage Runs

- Maxing Hotel Points

- Credit Card Tricks

- Trip Reports

- Government/ Military Special Deals/ Privileges

- Smart Ways to Use Miles/ Points

- ???

Thanks for your input!

Glenn

Posted by glenn | 5 Comments

I just found this infographic on Hotel Rewards Programs on the blog site Travel Is Free, one of my favorite blog sites that I read.

We haven’t done many posts on Hotel Programs, but we’re hoping to change that soon. Anyways, enjoy:

 

Travelisfree Infographic

Best Hotel Rewards Program – An infographic by Drew and Caroline at Travel is Free

Posted by glenn | One Comment

For those of you who are not familiar, Automated Housing Referral Network or AHRN.com, is a service that I looked into when I moved her to the D.C. area.  It is a real estate network which helps military members either rent out their property or find rental property.  Pretty useful, although I did not end up renting one of their advertised properties.

They are celebrating ten years in business with a giveaway for free vacations, luggage, gift cards, and move-in assistance.  Go to this link to enter and AHRN.com to find a rental property.

10-Year-Promo-Email

So try your luck and enter.  Remember it is better to be lucky than good!

Posted by glenn | No Comments

« previous home top