If You’re Getting This Month’s Bonus Offer, Don’t Forget Your 5,000 Extra Points

1842795224_7f8576904a_z Link: Earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards Points

Last week I mentioned the new-and-improved bonus offer for the travel rewards card I use every day, no matter where I am in the world. For a limited time, you can earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points instead of the usual 40,000.

Extra points are always great! Depending on how you use them, 10,000 points can be halfway to a plane ticket, or even two hotel nights.

But I almost forgot something: you can actually earn an additional 5,000 points just by adding an authorized user to your account. You can do this anytime in the first three months of having the card, and the points should automatically post up.

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One Free Ticket, 18 Hours on Amtrak, and Many Interesting Passengers

Amtrak1 Greetings from the Coast Starlight! I’ve been riding Amtrak 18 hours through Oregon and California, while traveling to San Francisco and eventually (by plane) to San Diego.

A few years ago I took a long train journey from Chicago to Portland, riding the Empire Builder just in time for the launch of the Empire Building Kit.

Aside from some short journeys, though, I haven’t been on “real” Amtrak for quite a while.

So why now? Well, to be honest I don’t think I was aware of how good the points redemption opportunities have been. Amtrak divides the country into zones and charges the same number of points for travel within any particular zone. In other words, there are some great values to be had when booking with points.

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Limited Time: Earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards Points (Usually 40,000) toward Free Travel

Travel Link: Earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards Points

My longtime favorite card for earning miles and points, the Chase Sapphire Preferred, has just raised its signup bonus offer. For a limited time you can earn 50,000 points (usually 40,000, which is also good) upon getting the card and completing a minimum spend.

As I’ve explained before, different cards are good for different reasons. Some cards are great for big bonuses, but after that it’s best to put them in the drawer and reserve your spending for other cards. Other cards are good for category spending, where you can earn 5x points at office supply stores or other particular merchants.

But if you can only get one card and not worry about keeping up with a bunch of stuff, this is the best overall recommendation—and now you can earn extra points just for getting it.

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How to Rack Up Frequent Flyer Miles Using Shopping Portals

231707836_8ee1c6cb3d_z This is a free excerpt from Upgrade Unlocked: The Unconventional Guide to Luxury Travel on a Budget by Stephanie Zito.

The easiest and most lucrative way to maximize point earning on the things you already buy is to use a magic service online called a shopping portal. Shopping portals are simple websites run by your favorite airlines and hotels, and contain links to nearly every online store you can imagine (and probably already shop at).

When you use a portal as a gateway to access your regular online store, you earn points in a mileage program for whatever you buy. It's easy!

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Would You Pay $60 to Sit in a Hot Tub? First Look at the First Class Al Safwa Lounge in Doha, Qatar

IMG_0001 Yesterday I had the opportunity to be one of the very first passengers in an exclusive airport lounge that finally opened after a year’s worth of delays. This was the Al Safwa lounge in Doha, Qatar, operated by Qatar Airways.

I didn’t go on a press junket or anything ridiculous—I just happened to be staying in Doha for a few days this week. When I heard that the lounge was actually opening (it’s been rumored for months, but with many false alarms), I changed my outbound travel plans a bit and was able to spend four hours hanging out before hopping over to Dubai.

Despite not being a real travel blogger, I thought I’d share a few impressions from the perspective of someone who flies more than 200,000 miles a year, typically 70% international, and who’s been to just about every premium airline lounge in the world.

In other words, this wasn’t my first time in a nice lounge, and I’m not easily impressed. Do keep that in mind, as well as the fact that I was there on literally the first day it was open. I’m sure some things will change and (hopefully) improve over time.

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The Best Travel Hacking Advice for People Who Can’t Get Credit Cards

13043841253_43b3e37e81_z I write about travel hacking a lot on the blog (and much more in the Cartel), and I always try to point people to the best available deals and opportunities. Some of these opportunities are for credit card signup bonuses, something I’ve been experimenting with for years, ever since first applying for 13 cards of my own on the same day way back in 2009.

Of course, not everyone is able or eligible to get these bonuses—so what else is out there? There’s actually a ton. Credit cards are an easy way to earn a big boost of miles and points in many different programs, but they aren’t the only way.

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Q&A on the British Airways 100,000 Point Bonus Offer

Link: 100,000 Point British Airways Bonus Offer

Since I first published the news about the updated signup offer for the British Airways Signature Card, I’ve received a bunch of questions from readers.

The first thing to note is that this is a really good offer for a lot of people, but it will definitely help if you know a bit about how to best use British Airways points, also known as Avios.


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The Best Place to Be Is Somewhere Else

14169021075_25892e09d7_z On the road is where a traveler feels most at home. Sure, you can take it slow for a while, staying in one place to save up funds or work on a project or do whatever you need to do.

But secretly you’re like a junkie, thinking ahead to the next hit. There’s always somewhere else to go and another way to get there.

You find yourself getting to the airport several hours early.

You go to the airport and look at the departure signs, reminiscing about previous trips and daydreaming of destinations you’ve never seen.

You can live in the moment, but that moment exists in another place. And you have to get there!

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Limited Time Offer: 100,000 Points Bonus for British Airways Card Returns!

4629626628_e35f145495_z Link: 100,000 Points for British Airways Card - Limited Time Offer

Breaking news: one of the best (and certainly one of the biggest) miles & points offers is now back. For a limited time, you can earn a total of 100,000 British Airways Avios points after applying for their signature card and meeting a number of spending requirements.

The first 50,000 points are easy—you'll get them after completing a $2,000 minimum spend in three months. This is worth it on its own, even if you can't earn the additional 50,000 points for spending more.

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My Favorite Hotel Card Now Has a 30,000 Point Bonus—And You Can Earn Two of Them

Link: New 30,000 Point Signup Bonus (Personal Card)

Link: New 30,000 Point Signup Bonus (Business Card)

16940311578_06494f51fb_z I've been using the Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express for more than eight years. For the first couple of years, in fact, it was the only mileage-earning card I had. Back then, there was no sign-up bonus. It was simply a great card, especially due to its ability to earn a 20% bonus on all earned points when transferring to most major airline programs.

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Limited Time: New 80,000 Points Signup Bonus for Marriott Card

Link: 80,000 Points for Marriott Card

While I was on blog hiatus and then hosting WDS, a big new offer landed that I haven't had a chance to write about. Fortunately, there's still time!

Marriott isn’t my favorite hotel program (that would be Starwood and Hyatt), but this new offer is worth a look for the free nights you’ll earn right away. They used to provide 50,000 points upon signup, but for a limited time—we don’t know for how long—you can earn 30,000 additional points for a total of 80,000.

80,000 points can put you in one of their nicer hotels or resorts worldwide for up to two nights. Marriott partners with Ritz Carlton, where awards can also be booked.

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Man Takes More than 1,000 flights Without Leaving the Airport

For more than twenty years, he flew to a different European city — every Wednesday. He never missed a week. Mr Mul (born in 1932) made more than 1,000 flights over a period of 20 years.

Travel is what you make it. In the early days of my travel quest to visit every country, I would get defensive when people asked why I only stayed in most countries for a relatively brief period of time. Unlike this guy, I left the airport and usually spent several days in a place—but still, I totally get why someone would love flying for the sake of flying.

It was all about an experience, about losing himself in the window seat and venturing to a different place. No matter that the place was "air world." Some of us like air world just fine.

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Ending Soon: Earn $200 or 20,000 Points with No-Fee Offer Before June 24

Link: Double Signup Bonus for Chase Freedom

While I’ve been writing a book and preparing to welcome a few people to town, I’ve been greatly neglectful in mentioning several great travel offers as of late.

At any rate, there’s still time for this one: for the next few days, you can earn TWICE the usual signup bonus for one of the best no-fee offers out there, the Chase Freedom card.

Technically, it’s described as $200 cash back after a low $500 minimum spend, and you can certainly get the card and put $200 in your pocket. There’s no annual fee, ever.

However, the better use of the card for many people is to convert the $200 into 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points. Those points can then be used to transfer to any number of airline and hotel partners directly, and in many cases you’ll get a much better valuation than $200.

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Top 5 Credit Card Signup Bonuses for Miles and Points: June 2015

Every year I earn well over one million Frequent Flyer miles and points. About 250,000 of them come through actual travel, and the rest come through travel hacking: the art of seeing the world on a budget.

One of the easiest ways to earn a lot of miles all at once is through credit card signup bonuses. This post contains the best current card offers as of Friday, June 5th. If getting every card from this post, you'd earn 215,000 points or miles. Happy travels!

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