Sunday, December 16, 2012

Dividend Miles MasterCard Targeted Promotion: 15000 Free Miles for $2250 in Spend!

Earlier this year, I applied for and received the Dividend Miles MasterCard.  Even though the sign-up bonus was a paltry 50k, the card has a number of advantages: it's issued by Barclays (not Chase), it's churnable, and the bonus miles come with no minimum spend.  How could I go wrong?

I put a RedBox rental on the card after I received it, and 50,000 dividend miles showed up in my account the next billing cycle.  I promptly put the card away in my shoebox of unused cards and focused my attention on another minimum spend.

A couple of months went by, and this arrived in my mailbox:
15,000 bonus miles for $2250 in spend

All I'd have to do is spend $750 per month for three months, and get 15,000 bonus miles.  Effectively, that's 7.6 dividend miles per dollar of spend (1 normal + 6.6 bonus miles).  Yes, please!

There are some interesting restrictions, such as the one that says you can't get the bonus from person-to-person money transfers (Amazon Payments?), lottery tickets, gambling chips, wire transfers, etc.  Good thing they don't restrict purchases of pre-paid reload cards.

Moral of the story: sign up for this card purely for the signup bonus, use it once, and then file it away.  You, too, might receive an offer for even more miles!  In reality, though, their marketing tactic is working.  I'm now carrying my US Airways card everywhere I go, and using it for everyday spend -- exactly what they want me to do.  I just hope they send me another offer in three months.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Skyguide Executive Privilege Club - $20/yr. Airport Lounge Access

Every so often, a deal crosses my inbox that absolutely seems "too good to be true".  The unassuming email invite I received to join the Skyguide Executive Privilege Club three years ago definitely fit the pattern.  It promised reimbursement of up to 3 airline lounge passes a month in return for a modest $30 annual subscription fee.

Delta Sky Club A in Atlanta - what a view!
So, yeah, we're talking about those secret places in big airports with the fancy sliding glass doors.  You know, the ones you longingly look at as you're sitting in an overcrowded gate area waiting for an overbooked flight, just hoping your tiny economy seat will at least be free of crying babies and spilled food.

With lounge passes running up to $50 per visit, I decided to take the plunge and see what would happen.  I walked through the elusive glass doors and into Northwest Airlines' flagship lounge in Detroit.  I handed over my credit card, cringed a bit, and headed back to the seating area.  It was everything I had ever imagined -- comfy seats, an open self-serve bar, excellent service, free wifi, and bizarro airline agents who actually wanted to help me with my exit row seat requests.  By the time I walked to my gate and boarded my plane, I felt like a rock star.

Best. Shower. Ever. Admirals Club DFW.
Amazingly enough, I submitted my first lounge receipt and a few weeks later received a check for $50 in the mail.  Next trip, same deal.  Rinse, Repeat.

Three years later, the offer remains roughly the same.  The monthly limit no longer exists, but there's a new limit of 12 passes per calendar year.  Crazy enough, though, the subscription fee actually dropped to under $20!  Better yet, there's now an online directory of all of the lounges that offer day passes, and Skyguide covers any lounge you want to visit, even if it isn't in their directory.  This is undoubtedly one of the best deals in travel today, and shouldn't be missed!

Below are the steps if you want to get in on the deal, and I'll refer you to my post at Milepoint if you want all the gory details.
  1. Go to and sign up for a subscription.  You'll be charged $19.99.  Don't worry, the offer isn't expired.
  2. Wait a few weeks and you should get an email confirmation.  If not, you can check the status of your subscription at  Just enter your name and address and it should give you your account information.
  3. Once you have a member number, you can log in at to print out the rebate form.
  4. Visit any airport lounge, pay for a day pass (usually $50), and keep the receipt.  Submit it with the rebate form, via certified mail, and you should get a check in a few weeks.
  5. You can do this up to 12 times per calendar year (a $600 value!).
Mrs. TIL playing games at the comfy Admirals Club in Chicago.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Introduction to "The Game"

My name is TIL.  I'm a miles and points addict.

I suppose I've been involved since I was a child, and my parents opened up United frequent flyer accounts for my sister and me.  We weren't old enough to understand the meaning of the points, but we knew one day we might be able to earn a free trip.

Fast forward to college, and I started picking up a couple of points-earning credit cards.  The Chase United Visa came first, followed by the original Amtrak card.  I'm freakishly tall and don't fit in economy class seats, so I always had a goal of going to Australia or New Zealand in business class on saved up United miles, but United always seemed to raise the threshold just as I got close to reaching it.    I continued to fly United whenever I had the chance, saving up a few hundred more miles with each trip.  The Amtrak card paid off a lot quicker, since it provided dollars toward Amtrak tickets instead of points, and I could earn cool things like a bedroom on the Auto Train for free.

It wasn't until my girlfriend moved to California that I really started to see the value in playing the miles and points game.  At the time, I was living in Michigan.  Northwest Airlines was running specials where you could fly from Grand Rapids to San Francisco for $240 all-in, and Mrs. TIL and I took full advantage of the deal.  Each direction, we would rack up another 2500 WorldPerks miles, and we quickly obtained Silver Elite status, almost without knowing it.  Suddenly, we were getting upgraded to first class on almost every flight, and racking up even more miles and free trips.

While in California, we also discovered Priceline, and started booking weekends in wine country based based on online user reports of other wins.  I remember staying at a 5 star independent boutique hotel for $40, with breakfast, right in the middle of wine country.  Incredible!

For two young adults living on a fixed budget and doing a lot of post-9/11 flying, getting free first class upgrades and paying almost  nothing for really nice hotels was a big deal, and we started to realize that the more we "played the game", the more the hotels and airlines would send us more promotions, give us more perks, and encourage us to play the game even more.

Fast forward a few more years, and I've come to the realization that this game is much less about fancy hotels and first class seats, and more about opportunities to visit some of the most incredible places in the world.  I hope this blog will help others understand the incredible opportunities this gave can open up to almost any American with a decent credit score and a few hours of planning.

Over the years, I've learned many things about the miles and points game, and I'd like to finish out my first post with a few thoughts on the game as a whole:

  • Signing up for credit cards and taking advantage of travel promotions is like playing at a casino where you always win.  Any perceived downside potential is quickly erased when you realize you're being rewarded for playing the game.  In other words, signing up for a new credit card to get 100,000 free frequent flyer miles is perceived to be risky because it puts a mark on your credit report.  However, the sign-up will invariably increase your credit line and build your credit history, ultimately raising your score and encouraging banks to provide additional sign-up opportunities.
  • Paying for flights is not the best way to earn frequent flyer miles.  Fifteen years of collecting United miles for flights and spending on a United credit card resulted in a stash of 90,000 miles, while signing up for a new pair of American Airlines credit cards resulted in 150,000 miles overnight.  As long as there are more lucrative ways to collect miles, paying for flights to get frequent flyer miles is a waste of money.
  • By playing this game, we've been able to go places and experience things far beyond what we ever could done if we weren't playing the game.  We've traveled places where few Americans have ever set foot.  We've experienced cultures and value systems that are so vastly different from the American way of live that they're almost incomprehensible.  We've stayed in hotels alongside the richest people in the world, and walked beside some of the poorest.  We've seen the problems our world faces first-hand, but also experienced the unexpected kindness of strangers.  This game is about much more than getting good deals on travel -- it's about understanding our very small place in a very big world.