A Tale of Three Credit Card Offers – 30K or 40K Miles for the US Airways MasterCard?

US Airways MasterCard

In one of my earlier posts I talked about how credit card spending fuels my Pointing activities.  In other words, it’s not the amount of time my behind has spent in an airline seat but rather my credit card spending that has allowed me to rack up significant point totals. On top of that, the sign up bonuses associated with opening new credit card accounts have provided healthy boosts to my mileage balances.

Over the past few days, the latest credit card deal circulating through the travel blogosphere is the announcement of improved sign up bonuses for the US Airways Dividend Miles MasterCard.  The bonus on this card is pretty “easy” to earn since you receive the miles by making only a single purchase of ANY size. There is NO required “minimum spend” (which you see on most credit card offers) in order to receive your bonus. The annual fee is $89 and the most common publicly available offer is available on the US Airways website.

US Airways Standard Offer

However, a number of the leading travel bloggers have reported the following signup promotion which would provide you, under generally the same terms, with an additional 10,000 miles.

US Airways New Offer

In order to take advantage of these deals you need to access the application through the links provided by the blogger.  The following are two bloggers who have posted some useful background information on the current round of US Airways deals.

View from the Wing

Mommy Points

Note: You will be accessing the application through these bloggers’ “affiliate links” which will not cost you anything.  However, they do provide the blogger with a “referral bonus” should your application be accepted. I DO NOT receive any compensation from the credit card companies. However, whenever I apply for a new card, I try to do so through the links offered by my favorite bloggers.

Nevertheless, a third offer exists which provides an even more generous set of incentives.

US Airways Chairmans Offer

This offer provides not only the 40,000 miles of the previous deal but also waives the first year’s fee AND provides you with an annual bonus of 10,000 miles on the card’s anniversary date in subsequent years.  You can access the application via the following link:

Chairman’s Preferred Offer

While technically this set of bonuses is targeted to members of US Airways’ top tier Chairman’s Preferred frequent flyers, several travel bloggers have reported that applicants still receive these benefits.  In my case, I applied for this card in late November, received instant approval and already have my bonus miles.  In addition, the hard copy of the Terms & Conditions which accompanied the card state that I am entitled to the benefits outlined above. However, access to this particular may be changing since a curious new requirement to enter your “US Airways Employee Number” has appeared on the application in the last couple of weeks. I’m not sure if this means that the opportunity to capitalize on this particular signup bonus has now ended.  However, you should be aware that you run the risk of not receiving the full range of these benefits if you apply via “Chairman’s Preferred” route.

So, why am I collecting miles on airline I’ve never flown on?  I have to admit I’m somewhat intrigued by US Airways’ frequent flyer program.  Their Dividend Miles program offers some pretty interesting redemption opportunities. For example, US Airways is a member of the Star Alliance which provides you access to the award availabilities of not only the foreign partner airlines but also that of United which is one of the Alliance’s major anchors.  There are also surprising “gems” in the Dividend Miles Award Chart.  For example, a roundtrip Business Class award ticket to North Asia (China, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan) is only 90,000 miles vs. 120,000 miles on United.  In addition, on such an award you can potentially make one stopover, arrive and depart in different cities and even route your itinerary through Europe. US Airways also regularly offers 100% bonuses for either purchasing or transferring miles. These various earning and redemption options are what drew me to the Dividend Miles programs and served as the inspiration for adding the US Airways Premier World MasterCard to my arsenal of Pointing tools.  Hmmm, I think I’m going to need a bigger wallet …


Not Feeling Guilty over Gilt – 1500 United MileagePlus Miles for Buying Designer Duds

The luxury online retailer Gilt Groupe has just announced the opportunity to earn 1500 United MileagePlus Miles.  Through Gilt.com you can purchase designer clothing, shoes, accessories, home furnishings, food or wine at discounts of up to 60% or more.


New Gilt.com members will receive the bonus miles after registering and making a $50 purchase. In addition, for the first six months of membership, you’ll earn 5 miles for every dollar spent on the site. Bonus miles will post within 6-8 weeks. This Pointing opportunity can be accessed at this special registration link for MileagePlus members.

Gilt MileagePlus Sign Up

Furthermore, you can earn even more bonus miles by accessing Gilt.com through several of the major online shopping portals.

Gilt Shopping Portals

Source: EVreward.com

This offer comes and goes and Gilt reserves the right to close registration and/or change the terms of the deal without notice. Therefore, it’s important that you read the full Terms and Conditions. I signed up for this deal earlier in the year and managed to earn 3,481 bonus miles while simultaneously stocking my closet with age inappropriate designer clothing. Sigh, maybe I should have just stuck to buying wine and cheese …

Points of Light – Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo

I focus many of my Pointing activities on earning awards for big, flashy trips in far flung exotic locations.  However, sometimes I have to remind myself that some of the best experiences can be had by simply walking outside my front door.  F’s Brother and his wife are in town this weekend and last night we walked down the street to Lincoln Park.  It was a perfect winter night in Chicago so we decided to take advantage of the nice weather and pay a visit to the annual ZooLights celebration.


Founded in 1868, Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the country’s oldest institutions of its kind. The Zoo also has the distinction of being free and open to the public 365 days a year. Each year around the Holidays, the Zoo mounts its annual ZooLights celebration which features colorful luminous displays throughout the park.  Hot chocolate, popcorn and Christmas music were all in abundance as we took a nice post-dinner leisurely stroll.







If you happen to be in Chicago over the next few couple of weeks, the ZooLights celebration would be a great option for an early evening, family-friendly activity.  The lights are currently shining on Fridays, Saturday and Sundays from 5 pm to 9 pm. From December 26 through January 6 the Zoolights will be flickering nightly.


Everyone was in great spirits.  Plus, given yesterday’s tragic news it was just so comforting being around family, children and the simple pleasures in life.  How many points did I earn last night?  ABSOLUTELY ZERO.  And you know what? I’m totally cool with that.

Pointing the Way to Learning a Foreign Language in 2013 – 12 Miles per Dollar for Purchasing a Rosetta Stone Course

The year is drawing to a close and I’m starting to contemplate what my New Year Resolutions will be. Of course, as they do every year, such standard goals as “Lose Weight,” “Get More Exercise” and “Learn a Foreign Language” make it on to my list. As I work towards becoming a “better me” in 2013, I’ve decided to tackle what I consider to be the least painful of my Resolutions.

Given that F and I will be going to the Amalfi Coast this Summer, I’ve decided to study Italian. Fortunately, I discovered that United’s MileagePlus Shopping Portal is offering the following special deal.

Rosetta Stone Deal MileagePlus ShoppingIn addition, Rosetta Stone is offering some great discounts off the purchase price of their language courses.

Rosetta Stone Italian

As I indicated in an earlier post, Online Shopping Portals are a great way to earn bonus miles for purchases that you were planning on making anyway.

I’ve taken a Rosetta Stone course before and enjoy the company’s approach to learning languages. I’m eager to learn Italian and hope to fully partake of the culture and engage with the locals.

More importantly, our trip will coincide with the country’s annual Summer Sales period.  By the time I hit Italian shores, I want to be able to confidently stride into a store and, with my head held high, confidently inquire whether the pair of trousers I’m interested in comes in a Men’s “Husky” size.

Sigh. Then again, I should probably focus on the “Lose Weight” and “Get More Exercise” portions of my New Year Resolutions list as well …

Hot for Hilton – A New Target for My Pointing Activities

Lately I’ve been obsessing quite a bit over Hilton … no, not that one. Come on folks, everyone know I’m more of a Kardashian type of guy (not). What I’m talking about is another key element in my Pointing strategies.  Just as United is my preferred carrier, Hilton has emerged as the hotel chain upon which I’ll be focusing my attention.

My ultimate goal is to be able to book a few days at the Conrad Koh Samui in Thailand. This is an absolutely stunning hotel that consists of a series of one bedroom villas perched over the ocean. An award stay at this property will form the cornerstone of a Dream Trip I’m planning. Right now, the going rate at the hotel is $700 or 50,000 Hilton HHonors points per night.  Since it’s highly unlikely I’ll be able to convince my Partner F to fork over the dollars to pay the standard rate, it looks like points will be the way we’ll get ourselves to this tropical island.

Over the last year I’ve been accumulating a few points here and there.  There have been a number of special offers to earn points by “Liking” various Hilton brands on Facebook and opting in to receive promotional text messages.  Surprisingly, I haven’t been overly spammed for my efforts and the marketing outreach hasn’t been too intrusive.

I was even was able to take advantage of trading in points from My Coke Rewards, Coca-Cola’s loyalty program, for 8,500 Hilton HHonors points.  Of course, that involved drinking ALOT of carbonated beverages.

Oh yeah, I even managed to squeeze in a hotel stay along with all of those other Pointing activities.

However, in order to achieve my goal of recreating the perfect Hangover 2 experience (minus the booze, drugs, sex and memory loss – umm, wait that doesn’t leave much left, does it?), I’m really going to need to up the point accumulating ante. As I indicated in an earlier post, awards earning credit cards and the related sign up bonuses play a key role in my Pointing strategies.

Hilton offers a variety of co-branded credit cards that provide both generous sign up bonuses and serve as vehicles for ramping up your Pointing through bonuses awarded for spending in everyday shopping categories.

After evaluating these various options, I settled on the Hilton HHonors Surpass Card from American Express.  This card provides a welcome bonus of 40,000 HHonors Points after your first purchase along with the opportunity to earn 20,000 additional HHonors points after you make $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of your card membership.

The Surpass Card also earns 6 HHonors points for every dollar that you spend at supermarkets, drugstores, gas stations and for communications expenses such as wireless, home telephone, cable TV and satellite TV purchases.  You earn 3 HHonors points for each dollar that you spend on all other purchases.  In addition, the Surpass Card, allows you to earn 12 HHonors points per dollar spent across Hilton’s portfolio of brands.

Finally, the Surpass card provides me with a year of Hilton HHonors Gold Tier Benefits (including a 25% points bonus, late check-out privileges, complimentary benefits) and access to reduced points requirements for awards.  For example, my Partner F has the standard Hilton HHonors American Express Card which allowed us to book an upcoming 5 night stay in London for 160,000 HHonors points instead of the usual 200,000 HHonors points.

With the Hilton HHonors Surpass Card from American Express I’ve added another workhorse card to my wallet.  In future posts I’ll provide a more detailed comparison of the merits of the various Hilton rewards cards as well as how the Surpass Card fits into my overall daily spending and Pointing strategies.

In the meantime I’ll continue my trip research by re-watching the Hangover 2, The Beach and Brokedown Palace. On second thought, anyone out there have any other movie recommendations?

MileagePlus 10 Million Miles Giveaway – Pointing for Worthy Causes

United Airlines recently announced a campaign to donate 10 million MileagePlus award miles to a variety of worthy causes.

United will be donating a minimum of 25,000 miles each to 38 different worthy causes. Visitors to the airline’s 10 Million Charity Miles website, will be able to vote daily for their favorite charity.  The more votes a charity receives, the greater a percentage of the 10 million miles it will be awarded.  The current Top 5 Charities are as follows:

Voting started on December 6 and will remain open until 11:59 pm on December 25. During this period you may vote once per day. The charities will receive their donated miles by January 31, 2013. Enrollment in the MileagePlus program is not required.

There are some great organizations on this list that could certainly benefit from all of those miles. During this season of giving, United’s 10 Million Miles Giveaway program is a great way to channel your mouse clicks toward doing some good.

Earn 1000 United MileagePlus Bonus Miles by Registering with BCKSTGR

An easy Pointing opportunity has nudged me into expanding my social media footprint. Prompted by a marketing email I received late yesterday afternoon from United’s Mileage Plus program, I finally added Twitter and Foursquare to my list of “places on the internet where I waste my time.” MileagePlus has partnered with social media marketing platform BCKSTGR to offer 1000 miles for simply registering (400 points) and linking your Facebook (200 points), Twitter (200 points) and Foursquare (200 points) accounts.  This offer is valid through December 15.

BCKSTGR is a startup company that offers it members the opportunity to earn frequent flyer miles for logging their social media activities (e.g., Checking in and taking a snapshot of your drink at the Old Town Pour House).  At the current time, earning opportunities in the Chicago area are pretty limited.  Therefore, the real attraction of this deal is the ability to gain a “quick and easy” hit of 1000 miles.

In addition, by turning yourself into a free advertising vehicle for BCKSTGR, you can earn another quick 150 miles by “Liking, Tweeting and Posting” of your love of your newly discovered Pointing vehicle.

As you can see, there is the ability to earn points on a daily basis by following a “wash, rinse, repeat” approach to a couple of these offers.  Of course, by taking such action you do run the risk of sparking an “Anti-Farmville-like” backlash among your Facebook friends.

This opportunity has proved to be very popular among the Pointing community. As a result, there have been widespread reports of error messages (e.g., “Your MileagePlus Number and PIN are incorrect”) and site crashes.  For example, I attempted to register three times late last night before my details were accepted.

Nevertheless, miles earned through this program post immediately in BCKSTGR and appear within an hour or so in your MileagePlus account.  This adds to the “instant gratification appeal” of the offer (if you can get your registration accepted). Now that some time has passed, hopefully these glitches have been sorted out.  BCKSTGR, in fact, is now reporting on its Facebook page that their systems have speeded up.

Tip of the hat to Just Another Points Traveler who was one of the first travel bloggers to write about this opportunity.

Taking AAdvantage of 500 Free Miles on Facebook for Filling Out a Short Survey

Today American Airlines announced an offer for 500 free AAdvantage miles for completing a short survey on Facebook.

The survey consists of only a few questions and will take you 2-3 minutes to complete.

You should receive your miles in 6-8 weeks.

It has been reported that this offer will be open until December 17 or until 200,000 people complete the survey.  This is a great opportunity to earn 500 free miles for a minimum investment of your time.

Tip of the hat to Lucky at One Mile at A Time who surfaced this great Pointing opportunity.

New York In A Minute – Chicago – New York for $138

The Flight Deal reported today a great airfare on American Airlines of $138 (all taxes included) between Chicago and New York through February 28.   Tickets must be purchased at least 21 days in advance and departures must be on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday.

As I’m plotting out our New Year travel plans I was hoping to once again try and make the best use of a three day weekend and have my eye on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday for a quick getaway to the Big Apple.  As it turns out, United, my preferred carrier, has matched the American Airlines fare. The following possibilities exist:

These potential itineraries would let F and I enjoy a quick break in New York, fly back on Tuesday morning, then hop on the EL and make it Downtown in time (or at least not horribly late) for a full day of work. Hmmm, something to think about …

In Search of a Pink Volleyball … and Earning the Most Points from Online Shopping Portals

My sister in California recently sent me my niece’s wish list for her 10th birthday.  As they live not far from the beach I wasn’t surprised that a volleyball was at the top of the list. Combined with my niece’s emergence as strong swimmer and her attendance at Surf Camp earlier in the year, beach volleyball is a natural progression for this young lady.  She is certainly growing up to be the classic California Girl (cue Wipeout and run the Gidget clip).

Of course, I wanted to make sure that my niece hits the beach with a bit of style and flair.  Therefore, as I went online to look for a volleyball I wanted to see if I could get this piece of sports equipment in her favorite color – pink!  Fortunately I was able to find the following at SportsAuthority.com for only $14.99.

As I mentioned in my last post, making this purchase through an online shopping portal and using a rewards earning credit card will enable me to earn points for the transaction.  In addition, using the right portal and card can earn me a significant multiple above the base purchase price of the product.  However, given the various options for shopping sites, how do I make a decision on which portal to use?

For situations such as these, I find EVreward.com to be a very helpful resource. The site is a directory of online shopping sites that allows you to make side-by-side comparisons of your various rewards options.  For example, a search for The Sports Authority reveals the following earning opportunities:

My primary frequent flyer program is United and, as you can see from this chart, I can earn 2 miles per $ by using the MileagePlus Shopping site.  However, I also use the Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa which earns me Ultimate Rewards points which can be transferred on a 1:1 basis into the MileagePlus program.  By making this purchase through the Ultimate Rewards Mall (note: You need to be a card member in order to use the site), I can earn 3 miles per $.  This in fact, is what I did and I earned the following which was calculated on my $14.99 base purchase price.

However, what is interesting about this transaction is that even though I need the Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa to access the Ultimate Rewards Mall, I do not have to use this card in order to pay for the purchase.  Instead, I opted to use my Chase United MileagePlus Club Visa which earns 1.5 miles per dollar.

As a result, I earned 45 Ultimate Rewards Points along with 35 MileagePlus points for a total of 80 points.  If I had made the purchase using my Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa only, my overall point total would have been 68 points.

As you can see, it’s worthwhile to do a little bit of comparison shopping before you launch into your online shopping. By using EVreward.com you can do some reconnaissance into the best way to maximize your reward points totals.  Which reminds, I’m starting to run low on toothpaste and laundry detergent.  I think it’s time to head over to Drugstore.com