December 13 2014

Fly Premium for the Price of Economy and Stay in a B&B for a Fraction

Hope everyone in the path of California’s storm of the decade is safe and well.

I am scheduled to return from my two months in Buenos Aires this weekend and looking forward to writing all about it.

Meanwhile, enjoy a few travel deals for the weekend.


Virgin America

The sale is back – you can save 50% on First Class and Main Cabin Select fares with promo code MERRY50.


Main Cabin Select fares often cost about double the price of economy fares, so this is an opportunity to “upgrade” without much additional cost.

Book by tomorrow (December 14) and fly December 19 to January 2. free $30 gift card has been running gift card specials throughout the holidays but this one is the best I’ve seen recently.


Receive a $30 gift card when you buy a $100 gift card (a 30% bonus) using promo code JINGLE. Alternatively, receive a $150 gift card when you buy a $450 gift card (a 33% bonus) using promo code BELLS.

Buying multiple cards in smaller denominations also works as long as your total purchase meets the threshold.

To make a good deal great, also offers “Hot Deals” – specials that change weekly. You can search Hot Deals by location here (just ignore the email signup field if you don’t want to sign up).

Among this week’s offerings is the Cabernet House in California’s Wine Country. The regular rate is $378 but the Hot Deals rate is $129 – a 66% discount. Combine it with the gift card deal and a $378 stay ends up costing under $100!

Cabernet House B&B

And if you’re still shopping for gifts, this makes a nice gift for those who like B&Bs as you can customize the gift card with a personal photo.

If you have your eye on a specific property, be sure to check first that it accepts gift cards. (Check here.)


Air Canada giveaway

Air Canada is running a “Giftmassive Giveaway” through Christmas Eve. Prizes range from percent-off discounts to free flights.

Air Canada Giftmassive

Try your luck here. It’s quick and doesn’t require an Air Canada account. I played and won a 20% discount code. Perhaps I will try again with a different email address. 😉

Finally, don’t forget to check the Travel Deals and Other Deals pages (on the yellow sticky note at the top right corner) when you visit! Sometimes I find a nice deal but don’t have time to write it up so I will just add it to one of those pages.

Enjoy the remaining weekend.

December 12 2014

IHG Bonus Points Offer – To Buy or Not To Buy?

[If you came here just for the free donuts, the information is at the bottom of this post. 😉 ]

IHG Rewards Club, the loyalty program of InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), is currently offering a bonus when you buy points in the program.

IHG Bonus Pts Offer

A few people have asked me if it’s worth it. My answer – as it is to most questions in life – is “it depends.”

The offer

IHG normally sells points for as low as 1.15 cents each. Here’s the price chart:

IHG Bonus Pts Rates

That is not a good deal considering they can be acquired for 0.7 cents by other means (discussed here).

However, this promotion gives you a certain bonus when buying points.

But not everyone is offered the same bonus. The various offers are 0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100%. You can find out which you received here.

This is the effective cost per point with each offer:

IHG Bonus Pts CPP


If you received a 50% offer or below, it does not make sense to buy points this way (since you can acquire them for cheaper, at 0.7 cents each, as mentioned above).

If you got a 75% or 100% offer, then I could see it making sense if both of the following are true:

  • You think IHG points are worth more than these sale prices. I personally value an IHG point at about 0.7 cents, so I think prices are favorable if you received the 75% or the 100% offer.
  • You have a specific, near-term use for them. I would not buy points just to hoard them as (1) loyalty points can be – and often are – devalued at whim by the company, and (2) I think it unwise to convert a liquid asset (cash) to an illiquid one (hotel points with little value outside their loyalty program) without good reason.

Here’s an example where it does make sense to buy points. Below is the price of a room at the InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam on a random date this summer.

IC Amstel 2

As you see, for one night the cash rate is €1,460 (about $1,800 at today’s exchange rate).

Instead of paying cash, you can book a night for 40,000 points – which can be purchased for $230 with the 100% bonus offer (40,000 x $0.00575) or $263 with the 75% offer.

I’ve used this example before, and it’s a fairly extreme example, but it’s good for illustration.

But be sure to check award availability at your desired hotel before purchasing points!

Bonus tip

Treat yourself to a free dozen Krispy Kreme donuts (with purchase).

Krispy Kreme Dozen

Coupon is available here and offer is valid only today (December 12). Enjoy!

December 10 2014

$100 Off Hotel Stay of 2+ Nights – Use It to Stay Free at Upscale Vegas Resort!

UPDATE: $100 coupons are all gone, but the SLS Las Vegas for as low as $10/night deal is still working.


Yesterday I wrote about a great deal where you could stay at the brand-new, upscale SLS Las Vegas for as low as $10/night.

Today you can beat that deal.

Orbitz has a new promotion out: save $100 on a hotel stay of 2 nights or more.

Orbitz Visa Checkout'

Use promo code VISACHECKOUT. You must pay through Visa Checkout, but if you don’t have an account you can set one up during the booking process.

This works on many hotels, domestic and international. The coupon is good “while supplies last” (I don’t expect they will last long at all) and you must stay by June 30, 2015.

If you find a property with a nightly rate of $50 (or just a tad more) and book two nights, the stay is basically free (though you still have to pay tax).

You can search dates and prices here, but see my tips below if you’re unfamiliar with Orbitz promos.


SLS Las Vegas example

Using this promo for the SLS Las Vegas brings the nightly rate as low as $26/night on some dates (see screenshot below).

Considering it comes with a $40 daily food & beverage credit, your net cost is negative $14/night before tax.

They are basically paying you to stay there!

SLS Las Vegas Visa Checkout
$26/night minus $40 daily f&b credit = they’re paying YOU to stay there!

Be sure to book a rate shows the f&b credit like the one seen above.



As with most Orbitz coupons, it does not work on chain hotels. However, this is a great deal for boutique and non-chain properties.

To know which hotels qualify, input the promo code on the main page before hitting the “search” button (see below). That way, results will display “promo code eligible” next to qualifying hotels.



Double dip

If you don’t already have an Orbitz account, signing up through a referral link earns a $25 credit. So find a friend to refer you, or feel free to use my referral link (thanks!).

The signup credit may not show up in your account right away (I have seen it take a couple of days) before this deal dies, but you’ll at least have it for next time.


December 9 2014

Hotel Deal: Upscale Boutique SLS Las Vegas as Low as $10/Night

UPDATE: Use promo code GIFTME for another 15% off! Post has been updated accordingly.


Stumbled on this hotel deal and thought I’d share for those interested in visiting Las Vegas.

Orbitz has rates starting at $59/night at the upscale boutique SLS Las Vegas, a new hotel-casino just opened in August of this year.

SLS Las Vegas Room
The SLS Las Vegas

Promo code GIFTME takes 15% off the base rate of $59/night. The result is $50/night.

This is a refundable rate and includes a $40 daily food and beverage credit. That brings your net cost down to $10/night before tax – assuming you value the f&b credit at face value.

Be sure to select the rate that shows the f&b credit (see my screenshot below; click to enlarge).

SLS Rate w Promo


This is a great deal even if you completely disregard the f&b credit. Rates at the SLS typically exceed $100/night; on peak dates they can exceed $500/night.

Note you need to book 3 nights for this rate as it’s part of a “stay 2 nights, get the 3rd free” promotion.

The dates I searched were December 15-18, but I saw availability at slightly higher prices on other dates in December and January. Keep in mind Las Vegas is a weekend destination so rates skyrocket for stays on Fridays, Saturdays, and holidays.

Also keep in mind there is a resort fee (currently $28/night) payable at the property and not included in the rate. (Resort fees are pesky but they’re the norm at almost all hotels in Las Vegas.)

You can search dates and book here.

Possible double dip

If you don’t already have an Orbitz account, signing up through a referral link earns a $25 credit. So find a friend to refer you, or feel free to use my referral link (thanks!).

The signup credit may not show up in your account right away (I have seen it take a couple of days) and I don’t know if this deal will still be around by the time it does, but you’ll at least have it for next time.


December 8 2014

New Deals Page

American Express usually ramps up its promotions during the holidays, and this year there is a boatload of Sync offers.

Going forward, rather than write periodic posts on the offers I will just add them to the newly-created Other Deals page for easy reference.

The page includes every Sync deal I am aware of, but let me highlight below the offers I consider most interesting.

(If you are unfamiliar with the Amex Sync campaign, my introductory post is here.)

Travel related offers:

The following offers are not travel-related per se, but still particularly appealing for reasons I explain below:

  • Best Buy – spend $250+ get $25 back (exp. Dec. 31, 2014). Appealing because Best Buy sells cash equivalents in store (I can’t remember if they’re Visa or MasterCard gift cards, but either way it lets you basically buy money at a discount) and gift cards to other merchants. #AmexBestBuy
  • JCPenney – spend $50+ get $10 back (exp. Dec. 31, 2014). Appealing because JCPenney sells gift cards to other merchants, including Amazon, in store. #AmexJCPenney
  • Newegg – spend $200+ get $25 back (exp. Dec. 31, 2014), valid online only. Appealing because Newegg sells a wide selection of gift cards to other merchants (including airlines, cruise lines, restaurants, department stores, and movie theaters). #AmexNewegg
  • Office Depot OfficeMax – spend $50+ get $10 back (exp. Dec. 31, 2014). Appealing because OfficeMax sells MC/Visa/Amex gift cards in store. (Office Depot also sells them but does not accept credit cards as payment.) #AmexOfficeDepot
  • Starbucks – spend $10+ get $5 back (exp. Dec. 31, 2014), valid online only at but should work when reloading a Starbucks card. Appealing for obvious reasons. 🙂 #AmexStarbucks
  • Toys R Us – spend $25+ get $5 back (exp. Dec. 31, 2014), valid in-store only. Appealing because Toys R Us carries gift cards to other merchants. #AmexToysRUs
  • Walmart – spend $15+ get $5 back (exp. Dec. 31, 2014). Appealing because getting 33% off your grocery bill is otherwise rare. #AmexWalmart

Finally, here’s a random non-Amex offer that might interest some:

Bonefish Grill

Free dinner (up to $10) at Bonefish Grill. Expires December 30, but I have a feeling they may pull the deal sooner if it becomes “too popular.”

I will try to update both the Travel Deals Page and Other Deals Page frequently so be sure to drop by once in a while!


December 7 2014

Free Battery Pack (Actually More Than Free) – Great for Travel!


UPDATE: Deal as posted died a quick death, but the same item in a different color is currently still available for $15 with $10 back in points.


I’ve talked a lot (well, once or twice) about the virtues of portable battery packs, but thought this little deal was still worth passing along.

PNY Power Pack
Click to enlarge image

Kmart currently has this PNY PowerPack on sale for $7.79, which itself is a good deal given the $15 regular price.

But…they’re also offering a $10.07 rebate (in the form of Shop Your Way points, which can be redeemed at Kmart and Sears).

So they’re basically paying you to take this from them (assuming you can use $10.07 worth of credit at Kmart or Sears).


  • Select store pickup to avoid shipping charges.
  • If you don’t already have a Shop Your Way account you can sign up during checkout.

At this price, it’ll probably sell out soon so be quick if interested.

Category: Deals | LEAVE A COMMENT
December 5 2014

Vancouver Hotel Deal Returns, Best Western Credit Arrives, Frontier Has $19 Fares, and Virgin America Offers 20% Off

Happy Friday!

This is my last full weekend in Buenos Aires (*sniff*) so I am going to call it a day work-wise and go enjoy the 80-something degree weather outside.

But first, a few deals to share. 🙂


$19 fares on Frontier

Frontier Airlines has flights for $19 each way. Must purchase today (December 5), but valid for travel from December 6-18, 2014.


Ten cities are included, with Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Denver, and Washington, DC among them.

You can access the sale and see all cities here.


Virgin America 20% off

Also, just a quick note that Virgin America is offering 20% off with promo code HOLIDAY20.


Book by December 7 and fly by January 2, 2015.


$125 back on downtown Vancouver hotels

beVancouver has another generous promotion: book a qualifying hotel stay and receive an Amex Prepaid Gift Card of up to $125.

You can search availability here.

It is the off season in Vancouver, but there are some excellent rates to be had.

Here’s an example – the 3.5-star Coast Plaza Hotel & Suites for $19 (after deducting the gift card value):

beVancouver CoastPlaza

I have seen similar deals from beVancouver before, but this one is better than previous times as these are refundable rates.

Note that you’ll have to pay taxes on the full rate.

T&Cs, pasted directly from the promo page:

  • Check-in must be before or on February 28th 2015
  • Bookings can be made using VISA, MasterCard, or American Express
  • Bookings may be cancelled up to 24 hours before check-in and no pre-payment is required
  • Guests will receive their AMEX Prepaid Gift Card per booking, not per night
  • Separate consecutive night bookings at the same hotel will not result in the guest receiving more than one AMEX gift card
  • A Maximum of 3 bookings per person is enforced – all subsequent bookings will be converted into normal Best Available Rate bookings (and will apply the corresponding Terms and Conditions) and the guest will not receive an AMEX Prepaid Gift Card
  • beVancouver Terms and Conditions Apply


Free $25 Best Western credit arrived

On Monday I wrote about the Best Western $25 Travel Card offer. My card arrived yesterday, so check your inbox if you participated.

As expected, the card expires on January 5. Since it can’t be used on advance purchase rates and I have no plans to stay at a Best Western during this period, I will probably use my credit by dining at a local property.

While the card can surely be applied toward lodging, T&Cs state that acceptance for services other than lodging is at the individual hotel’s discretion. So this may or may not work out, but it is a freebie so I am not going to be upset either way.

Besides, I have nice memories of dining at a Best Western. Took this picture while having lunch at the Best Western Hotel Marmorata in Ravello, Italy last year:


Have a great weekend!


December 4 2014

Bonus Airline Miles for a Marriott Stay, Free Bed & Breakfast Gift Card (with Purchase)

$75 gift card from is offering a $75 gift card when you purchase a gift card of $250 or more. (Several cards in smaller amounts also works as long as the total is $250+.) Even if you’re not a big B&B person this could make a good gift for those who are.

You can access the offer here. Be sure to use promo code CHEER and purchase by December 9, 2014.

BedandBreakfast GC also offers “Hot Deals” – they change weekly and I occasionally spot some very nice discounts.

For example, this week at the Cabernet House in California’s Wine Country you can save 66% off the regular rate:


Combine a 66%-off sale with a free $75 gift card and you’ve got a nice little deal!

Although the card is accepted at over 4,000 properties throughout the US and Canada, if you have your eye on a specific property I would check that it accepts gift cards before purchasing. Participating properties can be searched here.

(Note the T&Cs state your check-in date must be at least 7 days after the purchase date of the gift card.)


1,000 bonus airline miles for a Marriott stay

I saw this offer yesterday and snuck it onto the Travel Deals page without saying anything. 🙂

Marriott is offering 1,000 bonus airline miles for stays at select brands through January 31, 2015.

You must register in advance and book by December 31, 2014.

  • For American Airlines miles, register here.
  • For Delta, register here.
  • For US Airways, register here.

Also, be sure you’ve designated the respective airline program as the earnings preference in your Marriott Rewards profile.

Have a great rest of the day!

December 3 2014

50% off at Howard Johnson Hotels

HoJo OrangeWednes

Howard Johnson is offering 50% off at participating properties in the US and Canada. View the 40 participating properties here.

For fun I checked a few rates and most were under $100 (the San Diego Sea World property below was $60-something) before the discount.


Things to note:

  • Must book by 11:50 PM EST today (December 3) and complete the stay by March 3, 2015.
  • Valid for a stay of up to three nights.
  • Blackout dates apply (but are not enumerated in the fine print as far as I could tell).

The quirk: you must CALL the property directly to book and the rate is only valid for the first five bookings at each property. If interested I would act quickly as this might not last all day.


Category: Deals | LEAVE A COMMENT
December 1 2014

Free $25 Credit from Best Western


This one is almost too easy. Took me literally under 5 seconds to earn a $25 credit from Best Western.

Just go here, input your Best Western Rewards membership number or email, and hit “register.” (If you don’t have a membership yet, you can sign up at the same place.)

Within 7 days, you should receive a $25 Travel Card (which seems to me like a gift card, but with an expiration date and an exclusion from use on “Advance Purchase” rates).

The catch is that there’s a short fuse. The FAQs say the card must be redeemed by January 5, 2015.

This offer expires at 12:00 AM MST on Tuesday, December 2.