July 3 2015

Free Drink, Two Amazon Offers, Triple Hilton HHonors Points, and Complimentary Museum Admission

Finally! Friday is here! Happy Independence Day weekend, everyone.

If you’re flying Southwest tomorrow, enjoy a free cocktail on board.

Southwest Free Drink

The airline extends this offer on various holidays but doesn’t advertise it much, so you’ll likely have to speak up and ask for your free drink.

But at least you can’t complain about the price. 🙂

Triple Hilton HHonors points

Hilton is offering triple HHonors points at participating properties in the Americas through January 30, 2016.

Be sure to read the terms. Also note you must book the triple points rate (see example below) and the stay must be at least two nights.

Hilton 3x Rate

$15 off $50+ on Amazon when paying with American Express Membership Rewards points

This is a nice offer, but it’s targeted and requires having an American Express card that earns Membership Rewards points.

Receive $15 off a $50+ purchase when you use Membership Rewards points to pay.

Amazon MR promo

If targeted, you’ll see a banner at checkout. Click on the “learn more” button then find the box to link your Amex card. It looks like this:

Amazon MR instructions

After following the prompts to link your card, you’ll see the option to pay for your order by redeeming Membership Rewards points.

Here’s the catch: the redemption rate is 1.43 points to 1 cent. That’s a terrible conversion rate.

I value a Membership Rewards point at 1.7 cents, yet this offer only yields about 0.7 cents of value.

So the trick is to redeem just one point on your order (which is all it takes to qualify for the $15 off). The remaining balance is billed to your Amex card.

Payment screen redacted

Don’t forget to use promo code SWP07AXP15.

Note there are also offers for Chase and Discover cardholders. I wasn’t targeted for those, but if interested keep an eye out when logged in to your Amazon account.

Bonus Amazon tip

If you’re a Prime member but have yet to use the Subscribe & Save service, Amazon is offering $10 Subscribe & Save credit with promo code TRYSNS10.

Offer ends July 31, 2015.

Free museum admission

Finally, don’t forget this weekend Bank of America and Merrill Lynch cardholders receive free admission to over 150 museums, science centers, and botanical gardens.

Enjoy the long weekend.

June 18 2015

Nice Hilton HHonors Promotion (But Short Fuse) – 5,000 Bonus Points for Any Stay

Evening, everyone.

This will be a short post but I thought it might be useful for those still making travel plans for 4th of July.

Hilton is offering 5,000 bonus points per stay at any hotel through July 6th. You must register prior to checkout (register here).

Though a short-lived offer, it’s a nice bonus rate – free nights start at 5,000 points so just from this promotion you’d earn enough for a free night.

Of course, those 5,000 point properties aren’t exactly the finest, but to evaluate this another way, I value a Hilton point at .4 cents so this works out to $20 in bonus points – not bad for a few seconds of your time to register.

Furthermore, the promotion stacks with Hilton’s current summer promotion, Double Your HHonors, so don’t neglect to register for that one as well.


Bonus deal

I previously wrote about one of the benefits of traveling with an external battery. If you could use one, Amazon currently has this 3000mAh external power bank for $5.99.

Power Bank

Note Amazon prices can change any time so double-check your cart before paying.

Have a great rest of the week. It’s almost Friday!

March 13 2015

1,000 Free Hilton HHonors Points & Complimentary Uber Ride in a Rolls-Royce

Happy Pi Day! (I know it’s actually tomorrow.) I hope everyone’s weekend is off to a great start.

Here are some deals for your weekend fix. 🙂


Easy 1,000 Hilton HHonors points

Free points don’t get much easier than this.

Hilton will eventually require members of its loyalty program to change from using a 4-digit PIN to a password.

They’re offering 1,000 points to members who make the change before March 25.

HHonors Banner Detail
Click to enlarge

Reset or create a password by:

  • Visiting www.HHonors.com/Login with your current username or HHonors number and existing password/PIN.
  • On the left-hand side, under the My Profile section, click “Personal Information.”
  • If you have a password, select “Change Password;” if you do not have a password, select “create username and password.”

I’m not much of a Hilton person these days but I still have a moderate amount of points in my account, so I take advantage of random opportunities like this to generate activity that resets the expiration clock on my points.


Free Uber ride in a Rolls-Royce

This weekend Uber is offering free rides in a Rolls-Royce in Los Angeles and New York City.

Uber RollsRoyce

The deal is pretty simple (instructions are found in the links above) but the catch is that there is limited availability and the coverage area is quite narrow.

In NYC rides are only available in Manhattan below 59th Street, and in LA the coverage map is as follows:

Uber RollsRoyce LA

I happen to be in one of the coverage areas tonight and fired up my Uber app to take advantage of this offer. But, alas, no Rolls-Royces were available nearby. So they’re not kidding about the limited availability. Better luck to others!

If you’re not already on Uber feel free to use my referral link, which currently gives $20 off your first ride.


February 16 2015

Helicopter to the Airport for $99 & Many Other Deals

Happy Presidents Day!

The last few weeks were super busy (not in a bad way), resulting in abandoning the second half of my Birmingham trip to get home early. But with that behind us I’m paying attention to travel deals again.

One of the most interesting (to me) is the launch of Gotham Air.

Gotham Air

In partnership with a helicopter flight operator, Gotham Air provides helicopter rides from New York City to JFK and Newark Liberty airports. The ride is said to take six minutes.

Regular pricing is $199 to $219 depending on departure time, but currently promo code LAUNCH discounts the fare to $99.

That’s a great deal considering a taxi between the city and JFK can cost upwards of $50 and a decent car service can exceed $99.

And that doesn’t consider the time savings. A 6-minute helicopter ride vs. hour(s) in city traffic – not a tough choice. Heck, even full price doesn’t seem unreasonable given the time savings.

Gotham Air pricing

However, as with all newly-launched services there is the potential for “bugs” in the system. A few concerns came to mind based on either my own (limited) helicopter-riding experience or Gotham Air’s FAQs:

  • A flight is not guaranteed to depart unless four or more seats have been paid in full. So if using this service I’d suggest having a back-up plan.
  • Luggage is limited to one carry-on of up to 25 pounds. That’s a pretty onerous restriction even if you travel light. (The company says if you have more luggage they can “probably make special arrangements,” but does not say what cost/hassle such arrangements might incur.)
  • Unlike taking a taxi or car service, you need to get to the heliport to begin the journey. They currently operate from just one heliport – at Pier 6 – although two more will be added “soon.”
  • Helicopter rides are loud, cramped, and not always smooth (I personally get very motion-sick in them). Of course a 6-minute ride isn’t long, so I’m not saying this would be a horrible experience. Just suggesting it be viewed as a practical means of getting to the airport rather than an indulgent experience.

In any case, I would definitely consider this next time I’m in NYC. If you beat me to it, let me know how it goes!


Other deals


  • Hilton HHonors Dining: A signup bonus of up to 2,000 points. If you are unfamiliar with travel-provider-affiliated dining programs, see this post for tips. (Join by Mar. 31, 2015.)
  • La Quinta Inns & Suites: 300 points for watching a video. Don’t forget to click the “Get Your Points” button at the end to input your membership information for the points. [Thanks to InACents.]

Not travel-specific

  • Wilsons Leather: $10 off a purchase of $10+ with promo code 7785. I needed a new phone case and picked one up for a net cost of 49 cents. Although the code already gives free shipping, I used ShopRunner for free expedited shipping and free returns (though obviously I wouldn’t bother returning a 49-cent item). I did not see an expiration date to the promo code but since it is a Presidents Day offer I wouldn’t expect it to last beyond today.
  • Neiman Marcus: $50 off a purchase of $100+ when paying with Visa Checkout. Any credit card can be used with Visa Checkout. (Expires Feb. 17, 2015.)
  • Chick-fil-A: Free coffee (hot or iced) throughout February.
  • Free pedometer (for AAA members). Or just download a pedometer app for your phone. 🙂 (Valid until Mar. 31, 2015 or while supplies last.)

Enjoy the remaining weekend.

January 24 2015

Hilton $50 Statement Credit, Amazon Prime for $72, Virgin America Double Points, Travelocity $30 off $100

Greetings from Birmingham (England, not Alabama) where it is nice and sunny (albeit not warm).

Here are a few deals for your weekend enjoyment…


Hilton $50 Amex statement credit

By now you probably know about American Express Sync offers. Just wanted to point out a new one specific to travel: receive a $50 statement credit when you spend $250 or more with Hilton Hotels & Resorts.

Do note the terms specify this offer is valid only at Hilton Hotels & Resorts properties (not other Hilton brands such as Waldorf Astoria, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, etc.).

However, there are older (but still valid) Amex offers for other brands – both Hilton and non-Hilton – such as Conrad Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree, Hyatt Place, and Waldorf Astoria. I try to maintain a current list of all Amex offers on the Other Deals page.

Since this is not a targeted offer, you can add it via Twitter with hashtag #AmexHilton if it is not available in your Amex account.

If you are unfamiliar with Amex Sync offers, my primer is here.


Amazon Prime for $72

Today (January 24) only, Amazon is offering Prime membership for $72. This is a rare offer for 27% off the normal $99 price.

Amazon Prime $72

Among other benefits, Prime members receive unlimited 2-day shipping with no minimum and instant streaming of movies and TV shows with Prime Instant Video.

Do note the offer is good for new members only.

And don’t forget to check out the ongoing ShopRunner offer for free 2-day shipping to many other stores.


Travelocity mobile offers

Travelocity’s mobile offers for savings on hotels booked via the app are back.

Travelocity coupons

For $30 off $100+ use code MOBILEJAN30H. For $40 off $150+ use code MOBILEJAN40H.

Alternatively, you can save 15% off a hotel booking of $300+ with code JAN15NOW.

These expire at 11:59 PM Pacific tomorrow (January 25). They exclude “most national brand chain hotels,” but are nice discounts if you find a boutique property meeting your needs.


Double points on Virgin America flights

Through March 31, 2015, you can earn double points on Virgin America long-haul, medium-haul, or seasonal routes.

Virgin Am double points

Don’t forget to register first.

Enjoy the weekend!

December 30 2014

1,000 Bonus Hilton HHonors Points, $50 off $100+ at Bon-Ton, and More

Bon-Ton currently has several good discount codes. Even though I’m writing about luggage, these are site-wide discounts so they should work on other items (with some exclusions, as always).

  • Code ZDEC1229SAV takes $50 off a purchase of $100 or more. It was to expire yesterday (December 29) but is still working at the time I write this.
  • Alternatively, code AFTERXMAS14 takes 25% off sale items and expires January 1.

For free shipping and free returns, use ShopRunner. If you don’t have ShopRunner, use code FREESHIP for free shipping on $75+.

I was shopping for luggage, so here is my luggage find: 🙂

The Samsonite Fiero 20″ Spinner, originally $260, is $80 with the discount. That’s almost 70% off!

Samsonite Fiero

In other news…

I have a couple other deals to add to the permanent Deals Page but since I am writing I thought I’d mention them here as well.

Hilton HHonors is offering 1,000 bonus points for updating your email address by tomorrow (December 31). This is a targeted offer, but it doesn’t hurt to try (only takes a few seconds). I was not targeted and only got a nicely worded message saying they already had a valid email for me. Oh well.

Finally, Neiman Marcus Last Call is offering $25 off a $50+ purchase when you pay through Visa Checkout. (Any credit card can be used with Visa Checkout.) Again, use ShopRunner for free shipping and free returns, or use code FREESHIP for free shipping on $75+.


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 store.starbucks.com 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

Gift Ideas for Travelers

By this time of year I’m normally done holiday shopping. The last-minute mall rush is not my scene and I can do without that kind of stress. But, despite the best of intentions, I’m way behind this year.

If you’re still shopping as well, here are a few suggestions for the avid travelers on your list.


Scratch map


I gave one of these as a gift last year and it was a big hit.

This map has countries of the world outlined and covered in foil. You scratch off the foil (like a lottery ticket) for each country you’ve visited. Great way to keep track of where you’ve been – and motivate yourself to visit places you haven’t.

There is an original version and a deluxe edition.


Cork globe


In a similar vein, check out this cork globe. You can track your travels by pinning destinations to the globe.

For high rollers, you can commission a bespoke globe. (Warning: not cheap.)


Selfie stick

Selfie Stick

If you want to take a selfie without looking like you took a selfie, this selfie stick might help.

I think it’s a great idea but personally am not sure I could summon the courage to actually use it in public. If your recipient is the same way, maybe this is a gag gift?


Hanging toiletries case


Switching from a countertop case to a hanging one profoundly improved my travel efficiency.

When you have a case with a hook, you can hang it from just about anything in a hotel bathroom – towel rack, robe hook, even light fixture. You’re not limited by the amount of counter space in the hotel.

These days I don’t even have to pack my toiletries when I travel. At home I hang the case in the bathroom and it serves as my “medicine cabinet.” When it’s time to travel I just zip up and go. (It’s important to have a case that’s not only durable, but nice-looking enough that you’ll want to use it in your home.)

I use the Coach Getaway case pictured above. It is hard to find online these days (mine was a gift from a while ago), but here are some others:

Eddie Bauer Expedition
Tumi Journey Monaco
Ebags has a wide variety


  • Look for an open (not closed-loop) hook. There are more hanging options with an open hook.
  • Avoid leather as it’s heavy and less flexible, hence harder to pack.


Travel puzzle

Travel Puzzle

For the children on your list, here’s a travel puzzle.




Scottevest makes clothing designed for travelers, with features like removable sleeves and lots of pockets. (So many, the company calls them wearable carry-on bags.)

I have yet to try the products but know travelers who swear by them. So if anyone’s still wondering what to get me…I’m a size XS. 😉


Portable battery pack

Portable battery pack

Portable battery packs really come in handy when your cell phone runs out of juice in the middle of the day or you’re on a long flight and need to recharge a device.

But lately I’ve had another reason to carry one: new TSA requirements on electronic devices.


Foldable water bottle

Foldable Water Bottle

Foldable bottles consume less of your precious carry-on space when empty.

This VAPUR bottle has a 1-liter capacity. There’s also a smaller, half-liter version.
And Walmart is selling a 12-pack for under $12 (though I can’t vouch for quality on that one).


Waterproof shoes


Unless it’s a trip that requires dress shoes, I usually bring just two pairs of footwear when I travel: the pair on my feet plus a pair of flip flops.

So I need versatile, multi-functional shoes. My main pair is currently the Keen Clearwater but I’m eyeing the new Cypress (pictured above) for my next pair.

Here’s the men’s version.

I like my Keens because:

  • Since they’re waterproof I don’t need to bring another pair for water sports, and if I step in something nasty I simply hose it off.
  • They’re flexible enough for daylong walking but substantial enough for light hiking.
  • They have good toe protection.
  • There are no laces to tie and untie – easy on/off for going through airport security.
  • When it’s hot I can wear them alone like a sandal and when it’s cold I can wear socks with them. I know socks under sandals isn’t the best look, but it beats lugging another pair of shoes.

Also check out the Swims line of shoes. They’re waterproof as well, but the design is preppier. (You don’t want to look like you’re on safari when you’re walking in Paris.)


Hand wipes

Babyganics Hand Wipes

When traveling it’s not always easy to access soap and water so I carry lots of hand wipes (and go through them like water given my germophobia). It’s even more important during flu season.

Babyganics hand wipes are the only brand I’ve tried that seems to clean well without drying my hands, and the sheets feel more cloth-like than paper-like.

I much prefer wipes to hand sanitizer gels. With wipes, the dirt transfers from your hand to the wipe; with the gel there’s nowhere for the dirt to go – it just remains on your hand.


Soap sheets

Soap Sheets

Continuing our cleanliness theme, these soap sheets are great for travel. They’re thin and dry, but lather up in water – and are only $1.99 per 25-pack!


Destination candles

Destination Candle

Available in several varieties: Dublin, Santorini, Cairo, and Saigon.


TSA-friendly Swiss Army Knife


The Jetsetter knife has a screwdriver, bottle opener, scissors, tweezers, wire stripper, toothpick, and key ring.

What it does not have is a blade to set off airport security.


Hotel gift cards

Finally, there are several gift-card deals floating around that you might consider.

I’ll list the current ones I know of below, but also consult the Travel Deals page as that’s where I add new deals as they arise and remove old ones as they expire.

  • BedandBreakfast.com – Free $75 gift card with a purchase of $250+.
  • Conrad Hotels & Resorts – Receive a $75 American Express statement credit when you spend $400+; details in this post. To trigger the statement credit you need to go to a qualifying property and to buy a gift card there. Be sure to sync your card first (instructions here).
  • Marriott Hotels – Receive a $50 American Express statement credit when you spend $200+; details in this post. The same caveats as those mentioned in the Conrad deal above apply.
  • Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts – Receive a $100 American Express statement credit when you spend $500+; details in this post. The same caveats as those mentioned in the Conrad deal above apply.


Happy shopping!


October 8 2014

Up to $40 Free With Uber, 10% Rebate at Hilton & Embassy Suites

Good evening.

There are some travel deals I thought worth mentioning, but I have to keep it brief as I’m still at the hotel from hell (but checking out soon, thankfully).

The Internet here is…not fast. Today is actually one of the better days yet I’m still clocking dismal speeds.

I kid you not. This is from a few minutes ago:


Anyway, here are the deals!

Free $10 with Uber

A new Amex Sync promotion gives a $10 statement credit for spending $10 or more with Uber. The Twitter hashtag is #AmexUber in case the offer is not already in your account.

Uber Amex Sync

Additionally, if you don’t already have an Uber account you can get another free $30 in signup credit through a referral link (mine is here if you’d like).

If you’re unfamiliar with these sync offers see my Amex Sync primer, and if you’re unfamiliar with Uber I wrote about it here.

10% off at Hilton and Embassy Suites

If you have a Bank of America credit card, BofA currently has a couple of sync-like offers too.

One is for 10% cash back at a Hilton Hotels & Resorts property:

Hilton BankAmeriDeal

Another is for 10% back at Embassy Suites.

Embassy Suites BankAmeriDeals

You need to register for these offers, which can be done by logging into your credit card account and navigating to the “Cash Back Deals” tab.

A few tips:

  • Be sure to read the terms carefully as there are certain spending requirements.
  • Even though the offers expire November 11, it might be possible to “extend” that date by buying a gift card for future use. (I have not tried this so I cannot guarantee it, but I see no reason why you shouldn’t get the credit card rebate if you go to one of the qualifying properties and buy a gift card there.)
  • These rebates should combine with discounts and promotions offered by the hotel directly, so be sure to look for those too. For example, Hilton’s fall promotion is still going on.
  • The credit card charge needs to be from the hotel, so paying through a third party (such as Orbitz or Expedia) will most likely NOT work.



July 27 2014

Earn Double or Triple Points with Hilton’s Fall Promotion

Hilton recently announced its fall promotion, titled Triple Your Trip, and it’s very similar to last year’s fall promotion. Read on for my analysis and for tips on maximizing the offer.

Hilton Triple Your Trip 2014


  • The promotion period is August 1 to October 31, 2014.
  • Earn double points for qualifying stays on weeknights (Monday through Thursday).
  • Earn triple points for qualifying stays on weekends (Friday, Saturday, or Sunday nights).
  • Must register prior to your first check-out. The registration page is here.
  • There is a (rather lengthy) list of non-participating properties.

Analysis of double points offer

Base members (those at the Blue membership level) normally earn 10 points per dollar spent. Earning double points through this promotion would yield another 10 points (highlighted in yellow on the chart below). Electing the “Points and Points” earning option gives a further 5 points/$. Total earnings: 25 points per dollar spent.

I value one Hilton point at $0.004 (four tenths of a cent), so 25 points is worth about a 10% rebate to me (highlighted in blue). Important to keep in mind that this “rebate” is not in cash but in the form of Hilton points.

(If you’re curious about how I value a point at $0.004, I explain in this post [scroll down to find it in the second half of the “Analysis” section].)

Elite members earn additional bonuses which “beef up” their return slightly, with top-tier Diamond members earning the equivalent of a 12% rebate (highlighted in salmon).

Here’s a summary of what is earned at each membership level:

Double points analysis

Analysis of triple points offer

Everything is that same as above except you earn 20 bonus promotion points per dollar (highlighted in purple) instead of 10.

Again, at my $0.004/point valuation, you’d earn a rebate worth anywhere between 14% and 16%.

Triple points analysis


First of all, don’t forget to register. I always just register for these things at the beginning, even if I don’t plan to stay during the promotion period. That way if an unexpected stay comes up I don’t lose out on bonuses for forgetting to register.

Some ways to potentially double/triple dip:

  • Sync and pay with an eligible American Express card to earn a $50 statement credit when you spend $250+ at a qualifying Hilton Hotels & Resorts property. (This offer expires September 2, 2014; details in this post.)
  • Alternatively, paying with a Hilton co-braded credit card would earn another 7, 10, or 12 points/$ (depending on which card it is).
  • Check the Hilton offers page for any potentially combinable promotions.

Finally, as always, be sure to read the T&Cs carefully.