March 1 2015

Get 20% and $25 off at Virgin America, Earn Miles via United Shopping App

Good evening – I hope everyone had a nice weekend!

A few quick notes for you…


Earn miles shopping through United’s MileagePlus X app

United’s newly-launched MileagePlus X app provides a way to earn miles for in-store shopping.

UA MileagePlus X app

The video is pretty clear, but to summarize:

  • Download the app.
  • Log in to your MileagePlus account. The app will sync your account with the payment cards stored in your profile.
  • Search for participating stores (they should load automatically based on your location).
  • At the register, enter the total purchase price into the app to buy an electronic gift card for that amount, then show the app to the cashier to complete the purchase.

The process is a little more convoluted than I prefer since I like things as automated (i.e. brainless for me) as possible, but I shouldn’t complain about getting miles for buying stuff I’d have bought anyway.

One important consideration is you’re paying with a gift card (purchased on the spot through the app) – which is not the same thing as paying directly with a credit card.

Credit cards often provide warranties and other consumer protections not provided by gift cards. And if you return the merchandise you’ll likely be refunded in the form of a store credit.


Virgin America 10% or 20% off

If you’re still looking for spring break travel discounts, Virgin America is offering up to 20% off through today (March 1st).

VA 20 pref

Be sure to use promo code ESCAPE20 and note the 20% is valid for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday travel between March 6 and April 9, 2015.

Monday, Thursday, and Friday travel receive 10% off.


Virgin America $25 off $50+

Also from Virgin America, purchase a flight using Visa Checkout and earn $25 off a future flight.

VA Visa Checkout

Any credit card can be used with Visa Checkout, and if you don’t already have an account you can create one in the process.

Do note:

  • Offer is valid until March 15, 2015 or while supplies last.
  • The $25 discount (which should come by email in 1-2 weeks) must be redeemed by July 31, 2015 for travel flown by January 4, 2016.

Enjoy the remaining weekend!


November 25 2014

50% off Skype Credit

Skype is a great tool that makes international phone calls economical – whether you’re at home calling abroad or vice versa.

Though there are other services for the same purpose, Skype is my personal favorite for ease of use and call quality/reliability.

You can do a lot for free on Skype, but many features – including international calling features – are not free. I’ve never paid full price for them though; I find ways to buy Skype credit at a discount.

Currently Newegg is offering 50% off Skype prepaid credit – the highest discount I’ve seen from any credible retailer.

Various denominations are available here.

Newegg Skype Credit

Use promo code EMCWWHE39 for the discount. (Expires tomorrow, November 26.)



August 17 2014

Skype Credit 30% Off at eBay

Skype is a great travel tool as it makes international phone calls economical – whether you’re at home calling abroad or vice versa.

Last week I wrote about how to save money on Skype. Today there is a new deal that’s just as valuable – but easier to obtain.

You can simply buy Skype credit for 30% off through eBay.

Skype Credit via eBay

I made a purchase and received my redemption code within minutes. (However, once redeemed, Skype itself took a while – about an hour – to reflect my updated account balance. Just FYI.)

You do need a PayPal account for this transaction but it only takes a few minutes to create one if you don’t already have.


June 6 2014

Expedia Savings: $25 Off a Hotel Booking ($50 Off in New York) via App

Expedia app offers

Expedia is offering several discounts for hotel bookings made through the mobile app:

  • $25 off your first hotel booking of $100+ (book and travel by Dec. 31, 2014). Coupon code MOBILE25.
  • $50 off a New York hotel booking of $200+ (book by June 13 and travel between June 13 and Aug. 31, 2014). Coupon code MOBILENYC50.

These are good discounts, but before you get too excited note there is a (quite lengthy) list of non-participating hotels. The list includes many chains so this offer might be better suited for bookings at more boutique establishments.

These are also bonuses for Expedia Rewards members (signup is free):

  • Earn 500 points for downloading the app.
  • Earn triple points for each hotel or flight booked on the app.

For convenience, I’ve pasted below the T&Cs and list of non-eligible hotels shown for the MOBILE25 offer at this writing, but be sure to double check at the time of booking.

Terms & conditions for MOBILE25 offer

Offer: Receive an instant $25 mobile coupon discount off a hotel stay using the Expedia® hotels app on a smart phone or tablet. The price of the qualifying booking must be at least $100 before taxes and fees. How to redeem: Access the mobile app on your smart phone or tablet and select a qualifying hotel stay. On the checkout page, click on “Enter a coupon or promotion code”, and enter the code: MOBILE25. Restrictions: Coupon must be redeemed on by 11:59 PM (Pacific Time) on December 31, 2014, for travel between now and December 31, 2014. Limited time offer: subject to change. Limit one (1) coupon per user account and per qualifying hotel booking. This offer is from and is valid for U.S. customers only. Customers affiliated with Expedia’s Travel Agent Affiliate Program are not eligible for offer. Coupon valid for eligible Expedia Rate Hotels only . Bookings subject to availability and all applicable terms and conditions. Coupon may not be used with other coupons, promotions or special offers. Coupon discount cannot be applied against taxes, supplier-charged fees, cancellation or change penalties, administrative fees or other miscellaneous charges, which are the sole responsibility of the customer. A coupon will be deemed fully used once a qualifying booking has been made and may not be reused. In the event that you change or cancel any part of your booking, the coupon will not apply to the changed travel schedule.Terms and conditions of this coupon are as written and cannot be changed by any representation of any unauthorized person, including employees of Expedia, Inc. Coupon is not transferable and is not redeemable for cash. Expedia, Inc. may revoke or change this offer at any time. Void where prohibited by law.

Non-eligible hotels

Accor, All Seasons, Aloft, Adagio, Starwood, Amari Hotel and Resorts, Ana Hotels International, Angsana, Aston Resorts, Autograph Collection Hotels & Resorts, Anantara, Ascend Collection, Banyan Tree, Bulgari Hotels & Resorts, Choice, Cambria, Campanile, Candlewood Hotel, Carlson, Clarion, Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Conrad, Country Inn & Suites, Courtyard, Crown Plaza, Doubletree, Diamond Resorts, Econo Lodge, Edition, Element, Embassy Suites, Etap, Eviivo Small Hotels, Execustay, Fairfield Inn, Formule 1, Fairmont, Fortune Hotels, Four Points, Four Seasons, Furama, Gaylord Entertainment, Global Hotels & Resorts, Global Hyatt, Golden Tulip, Grand Mercure, Hampton Inn, Hesperia, Hilton Worldwide, Holiday Inn, Homewood Suites, Hotel Indigo, Ibis, Independent, Innside, Inter-Continental, Jolly Hotels, Kamath, Kyriad, La Quinta, Langham Hotels, Le Meridien, Loews, Louvre Hotels, Luxury Collection, M Gallery, MainStay Suites, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Marriott International, Melia Hotels International, Mercure, MGM, Missoni Hotels, Movenpick Hotels & Resorts, NH Hotels, Novotel, Oberoi Hotels & Resorts, Omni, Orbis, Paradisus, Park, Pear Tree Inn, Premiere Classe, Pullman Hotels and Resorts, Quality, Quay West, Radisson, Raffles Intl Hotels and Resorts, Renaissance, Residence Inn, Ritz-Carlton, RIU Hotels, Rodeway Inn, Rosewood Hotels, Sandals Resorts, Scandic Hotels, Sea Temple, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, Sheraton Hotel, Six Senses Resorts & Spas, Sleep Inn, Sofitel, Sol, Soneva, SpringHill Suites, St Regis, Starwood, Staybridge Suites, Suburban Extended Stay, Suite Novotel, Swiss Quality Hotels, Swissotel, Taj Hotels, Resorts & Palaces, The Gateway Hotels, The Peninsula Group, TownePlace Suites, Trident Hotels, Tryp Hotels, Tulip Inn, Vivanta by Taj, W Hotel, Waldorf Astoria, Westin, Wyndham, Vincci.

April 6 2014

Using Technology to Make Travel Easier – a Look at Google Flight Search

Urban Dictionary defines a Technosaur as a person with “…absolutely no ability to operate any electronic device that was made after 1985…This person may be your mom, grandpa, professor, 50+ co-worker, etc…Often, the vary [sic] devices that dumbfound them have been specifically made so that a small child can easily operate them, yet the Technosaur is unable.”

As a business person, I haven’t spent much time working with young people. But I enjoy teaching, so last year I took advantage of an opportunity to teach at a nearby university. Although not my first time teaching, it was my first time teaching students still in their teens.

They were amused and confused to find I wasn’t the technophobe they apparently envisioned. I honestly think they expected a Technosaur barely able to operate a cell phone, but to their credit they were pretty good at not saying so to my face.

To be clear, I’m not technically inclined in the least. But while I may not understand the underlying science, I have no problem taking advantage of technology as a consumer. In this day and age, with so many demands on our time and resources, shunning technology makes life harder than need be. I’ve talked about travel apps like Google Translate, Lyft, and Uber – all of which make my traveling life easier.

Another tool I like is Google Flight Search. Although introduced a while ago, refinements over time have made it increasingly useful to me.

It works much like other search tools when you need to find and compare flights – you input your origin, destination, and travel dates, and it returns flight options and prices. Searching for a roundtrip from New York to Paris in mid-June, here’s a snippet of what I got:


Helpful, but really no more so than many other search tools out there.

Where I find unique value is in the tool’s filtering options. Let’s say I don’t specifically need to go to Paris. I just happen to have that week free and would like to see where the good fares from New York are. I leave the destination field blank and it returns a map showing fares to places around the country. I can quickly scan the map to see what various destinations will cost:



Zooming out to destinations around the world, I spot a sub-$700 fare to Lima (Machu Picchu, anyone?).



To drill down further, I click on Lima and then on the bar graph icon (right below the second date box). It shows me a two-month calendar of fares, highlighting a $595 fare on June 3:


Note the blue bar graph below the calendar – a visual representation of the fluctuation in prices over several months. (Click on any bar to be shown flights for that exact date.) Finally, note the arrows on the bottom left where you can quickly change the duration of your trip. Sometimes shortening or extending your trip by just a day yields a better fare.

There are also options to filter by airline alliance, number of stops, and connecting airports, among other things.

I find the option to filter by price and duration particularly useful. Let’s say I have a free weekend and want to go somewhere close and cheap but I don’t know what that would be. I can simply fill in my origin city and travel dates, leave the destination field blank, filter by flight duration (let’s say under 4 hours) and cost (let’s say under $350)…and quickly see what my options are.


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