Airline Credit cards: up first, Southwest Visa

I am a big advocate of the airline credit cards. It’s a good way to build up points and get free airfare which will ease the sting of paying for a vacation to let’s say Walt Disney World. I have a few of these and I will give you a run down of what I think are the best ones and a quick summary of them.

First card I will go over with you is the Southwest Airlines Visa card. Southwest is starting to become a favorite airline of mine. Only downfall is that there is pretty much n open seating when it comes to getting a seat on the plane. So no assigned seats but you get a boarding number which goes in order of when you check in, so check in right at that 24 hour mark to get the earliest number, or you can pay $15 to get one before to make sure you get a good seat. I have found as long as you can check in as close to the 24 hour opening to check in you should be ok.

Now with the Southwest card you get a bonus for signing up, if you spend up $1,000 or more with 3 months of opening the card up you get a bonus of 40,000 points added to your frequent flyer account. After that you get 1 point for every purchase made, and 2 points for every purchase made using your card on airfare, in flight drinks or snacks and entertainment. Really if you pay anything to Southwest using your card you get double points for every dollar spent.

Now I like this because the points needed for a free flight is not nearly as much as it is for a united flight. You still can find flights that seem to be a lot of points, but you can also find flights that are very low. In August I booked a flight round trip to Orlando for 5,000 points each way so it was about 10,000 points total. With United you are lucky to get a flight for 12,500 United miles for one way. So with your bonus with your card, those 40,000 points can go a long way towards airfare.

Also periodically Southwest will have a promotion where you get 50,000 miles when you open an account, you may need to specs $2,000 dollars but you get those extra 10,000 points,if you see this jump on it. You will also see this if you walk through the airport terminal and see a southwest visa kiosk.

Now there is a $69 yearly fee for the card so you must take that into account also, but you also get a bonus of 3,000 points each year on the anniversary of the opening of your account which can almost be a free ticket.

I suggest opening a Southwest card, the bonuses and points go a long way, to me Southwest is improving every time I fly with them and they just keep getting better. If you just learn to deal with the slight inconvenience with seating I think you will be flying with them more often, I have been.

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The biggest scam in travel… Resort fees

Nothing gets me more upset, gets me so animated while talking about travel than Resort fees. Resort fees are a hotel’s way of adding charges to a room to up the price per night. Plain and simple you get no added benefit from a resort fee or added “free perk” that is associated with the resort fee. It is a scam and just a way for them to issue a cheaper per night advertised rate to suck you in.

It seems most hotels are adding in a scam resort fee to their rates, problem is they don’t charge you when you book the room, they wait till you get there to tell you about the fine print of a $25 per night resort fee.

You are probably asking yourself, ” what exactly is included in the extra fee, what am I paying for?” Well taking a look at a popular Las Vegas casino on the strip, which is where Resort fees are out of control, the added cost gets you, ” fitness center access for 2 each day, free local phone calls, and daily wired internet access for one device.” Ok if you are in Vegas and you are using their fitness center each day, you aren’t doing Vegas right. Who uses the phones at the hotel anymore? I don’t think I’ve met a person in the last few years who does not carry a cell phone. As for that wifi, that’s why I have a data plan. You get all that for things you will never use for a paltry $32 a day extra fee. If you are there 7 days that is an extra $224 added on to your room price. In a lot of cases in a place like Vegas, that’s more or almost as much as a week stay. A lot of times I get comp rooms, which is a lie because I would still have to pay the $30 or whatever the price is for their resort fee. You want to stay at a casino with no resort fee? Well it’s pretty tough since only 5 don’t have one and they are no where near the strip.

Resort fees are not just in Vegas too, most hotel chains, most upscale hotels are implementing this scam. They try to keep it from at booking,  but rest assured you will be charged extra for the phones or the gym or the wifi all which you probably will never use.

I am waiting for the day where Walt Disney World starts adding a resort fee, or a cruise line will start adding a cabin fee of some sort. I do not think that is in the near future, but if you look at how much these resorts make on added resort fees you just never know.

Now what you can do while on your stay is ask to see a manager at the desk. Complain about these fees and the fact you never use the phone or never use the wifi or gym.  I know some don’t like doing this but in a lot of cases it may save you some extra money. I have had the resort fee taken off a lot of times, it’s a scam and just an addition to the room rate, nothing more. There is legislation across the country to regulate how hotels advertise their room rates and added fees, so hopefully these resort fees will be gone and more rights for the traveler will be brought up.

E-rewards.com, what is it and why you should sign up for it

E-rewards.com is a is a trademark of the Research Now Group, Inc. When you sign up to E-rewards you will be emailed random surveys to take part in. In most cases E-rewards will ask you about your interests and likes and give you the surveys closest to them. When you complete a Survey you receive compensation in the form or E-rewards dollars. Get a certain amount of E-rewards dollars and you can redeem them from your account for certain things. This is where you need to sign up for E-rewards.

You can redeem E-rewards dollars for gift cards, magazine subscriptions, gift cards to Best Buy, Starbucks and other places. But here is the best part for those who travel. You can redeem the dollars for United Miles, Southwest Airlines miles and Jet Blue miles. You can also use them to redeem Hertz points for your rental car. There are also other airline frequent flyer programs like Frontier you can redeem, and also hotel rewards points from some hotel chains.

In the last few weeks I redeemed $25 in E-rewards dollars to redeem 500 United miles and $25 to redeem 500 Jet Blue miles,  I will soon have enough to redeem 125 Hertz points. There are some restrictions though, you can only redeem 1 category for the company per time frame. A quick example: I redeemed the 500 United Miles for $25 in E-Rewards dollars, I have to wait about another month to be able to redeem the same thing, but I can have $50 in rewards dollars and redeem 1000 United miles, and you can get 2000 United miles for $100 E-rewards dollars, I just can’t get the 500 Miles for $25, you can only do each 1 once a month or so.

This right here is basically free miles or points for your favorite frequent flyer program. The longer the survey the more reward dollars you get. You can have short surveys which you may only get a dollar or 2 for, to long ones where I’ve gotten 10-15 rewards dollars for. You can collect dollars fairly quickly, and you can request the frequency to receive surveys through your email. You can ask for just 1-2 a week, or request 10+ a week like I do. There will be times where your answer to the survey are not what they are looking for, or they have revived the amount of answers already, when this happens you get a fraction on the rewards for your trouble , maybe a quarter or fifty cents.

Sign up for E-rewards right now. It’s basically free airline miles for very little work. I’ll go through my available surveys  either on my days off work or while I am laying in bed. Dollars can add up quick and so do the free miles, getting you closer to those free flights.

Is there really a best time to get cheapest Airfare?

Since my post yesterday about my hardship in finding cheap airfare, I was thinking about what really is the best times to find the cheapest airfare. The long standing theory is the best time to get that is 2 months out from your departure date. Well without getting too scientific and just going off my observations I’ll dig in further.

Now usually it does seem 2 months out or so is a good time…. usually. Other factors have to be taken into consideration. These can be the time of year, if it’s a holiday season, busy season for the location you are flying to, or if the airport is a popular business destination, such as New York or Chicago. If you are traveling to a large convention town, such as Orlando or Las Vegas, that will play into this also if there is a large convention in town. This will also effect Hotel prices.

But for 2 specific Airlines, Southwest and Jet Blue, I like to check air prices right when the dates come out for booking as long as I know when exactly we are going to be traveling. A lot of times the fares will start out low and work their way up. I am going away to Florida in August, checked Southwest and Jet Blue for fares when they became available. Jet Blue was a little high, but I was able to get Southwest for $180 pp rt, which is a great rate. United usually doesn’t start off cheap, but I’ll check. I’m in NJ so American and Delta don’t have direct flights out and the flights are normally high so inusually don’t even bother to check their rates. Spirit air is usually real cheap, but there are so many issues with them it’s just not worth it.

I realize I’m trying to predict what the airlines do, I’m trying to get a feel of past results and tendencies with them. It isn’t 100% perfect, but I have a pretty good track record trying to feel things out this way.

With the landscape now, rising price of oil may change things, but I personally think the price will stabilize and start coming down more. Some fares may be a little high now because of that, but I don’t think it will be a trend in the future.

Your best bet is to do what I said earlier, check Airlines right when they put the dates available for your date, if nothing just keep an eye on things, check every now and then for rates, check more frequently as you get closer. Keep an eye on the seat map, check to see what amount of seats are available. Granted that is 100% but a decently ok indicator. If there are a lot available, odds are there are still a lot of seats available. If there aren’t well prices will still be high… it’s supply and demand. If there aren’t a lot of seats, if you find an acceptable airfare jump on it. If it seems like there is a decent amount left, wait up. Prices will go down, be patient until you feel you get the right price. Be patient, don’t get nervous and panic. If you miss out, there is always Spirit Air!

What to do when Airfare is so high?

I have a trip to Disney planned in April, 2 weeks after Easter, so the heavy crowds should be all heading for home or already there. But here is my Dilemma, I have my DVC resort booked for the Beach Club, but decent Airfare is incredibly hard to find.

Prices are sky high, both flying to MCO and flying back home. Luckily, thanks to my signing up for the Southwest Airlines credit card I received 60,000 rewards points, add in referring people for the card and getting an extra 10,000 points each, I had more than enough to purchase   A flight going out from Newark to Orlando for my 2 kids, my wife and myself and the Mother on Law. Problem is  coming home I am not having much luck. Points are high for southwest and United, and prices are high, I am looking at about $1200-$1400 for the 5 of us just for the flight home. I can get a somewhat decent price if we wanted to fly out at 530 or 6am. But that’s not happening.

So here is my other option. I am possibly going to rent a car (SUV) for the week in Disney. Pick it up in MCO and then drive it home to New Jersey and drop it off in Newark for a little over $200 which is a good price. Or I can pick up a minivan at MCO on the Friday before we leave, drive it to NJ, drop it off in Newark, for about $60. So I have options, just have to drive home from Florida to Nj. Not ideal but it can save me some money. Booked it through Priceline and Hotwire so I have free cancellation just in case I am able to find a decent price for a flight home, which is very possible. But, I have to have a backup plan just in case these insanely high air prices don’t go down.

 

E-rewards.com, what is it and why you should sign up for it

E-rewards.com is a is a trademark of the Research Now Group, Inc. When you sign up to E-rewards you will be emailed random surveys to take part in. In most cases E-rewards will ask you about your interests and likes and give you the surveys closest to them. When you complete a Survey you receive compensation in the form or E-rewards dollars. Get a certain amount of E-rewards dollars and you can redeem them from your account for certain things. This is where you need to sign up for E-rewards.

You can redeem E-rewards dollars for gift cards, magazine subscriptions, gift cards to Best Buy, Starbucks and other places. But here is the best part for those who travel. You can redeem the dollars for United Miles, Southwest Airlines miles and Jet Blue miles. You can also use them to redeem Hertz points for your rental car. There are also other airline frequent flyer programs like Frontier you can redeem, and also hotel rewards points from some hotel chains.

In the last few weeks I redeemed $25 in E-rewards dollars to redeem 500 United miles and $25 to redeem 500 Jet Blue miles,  I will soon have enough to redeem 125 Hertz points. There are some restrictions though, you can only redeem 1 category for the company per time frame. A quick example: I redeemed the 500 United Miles for $25 in E-Rewards dollars, I have to wait about another month to be able to redeem the same thing, but I can have $50 in rewards dollars and redeem 1000 United miles, and you can get 2000 United miles for $100 E-rewards dollars, I just can’t get the 500 Miles for $25, you can only do each 1 once a month or so.

This right here is basically free miles or points for your favorite frequent flyer program. The longer the survey the more reward dollars you get. You can have short surveys which you may only get a dollar or 2 for, to long ones where I’ve gotten 10-15 rewards dollars for. You can collect dollars fairly quickly, and you can request the frequency to receive surveys through your email. You can ask for just 1-2 a week, or request 10+ a week like I do. There will be times where your answer to the survey are not what they are looking for, or they have revived the amount of answers already, when this happens you get a fraction on the rewards for your trouble , maybe a quarter or fifty cents.

Sign up for E-rewards right now. It’s basically free airline miles for very little work. I’ll go through my available surveys  either on my days off work or while I am laying in bed. Dollars can add up quick and so do the free miles, getting you closer to those free flights.