Practicing What I Preach

A few months ago, I put together a list of credit cards I thought were ideal for the New York City-based traveller, based on some of my own experiences as well as some educated guesses. You can read that post here, but to recap the four cards were:

Then, a few weeks ago, I realized I had all four of those cards, and that maybe I should try to live with my recommendation for a month, to see if it was actually sound advice (NOTE: I do not guarantee that all advice here is sound, take it with as much stock as you like).

Follow the jump to find out what the challenge is!

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Summer Vacation Recap

Yeah I know, I know:  LATE. Better late than, never I suppose! This was definitely a cash-based summer, womp womp.

First, we spent 5 days in Cape Cod with Nick’s family. We took the train to Providence, RI and then were picked up for the drive to the cape. We stayed in a VRBO (this one) and had a great time exploring and sitting on the beach.

Next, and after two long days at work, we hopped back on Amtrak to spend Labor Day with my family. We can practically do this trip (train to bus) in our sleep, we’ve done it so many times! On the way up, we took the Northeast Regional and on the way back we took the Acela–it was cheaper than the slow train!

Item Points Used Money Spend
2x Amtrak tickets, 8/26, NYP-PVD 5,571 ($153.00 value) $0.00
VRBO for 4 nights 0 $670.00 (our share)
2x Amtrak tickets, 8/30, PVD-NYP 0 $98.00
2x Amtrak tickets, 9/1, NYP-BOS  0  $76.00
2x Concord Coach roundtrip tickets, BOS-CON  0  $60.00
2x Amtrak tickets, 9/5, BOS-NYP  0  $207.00

Overall, we used 5,571 points and spent $1,111. Sticker shock–reminds me why I try to collect and use points for all our travels!

LOL, yeah right.

We did earn 868 Amtrak points for all this travel, which is something (a very small something). Good thing our upcoming vacations were, for the most part, booked with points!

Starwood Preferred Guest Card – Updated Bonus

Please note that I will always try to post the best sign-up bonus, but you should also do your own research!

Card:  Starwood Preferred Guest Card by American Express


Normally, this card rewards you with 25,000 points for spending $3,000 in 90 days. Every year, the bonus goes to 30,000-35,000 points for about a month.

This, however, is a brand new offer:  2 free nights after you spend $3,000 in 90 days. These free nights can be used on category 1-5 SPG properties. If you’ve been holding out on getting this card, is now the time to jump on this? My answer is…maybe but mostly no, and here’s why:

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At it’s best, this bonus is worth 24,000-32,000 points and at it’s very worst, this bonus is worth only 4,000-6,000 points. Clearly, you should NOT use this bonus for a category 1 stay. The only way this bonus is a better value than the 25,000 point bonus (still available here) is if you stay at a category 5 property.

In addition, if you’re planning on staying at a category 1-3 property, the points will get you more than 2 nights:

  • Category 1:  8-12 nights
  • Category 2:  6-8 nights
  • Category 3:  3 nights

My verdict:  unless you have a two-night stay coming up in an area with a category 5 property, go with the original, 25,000 point bonus while you still can.

Amtrak Double Days Promo is Back!

I think this post speaks for itself, but in case you needed it again:  the Amtrak Double Days promotion is back! From 9/19 (tomorrow!) to 11/19, you’ll earn twice as many points on paid trips are you normally would. You’ll need to register, which you can do by following the link in the tweet below.

This was a welcome surprise, as Nick and I have a trip to Baltimore planned for late October–we’ll go from earning 240 Amtrak miles each to 480 miles each! That’s 20% of a one-way ticket from New York to Boston if you book early enough! Speaking of which, book those Thanksgiving and Christmas trips now if you can–Amtrak can get expensive the closer you get to your date of departure, especially around the holidays.

What Can You Do With 80,000 jetBlue Miles?

Last week, I was approved for the jetBlue Plus credit card by Barclaycard, which will earn me 30,000 points after I spend $1,000 in 90 days. Once I reach the minimum spend, I’ll have about ~82,000 points for travel on jetBlue.

The million dollar question is–what can you do with all these points? Below, I’ve laid out 5 examples of NYC-based redemptions, and the points required for them. 4 of the 5 will allow me to take Nick along with me, with points left over! So what are we waiting for? Let’s dive in!

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A New Addition to My Wallet – jetBlue!

Recently, I took a whirlwind of a trip to Hyannis and back on jetBlue to earn 50,000 bonus miles, thanks to the #GoForthWithJetblue promotion–you can read about that saga here:  part 1, part 2, part 3.

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After that was all set and done, I thought that applying for the jetBlue Plus credit card would be a great way to add even more points to my jetBlue balance–30,000 to be exact. For a NYC-based traveller, jetBlue is a great option, offering 200+ flights a day from the NYC metro area. To recap the benefits of the card:

Continue reading “A New Addition to My Wallet – jetBlue!”