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Caroline Lupini

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Why Venture Cardholders Should Consider Chase Sapphire Preferred

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By: Caroline Lupini

The Capital One Venture Card is probably one you’re familiar with, even if you don’t have it in your wallet. It’s a card you’ll often see advertised on TV by Jennifer Garner. You know, the “what’s in your wallet?” commercial.

You have probably seen commercials for the Capital One Venture Card before

Well, I’m here to tell you today that the Capital One Venture card shouldn’t be in your wallet – or at least not the only card there. You might not believe me yet, but there’s another card out there that will be better for most people, instead of, or in addition to the Venture card.

Enter the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred: Learn More

The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 2X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar at restaurants and on travel purchases while all other purchases earn 1X point per dollar.

Right off the bat, this might not sound as good as the Venture card, but that’s because Venture uses very clever marketing that doesn’t provide the full picture.

Let’s address why the “double miles is better than 1” marketing slogan from Venture is incomplete. Yes, all else equal, double miles is better than one but it’s not a one to one comparison when examining Venture miles and Ultimate Rewards points.

With the Capital One Venture Card, you do earn 2X points per dollar on all purchases, but these points are worth one cent each when the points are redeemed for travel. They’ll never be worth more, and they’ll never be worth less. Really, what this means is that the Venture card is a flat 2% back credit card when redeeming points for travel. Unlike other cash back cards, it has an annual fee.

The Venture Card’s “double miles” pitch is the grown up equivalent of the classic “I’ll trade you 2 pennies for 1 dollar because 2 > 1”

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Easy Ways To Earn Extra Miles And Points

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By: Caroline Lupini

When you think about the number of miles you need for an award flight, it’s easy to get intimidated. You need ~12,500 miles just for a flight within the U.S. with most airlines and often times you’ll read that the best value is to redeem your miles for international business and first class tickets that cost 50,000 miles or more one-way. It’s no wonder that many people feel like they can’t earn enough miles for these types of trips.

Redeeming credit card points can be intimidating

We talk a lot about how you can earn miles through credit card sign-up bonuses on 10xTravel, but there are also some other great ways to easily earn points and miles that are easy to work into your regular routine to help you top up one of your accounts.

Here are 6 great ways you can earn a few more miles and points!

Shopping Portals

Many airlines and hotel loyalty programs have shopping portals that allow you to earn additional miles and points for online shopping you are already doing. Other portals will give you the option to earn additional cash back for these purchases.

Of course, you don’t want to have to take the time to compare rates between all of these different portals before you make your purchase. Luckily, you can quickly and easily compare rates between most shopping portals at CashbackMonitor so you don’t have to individually look on each site.

Now, you don’t always want to choose the program that’s offering the most points or miles back because you always need to consider how you value that type of point or mile (and also compare to the cashback rate!). For example, I looked up what you can currently get back for shopping at Apple.

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I have a lot of British Airways Avios right now, so I would rather earn 2X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent than 3X British Airways Avios. When you consider the flexibility of Ultimate Rewards points, the small difference might not matter very much. Continue Reading

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Chase Cards You Can Get After You Hit 5/24

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By: Caroline Lupini

Chase’s 5/24 rule isn’t new to the points and miles world anymore, but it’s a rule that always has to be kept in mind. If you’ve opened 5 or more personal cards (or business cards from Capital One) in the last 24 months, Chase won’t approve you for many of its credit cards.

At least for now. There are rumors that in the not-too-distant future, Chase will apply the 5/24 rule to all of its credit cards. That means that it could be time to take advantage of some cards that currently don’t fall under the 5/24 rule if you are already over 5/24.

Chase is rumored to be considering applying the 5/24 rule to all of their cards

Here are some Chase cards you might want to consider that aren’t subject to the 5/24 rule.

British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus Visa Signature Credit Cards

These three airlines are all part of International Airlines Group (IAG) and participate in the Avios loyalty program. Each airline has slightly different award charts and partner airlines, but points are freely transferable between the three airlines.

Each airline’s co-branded credit card currently has a maximum sign-up bonus of 100,000 Avios if you spend $20,000 in the first year. This is broken up into three parts: 50,000 Avios when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months, another 25,000 Avios if you spend $10,000 total in the first year, and another 25,000 Avios if you spend $20,000 in the first year. All three cards earn 3X Avios per dollar spent on Iberia, British Airways, Aer Lingus, LEVEL and OpenSkies, and 1X Avios (Avio?) per dollar spent on all other purchases.

Chase British Airways Card: Learn More

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Mystery Shop Your Way to Discounted Travel with SQM

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By: Caroline Lupini

Note: Before signing up for this service, make sure to read the full article. I have had great experiences with this company in the past, but my most recent experience was not great. I still think this can be a great way to save on flights, but make sure you know what you’re getting yourself in to head of time.

With points and miles, it’s possible to travel a lot more for a lot less. But even with points and miles, chances are good that you’ll still have to pay cash for a flight or hotel at some point in time.

When that time comes, you still shouldn’t settle for paying full price for your travel because you can mystery shop and save up to 50%! Evaluate It by SQM is a Toronto-based mystery shopping company, but they partner with a lot of U.S. companies!

Overview

If mystery shopping for discounted travel sounds intriguing to you, it’s really easy to get started. First, you’ll have to apply to be a mystery shopper with SQM. After you’ve been accepted, you can request assignments. If you’re approved for an assignment, you will need to complete an evaluation after finishing the assignment. Finally, you’ll be reimbursed up to 50% for your travel.

Types of Assignments

Evaluate It by SQM partners with a wide range of companies including hotels, resorts, airlines, travel companies, restaurants and attractions. Unfortunately, it’s against the terms to tell you exactly what companies they work with (plus it changes) but you probably won’t be disappointed with the options.

In all likelihood, the plane tickets and hotels will offer the largest savings and will be of the most interest of readers of 10xTravel. Let’s take a deeper look into how an evaluation works for flights and hotels!

How It Works

Once you’ve been approved to be a secret shopper with SQM, you’ll be able to see the available assignments. It’s possible to search both by type of assignment and by location. From there, you’ll be able to apply for assignments that interest you! Continue Reading

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Co-Branded Airline Credit Cards: Should You Use One To Pay For Flights?

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

By: Caroline Lupini

The best credit card to use to purchase tickets for a specific airline is rarely that airlines’ own co-branded credit card. Yes, you heard that right. If you’re buying a ticket on United Airlines, it doesn’t necessarily make sense to use the Chase United MileagePlus Explorer credit card. Likewise, if you’re flying American American, you shouldn’t assume that using the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select or Barclays Aviator Red card are your best bets.

The best credit card to buy an airline ticket is rarely that airline’s credit card

Why? And What’s Better?

There are a couple reasons why using an airlines’ co-branded card usually isn’t the best option. The two primary reasons are that other cards earn more points per dollar on airfare and that some other credit cards have better travel benefits automatically included so you don’t have to shell out extra cash to get the same benefits.

The one reason that it could make sense to use an airlines’ co-branded card to book your ticket is if it is required in order to get your free checked bag benefit that comes with your card. Some airlines require that you use their co-branded card, while others do not. We’ll go into more detail about this below.

So, now that you know that there are often better options than an airlines co-branded card, let’s look at a couple of those options. Two of the front runners are the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.

Chase Sapphire Preferred (learn more)

Chase Sapphire Reserve (learn more)

We’ll take a look at a couple of examples below to see when one card might be better for you than another. Depending on exactly what cards you are comparing and what your travel needs are, you might have to do a little bit of digging on your own to see what the best option is for you.

$300 Domestic Flight: United MileagePlus Explorer vs Chase Sapphire Preferred

Let’s assume you’re buying a $300 round-trip domestic ticket on United. The United MileagePlus Explorer card earns 2X United miles per dollar on United purchases, so you would earn 600 United miles.

If you had the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you would earn 2X Ultimate Rewards per dollar, so you would earn 600 Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Ultimate Rewards can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to United, so you have effectively earned the same thing. However, your points aren’t tied to United so they could be transferred to another transfer partner.

Both of these cards have a $95 annual fee. In this case, both cards offer very similar trip delay, baggage delay, and trip cancellation coverage.

If you booked with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’d have earned 3X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar. It comes with a higher annual fee, but a $300 travel credit helps offset it thought—and a ton of other benefits.

Now, the only time you would want to forgo the more flexible Ultimate Rewards points is if you don’t have status with United and you want to check a bag at no extra cost. To use the free checked bag benefit from the United Explorer card is to actually book your ticket with your United MileagePlus Explorer card.

To use the free checked bag benefit from the United Explorer card is to actually book your ticket with your United MileagePlus Explorer card

If you simply have the card but use a different card to book, United will not honor your free checked bag. If you have status or are on an itinerary that already includes a free checked bag, this won’t matter to you. Continue Reading

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American Airlines Business Class Review – Seoul to Dallas

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By: Caroline Lupini

I recently had the opportunity to try out business class on American Airlines on a Boeing 787 from Seoul (ICN) to Dallas (DFW).

Booking

I originally booked this flight in economy class for just a hair over $400 for the one-way flight from Seoul to Flint, Michigan via Dallas and Chicago. This review not discuss the domestic American Airlines flights.

I used my Citi Prestige Card to book my ticket and earned about 1,200 Citi ThankYou Points and ensure I had trip delay insurance as well as some other travel protections.

Since the flight from Seoul to Dallas is a pretty long one, I didn’t want to fly economy if there was a way around it. However, based on my needs as a digital nomad who spends much of the year traveling, the price was too good to use miles for business class.

Instead, I banked on being able to use an American Airlines Systemwide Upgrade (SWU). Four SWUs are giving to American Airlines AAdvantage who reach top-tier Executive Platinum status.

Pro-tip: Executive Platinum status with American Airlines requires 100,000 Elite Qualifying Miles plus $12,000 in Elite Qualifying Dollars. If work isn’t paying for your travel, it is very rarely worth spending your own money to earn elite status with an airline.

When you use a SWU, upgrade space must be available. Unfortunately, it wasn’t when I booked my flight so I put myself on the waitlist for an upgrade. About two weeks before my flight my upgrade request cleared, so I knew well in advance that I wasn’t going to be flying in economy.

American Airlines Business Class Seat and Cabin

I’ve flown American Airlines business class before, but never on their 787. The 787 is one of my favorite planes due to the dimming windows, lower cabin pressure, and higher humidity that makes flying just a bit more comfortable—of course, business class helps too.

The business class cabin features a 1-2-1 layout. This is a great configuration for solo travelers because no matter where you sit you don’t have to worry about climbing over other travelers if you need to get up.

On this flight, I chose a window seat on the right hand side of the plane for maximum privacy! Better yet, American Airlines features fully flat seats on their 787 so you can get comfortable when you’re ready to take a nap.

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American Airlines 787 Business Class Seat

I found the space of each business class seat to be very comfortable while sitting up, but a little narrow in the leg area when fully flat. Keep in mind that I am a side sleeper and tend to ball up a little bit, and there just wasn’t quite enough room to sleep comfortably that way. If you’re a back, stomach or slightly less balled up side sleeper, you’ll probably be totally comfortable. Continue Reading

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Chase Ink Unlimited: Our Full Review

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

By: Caroline Lupini

The Ink Business Unlimited Card is the latest business card offered by Chase. New cards are always a good thing because they mean new sign-up bonuses and, sometimes, it’s actually even a good card!

The Chase Ink Business Unlimited is one of those good ones. There are a lot of reasons to consider getting this card, which I’ll outline below. I’ll also mention why it may not make sense to apply for this card right now.

The Chase Ink Unlimited is the newest business card to be released by Chase

First, let’s take a quick look at the offer details.

Chase Ink Unlimited (learn more)

  • $500 bonus cash back (50,000 Ultimate Rewards points) after $3,000 spend in the first 3 months
  • Unlimited 1.5x points on every purchase
  • No annual fee

Great Features of the Ink Business Unlimited Card

First off, as already mentioned above, a new card means a new sign-up bonus. The Ink Business Unlimited Card currently offers a sign-up bonus of $500 after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months after opening your account.

However, when spend on the Ink Business Unlimited Card, you’re not really earning simple cash back, you’re really earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points which can be even more valuable! We like to think of the sign-up bonus as really 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

These points can be redeemed for $500 in cash back, but can also be transferred to Chase’s travel partners like United, Hyatt, and British Airways as long as you also have a premium Chase credit card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred.

Chase Sapphire Preferred (learn more) Continue Reading

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How to Use Points/Miles to Get to Israel

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By: Caroline Lupini

Israel is a highly popular travel destination for all who are fascinated by history and want to experience some gorgeous natural scenery. With all of this demand for travel, award seats are tough to come by – in any class of service.

If you want to use your miles to fly to Israel, the best way might be whatever award space you can find when you need it. That being said, it’s good to keep in mind what airlines offer better redemptions to Israel.

Below, we’ll discuss you some of the best ways to get to Israel with points and miles in economy and business class.

Economy

25,000-29,000 Air France-KLM Flying Blue Miles

Air France/KLM Flying Blue gets a lot of press when it comes to redeeming miles between the U.S. and Israel. That’s because Flying Blue considers Israel to be part of Europe. So, you’ll pay the same number of miles to fly from the U.S. to France as you will pay to fly from the U.S. to Israel when you use Flying Blue miles.

There are some changes coming to the Flying Blue program coming June 1, 2018, but awards from the U.S. to Israel will still be an absolute steal! Depending on your departure city, you’ll be able to find one-way economy awards for 25,000 to 29,000 Flying Blue miles

Note that when booking with Flying Blue, you will pay fuel surcharges. In economy class, these will likely run you about $300 on a round trip booking. You can keep the surcharges lower by flying out of the U.S. on Delta.

You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, SPG Starpoints, and American Express Membership Rewards to Flying Blue at a 1:1 ratio.

Chase Sapphire Preferred (learn more) Continue Reading

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Full Details of the New Marriott Credit Cards

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By: Caroline Lupini

As the Marriott and Starwood merger continues to move forward, more has become known about what the new program is going to look like. Part of that is the new credit cards that are going to be issued by both Chase and American Express.

New Marriott credit cards will be issued by both Chase and American Express

In this article, we’ll take a look at each of these cards. Some of the new cards are available already, so let’s take a look at those first!

Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card

The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card is the refreshed version of the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card. The sign-up bonus for this card is a respectable 100,000 Marriott points after spending $5,000 within the first three months.

Image result for marriott premier plus credit card

Additionally, you’ll get the following benefits:

  • Annual free night award after card renewal (up to 35,000 points)
  • Silver elite status
  • Gold status after spending $35,000 (starting in 2019)
  • 15 elite night credits (starting in 2019)
  • Complimentary in-room premium wifi (starting in August 2018)
  • 6X points per dollar spent on Marriott and SPG purchases
  • 2X points per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • $95 annual fee

Marriott Premier Plus credit card (learn more)

Overall, the Marriott Premier Plus card is a slight upgrade from the Marriott Premier card, but also comes with a slightly higher annual fee. The Marriott Premier card capped the free night at Category 5—equivalent to 25,000 points per night—and only offered 5X points per dollar spent on Marriott and SPG purchases and 1X point per dollar spent on all other purchases. It also only has an $85 annual fee.

Those who have the Marriott Rewards Premier Card have the option to keep their card with the old benefits or upgrade their card to the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus. Chase has offered upgrade bonuses from 10,000 to 50,000 Marriott points, but this upgrade bonus is instead of the 100,000-point sign-up bonus. My upgrade offer was 20,000 bonus points and I elected not to take it for the time being.

Marriott Premier Plus credit card (learn more) Continue Reading

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How to Get to South Africa with Points and Miles

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

By: Caroline Lupini

South Africa is a great country to visit with something to fit every travel style. You have amazing hiking, world-class vineyards, safaris and more! Unfortunately, travel times to South Africa are generally quite long with many routings going through countries in the Middle East or Europe.

When you’re flying that far, upgrading to business class is the best way to make your journey more comfortable and when cash tickets for economy class are high, it can be a pretty good deal.

Below, I’ll show you some of the best ways to get to South Africa with miles and points in economy, business, and even first class!

Economy

32,500 ANA Mileage Club Miles (Round-Trip Booking Required)

ANA Mileage Club offers the cheapest award flights between the U.S. and South Africa, but only if you book round-trip flights. This means you’ll need to have plans for round-trip travel and be able to find award availability in both directions.

However, you will also pay fuel surcharges of $500-600 round-trip depending on which airline partner you fly. It may not be worth paying extra cash to save 5,000 miles, but it depends on how many and what type of miles you have as well as what airlines have award space when you want to travel.

You can transfer SPG Starpoints or American Express Membership Rewards points to ANA Mileage Club at a 1:1 ratio. Don’t forget, if you transfer 20,000 Starpoints, you will receive a 5,000-mile bonus with any of its airline partners.

(Also note that Starwood is being fully merged with Marriott on August 1, though this will not fundamentally change this strategy)

 You can fly round trip to South Africa for just 32,500 ANA miles. Just watch out for those fees!

37,500 American AAdvantage Miles

American Airlines partners with two airlines that can get you to South Africa with your miles: Qatar Airways and British Airways. Either way, you’ll pay 37,500 American AAdvantage miles to fly one-way between the U.S. and South Africa. However, British Airways does pass on steep fuel surcharges so you’ll pay a lot more cash if you fly on British Airways than Qatar Airways.

You can transfer SPG Starpoints to your American AAdvantage account at a 1:1 ratio. You can also earn American miles directly through one of their co-branded cards provided by either Citi or Barclays. Both banks provide business and personal versions of these co-branded cards Continue Reading