All Posts By

Bryce Conway

Blog

The Marriott/Starwood Merger: What You Need to Know (And What You Should Be Doing Right Now)

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: Bryce Conway, Founder of 10xTravel.com

Hi Travel Junkies,

Yesterday Marriott announced the details of their new combined loyalty program with Starwood Preferred Guest and the changes were surprisingly not terrible.

I’ll leave all the nitty-gritty details to the dozens of other outlets that covered them and skip right to the good stuff; How the changes impact you and what you should be doing right now as a result of them.

Let’s get started:

How the Changes Impact You:

1) The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card is going to lose value as a day-to-day spending option

Perhaps the worst news from yesterday is the fact that the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card, a staple in the wallet of any points fanatic, is about to lose a lot of value on August 1 when it comes to non-bonus category spending rewards.

This is due to the fact that this card will now earn 2x Marriott points per $1 on all non-category purchases, which is a 33% devaluation from its previous ability to earn 1x on everything and then transfer those points to Marriott at a rate of 1:3 (effectively earning 3 Marriott points per $1 spent).

The Business version of this credit card also was stripped of its Sheraton club access, a perk that many (including myself) use to justify keeping it year after year.

The silver lining is that the Starwood Business card will now earn 4x points on restaurant, gas station, phone, and shipping services.

Oh, and American Express will be launching a new premium Starwood Credit Card  in August that comes with a $450 fee and all the usual premium card benefits. We are not sure if this card will be offering a limited time offer to sign up, but here’s to hoping.

(My guess is that it will)

2) Airline Transfers remain relatively unchanged

This was easily the biggest surprise in my book. I fully expected Marriott to take a hatchet to the airline transfer partners and they ended up changing virtually nothing.

The new program will retain all the current SPG transfer partners as well as add 10 more (though many of the 10 already were available with Marriott).

The numbers change a bit but the ratios do not. Marriott points can transfer 3 to 1 to participating airline programs with a 15,000 point bonus for every 60,000 points transferred. This is just the current Starwood transfer rate (1:1, 5k bonus per 20k transferred) multiplied by 3 to account for the new conversion rate.

Speaking of the conversion rate….

3) All of Your Starpoints will be converted to Marriott Points on August 1 at a rate of 1 Starpoint > 3 Marriott Points

This is more of an FYI than anything. 1 Starpoint to 3 Marriott points has been the conversion rate since Marriott acquired Starwood anyway. And overall it is a very fair exchange in my book.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Marriott didn’t take the opportunity to devalue Starpoints and leave no time for members to transfer them beforehand.

So what should you be doing in response to these changes? Let’s talk about that for a moment. Continue Reading

Blog

Flight Review: Spirit Airlines from Columbus to Las Vegas (And Back)

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post and I have been compensated by Spirit Airlines for producing it. The opinions here are completely my own and are based on my own experience.

By: Bryce Conway – Founding Editor of 10xTravel.com

Hi Travel Junkies,

I just got back from a quick weekend trip to Vegas with some friends that featured my first ever flight on Spirit Airlines.

image3 3

Spirit Airlines Economy Columbus > Vegas

Image 1 2

We took our friends, Caleb & Allison with us!

As you may recall, Spirit just launched service to and from Columbus’ John Glenn International in February and partnered with us here at 10xT to promote it by giving away 2 free flight vouchers.

They now offer daily non-stop flights from Columbus to Las Vegas, Fort Lauderdale, and Orlando as well as seasonal routes to Ft. Myers, Tampa, Myrtle Beach, and New Orleans.

Spirit also threw in a few vouchers for myself and some friends so naturally we decided to fly to Vegas for the weekend to give them a try.

In full disclosure, the vouchers came with one free checked bag and free seat selection (I was not aware of this until I checked in to my flight). Which is certainly not “normal” for the average Spirit flyer but I did my best to work around it for this review.

Like most travelers, I am very familiar with Spirit’s reputation for hidden fees and frequent delays. Almost everyone I spoke to leading up to the trip warned me about what I was getting myself in to.

But I am happy to report that the trip went off (almost) without a hitch and I was satisfied with my experience. Here’s how it went down. Continue Reading

Blog

Best Credit Card Offers – April 2018

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: Bryce Conway – Founding Editor of 10xTravel.com

Every month the 10xTravel staff discusses the current credit card offers available and then share them. Today, we are going to take a look at the best offers for April 2018.

We rank these offers by looking at their signup bonus, cardholder perks, ongoing value and any fees they may charge. And while the best offer for you will vary depending on a number of factors, we are going to rank the top offers based on the order in which we think they should be chosen by the average person.

This month features a few changes as a number of cards have raised and lowered their offers in the last month. To be honest, it was hard to rank some of them because we had to weigh “this is the best offer we have seen on this card in a while” against “which has the higher overall value”. With that in mind, there will be some variability based on your individual circumstances.

If you’ve ever watched the NFL Draft before, consider this list my version of “Todd’s Big Board”. It’s simply the best overall cards available without regard to a specific points/miles need.

We also divide these top credit offers in to two lists, one for those of you who are over 5/24 and one for those of you who are under.

(If you don’t know what the Chase 5/24 rule is you’re going to want to give this a read)

As always, feel free to email us with questions about your own situation and we’d be happy to help you select the best card for you.

Here we go!

If you are under 5/24, here are the best cards available right now:

  1. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Current Offer:

  • 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 5,000 bonus points when you add an authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months
  • 2 points per $1 spent on dining and travel, 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • Trip delay and primary rental car insurance
  • $95 annual fee, waived the first year 

Commentary:

Once again, the Chase Sapphire Preferred comes in at #1 overall because of its incredible signup bonus, reasonable annual fee (that is also waived for the first year), and the amazing value of the points it earns.

This card was available with a 60,000 point bonus for a hot second last week but that appears to be gone.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are widely considered to be among the best points in the industry thanks to their ability to be transferred to multiple airline and hotel partners. This gives you a ton of options for redeeming your points no matter where you want to travel.

You can also redeem Ultimate Rewards to book travel via the Chase travel portal at a value of 1.25 cents per point, meaning the 50,000 bonus points offered by this card are worth a minimum of $625 when redeemed to book travel.

Transferring them to Chase’s many transfer partners can provide the highest redemption values if you know where to look.

One of the best examples of this is round trip to Hawaii for just 25,000 Korean SKYPASS miles. Meaning that the 50,000 point signup bonus from this card could score you two round-trip flights to Hawaii.

Check out our recent article on why this should be the first card you start with for more information.

Note that Chase has imposed new restrictions on the Chase Sapphire cards that limit your ability to get multiple versions of them. [More details on that here]. 

Continue Reading

Blog

Is the MasterCard Black Card Worth the $495 Fee?

By: Bryce Conway – Founding Editor of 10xTravel.com

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

Hi Travel Junkies,

Today, we’re going to answer a few questions about a relatively new credit card on the market that is generating quite a bit of buzz, the MasterCard Black Card.

We have been getting a ton of questions about this card over the past couple weeks, probably due to the extensive marketing they have done lately.

So, is the MasterCard Black Card a good option for you?

Let’s start by taking a quick look at the offer details:

  • Earn 1 point for every $1 you spend
  • Points are worth 2 cents each when redeemed for airfare, 1.5% for cash back
  • Annual $100 airline credit (includes airline tickets, baggage fees, etc.)
  • $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck
  • Luxury Card Concierge access 24/7
  • Primary cardholders receive membership to Priority Pass
  • $495 annual fee, not waived ($195 fee per additional users)

To put it bluntly, The MasterCard Black Card is basically the equivalent of taking a $7 bottle of gas station vodka, dumping it in to an empty Grey Goose bottle, then strutting around a nightclub like you own the place.

It’s buying a $50 Timex watch, scratching off the “Tim”, writing “Rol” with a fine-point sharpie, and then showing off your brand new “Rolex” to all your friends.

It’s taking a Capital One Venture Card, spray painting it black, writing “Black Card” on the front, and posting a picture to Instagram with the #HatersWillSayItsPhotoshopped (this one is way more accurate than you think. More on that in a bit).

Continue Reading

Blog, Success Stories

Reader Success Story: A $20,466 Trip To Australia For Just $343.80

Guest Post By: Matt Brown

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

We just got back from an insane almost 3 week trip to Australia to celebrate my wife and my 5th Anniversary along with my father in law’s 65th birthday. We flew business class and stayed in some insane hotels that we never would have had experienced without miles and points!

My wife and I first started collecting miles and points in early 2016. In just over the 2 years, we’ve been able to collect over 2 million points to put toward a variety of travels. Thanks to award travel, we haven’t paid directly out of pocket for flights and most hotels in almost 2 years, and we don’t plan on changing that anytime soon!

One trip I’d always wanted to do was an extended trip to Australia. So, in March 2018, my wife and I—as well as her parents—headed Down Under for a few weeks of fun!

The most famous landmark in Sydney from the Park Hyatt Sydney.

(Note: These all only cover my wife and my travel logistics/costs/etc)

Our Australia Adventure: An Overview

·      Greensboro to New York City (positioning flight)

·      JW Marriott Essex House (1 night) – New York City

·      New York City to Seoul, South Korea to Sydney Australia

·      Park Hyatt (2 nights) – Sydney

·      Sheraton on the Park (2 nights) – Sydney

·      Sydney to Cairns

·      AirBNB (3 nights) – Port Douglas

·      Cairns to Brisbane

·      Brisbane Marriott (2 nights)

·      Brisbane to Melbourne

·      Park Hyatt (3 nights) – Melbourne

·      Melbourne to Sydney

·      Marriott Circular Quay (1 night) – Sydney

·      Sydney to Seoul to Chicago

·      Marriott Suites O’Hare (1 night) – Chicago

·      Chicago to Greensboro

I had a few goals in mind for the Australia trip. I wanted to fly on an Airbus A380 (still haven’t as of yet!) in business or first class and I wanted to stay in some of the nicest hotels possible on points—most notably the Park Hyatt in both Sydney and Melbourne. Fortunately, we were able to do just that.

How We Earned The Points For A Luxury Trip To Australia

To save up for this trip (and other trips), we use a strategic credit card plan that involved opening the following cards to help build up our balances of mostly SPG and Chase Ultimate Rewards points. The number following the card will indicate if one or both of us opened it.

Editor’s note: Some of these bonuses have changed or are no longer available

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve Card (2) – 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2) – 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points
  • Chase Ink Business Preferred (1) –  80,000 Ultimate Rewards points
  • Chase Ink Business Plus (1) – 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points (no longer available)
  • Chase Ink Business Cash (1) – 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points
  • Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express (2) – 35,000 SPG Starpoints
  • Starwood Preferred Business Guest Credit Card from American Express (2) – 35,000 SPG Starpoints
  • Chase Hyatt Credit Card (1) – 2 free nights

Total Points:

  •  550,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points
  • 140,000 SPG Starpoints
  • 2 Free Nights at any Hyatt property worldwide

Along with the above cards, we eventually product-changed duplicate cards to the Chase Freedom to take advantage the 5x quarterly bonus categories when applicable. Further, once you start taking super nice trips, your friends start asking questions and want to get in on the secrets of free travel, and this opens up lots of referral opportunities that we’ve been able to use very well and earn points from!

On top of sign-up bonuses, we organized our everyday spending to maximize bonus categories. Since we eat out and travel a lot, we get great returns on the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card thanks to the travel and dining bonus categories which earn 3X points.

We also charge almost everything on our various credit cards (mortgage, utilities, etc.) to maximize points earnings. However, it’s worth noting that we never carry a balance as the interest costs easily far outweigh the value of the points earned.

Where we were able to make the most ground up however is the fact that we’re both self-employed with online businesses (I do web development and my wife runs an Etsy store), and a number of the online services that we use allow us to earn 3X with our Chase Ink Business Preferred cards.

When you combine bonus category spending, our businesses’ spending and other personal spending, we were really able to build up large points balances very quickly.

Here We Go!

With our points in hand, we set out to put together an itinerary that would allow us to have a trip throughout eastern Australia. We wanted to be sure we were able to cover a lot of ground and see all of the various sites we wanted to see at a relaxing pace.

We knew that we couldn’t see all of Australia in one trip, so we’ve left plenty to come back for on future trips. We also wanted to take advantage of some super nice accommodations on this trip.

Highlights Of Our Australia Adventure

We live in North Carolina, which isn’t great for accessing long-haul international flights to anywhere but Europe. Because of this, and by taking advantage of British Airways’ distance based award chart, we used a quick 15,000 British Airways Avios transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards to position ourselves in New York City.

We mainly chose to position in New York City because we were flying on a separate ticket the day before we left for Sydney. If for whatever reason this flight was cancelled, delayed, moved, etc, it’s only about an 8 hour drive. If we were hit with a big storm, we would still be able to make our flight by driving to New York. We also chose New York (JFK) because it has flights to almost anywhere in the world on every carrier you can imagine.

Saver award space to Australia is notoriously difficult to find, very expensive or requires routing through Asia. Because of this, we took Asiana Airlines from JFK to Seoul (ICN) then ICN to Sydney (SYD) for a total travel time of just under 27 hours. This seems like a major detour, but it was only about 2 hours longer than my in-laws route of Charlotte (CLT)-Los Angeles (LAX)-SYD which took about 24 hours. In lie-flat beds in business class, we hardly even noticed the difference in time!

Once in Australia, British Airways Avios really shine thanks to their distance-based award chart. We were able to make use of some super cheap redemptions on Qantas at 4,500 Avios per person in economy class from Melbourne (MEL) to SYD and 10,000 Avios per person from SYD up to Cairns (CNS).

By being able to book far in advance, we were able to snag some cheap flights on Virgin Australia through the Chase travel portal using Ultimate Rewards at a rate of 1.5 cents per point. We flew from CNS to Brisbane (BNE) for 8,520 Ultimate Rewards points (~$127) each and then BNE to MEL for 6,200 Ultimate Rewards points (~$93) each.

Business Class Flights To Australia

Long-haul international flights are much more tolerable in business class in lay-flat beds and eating delicious food!

The famed Bibimbap meal in business class on Asiana Airlines. It was delicious!

  • Greensboro (GSO) to New York (LGA) on American Airlines (positioning flight) – 15,000 British Airways Avios transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards + $11.20 instead of ~$410.
  • JFK to ICN to SYD on Asiana and SYD to ICN to Chicago (ORD) on United  – 320,000 United MileagePlus miles transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards + $251.32 instead of ~$12,870
    • We ended up rebooking our return flight while on our trip when Saver space opened up to SYD-SFO-ORD, but for the same mileage cost
  • SYD to CNS on Qantas – 20,000 Avios transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards + $42.32 instead of ~$300
  • CNS to BNE on Virgin Australia – 17,040 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (via Chase travel ortal) instead of ~$255
  • BNE to MEL on Virgin – 12,506 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points (via Chase travel portal) instead of ~$185
  • MEL to SYD on Qantas – 9,000 BA Avios transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards + $27.76 instead of ~$220
  • ORD to GSO on United – 20,000 miles transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards + $11.20 instead of ~$465

Flight Totals

  • 44,000 British Airways Avios
  • 340,000 United MileagePlus miles
  • 29,546 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (portal)

·      Total – 413,546 points + $343.80 (taxes/fees) instead of $14,712.28

Roundtrip Business Class flights for 2 for 320,000 United Miles + $251.32 in taxes/fees.

If we were going to pay cash, this is what the same flights for the 2 of us would’ve cost.

25,763 miles is a lot of flying for just $343.80 out of pocket!

Luxury Hotels Across Australia

The location and views from the Park Hyatt Sydney are hard to beat!

Our upgraded room at the Park Hyatt Melbourne. Rooms are always better with an office and sitting area. Not pictured – the huge walk-in closet and enormous bathroom.

  • JW Marriott Essex House New York – 1 Night for 45,000 Marriott Rewards points (transferred 15,000 SPG Starpoints) instead of $429.23
  • Park Hyatt Sydney – 2 Nights for 2 free night certificates instead of $1,845.83/room
  • Sheraton on the Park – 2 Nights for 27,000 SPG Points instead of $1,061.19/room
  • AirBNB Port Douglas – 3 Nights for ~$475 = ~47,500 Capital One Venture Rewards miles
  • Brisbane Marriott – 2 Nights for 25,060 Chase Ultimate Rewards points instead of $356.25
  • Park Hyatt Melbourne – 3 Nights for 65,996 Chase Ultimate Rewards points instead of $989.94
  • Marriott Circular Quay Sydney – 1 Night – 27,798 Chase Ultimate Rewards points instead of $416.97
  • Marriott Chicago Suites O’Hare – 1 Night – 11,962 Chase Ultimate Rewards points instead of $179.44

Hotel Totals

  • 42,000 SPG Starpoints
  • 129,506 Ultimate Rewards points
  • 47,500 Venture Rewards miles

Total – 219,006 points instead of $5,753.85

How Many Points We Used

All said and done, we pulled together a trip that would have cost $20,466.13 for 632,552 points and miles + $343.80.

With all of the money we saved on hotels, we could easily splurge on this awesome, but very reasonably priced, AirBNB for our 3 nights in Port Douglas.

Hotel And Airport Lounge Experiences (Plus Priority Pass Select)

Not only did we save thousands of dollars on our flights and hotels, but we saved additional money on food and drink in a country where food and drink is generally more expensive than our hometown.

Thanks to my Gold status with Starwood Preferred Guest and Marriott, we had access to the lounge at each Marriott. We also had Club Level access thanks to concierge upgrades at the Park Hyatts.

These lounges provided delicious breakfast buffets, access to food and drinks throughout the day, and heavy hor d’oeuvres and cocktails each evening. So each day, we had at least one meal (breakfast) as well as snacks and drinks covered also literally for free. Additionally, our bookings at both Park Hyatt properties included a $100 food and beverage voucher each, so we enjoyed two delicious meals at the hotel along with club food.

When not eating in the lounges we got to enjoy delicious food such as KANGAROO STEAKS!

We certainly didn’t sit around and eat hotel food all day everyday, but having some of the more basic meals covered  allowed us to be more adventurous for lunches and dinners, especially in Melbourne and Sydney. When not eating in the lounges, we got to enjoy delicious food like Kangaroo Filet Steaks.

We also spent a lot of time in airports transiting from city to city. Thankfully, our Priority Pass Select membership through the Chase Sapphire Reserve provided access to many airport restaurants. Each time we went to the airport with a participating restaurant, we each had $36AUD to spend on food.

This breakfast was not only delicious, but all $127.90AUD (food, coffees, pastries and bottled water) of it was covered by the Priority Pass thanks to our $144AUD allowance each time.

We ate 3 meals totaling over $100AUD each at airports when traveling. They were all 100% FREE thanks to the Priority Pass that comes with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.


This breakfast was not only delicious, but all $127.90AUD (food, coffees, pastries and bottled water) of it was covered by the Priority Pass thanks to our $144AUD allowance each time.

Reaching Out To Hotels For Special Occasions

If you’re a member of the 10xTravel Facebook Group, you know that contacting the hotel concierge or guest relations manager when celebrating a special occasion can do wonders.

Well, I contacted 6 of the 7 hotels for our trip and each hotel went out of their way to acknowledge our 5th anniversary, usually with a bottle of champagne and some dessert pastries. They also recognized my father-in-law’s birthday with the same treatment.

Welcome Champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries and flowers at the Park Hyatt Sydney.

We even scored some sweet room upgrades thanks to my email to the hotel concierge which took things to another level.

We got upgraded to this sick Terrace Suite at the JW Marriott Essex House. It included not only a 1200sq ft room but also a 300sq ft terrace.

Activities In Australia

Snorkeled with Sea Turtles on the Great Barrier Reef!

Snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef

Hung out with Tigers at the Australia Zoo…

…and koalas too!


Swimming on the famed Bondi Beach.

Driving 100+ miles along the beautiful and scenic Great Ocean Road outside Melbourne.

The famed 12 Apostles rock formation along the Great Ocean Road

Feeding Kangaroos

Final Thoughts

Without points and miles, this once-in-a-lifetime luxury adventure wouldn’t have been possible. As you can see, our flights and hotels could have cost over $20,000. I don’t know about you, but at 29 years-old, I’m in no shape to be dropping $20,000 on a vacation.

By taking care of our travel costs with points, we were able to enjoy some great meals and activities without worrying about the cost We even paid a little extra to rent Mercedes and BMW SUVs instead of the cheapest option because we could!

The beauty of all this is that points and miles allowed us to take a trip that we could only imagine for a fraction of the cash cost.

Now, we just need to figure out our next adventure. I’m ready for more champagne!

Blog

How to Check Your Chase 5/24 Status

By: Bryce Conway – Founding Editor of 10xTravel.com

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

Hi Travel Junkies,

Since first being introduced in late 2016, no rule or policy has had as great an impact on the points/miles community as the dreaded Chase 5/24 rule.

To quickly recap, the Chase 5/24 rule effectively creates a scenario in which you cannot be approved for a Chase credit card if you have opened 5 or more credit cards (with any issuer) in the last 24 months.

Again, that counts cards opened with any issuer, not just Chase. If you open 3 American Express cards and 2 Citi cards in a 2 year period you will be at 5/24 without having opened a single Chase credit card.

There are a few Chase cards that do not abide by this rule, but by and large the highest value Chase cards do enforce it with no exceptions. You can read about the cards that do not enforce 5/24 here.

So naturally we get the question a lot: How do I check my Chase 5/24 status?

Let’s take a moment to answer that question (and save myself and the 10xT staff from having to answer it on a daily basis).

How to check your Chase 5/24 Status

The best way to check your Chase 5/24 status is to use CreditKarma.com.

For anyone not familiar with them, Credit Karma is a free website that allows you to view your credit score and credit report. Unlike many other “free” credit score websites, Credit Karma does not require a credit card number to sign up and will not charge you monthly for their services.

Though be warned, the “credit score” that Credit Karma provides not your real FICO credit score. It’s simply an approximation calculated by Credit Karma and can be incredibly inaccurate. Particularly for anyone who has a lot of moving parts to their credit (high number of inquiries, variable utilization, etc.)

I get at least a half dozen emails a week that say “help my credit score tanked for no reason!” that all can be traced back to the fact that Credit Karma’s scoring model is incredibly flawed.

So always be sure to check out your real FICO credit score (for free) to see what is really going on.

Despite being unreliable for checking your credit score, Credit Karma is very useful for checking your 5/24 status. Here’s how to do it.

Step 1: Go to CreditKarma.com and log in (or create an account if needed)

image6 5

Step 2: Click on “Accounts” at the top of the page to be redirected to a list of every account on your credit report.

image7 4

Side note: Notice that Credit Karma says that my score jumped 36 points last month despite the fact there were absolutely no material changes to my credit report. I did not apply for any credit, close any cards, miss any payments, and my utilization remained the exact same. This is laughably inaccurate.

My actual FICO score in February (also from TransUnion) was a 773. A full 48 points higher than what Credit Karma was showing.

image1 6

Anyway, enough bagging on Credit Karma. Back to checking your 5/24 status.

Step 3: Scroll through your open credit accounts and tally any account that is less than 2 years old.

The first thing you will see in the accounts tab is a list of all of your open credit accounts. Click on the “+” next to each one to show more information.

image5 5

Each account will expand to show more information such as utilization, payment history, and account age. Take a look at the “Opened” date and make a note of any cards that are less than 2 years old.

image3 4

This card is 2 years, 4 months old. Meaning it does not add to my 5/24 count.

Step 4: Repeat step 3 with your closed accounts

If you scroll down a little farther on the “Accounts” page you will see an option to show closed accounts. Click on it to open up a list of closed accounts on your credit report.

image2 2

Then simply repeat step 3, clicking on the “+” next to each account and making a tally for any that were opened less than 2 years ago.

image4 3

Don’t forget to factor your closed credit cards in to your 5/24 count.

Step 5: Add up your total number of open and closed accounts that were opened less than 2 years ago

Pretty simple, add up the total number of accounts that you tallied from Step 3 and Step 4 to determine your 5/24 status.

Remember that you are only counting accounts that were opened less than 24 months ago. The date in which the account was closed does not matter.

That’s it!

And now that you know where you stand on 5/24, take a look at our ranking of the top credit card offers for March. Which we conveniently divide in to categories for those of you above and below 5/24.

As always, feel free to email me with questions.

Happy Travels,

Bryce

Blog

How I Did It: A Quick Trip to Argentina for Next to Nothing

By: Bryce Conway, Founding Editor of 10xTravel

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

Hi Travel Junkies,

I just got back from a trip to Buenos Aires with a couple of friends that featured copious amounts of sun, malbec, and Argentinian beef.

This was my first trip to South America and it helped me learn a few things about myself.

First, that I am able to completely sustain myself on a diet of beef and red wine. Which I suppose is close to being Paleo, right?

image10 3

My view for ~50% of this trip

Second that sunshine is a top 3 factor in my overall happiness. Trading 35 degrees and rain for 84 and sunny was better for my mental health than any pharmaceutical drug or therapy method ever created.

Finally, I learned that the hedonic treadmill is a very real thing. I flew business class to Argentina and economy for the red-eye flight home. It’s been a while since I have flown on an international flight in economy and it was an adjustment to say the least.

And yes, I realize how pretentious that sounds. But I promised to always be honest with you and that is a real problem for anyone who has been fortunate enough (with points or otherwise) to get accustomed to premium class flights.

More on that in a future article perhaps. For now, back to the trip.

This trip was a surprise birthday present organized by my friend’s wife. When she asked if I wanted to join them on a trip to Argentina I said “yes” faster than a hungry dude at Fazoli’s could answer the server responsible for distributing the endless breadsticks.

My points/miles options were somewhat limited due to the fact that I was not the one planning the trip dates or itinerary. But I was able to make it work.

Here’s how I did it.

Columbus to Buenos Aires – Business Class for 110,000 American Airlines Miles and $5.60.

image6 3

Be warned, this trip featured two award flights that were not saver level redemptions. The first being this Business Class redemption on American Airlines from Columbus to Buenos Aires for 110,000 miles and $5.60.

image1 4

image8 1

Yes, that is a lot of miles to pay for a one-way flight. Almost double what I paid to fly first class on AA to Europe a couple years ago.

Oh, and the Columbus > Miami leg was even in economy!

Most points/miles experts will roll their eyes at this redemption but I couldn’t care less. Here was my thinking:

  1. I have a ton of American Airlines miles at the moment thanks to recent bonuses from the Citi AAdvantage Platinum card, Barclays AAdvantage Aviator, and the business version of each of these cards.
  2. My tolerance for international overnight flights in economy is rapidly diminishing as I get deeper and deeper in to the world of points/miles. Particularly when I have the miles to book premium class tickets.
  3. This route has just one stop (somewhat rare when you live in Columbus) and is on the newer 777-300ER product from Miami to Buenos Aires.
  4. I got 10% of my miles back (10,000) for being a Barclays AAdvantage Aviator cardholder.

image2 2

American Airlines Flagship Business Class – Image Courtesy of AA.com

So I ponied up and paid for an anytime award.

The silver lining is that AA only charged $5.60 in taxes and fees for the redemption, which I put on my Chase Sapphire Reserve for the complimentary trip delay insurance.

image17 1

CasaSur Bellini Hotel – $155 per night

Choosing the hotel was not up to me so I booked through Hotels.com and paid with my Chase Sapphire Reserve for the 3x points on travel.

image3 3

CasaSur Bellini Hotel – Image Courtesy of CasaSurHotel.com

Note that this was booked before the recent announcement that Capital One Venture will earn 10x points on hotels.com bookings (which is effectively 20% off). I had also prepaid to get a lower rate + free breakfast so I didn’t have the option to cancel and rebook anyway.

The rate was only $155 a night anyway. Not bad, particularly for having a pool and being in the trendy Palermo neighborhood.

image5 3

image12 1

CasaSur Bellini Hotel – Standard Room

image15 4

Speaking of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, my card number was compromised the day before I was set to fly to Argentina. So naturally Chase sent me a replacement card. Overnight. To my hotel in Argentina.

image14 2

Chase sent a replacement card to me in Argentina overnight

I’m sure that shipping charge wasn’t cheap.

Buenos Aires to Columbus – Economy Class for 55,000 Delta Miles and $91.06

image4 1

Business class availability for the flight home was pretty much non-existent so I had to put thoughts of lie flat seats and champagne aside and book an economy ticket home on Delta for 55,000 Delta Miles and $91.06 in taxes and fees. Thankfully it had just one stop in Atlanta en route to Columbus.

I can justify one standard business class award ticket on a trip but definitely not two. At least that’s what I told myself when I was booking the trip. After flying this route I am strongly considering a change to that policy.

Economy award space was also very limited so my choice was basically 55,000 Delta miles or pay cash, which was about $1,500 per ticket on the date of booking.

Once again, I charged the taxes and fees to my Chase Sapphire Reserve for the complimentary trip delay insurance and 3x points on travel.

image11

Delta economy seat Buenos Aires > Columbus

image16 1image7 2

The flight wasn’t exactly enjoyable but it went as scheduled and got me home. Perhaps some of my disdain was due to the fact that I was not excited to fly back to winter weather in Ohio.

I’ll leave it at that.

Overall I have to say Argentina was an absolute blast. The weather was perfect, Buenos Aires was incredibly modern and clean, and the food was like nothing I have ever had before.

image9 4

And as an added bonus Buenos Aires is only 2 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, making the jet lag much more bearable. Why this isn’t more widely discussed in the US travel community is beyond me.

So add Buenos Aires to the top of your list of places to go, ideally somewhere near the top. I promise you won’t regret it.

Happy Travels,

Bryce

Blog

Best Credit Card Offers – March 2018

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: Bryce Conway – Founding Editor of 10xTravel.com

Every month I share a post with what I believe are the top credit card offers on the market according to the 10xT staff. Today, we are going to take a look at the best offers for March 2018.

I rank these offers by looking at their sign-up bonus, cardholder perks, ongoing value and any fees they may charge. While the best offer for you will vary depending on a number of factors, I am going to rank the top offers based on the order in which I think they should be chosen by the average person.

This month features a ton of changes as there are a number of cards offering their peak bonuses at the moment. To be honest, it was hard to rank some of them because I had to weigh “this is the best offer we have seen on this card in a while” against “which has the higher overall value”. So, there will be some variability based on your individual circumstances.

If you’ve ever watched the NFL Draft before, consider this list my version of “Todd’s Big Board”. It’s simply the best overall cards available without regard to a specific points/miles need.

I also divide these top credit offers in to two lists, one for those of you who are over 5/24 and one for those of you who are under.

(If you don’t know what the Chase 5/24 rule is you’re going to want to give this a read)

As always, feel free to email me with questions about your own situation and I would be happy to help you select the best card for you.

Here we go!

If you are under 5/24, here are the best cards available right now:

  1. Chase Sapphire Preferred

Current Offer:

  • 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 5,000 bonus points when you add an authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months
  • 2 points per $1 spent on dining and travel, 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
  • Trip delay and primary rental car insurance
  • $95 annual fee, waived the first year 

Commentary:

Once again, the Chase Sapphire Preferred comes in at #1 overall because of its incredible signup bonus, reasonable annual fee (that is also waived for the first year), and the amazing value of the points it earns.

This card was available with a 60,000 point bonus for a hot second last week but that appears to be gone.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are widely considered to be among the best points in the industry thanks to their ability to be transferred to multiple airline and hotel partners. This gives you a ton of options for redeeming your points no matter where you want to travel.

You can also redeem Ultimate Rewards to book travel via the Chase travel portal at a value of 1.25 cents per point, meaning the 50,000 bonus points offered by this card are worth a minimum of $625 when redeemed to book travel.

Transferring them to Chase’s many transfer partners can provide the highest redemption values if you know where to look.

One of the best examples of this is round trip to Hawaii for just 25,000 Korean SKYPASS miles. Meaning that the 50,000 point signup bonus from this card could score you two round-trip flights to Hawaii.

Check out our recent article on why this should be the first card you start with for more information.

Note that Chase has imposed new restrictions on the Chase Sapphire cards that limit your ability to get multiple versions of them. [More details on that here].

Continue Reading

Blog

Reader Success Story: Danny Books A $4,300 London (and Brussels) Adventure For $189

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

Our First Trip Overseas

My girlfriend Shahd and I had always wanted to visit so MANY places around the world but we travel so much for weddings that we just didn’t have the money to afford it. Luckily, we discovered how to use points and miles from credit cards could help us travel!

After diving into the points and miles game for nearly a year, we finally decided we had had enough of “Instagram dreaming” of far off places and decided to book a trip. This would be our first trip overseas and we wanted to “dip our toe in” by traveling somewhere we could feel comfortable using English.

We had been outside the U.S. during spring breaks in college and I had been to Canada a few times for work. We were open to visiting Ireland, the UK, Australia or South Africa. We saw a great deal for round-trip flights to London so we jumped on it! We ended up staying 7 nights in London and threw in a day trip to Brussels.

Points Prepping

There was a bit of multi-purpose to how we booked this trip. We booked a Marriott hotel and air package to get our hotel in London and Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book our round-trip flights to London.

The Marriott flight and hotel packages provide a number of options for exchanging points for 7-nights stays plus some airline miles. We chose to take advantage of booking a category 8 Marriott hotel right in the heart of Westminster in London by cashing in 360,000 Marriott Rewards points.

Southwest Airlines was our airline of choice for the package so we also received 120,000 Rapid Rewards points which was enough to earn us the Southwest Companion Pass.

Editor’s Note: This method for earning the Southwest Companion Pass no longer works. Read our guide to earning the Companion Pass if you’re interested in flying two for the price of one with Southwest.

I used the 80,000 Marriott Rewards points I received from signing up for the Chase Marriott Rewards Card and 95,000 SPG Starpoints I’d earned with the Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express. Thanks to the 1:3 transfer ratio from SPG to Marriott, this gave us the necessary 360,000 Marriott Rewards points to book.

Continue Reading

Blog

Why Aren’t You Getting Away This Weekend? Tell Us for a Chance to Win 2 Free Flights Courtesy of Spirit Airlines!

By: Bryce Conway – Founding Editor of 10xTravel.com

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post and I have been compensated by Spirit Airlines for producing it. The opinions here are completely my own and are based on my own experience.

Hi Travel Junkies,

Today I am thrilled to announce that 10xTravel has partnered with Spirit Airlines to help spread the word about their new service out of my hometown airport, Columbus’ John Glenn International, beginning on February 15, 2018.

image4

Spirit Airlines is launching service out of Columbus beginning February 15, 2018

Truth be told I’ve never actually flown on Spirit Airlines (for reasons just mentioned). So I was pretty stoked to hear that they will now be flying daily non-stop flights from Columbus to Las Vegas, Fort Lauderdale, and Orlando as well as seasonal routes to Ft. Myers, Tampa, Myrtle Beach, and New Orleans.

For anyone else in the “I’ve never flown Spirit Airlines before” camp, Spirit is the ultra-low-cost carrier that offers a-la-carte pricing to keep their fares as low as possible. Allowing you to receive More Go in your vacation.  Which is something we can all get excited about.

I was even more excited when Spirit approached me and offered to partner with 10xT, giving us the freedom to promote their announcement in our very own way.

image3 1

Spirit Airlines Delivers More Go for Less Money

So I did what I normally do in situations like this. I wrote down a list of things that I love doing and looked for any overlap with Spirit Airlines.

Things that I love doing:

  • Getting away for the weekend (usually to Vegas)
  • Flying for free
  • Helping 10xT Readers to do all of the above

Things that partnering with Spirit Airlines would allow me to do:

  • Get away for the weekend  ✓
  • Fly for free   ✓
  • Helping 10xT Readers to do all of the above  ✓

And this is what I came up with….

Introducing the “Why Are You Staying Home This Weekend Instead of Getting Away? Giveaway”, brought to you by Spirit Airlines and 10xTravel.com.

image1 1

image2

Wow, that’s a lot of words. And the question mark feels a bit awkward in there.

Oh and are we supposed to do #WAYSHTWIoGA on social media? That takes up like half of my 240 characters on Twitter.

Oh well. As my good friend Bill O’Reilly once said, “…We’ll do it live!”

Let’s talk about the loot. There will be one winner who will receive….

Here’s what the winner will receive:

  • Two free flights on Spirit Airlines, up to a $500 value per ticket (so you can bring a friend)*
  • Two free checked bags on said flight
  • Seat assignment privileges on said flight

*Note that the free Spirit flight must depart from Columbus, no exceptions. Non Columbus residents are permitted to enter if they like, but again your flight must depart from Columbus, OH.

(Hit me up if you are flying to Columbus for the trip, maybe we can grab a drink)

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Click here to go to the contest form
  2. Tell us why you are staying home this weekend instead of getting away
  3. Fill out the other required information
  4. That’s it!

Winners will be chosen at random on February 26, 2018 and announced on Friday, March 2nd.

Sprit Airlines also gave 10xT a few free flights to give their airline a try.  I’ll be using them in the near future to take a trip to Vegas with some friends and will definitely tell all of you about my experience flying Spirit.

That’s all for today. Good luck to all those who enter!

Happy Travels,

Bryce

P.S. Another thank you to Spirit Airlines for sponsoring this giveaway!

P.P.S. You can read the full contest rules here.