Gift Cards

What It’s REALLY Like Being Married to Travel Hacker

What It's REALLY Like Being Married to Travel Hacker (1)

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Hi! My name is Malini, and I’m married to a travel hacker. But guess what? It’s not how you think it is. I have friends that are constantly teasing me. “Girl, I wish we could all be so lucky. You just need to smile at your husband and he books you a first-class ticket to Italy.” Uh, not quite.

So in an effort to keep it real, let me tell you what it’s REALLY like being married to a travel hacker.

  1. Expect your spouse to turn into a “computer screen zombie.” A travel hacker is constantly on the hunt to earn more points. Most people think, “Hey, I just signed up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, check out my awesome travel hacking skills.” I hate to break it to you, but one (albeit incredibly sexy) credit card does not a travel hacker make. It’s a good start, but a seasoned travel hacker will tell you that you to get the best hacks, you’ll have to do your research and think differently. A huge part of that is talking with other people who do their research and think differently. And it’s often time-sensitive so you really don’t want to miss a great hack. So, more often than not my husband has turned into a “computer screen zombie.” Easily recognized as hunched over his laptop, eyes rapidly moving back and forth soaking in all the “good stuff”.
  2. You get a ton of mail. As in, a ton of new credit cards in your name, shipped to your house. Constantly. If you’re married to a travel hacker, he’ll have all your personal details committed to his memory so he can easily sign you up for great credit cards. Your spouse will stop asking permission and just assume that he knows best. (And you’ll accept that he’s right.)
  3. You also get random presents. At first this might sound awesome, but in reality, it’s usually something like a gift card to a store where you don’t shop (because the portal bonus was SO DAMN GOOD). “Thanks, honey for this awesome Staples gift card…..”
  4. You’ll take romantic walks…to the grocery store. “Let me just stop in real quick, honey, I just need to grab some gift cards and it’s 5x bonus in grocery stores through tonight!”
  5. You’ll have detailed, confusing weekly conversations that go like this. “Babe, if you go to the grocery store, use the Chase Freedom card because the quarterly bonus is 5x per dollar. If you pick up a prescription, use your Amex Platinum and if they don’t take it, as a second option, use the Chase Sapphire Reserve. When you’re getting gas, use your Discover It card, or as a second option your Freedom card, but just through the end of the week – after that you should use your Barclays card. If you go out to lunch with friends, make sure you’re using the Citi Prestige. And if you are buying something online, PLEASE only buy through the Southwest portal with the Southwest card. Oh and you should be getting the new Amex gold card in the mail any day, so when that comes in just put everything else on it so we hit the minimum spend ASAP.  Thanks!”
  6. Your spouse will challenge everything and never accept face value. “What do you mean I’m not approved for this credit card?” He’ll keeping calling back customer service until he gets a better answer. “What do you mean I can’t do a round-the-world flight for 45k points?” He’ll consult travel forums, text fellow travel hacking friends, read blog posts and then call customer service armed with this new knowledge. He almost always gets what he wants.
  7. You don’t get to pick where you want to go. A travel hacker spouse cares more about the hack than the location. So even if he says “Hey, I know you want to go to Switzerland, I’ll see what I can find” what he means is “We can go to Switzerland if the moon and the sun and the stars and the points and the partner airlines align but it’s just as likely that we will go to Japan or Hong Kong or Greece. Cool?”
  8. You can’t have a normal social life. You’ll have a never-ending invitations to “go grab coffee.” This is code for “teach me all you know about travel hacking.” And he probably knows a lot, so this will eat up your entire social calendar.

Well, I hope this peek into my marriage has given you some insider insight. It’s not at all like how it appears from the outside, but I’m certainly not complaining. I hope my husband never stops using his geek skills to book me and my four year old on business class flights all around the world.

Malini has always been obsessed with travel. She and her husband, along with their 4 year old, LOVE to travel the world courtesy of points and miles. If you’d like follow along on her crazy adventures, or you’re just looking for a bit of travel inspiration, be sure to check out her blog Lakes and Lattes. Her absolute favorite credit card is the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.

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Categories: free travel, Gift Cards, Miscellaneous, portals | Tags: , , , | 16 Comments

Fly Business Class One-way to Europe under $350 using this strategy


Staples recently started selling $300 visa gift cards online and this is great news for folks who have the Chase Ink Business Credit Card as it earns 5X on office supplies for the first $50,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year. For a limited time Chase Ink Plus card is  offering 60,000 sign-up bonus after spending $5000 in three months which is almost $800 in Travel rewards (annual fee $95 not waived) if you use the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal. However, you can further maximize the bonus by transferring UR points to other partners such as United, Southwest and many more.

So now I will show you how you can use a simple manufactured spending strategy to reach Europe for under $350.

The Scoop

For every $300 visa gift card you purchase from staples you will pay a fees of $8.95 earning 1545 Ultimate Rewards points. These Visa gift cards are pin-enabled and can be loaded onto any prepaid cards such as Bluebird, Serve or Target Redcard. You may use the prepaid cards to pay other bills such as mortgage, utility bills etc or turn around and pay back the Chase Ink card you used to purchase the gift card from Staples at first place.

Screenshot 2015-10-11 at 3.46.27 PM

Now, remember United Airlines is transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards for transfer ratio of 1:1. Let’s price out an award ticket from North America To Paris for sometime next year. For reference I am using Dulles Airport, Washington DC (IAD) but you can try other airports.

Screenshot 2015-10-11 at 3.46.09 PM

One-way flights from IAD to Paris are available for 57,500 United Miles or Ultimate Reward points. If you are signing up for the Chase Ink Business Card then the sign-up bonus of 60,000 points  is enough to score one business class ticket to Paris from IAD on United Airlines, but who likes to travel alone!!! Lets see how we can use the Staples $300 Visa to our earn this business class ticket for cheap.

As each $300 visa gift card with $8.95 purchase fees will earn you 1545 UR points, you will need 38 gift cards to earn 58710 UR points while paying $340 in purchase fees. Now you can easily transfer the points to United and book the award tickets by just paying another $25 for award fees.

Would you like to see what is the retail price if you were to buy these tickets using straight cash? Hold your breath ladies and gentlemen!!!

Screenshot 2015-10-11 at 4.07.01 PM

Staggering $7000 + one way business class ticket to Europe can be bought for under $350

WOW!! $7991 for a one way ticket to Paris from IAD.

paris happy girl eiffel

You will be jumping after reaching Paris in Business class for $350


Using the Chase Ink Business credit card and a little bit of manufactured spending by purchasing the $300 Visa gift card from Staples you can score business class tickets to Europe for under $350. You can get creative using UR points and  transfer them to Singapore Airlines to fly the suite for pennies!!

Categories: Gift Cards, Manufactured Spending, Staples, Ultimate Rewards Points, United | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Amex Offer – $5 off $25 at Dollar General with 5% Off Ebay Gift Cards

This week, Dollar General is offering 5% off eBay Gift Cards.  Combine it with the current American Express offer of $5 off a $25 purchase at Dollar General (expires tomorrow 8/31) and you can get a really nice discount when purchasing  the gift cards. Make sure you add the offer to your credit card by visiting Amex offers before making a trip to Dollar General

Screenshot 2015-08-30 at 8.22.13 PM

In store only.

Offer expires on 9/7/2015

eBay Gift Cards are great for purchasing discount gift cards and merchandise to resell on eBay.

Categories: Amex offers, Ebay, Gift Cards | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

2.25% Cash Back on AMEX Gift Cards (7/23 ONLY)

For those who would like to take advantage of the offer again. You can use my referral link to sign-up. We both earn $10 after you spend $20

Danny the Deal Guru

The deal is being offered today only, until 11:59PM PST (7/23/2015)! You can get 2.25% cash back on Amex Business Gift Cards when you shop through If you dont have an account, you can use my referral link (we both get $10 back after you spend $20 or more).

topcash back amex biz gc

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Categories: American Airlines, Gift Cards | Tags: | Leave a comment

Visa Gift card from


Some of us love taking long romantic drive to  Simon mall and purchase gift cards, however, if you are like me who hates doing it then there is  an option to get the gift cards delivered to your house by spending a little bit more via and now with free shipping for a limited time for orders upto $1500.

Description=Young man with mobile phone driving car Model Released CREDT : Fredrik Skold / Alamy

Typical Driver heading to Simon Mall

The Scoop sells Vanilla Gift Cards (issued via Bancorp) which you can buy sitting on your laptop sipping coffee. These gift cards will load at Walmart or using your Bluebird or Serve and at Target using the Redbird. There is some work involved using VGC’s as they must be activated online/phone prior to use. Now if you use the promo code SHIPHAPPY you will get free shipping on orders of $1500 or less in Gift Cards. The nice thing about these gift cards is that they would have your name printed on the GC so you do not have to play hide and seek with the cashiers at Walmart/Traget.

hide and seek may rescue you from Hide and Seek at walmart by having your name on the GC fees

The fee structure for buying gift cards online from

If you choose to pay for shipping at $7.45 it comes in Priority mail and you can order up to $2500 in VGCs (has to be including fees). You also earn G rewards for shopping at and I am exploring more how it works after placing my first order.

Although, readers have reported issues loading Simon Mall Gift cards at Walmart (Dallas Area) so be careful as these stores continuously update systems and loading certain gift cards could be hit or miss. Rule of thumb is never purchase more gift cards until you are certain loading works  otherwise you are stuck with them.


You can now purchase giftcards online from by paying $4.95 purchase fees for a gift card upto $500. The gift cards are VGC and can be loaded at Walmart or Target. Also, you can get gift cards upto $1500 shipped to your house for free using the promocode SHIPHAPPY. 

Categories: Gift Cards, Manufactured Spending | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Update on AAA No purchase fees Visa gift cards – Next Steps

The Deal

I continue my exploration  of AAA no purchase fees gift cards  to help readers and fellow frequent mile earners. I stopped by the local AAA office to buy the gift cards in the hope of generating lot of points and miles for free. Early this year I canceled my AAA membership  after my insurance company provided a good deal for unlimited road side assistance bundled into my insurance policy. As per my conversation with the agent at the local AAA office you need to have a active membership to purchase these gift cards without paying fees (promotion ends June 30th). 

What should you do?

I started exploring ways to maximize my savings and found a way you could maximize on this offer by buying a AAA membership and then purchasing gift cards to make a profit. The basic AAA membership costs around $55 for 1 person and you would pay another $22 or more to add a second member. But I would show you a way of how you can add 2 people on the same AAA account for a total of $47 so if you share  with a friend your net cost is ~ $24 per person. Use the link here to sign up for AAA membership : Link

1. In the promo code section enter RS23
Screenshot 2015-06-12 at 11.17.25 PM

2. Continue filling up the form – choose the basic option and select 2 household members. Select auto-renewal to get additional $5 off. You can always cancel the membership next year before fees is due

Screenshot 2015-06-12 at 11.20.18 PM

3. Continue with the form by entering information for the two drivers and press continue. On the next page you would see payment information and here comes the surprise where the secret code knocks off the membership cost for  associate member. My cost for annual membership for two people drops from $96 to $47.

Screenshot 2015-06-12 at 11.29.06 PM

4. Finalize the purchase by entering your credit card information. You will receive picture of the temporary card. Make a copy of it as you would need it to purchase gift cards. You would not only get AAA membership but this would also allow you to now purchase the no fees gift cards and also there are other savings on hotel stays ,car rentals, vacation packages etc that comes with the AAA membership so all-in-all a good deal.

Screenshot 2015-06-12 at 11.34.18 PM

Next steps and which credit card to use?

I’d be revisiting the local AAA office tomorrow to purchase the gift cards. I’d be definitely using the Barclay Arrival World Elite Mastercard to buy minimum of $5000 in gift cards i.e 10 gift cards with $500 each and $0 purchase fees (Woo hoo) netting $100 in Travel credits. Another good card is the Club Carlson Visa card as you earn 5X on all purchases and $5000 gift cards would help you earn 25000 club Carlson points for free. A couple of these trips to AAA office and you could spend a night in some of these fancy hotels for free after earning 50,000 Club Carlson points.


Radisson Blu Shanghai 44000 points per night

Blu aqua chicago

Radisson blu aqua Chicago 44000 points per night


To its members AAA is selling no purchase fees Visa debit gift cards until Jun 30th. The gift cards can be purchased using a miles and points earning credit card and unloaded on to bluebird, serve or redbird thus may help you earn a lot of miles and points for free. You can also purchase a AAA membership implementing the trick I discussed in this article where a associate can be added for free to further maximize savings.

Categories: AAA, Barclaycard, Gift Cards | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

AAA Visa Gift for $0 purchase fees

While looking around on the AAA website I stumbled upon the Visa gift card landing page hereAccording to the details on the page from May 1st to Jun 30th you could get the Visa gift cards from AAA location without paying any purchase fees. The gift cards are issued by Metabank and they do come with a pin which means these cards can be loaded on to bluebird, serve and redbird. I think this is huge and you could possibly generate a lot of miles and points as there is no limit on how many cards you can purchase (confirmed by calling AAA although ymmv).

Screenshot 2015-06-12 at 12.09.09 AM

I will be heading to my local AAA store tomorrow to buy bunch of gift cards. Although I think this offer may be  available only for the mid-Atlantic region but you can call your local AAA office and confirm. You can find the nearest AAA office by visiting this link. I will update the post with latest data points. Please share with other readers your experience purchasing gift cards from AAA.

Categories: AAA, Gift Cards, Prepaid Cards | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Target RedCard – DDay Tonight!!! – Will Gift Cards work and my Experiment

We all knew this was coming sooner than later –  As per  a memo released by Target and also reported on several blogs TODAY 5/5 is the last day to load Redcard using Credit card. This may impact several people who relied heavily on redcard for manufactured spending and earn miles and points.


We also know that American express gift cards can be loaded on to Redcard which helps you not only generate free miles and points but also make a profit. Read more on the article hereI did a small experiment today from the $5000 gift cards I purchased from American Express via TopCashbackAt the cash register when loading $500 the cashier asked me if I am using a credit card or a debit card, I told her I am using a credit card; gave her the last four digits of the gift card number and as usual the load was successful. For the next $500 load I told the cashier that I am using a debit card (of course the same American Express gift card) gave her the last four digits of the gift card and bam! The load was successful. I a crossing my fingers that gift cards will work fine as at least today they are being accepted as both credit and debit card and as per the memo only credit cards will not be accepted but debit cards should work fine.

Categories: American Express Gift cards, Gift Cards, Prepaid Cards, Redcard, Top Cashback | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

HOT!!! – 2.5% Cashback on American Express Gift Cards, Citi Prestige and Citi Premier Increased sign up bonus with perks

1. American Express gift cards – Just today Topcashback is offering 2.25% cash back on Amex Business Gift cards. Its great way to make some quick bucks and also earn extra miles and points. I personally used the Chase INK Card to purchase $5000 in gift cards in denomination of $1000 (x5) as Chase offered me  a retention bonus of 10,000 UR points after spending $5000 in three months to offset my $95 annual fees. But you can maximize your earning by using the Barclays Arrival World Elite MasterCard.

Do not use any denominations over $2000 and any promo code as this will not earn any cash back and also avoid using Citi Cards as it could get processed as cash advance. These gift cards can be reloaded onto the Target Prepaidredcard at any Target stores and then you can turn around and payback your credit card or pay other bills.

Amex cash back

The Math on purchasing $5000 in gift cards – 

Gift Cards Value – $5000

Purchase fees – $3.95 x 5 = $19.75

Shipping Fees – $8.95

Total Out of Pocket – $5028.7

You will earn 2.25% cashback on $5000 = 112.50

Your net Profit – Cashback – Purchase Fees – Shipping Fees = $83.8

Not bad for 5-10 minutes of my time!!! We are not done yet –

Now if you use the Barclays Arrival World Elite MasterCard you’d earn 2 Arrival miles on a dollar spent so $5000 on gift cards will help you earn 10,000 Arrival miles which equates to $100 in Travel Credit. So now your net earning will be $83.8 + $100 = $183.8. You’re welcome!!

If you don’t have a Topcashback account you can use my referral link to sign-up we both get $10 back after you spend $20 or more.

2. Citi Increased sign up bonus on Prestige and Premier Card can earn you several thousands in Travel Rewards

In the last two weeks, the Citi Prestige and Citi ThankYou Premier have each increased their sign up bonuses to 50,000 ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. One person can apply for both cards and get 100,000 total Thank You points which is to book up to $1350 worth of airfare through the Citi Travel long as you apply for the two cards at least eight days apart

Questions this article will answer:

  • What are the differences between the Prestige and Premier?
  • Why would you want both?
  • How can you get both?

What are the differences between the Prestige and Premier?

The Prestige is a premium credit card that competes with cards like the American Express Platinum. The Premier is more of a standard rewards card that competes with cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Sign Up Bonus

Both currently offer 50,000 ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

Annual Fee

There’s a huge difference here. The Prestige has a $450 annual fee that is not waived. The Premier has no annual fee the first 12 months, then $95 a year.

Category Bonuses

The Prestige offers 3x on airlines and hotels and 2x on dining and entertainment. The Premier‘s category bonuses are slightly better. It offers 3x on travel and gas. That includes airlines and hotels, but also a lot more. It also offers 2x on dining and entertainment.

Ease of Travel

Both cards have chip technology for global acceptance and no foreign transaction fees.

Value of ThankYou Points

Both cards offer the ability to transfer ThankYou Points to 12 airline and hotel programs. This is the highest value redemption method.

Both also offer the chance to redeem points like cash toward any flight with no blackouts, but the Prestige offers higher value when points are used this way. The Premier‘s points are worth 1.25 cents each toward all flights. The Prestige‘s are worth 1.6 cents toward American Airlines or US Airways flights and 1.33 cents toward all other flights.

If you have both the Premier and Prestige, you can combine the points into one account, which allows for redemptions at the better Prestige rates.

You can earn serious travel rewards using benefits from the two cards

And the travel category now includes a wider range of purchases such as:

  • Airfare
  • Cruises
  • Car Rental Agencies
  • Gas Stations
  • Hotels
  • Parking Garages
  • Public Transportation
  • Taxis
  • Tolls

Other Benefits

This is where the Prestige kills the Premier, and why the Prestige‘s $450 annual fee is more than justified in my opinion. The Prestige offers:

  • $250 per CALENDAR YEAR (so $500 before your second annual fee is due) in airfare or airline fee statement credits. Tickets, award taxes, upgrades, and bag fees all qualify. This more than offsets the first annual fee.
  • $100 statement credit for signing up for Global Entry, which also gives access to TSA Precheck.
  • Lounge access to all Admirals Clubs when flying American Airlines or US Airways. Lounge access to all Priority Pass Select lounges always. For either type of lounge, you can bring in all your under-18 children plus spouse or any two guests.
  • Fourth night free on all hotel reservations booked through Prestige’s travel agency.
  • Three free rounds of golf per year at participating courses.

Why Would You Want Both?

Each has strengths beyond its giant 50,000 point sign up bonus.

The Premier has better category bonuses because all the following are included at 3x: airlines, hotels, gas, car rentals, travel agencies, buses, trains, parking, tolls, bridges, and time shares. The Prestige only offers 3x on airlines and hotels. The Premier also has a lower annual fee, and one that is waived for the first year.

The Prestige has far better benefits like the statement credits, airport lounge access, and higher value of points when redeemed like cash for flights. Plus getting the Prestige can retroactively lift the value of ThankYou Points earned on other cards because those points can now be put into your Prestige account, which has higher value redemption options.

If you have one, you might want the other for its strengths. If you have neither, you might want both to maximize the strengths of both.

You can transfer Thank You Points to partner Airlines and easily get to Europe.

How Can You Get Both?

According to the combined experience of FlyerTalkers, you can be approved for no more than one Citi credit card application in 8 days and no more than two applications in 65 days.

So if you got one of the cards months ago and want the other now, apply.

If you have neither, apply for one now and one in 8+ days. (Unless you recently got a different Citi card like the Citi Hilton card with 60,000 HHonors points. In that case, make sure that at least 65 days have elapsed from your previous application to your second application.)

To avoid all confusion:


Got Prestige 8+ days ago, have no other Citi cards, get Premier today

Have neither card or any other Citi card, get Prestige today and Premier in 8+ days

Got Citi Hilton card 14 days ago. Get Prestige today and Premier in 51+ days. (65 day rule noted above)

Not OK

Get Premier and Prestige on same day

Got Citi Hilton card 14 days ago. Get Prestige today and Premier in 8 days

You may not be instantly approved on your applications. When that happens, your screen should have a number to call Citi for an instant decision. I always call in to speed things up. I doubt you’ll be asked why you want both the Prestige and Premier, but if you are, mention the strengths of the one you don’t have yet.

Make sure you apply for the two cards at least eight days apart

Bottom Line

You can get both the Prestige and Premier and long as you apply at least at least 8 days apart, and potentially further apart if you have another recent Citi application. Getting both cards and meeting their minimum spending requirements would earn at least 106,000 ThankYou Points, and probably more if you maximize the category bonuses. If you redeem  through the Citi Travel Center $1350 worth of airfare. You can apply for both these cards at under Travel and Rewards. This is my affiliate link for and I am  thankful if you ever plan to use it.

My son Zane having a blast on streets of Dubai.

We enjoyed Aquarium in Dubai early this month.

Categories: American Express Gift cards, cheap travel, Citi Credit Cards, Citi Premier, Citi Prestige, Gift Cards, Thank You Points, Top Cashback | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

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