Posts Tagged With: Barclays card

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

Credit Card hacked – Someone booked a $2800 stay using my card

Last Friday afternoon I received a security notification from Barclay Fraud department (which btw has a top notch security alert system). They wanted to clarify a few recent charges on my Barclay Arrival World Elite Mastercard. I ignored the voicemail for a few hours as I had  purchased gift cards from Simon mall worth $7500 to manufacture spend some valuable Barclay miles and I assumed this purchase triggered the security alert. Barclay wanted me to call in and clear recent transactions before I wa able to use my card again. I wanted to sort out the situation asap so called the fraud department and they had  question on a $2800 ish charge on my card for Hotel Perla (which after googling I found out is in Prague another place on our bucket list). They went through all my recent transactions and confirmed if it were me or one of the authorized users who charged the card.

Hotel Perla

Someone enjoyed a $2800 stay using information from my credit card

I did not panic because all major credit cards come with Fraud protection and you are never responsible for any unauthorized charges on your card. I know some folks avoid applying for credit cards for the very reason of dealing with fraud but knowing credit card companies always back you up for  fraudulent transactions keeps me alive in this game.

Long story short, Barclay cancelled existing cards (including authorized users) on my Arrival card and have expedited new sets of card that should arrive here shortly. I did not have to pay anything for the unauthorized stay of $2800 at Hotel Perla which was charged on my credit card.

Can you avoid Credit Card skimming?

PC magazine did an article on how you can “possibly” avoid scammers steal your credit card information. A lot of credit card companies are switching to “chip-based” technology which is supposedly “safer” but that did not help in my case as Barclay does have the chip technology but somehow someone was able to retrieve information from my credit card and not sure if they booked an advance stay or used the card after the stay was completed and got a freebie. So bottomline is you probably cannot avoid skimming of your card but the best you can do is to stay card smikker

A good habit is to check you account every couple of days and look for any charge that looks suspicious and contacting the bank right away. Make sure you email address and telephone numbers with the banks are updated so in a situation like this they know how to contact you and you are not left stranded without a credit card especially when traveling.

Have you ever had someone skim steal your credit card information?

Categories: Barclaycard, Citi Credit Cards, Miscellaneous | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

How applying for and using credit cards wisely can actually improve your FICO score?

[Disclosure: I do  earn referral for some of the credit cards in this post. Thanks for the support if you ever apply through the site.  To find other top deals check out the top credit card offers or you can also check offer at]

What is a FICO Score?

I have been helping a lot of friends and family in the last few days  plan their next travel  via credit card sign-up bonuses  and it has come to my realization thay lot of people have  reservation applying for  new credit cards. This reservation is valid if you were to carry a debt and pay high interest on carry forward balances. But, if you are good with finances you can actually use credit card sign-up offers to really travel big while paying pennies.



Making dreams come true


So, I thought I should write an article of how managing my credit cards and applying for credit cards actually has put my FICO score in top 1% and help me secure other loans (auto and mortgage) at the lowest interest rates while saving us thousands of dollars long-term.

The most widely used credit scores are FICO® Scores, the credit scores created by Fair Isaac Corporation. 90% of top lenders use FICO® Scores to help them make billions of credit-related decisions every year. FICO® Scores are calculated based solely on information in consumer credit reports maintained at the credit reporting agencies.

By comparing this information to the patterns in hundreds of thousands of past credit reports, FICO® Scores estimate your level of future credit risk.

Base FICO® Scores have a 300–850 score range. The higher the score, the lower the risk. But no score says whether a specific individual will be a “good” or “bad” customer. There is no single “cutoff score” used by all lenders and there are many additional factors that lenders use to determine your actual interest rates.

How wisely using credit cards can actually boost FICO score and get you better interest rates ?

In 2014 I applied for a total of six credit cards (and five for my wife) which helped us earn over 700,000 miles, which some may argue is on a high side but honestly I was conservative (compare to other I personally know applied for 10+ and still have an excellent score). We were able to take some fantastic trips in 2014 and 2015 is just about to get better!!!

Spanish Paella

Enjoying cuisines around the world – my new favorite Spanish Paella!

Below is a snap shot of my credit score and history from the last year. You can find your FICO score for a small fee by visiting but is available free of charge if you are holder of either the US Airways Premier World Mastercard or the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard

amit fico score

Free FICO score from the Barclaycard website

fico score history

FICO Score History since Feb 2014











My score in Feb 2014 was 786 and now almost after a year stands at 814 . The maximum score anyone can attain is 850 but in my knowledge a score of 750+ will qualify you for best interest rates for auto and home loans and long term save you thousands of dollars. I always pay off my credit cards in full and keep my utilization ratio less than 20%. Refer to my article on credit 101 for more information.


Applying and smartly utilizing credit cards can actually help you improve your FICO score and benefit you financially long-term if you pay off your credit card in full and keep your credit utilization low. Signing up for credit card can help you earn miles and points and travel the world for pennies.


Welcome Le Meredien Barcelona

Warm welcome at Le Meredien Barcelona Suite


Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities

Categories: Barclaycard, cheap travel, Credit cards, FICO, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Have you started your mileage run for 2015?

[Disclosure: I do  earn referral for some of the credit cards in this post. Thanks for the support if you ever apply through the site.  To find other top deals check out the top credit card offers or you can also check offer at]

January is coming to a close and I hope you have started your mileage run for 2015 or your first App-O-Rama. If you have not there are still some limited time offer you can capitalize on such as the US Airways Premier World Mastercard. I am not sure how long this card will be around but it is a quick and easy 50,000 miles for a $89 annual fees (not waived) and no minimum spending (which is great!!) and there have been reports via flyertalk of getting this card more than once (I got denied after applying for my second card and received a letter stating I already have enough open credit with them so the trick could be calling Barclays before applying for the second US Airways card and reducing your line of credit). I applied for the below three cards for myself and one for my wife. Below are the results –

Credit Card, Account or Spend Miles or Points Type Cost / Minimum Spend
Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card


Club Carlson Points 50,000 points after first purchase and 35,000 after spending $2500 in first 90 days, $75 annual fees
American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card

50,000 X 2

Amex Reward Points $1000 spend in 3 months, annual fee waived 1st year. This was a limited time offer. Current offer is for 25,000 points
US Airways Premier World Mastercard


US Air/AA Miles I got denied as this was my second card and did not get lucky as some others have reported

I will pay $75 in annual fees for first year and earn 100,000 Amex membership points (can be transferred to other partners) and 85,000 Club Carlson points which can be used up to nine night stay at some properties and utilizing several promotions such as second night free for stay of two nights or more for holders of Club Carlson Premier Rewards Credit Card

Strategy for a couple  to stay  5 days in a Top Hotel and fly for almost free to any destination ?

Here is a simple strategy using credit card sign-up and some limited time offers that a couple can utilize and travel for almost free to most destinations in US, Caribbean, Mexico.

Credit Card, Account or Spend Miles or Points Type Cost / Minimum Spend
US Airways Premier World Mastercard X 2 (one each for hubby and wifey)


US Air/AA Miles $89 X 2 Annual Fees Not waived, but its like getting 4 domestic roundtrip -US tickets for less than $200 and no minimum spending
Chase INK  Business Plus


Ultimate Rewards Points $5000 spending in three months, Points can be transferred to Hyatt and other hotels to get some real good value
Capital One Ventures Rewards Credit Card

44,000 points

Travel Credit of $440 $3000 spend in 3 months, annual fee waived 1st year. Can be used towards any expenses such as rental cars, check-in bags and hotel taxes and tariff
Citi Hilton Reserve Card

2 Free weekend Nights at some classy Hiltons worldwide and free Gold status

Hilton Hhonors $95 Annual fees not waived. Gold status at Hilton is great value as it gets you free breakfast, upgrades and lot more!! $2500 in purchases within first 4 months
Total – 5 Credit cards between 2 people 150,000 Miles and Points , $440 Travel credit and 2 nights at Hilton  $295 Annual fees out of pocket for first year for some fabulous travel

I think its a great value you are getting (4 domestic tickets, 5-7 night stays and $440 travel credit) in the first year even after paying $295 in annual fees. Just a word of caution that Capital one does a credit check on all three bureaus unlike other credit card issuers who typically just check one. You may also consider the Barclay Arrival World Elite Master Card which also gives you $440 in travel credits and is one of my favorite cards out there and that is the reason I am keeping it  for the second year.

I am offering FREE Travel coaching to help you plan your next trip. This will typically be done via skype/phone call for a 30 minute consultation. Feel free to drop me a line I’d love to hear from you.

Categories: Capital one, Chase, Hilton, Travel coaching, US Airways | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

How I earned 723,000 miles and points in 2014 and where all did we travel

Where all did we travel in 2014?

I am glad to end 2014 on a very happy note . By implementing several strategies, credit card sign-up bonus and bonus miles via referral I was able to acquire more than 700,000 miles and points without flying.We used some of these miles and points to travel for almost free  to destinations like Washington D.C, Myrtle beach, Miami, NYC, Baltimore, Cancun and the highlight of this year was our 10 days Trip to Europe (Spain and France) which costed me barely  $500 (airfare+ lodging) for two people while flying business class on US Air (more details in next week posts) and staying at some top-notch five star hotels in the best of the locations. A one way-business class from North America to Europe itself  costs average $5000 per person for which I paid 50,000 miles and $15 in award fees . You could easily earn 50,000 US Airways miles by applying for the soon to be discontinued US Airways Premier World MasterCard

View from the revolving restaurant at Double Tree Crystal City we stayed in August 2014

US at The Eiffel Tower, Paris

Enjoying authentic delicacies in Madrid

Yum Yum Chocolate raspberry cake in business class of US Air travelling from Philadelphia – Madrid

Segwaying in Madrid with the Royal palace in background


Enjoying drinking Bailey’s in US Air business class while watching Dawn of the planet of the Apes


Can I get one of everything please???? – Business Class US Airways

View from our beautiful suite at Le Meridien Barcelona right in the heart of La Ramblas

How I earned 723,000 miles and points in 2014?

The question you may ask – did you sign-up for like 20 credit cards? The answer is NO!!! Between my wife and I we signed up for a total of nine credit cards in 2014. As we also purchased a house I did not want a lot of hard inquiries before securing our most important investment and I also recommend you do not apply for any credit cards or loan applications at least six months leading into any home or car mortgage. Read more about it on my post on Credit 101. Here is a summary on how I earned all those miles –

Credit Card, Account or Spend Miles or Points Type Cost / Minimum Spend
Citi AA Executive Card X 2 (Expired now)


AA miles $450 account fees, $200 statement credit
United MileagePlus Explorer


United miles $1000 spend in 3 months, annual fee waived 1st year
Barclaycard Arrivalplus Mastercard x 2


Travel Credit of $880 $3000 spend in 3 months, annual fee waived 1st year
US Airways Premier World Mastercard x 2


US Airways miles After 1st purchase, no minimum
Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card American Express


AA miles $3000 spend in 4 months, annual fee waived 1st year
Chase Ink Plus business card


UR points $5,000 spend in 3 months, annual fee waived 1st year
Chase Ink Plus Refer a friend promo


UR points None. I referred five friends who all got approved
British Airways VISA Signature

50,000+70,000+Free Companion Ticket

BA Avios $3000 spend in 3 months, 50 K bonus (after 20 k spend) and companion ticket after spending total of $30,000 in one calendar year, $95 annual fees not waived

The total comes out to be 723000 miles. I would have to circle the earth many a times  if all those miles were to be earned via flying. I also earned several thousand miles and points (not accounted above)  via shopping through online portals  my personal favorites being  the Ultimate Rewards mall and BarclayBoost.


Would you like to earn over 500,000 miles in 2015? Don’t know how to redeem the miles to get best value? How to get upgraded to a suite? I’d love to show you how you can implement several strategies to get to your dream destination for real cheap. Follow my blog or drop me a line and I’d love to answer your questions and help you plan your next trip.

Bucket List – Mystique Hotel Santorini where a room typically costs $600/night I plan on staying for almost free in 2015.

Bucket List 2015- British Airways B777-300 First Class – Retail cost $10,000 per person round trip from IAD to most places in Europe. I plan to redeem 120,000 British Airways Avios along with the free companion ticket to travel in this beauty for pennies!!

Bucket List 2015 – Andaz Maui, Hawaii yet another top class hotel where you can easily score free nights

PS – I get commission from some of the links mentioned in the post here. You don’t have to but I am grateful if you plan to  use my referral link to sign up for any of these cards

Categories: British Airways Avios, Credit cards, Ultimate Rewards Points | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Family of 2 can get to Europe for under $500 this winter

US Airways off peak award space to Europe is wide open. For travel between January 15 and February 28, 2015, you can pay as little as 30,000 miles round-trip to tons of top cities like London, Paris, Madrid, and Dublin.

Reminder of US Airways Off Peak Awards

US Airways has incredible discounts on the miles needed for a roundtrip award to Europe and the Caribbean during off peak dates (January 15 – February 28 for Europe and September for Caribbean).

Off peak awards require finding Saver award space on all legs from your home airport to your destination, and flying all US Airways planes. That is, you cannot fly partners, including American Airlines.

The off peak price is 35,000 miles roundtrip to Europe. Folks with the US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® get an automatic 5,000 mile discount on all US Airways awards that fly only US Airways planes, which is a requirement of off peak awards.  That means US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® cardholders pay only 30,000 miles roundtrip to Europe during off peak dates.

Right now the US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus miles after first purchase and payment of an $89 annual fee.

Where You Can Fly

If your home airport has US Airways flights, you can fly to Europe for as little as 30,000 miles roundtrip. You will need to connect to Philadelphia or Charlotte for the flights to Europe. Here are the flights to Europe from Philadelphia. (I’ve crossed out the seasonal flights because those aren’t options in January or February.)

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You’ve got the major tourist cities like London, Paris, Rome, Amsterdam. You’ve also got some smaller ones like Munich and Manchester.

From Charlotte in the winter, the only US Airways flights are to London and Frankfurt.

Award Price

Off peak awards from anywhere in the United States to Europe are 35,000 US Airways miles roundtrip or 30,000 miles if you have the US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® like me. You can purchase additional 10,000 miles (currently with 3,000 bonus miles) for $295. With the annual fees of $89, additional 10,000 miles to be purchased for $295 and the award processing fee of $100 for two tickets you are looking to spend a total of roughly under $500 for a round -trip ticket to Europe for 2 people this winter.

In addition, you have to pay government taxes and the standard $50 US Airways award processing fee.

There are several destinations that cost ~$100 all in including Rome, Madrid, Amsterdam, Brussels, and the cheapest of all, Dublin at 30,000 miles + $96.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 1.47.44 PM

The most expensive destination is London because of the UK’s Air Passenger Duty. It costs 30,000 miles + $248.

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Award Space

To search for award space, go to and search right in the box at the top of the home page (click to enlarge.)

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Select your cities, dates, and number of passengers. Check “Book with miles.”

Your results will automatically display in a color-coded month long calendar. The color-coding is a bit annoying because every level of award space is a shade of blue, but the lightest ones are off peak awards. Off peak award space is wide open.


Basically six days a week in both directions.

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Basically six days a week in both directions.
Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 1.45.20 PM


Four to six days of award space in both directions each week
Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 1.46.18 PM


Award space every day in February except for one in both directions.
Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 1.48.52 PM


Award space the vast majority of days in both directions.

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Again, broken record, award space almost every day.

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Bottom Line

Off peak awards are easy to search and easy to book with US Airways miles. If you don’t mind visiting Europe in winter (and missing the crowds), you can book a roundtrip for 35,000 miles or 30,000 miles if you have the US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®.

To most cities in Europe, off peak award space is available almost every day from Philadelphia from January 15 to February 28. Find award space from your home airport to Philly at the Saver level and book your vacation today.

The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® with 50,000 bonus miles after first purchase and paying $89 annual fee

  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after your first purchase and payment of the $89 annual fee*
  • First checked bag free on eligible bags for you and up to four companions on domestic US Airways operated flights
  • One companion certificate good for up to 2 guests to travel with you on a US Airways operated flight at $99 each, plus taxes and fees
  • Priority boarding Zone 2 on US Airways operated flightsRedeem miles for award travel on US Airways and American Airlines booked through or US Airways Reservations
  • Earn miles on every purchase with 2 miles for every $1 you spend on US Airways and American Airlines purchases and 1 mile for every $1 on purchases everywhere else
  • New! Receive a 25% savings on eligible US Airways and American Airlines in-flight purchases
  • Please see terms and conditions for complete detail

You don’t have to but I am grateful if you plan to  use my referral link to sign up for the card

Application Link: The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®

Categories: Europe, US Airways | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Deal Alert: Cheap Flights to Brazil for $474 Roundtrip and how to get there for Free by signing up for one credit card

Per this Flyertalk thread, there are currently some great fares from both New York and Miami to Iguassu Falls, Brazil (IGU) this winter starting at only $474 round-trip on both LAN and TAM.

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 10.52.42 AM

Finding Airfares Using the ITA Matrix

One of the most useful tools for searching airfares quickly is the ITA Matrix

For a quick sampling, I searched airfares from New York (JFK) to Iguassu Falls, Brazil (IGU) and was able to find these fares for 4-7 night stays starting at $474 in January.

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 10.55.18 AM

Once you find your desired flights, you can then head over to Expedia, where you can book your flights, since you’re not able to book flights through the ita Matrix.

If you signed up for the Barclays Arrival World Mastercard the sign up Bonus of more than $400 travel credit after completing the minimum spending can get you to Brazil for almost free. You may also consider signing up for the Capital One Venture Rewards card which also comes with a $400 travel credit after completing the minimum spending requirement.

I always like to keep the Arrival and Venture card handy for these miscellaneous expenses which otherwise cannot be redeemed using miles (taxes, fees, baggage etc)

You don’t have to but I am grateful if you plan to  use my referral link to sign up for these cards.

Barclays Arrival World Mastercard

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Categories: Brazil | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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