Another Birthday Back in South Beach: American Airlines New York (LGA) – Miami (MIA)

TRIP INDEX

While this weekend took a little more planning than I usually do for 2 nights, it was well worth it for Joann’s birthday! On Saturday morning, my Dad drove us from North Jersey to LaGuardia. There’s no horrendous NYC traffic in the morning on the weekend so it was a short 25 minute drive to LGA’s Terminal B. With no bags to check, Joann and I walked straight to security which was moderately busy. We showed our mobile boarding passes that displayed PriorityAAccess and we were directed to a shorter line. Note: Redeeming British Airways Avios points on American Airlines will result in getting Priority AAccess even without any status. Bonus!

American Airlines mobile boarding pass showing PriorityAAccess

After a quick walk through the metal detector, we went off to find the American Airlines Admirals Club for a few snacks and coffee. It was right across our gate D3. I showed my mobile boarding pass and American Express Platinum card to the agent who welcomed us in.

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Let’s Plan: Another Birthday Back in South Beach

TRIP INDEX

Introduction
American Airlines New York (LGA) – Miami (MIA)
King & Grove Tides and Z Ocean Hotel
South Beach Diet
Delta Airlines Fort Lauderdale (FLL) – New York (LGA)

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Around this time last year, this whole frequent travel hustle really started to ramp up for me. One of the first real trips utilizing some of the tips and tricks that I’d been learning (and points that I’d been earning) was a trip to South Beach for Joann’s birthday. It was just a simple redemption on Delta (if there is such a thing), but it was really the start of many great things to come. So why not go back to Miami for the weekend of Joann’s birthday? She does love her South Beach.

Since all my vacation days are either gone or booked (wedding/honeymoon + Bali), I could only be in Miami for two nights. The plan for this trip was, as usual, budget travel and budget lodging. We wanted to spend as little cash out of pocket as possible.

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Mother’s Day Flower Deals

Happy May! Mother’s Day is less than 2 weeks away on May 13th. Why not show your mom how much you appreciate her by sending her some flowers? And should you get some miles or cash back out of it, that’s just icing on the cake. FYI, if you sign up to eBates or Big Crumbs using my links, I get a small referral credit 🙂

Here are a few of the Mother’s Day offers that online retailers are advertising:

American
FTD – 30 miles per dollar
ProFlowers – 10 miles per dollar
Teleflora – 10 miles per dollar
1-800-Flowers – 7 miles per dollar

Delta
1-800-Flowers – 35 miles per dollar
FTD -9 miles per dollar… OR 1,500 miles per order
ProFlowers – 10 miles per dollar

Jet Blue
FTD – 20 points per dollar

Southwest
Teleflora – 1,500 miles per order

United
FTD – 30 miles per dollar + 150 miles per purchase

US Airways
FTD – 25 miles per dollar

Chase Ultimate Rewards
ProFlowers – 15 points per dollar
Teleflora – 10 points per dollar
FTD – 10 points per dollar
1-800-Flowers – 9 miles per dollar

Big Crumbs
1-800-Flowers – 12.6% cash back
FTD – 7% cash back
ProFlowers – 7% cash back
Teleflora – 7% cash back

eBates
FTD – 20% cash back
Teleflora – 20% cash back
ProFlowers – 12% cash back
1-800-Flowers – 8% cash back

Fat Wallet
FTD – 14% cash back & $10 iTunes gift card
ProFlowers – 10% cash back
Teleflora – 5% cash back
1-800-Flowers – 4% cash back

 


How many credit cards do you have?

That’s a question I get a lot from people after they hear what I do, which is accumulate airline miles and hotel points. Here’s the visual answer as of right now.

That's 10 mile/point earning cards...

When the annual fees come around, most of these cards probably won’t last, but I’m not worried about my credit score because I have taken the steps to protect it. I’m still at 780+ and I will stay that high even after next year’s card cuts.

Rough list of credit cards that will see the shredder before their year anniversary:

  • Citi AAdvantage Visa
  • Citi AAdvantage American Express
  • Chase British Airways Visa (mine)
  • Chase British Airways Visa (Joann’s)
  • Chase United MileagePlus Visa

The best cards for me end up being the 3 AmEx cards (Platinum, PR Gold, & SPG) and the Chase Sapphire Preferred. With those 4, I have every bonus point covered and can cover myself with extra amenities while traveling. The Chase OnePass Plus credit card will automatically turn into the Chase MileagePlus Explorer card in 2012 so I will keep that around for another year to evaluate if it is indeed worth the $85 annual fee.

 

Credit Card Roulette

So I thought some people might appreciate the breakdown of how Joann and I came into over half a million frequent flyer miles. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart and the young of credit history. And a major factor, to me at least, is to have a goal. Do not collect miles just because you like to see balances go up. If you’re into that, start an IRA. Create a goal, work towards it, complete it. Then rinse and repeat if necessary.

First of all, approval is not a problem for me thanks to reckless spending in my younger days (stupid car) so I was instantly approved for all the cards listed. As for Joann, she was denied for the Chase Continental card last year for lack of credit history but was 2 for 2 this year with the Amex PR Gold & the Chase BA Visa.

Also, understand that you MUST pay your balance in full each month. Any savings or mileage accrual is negated when you incur a finance charge.

My strategy was fairly simple – go for alliances that we frequented (CO & Star Alliance) and/or go for the biggest bonuses. There are plenty of bonuses out there from 30k miles to 100k points on airlines and even hotels, but pick and choose wisely. We don’t often stay at one hotel over another so hotel points aren’t really of interest for me (note: One strategy involving a property in Bora Bora interests me, but in a few years).

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