New Next Generation NEXUS Kiosks Coming

As a NEXUS member, I just received an email with some significant updates about the kiosk process when traveling by air between the United States & Canada.

“Next Generation” kiosks are being installed to provide “faster, more reliable and more efficient service in the air mode.”

These new kiosks are first being implemented at Macdonald-Cartier International Airport in Ottawa and by November, the rest of the Canadian international airports will be completed.

Here are the directions from the email.

  1. Please have your NEXUS card ready
  2. Select language of choice before inserting your NEXUS card into the document reader;
  3. When prompted, insert your NEXUS card into the document reader;
  4. Ensure the card is face up (picture side) and fully inserted into the reader;
  5. Leave the card in the reader until instructed to remove it;
  6. You will receive audio instructions advising you to look into the mirror;
  7. You will use the arrows located on the mirrors to adjust to ensure that you see both eyes;
  8. Look into the mirror, moving slightly forward or backward until you see the circle centered between your eyes change from orange to green; and
  9. Follow the instructions on the screen and answer the questions on the monitor.

This is very different from the current process because now you will have to carry your actual NEXUS card with you. Previously, you could scan your passport before being prompted for the iris scan.

Why NEXUS & Not Global Entry?

Why do I have NEXUS and not Global Entry like so many others? Well for a few reasons:

  • It costs $50, which is $50 cheaper than Global Entry
  • It has the same benefits of Global Entry – faster entry back into the United States & eligibility for TSA PreCheck
  • It can streamline entry into Canada (which Global Entry cannot)

It is, however, a bit harder to get depending on your location. The interview and iris scan must be completed at a border crossing location. For example, I built my interview into a trip to Vancouver and went to the NEXUS enrollment center in downtown Vancouver.

For a complete list of NEXUS enrollment centers, please see this link.

If you find yourself near or traveling to/through one of these locations and would like to have the benefits of Global Entry for a lower price, definitely start the NEXUS application process at the official Global Online Enrollment System web site.

How To Track Points per Transaction on Your Chase Sapphire Preferred

chase-logo

Chase has just made it easier for Chase Sapphire Preferred card holders to track how many points they earn for each transaction.

If you go into your account activity, you can now click the blue plus sign to the left of each line item and it will expand that transaction.

chase sapphire preferred

As you can see, my recent Uber transaction has been properly categorized and it will earn a total of 16 Ultimate Rewards points.

chase sapphire preferred

First Friday Bonus Points

It even tracks First Friday bonus points!

This is a really great feature and no longer will we have to go digging around and fumbling with calculations to find out how many UR points we’ll earn with each purchase.

Note, this only works for the Sapphire Preferred at this time. This feature wasn’t available for my Chase Freedom or Hyatt accounts. Hopefully, Chase will soon roll this out to all their products.

Using Airline Schedule Changes in Your Favor

Airline schedule changes happen. That’s just a fact of life. Sometimes they’re minor. I’ve had changes of 5 minutes that really don’t affect original plans at all.

Other times, schedule changes can really throw a wrench into your plans.

Some people cringe when they see these emails in their inboxes. Not me, I see it as a free pass for flexibility.

Delta itinerary has changed

The emails I love to see in my inbox

If you wanted to make a change otherwise, you’d have to pay change fee upwards of $150 depending on the airline!

Continue reading

RTW to Bali: Conclusion

TRIP INDEX

Conclusion

This trip will be unforgettable for Joann and me. It was a bunch of firsts. First long-haul international First Class flights. First time to Asia together. First time circumnavigating the globe. Hopefully it’s the first of many!

Bali is an amazing destination and, if time permits, it’s somewhere where we would visit again without a doubt. We highly suggest you put it on your radar for your next destination.

IMG_0203

You Can Do It, Too!

This kind of trip can be possible for anyone! It just took some organization, a few credit card signups, and a bit of planning.

I explained it in detail in the Let’s Plan post, but here are the major points to consider.

How we flew on Cathay Pacific First & Business Class to Bali

Cathay Pacific First Class

Cathay Pacific First Class

We used our British Airways Avios points for this, but before their current state. Nowadays, the best way to get on Cathay First or Business is with American Airlines miles.

A one-way First Class flight on Cathay Pacific from North America to what AA considers Asia 2* would be 67,500 miles 

*(Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Guam, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Saipan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam)

Here is the AA award chart.

How we flew on multiple Star Alliance members’ First & Business Class from Bali

Swiss First Class

Swiss First Class

Thai Airways First Class

Thai Airways First Class

 

There are many ways to accumulate miles to redeem on Star Alliance partners. You just have to earn miles on any Star Alliance partner – United, US Airways, Air Canada, ANA, Singapore.

If you want to use United miles, the credit cards to work with should earn Chase Ultimate Rewards (Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, Ink Plus).

Using United miles, a one-way trip from Bali (South Asia region) to the US is 70,000 miles in First and 60,000 miles in Business.

Here is the United award chart.

If you want to use US Airways miles, use the Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express because it effectively earns 1.25 airline miles per dollar.

US Airways does not do one-way award for half of a round trip so if you want to travel from the US to the South & Central Asia region round trip, it will cost you 160k miles in First and 120k miles in Business.

Here is the US Airways award chart.

With American Express Membership Rewards points, you can transfer to Air Canada, ANA, or Singapore in the Star Alliance. This is my least preferred method because all three airlines will levy a high amount of fuel surcharges on their award tickets.

How we stayed at the Bali Hyatt on points alone

Bali Hyatt

Bali Hyatt

For this stay, this is obviously doable with Hyatt Gold Passport points. The easiest way to accumulate these points is [again] Chase Ultimate Rewards!

Here is the Hyatt award chart.

Wrap Up

That’s about it! I really hope you enjoyed the trip report.

If there’s one thing I want everyone to take away from this, it’s that you can really do this too!

Remember… #hustle hard. Travel easy!

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to e-mail/message/tweet me!

How To: Pay the Argentina Reciprocity Fee

UPDATE 7/22/2015: A commenter just informed me that there is a new web site you can use to pay for the Reciprocity Fee – https://www.argentinareciprocity.org/. It seems very straight forward & a much better experience than the previous one! Use it from now on!

If you are a US citizen and traveling to Argentina, you will have to pay a Reciprocity Fee. This is because the US levies this fee on citizens of Argentina (among other countries) who want to visit the US.

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • The reciprocity fee costs $160.
  • It is valid for 10 years from the date of payment and for multiple entries.
  • Once paid online, you must print out the confirmation and bring it with you to present to the Argentine immigration officer.

I was slightly confused about where to start on the reciprocity fee website, but once I got past registration, everything was straightforward.

Hopefully, this walkthrough helps anyone who needs it.

1. Sign up for the website

Navigate here – https://virtual.provinciapagos.com.ar/ArgentineTaxes/Registro.aspx

Create a username. Enter your info. Click Sign Up.

2. Add Form

After the Sign Up screen, you’ll see the screen below to add a form.

Note: You’ll need your passport number.

argentina reciprocity fee

Enter your info & click Add

argentina reciprocity fee

Now you see that the form has been added to your profile

3. Click Pay

Clicking Pay will bring you here:

argentina reciprocity fee

Choose your payment method and agree to terms

4. Click Continue

A new window will pop up where you can enter your credit card information.

NOTE: This will be paid in Argentine Pesos so make sure you use a credit card that has no foreign exchange fees.

argentina reciprocity fee

Enter your CC info and click Send

5. Transaction Confirmed!

Confirmation

You should also receive an email to the address you supplied.

Also, you can check your profile and access this “ticket”.

Print it out (make sure the bar code is legible) and keep it in a safe place until you travel to Argentina! You’ll present it to the immigration officer upon your arrival.

You can always come back to the website if you need to print it out again.

argentina reciprocity fee

Your Reciprocity Fee Ticket