Q3 Rotating Bonuses – Chase Freedom & Discover IT

New quarter, new bonuses! These bonuses will run through September 30, 2015.

Chase Freedom

Activate here. Most gas stations have gift card racks so this should be an easy $1,500 to spend this quarter.

  • Gas stations
  • Kohl’s

Discover IT

Activate here. This is a very easy one to max out ($1,500 also). Combined with enrolling in the double cash back offer for a year, the Discover IT card will get some serious burn for me going forward. Look at Sears in the Discover Deals portal to compound the bonus.

  • Home improvement stores
  • Department stores*
  • Amazon.com


(Dead) Fare Alert: EWR-MEX $140 Round Trip

UPDATE: Looks like it’s gone as of 12:21 AM EST. Damn, better luck next time folks!

As I was randomly browsing flights tonight, I came across what seems like a very cheap fare to Mexico City from Newark. This has to be a mistake since it’s a full fare (Y) class and the actual fare is only $5 each way, with the rest of the all-in price being taxes.

Anyway, as always with potential mistake fares, book now & plan later! You have 24 hours to cancel for a full refund anyway. In this case, you’re buying a fully refundable ticket so there’s no risk here! I’m unsure when this date expires so have at it.

There are SO many dates; looks like this goes through end of schedule so hurry up & book!

EWR-MEX $140

EWR-MEX $140

Don’t Forget to Track Car Rental Reservations with AutoSlash

Some people think car rentals can be a lengthy process. For me, I try to keep it as simple as possible. You have two options to use AutoSlash.

  1. Search for a car using their site
  2. Make your booking elsewhere & use AutoSlash to find better rates

The problem with #1 is that several major car rental companies have since bowed out of the AutoSlash results – Hertz, Thrifty, Dollar & Advantage to name a few. Because of that, I mostly use AutoSlash’s second option.

After I make my booking, I immediately navigate to AutoSlash’s tracking feature. This is such an easy “set & forget” process that there is no reason to skip it after completing your car rental booking.

My most recent experience with them was last week and it was stellar, as usual. I made a booking for Orlando with Hertz (I typically only rent with major companies like Hertz, Avis, or National) and entered the reservation number at AutoSlash on 3/26. The day after, I received the “Great News!” email that I love to see.

AutoSlash will send you any better rates from any rental company

AutoSlash will send you any better rates from any rental company

I clicked on the Avis link and proceeded to confirm the new rate, now booked through AutoSlash. One caveat to note is that I now had to cancel my existing reservation with Hertz. Simple as that; AutoSlash saved me almost $60 in a day.

To put more icing on the cake, I received several more Great News email!

autoslash great news

In total, I went from a $177 reservation with Hertz to an $83 reservation with Avis. Fine by me. Thank you, AutoSlash! I will continue to use it going forward.

Last Chance at Chase Freedom Q1 Categories

As we come up on the end of March, we also come to the end of the first quarter of 2015. With that comes the end of the Chase Freedom 5% bonus categories – grocery stores, movie theaters & Starbucks. Be sure to get all your Q1 spend in by March 31!

In case you’re having trouble maximing all $1,500 of allowable spend, consider buying gift cards at any of the categories. If you’re a Starbucks drinker, then I wish you better coffee in your life buy enough Starbucks gift cards to last you the year. If you go out to a lot of movies (or perhaps give movie gift cards as gifts), get a few of those.

Grocery stores present the biggest opportunity with their extensive gift card selection.

Grocery stores carry several different gift cards

Grocery stores carry several different gift cards

From Visa or American Express gift cards to Starbucks, Bass Pro Shops, iTunes, Southwest Airlines; grocery stores are an easy way to rack up spend as this quarter’s Freedom bonus categories fade.

New Quarter, New Bonuses

Q2, which begins April 1st, is another easy quarter for me – restaurants, Bed Bath & Beyond, H&M, and Overstock.com.

I don’t think there is a need to discuss much strategy for Q2. I’m sure I’ll be getting together for dinner with friends, fronting the bill, and then having them pay me back through PayPayl or Venmo. As for the 3 retailers, there’s always time to go shopping and I believe there is a gift card rack at BB&B.

It should be another easy quarter of racking up those Chase Ultimate Rewards points!

Probable Southwest Rapid Rewards Devaluation

Last week, Southwest Airlines sent an email to its Rapid Rewards loyalty program members informing them of a future change in the program. Sadly, they weren’t very specific about the change but it reads as a devaluation.

We created Rapid Rewards® because we think you deserve to actually feel rewarded. And, from time to time we must make some updates to our program. Beginning April 17, 2015, the number of Rapid Rewards Points needed to redeem for certain flights will vary based on destination, time, day of travel, demand, fare class, and other factors.

Previously, Rapid Rewards points basically had a fixed value that were correlated to the cash fare of a flight. However, this cryptic message from Southwest makes it seem like they can charge however many points they want for a given flight on a given day to a given destination.

I really do like Southwest because they have great availability from my home airport (EWR). Another reason Southwest must be considered for is that it is a transfer partner for Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Rapid Rewards instantly at a 1:1 ratio.

If you book flights with points, you can cancel them any time before the flight and you will receive the points & taxes/fees back 100%. This is great for making speculative bookings and it’s a feature that other airlines charge big bucks for (often $150+).

When you throw in a Companion Pass, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards program hard to beat for affordable domestic travel for one, let alone two.

The only thing we can do now is wait but we do have 2 months to make preparations in case these changes are quite terrible. If you have a lot of points, you may want to consider making some speculative bookings to lock trips up at the current rates. You really have nothing to lose since you can get a full refund at any time.

This is just another lesson in the frugal flying game. Things change all the time to be ready to react. Stay tuned.