Chase Freedom 2nd Quarter 2014 Bonus Categories – Sign Up!

You can now activate your Chase Freedom credit cards to earn 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent in these 2 bonus categories:

  • Restaurants
  • Lowe’s home improvement stores

2014 chase freedom calendar

The 2nd quarter bonus will run from April 1 – June 30, 2014.

This isn’t a very diverse set of bonus categories, but there are still a few ways you can game them in your favor.

Ways to Leverage This Bonus

No secrets here. The only way to really maximize this bonus with $1,500 of spend is with gift cards.

Buy gift cards at restaurants you’ll eat at in the coming months. Lowe’s also has an extensive gift card rack with all the usual suspects – Starbucks, Amazon, iTunes, Southwest, Shell, BP, Visa, American Express, and dozens more.

Reminders Before the End of 2013

As we come to the end of the year/quarter, there are several bonuses and promotions wrapping up. Tuesday, December 31st will be the drop dead date.

Chase Freedom 4th Quarter Bonus

5x Ultimate Rewards points on Amazon.com and select department stores. This was an easy set of categories to rack up $1,500 worth of spend. If you haven’t, buy some Amazon e-gift cards for yourself for future use!

Discover IT 4th Quarter Bonus

The Discover IT card is basically their answer to the Chase Freedom, with rotating category bonuses every quarter. This quarter’s was “online purchases” which made it really easy with all the online shopping for the holidays + the points-manufacturing schemes like Amazon Payments.

American Express Membership Rewards British Airways Transfer Bonus

Get 20% more Avios bonus will end on Tuesday as well. Obviously, don’t transfer points without an award in your sights. The only exception to that rule is when you plan on cancelling a card. We’ll be cancelling Joann’s Platinum card so instead of downgrading or straight up losing the points, we’d rather get a transfer bonus on points we’ll be sure to use.

Cathay Pacific’s Last London 747 Flight

Gary writes about Cathay’s last London Boeing 747 flight, as these Queens of the Sky are being retired from service. As of now, there are 6 First Class award seats available! That’s the kind of New Year’s Party I could get into. You can use the aforementioned Amex-Avios transfer bonus to redeem for this momentous occasion. It will cost you 90K Avios + $456.

American Express Platinum $200 Airline Credit

Don’t forget that one major perk of being an Amex Platinum cardholder is a $200 airline credit every calendar year. It’s meant for incidentals like baggage fees or buy-on-board food, but it absolutely works when buying gift cards to your designated airline. I recently purchased a $200 American Airlines gift card and was reimbursed in 2 days.

American Express Sync Promotions

Amex has had some great promotions going throughout the year that are scheduled to end on the 31st. My favorite was the Amazon one, just in time for the holidays. Deals We Like has compiled a comprehensive list of the promotions along with their expiration dates. Be sure to take advantage of them if they fit your needs!

Although most of the Sync promotions are due to end on the 31st, my guess is that they’ll be re-upped for 2014.

Other Things To Remember

In 2013, the year of the devaluation, be cognizant of the upcoming changes. Hyatt is the first to change in the new year, making several changes to their award chart that go into effect on January 7, 2014.  United’s new, more expensive award charts will go into effect February 1, 2014.

The #hustle Blog Holiday Travel Gift Guide 2013

This seems to be a popular type of post around this time of year. Some people find gift guides annoying, but when they’re well curated, I think they’re pretty helpful.

Of course, the links to Amazon are my affiliate links so thank you if you decide to use them!

So with the gadget-loving traveler in mind, here goes…

Google Chromecast

Google Chromecast

For those who like consuming media in their hotel rooms, the Google Chromecast is an interesting new idea. It plugs directly into a TV’s HDMI port (hopefully your hotel room has a TV with one) and can stream media from your Chrome web browser or through its native apps like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, Pandora, and more.

I have one at home and love it!

Noise Cancelling Headphones

 bose_qc20

Now these are offered in different form factors – the classic over the ear and the new ear bud style. Joann has the over the ear Bose® QuietComfort® 15 and they work really well, much better than the cheaper set I bought to see if there really is a Bose difference (there is).

I have my eye on the Bose QuietComfort 20i because I like ear buds better. Everyone I know who has them says they are amazing!

If you’re looking for a more budget-minded set of noise cancelling headphones, look into the Sony MDR-NC7. I currently have a pair and while not even close to the quality of the Bose, they do a good job of canceling out airplane engine drone at almost 20% of the cost.

Travelon Bag Bungee

Travelon Bag Bungee

This is definitely a cheap & handy item. The Travelon Bag Bungee lets you securely strap your small bag/purse/backpack to the top of your roller carry-on for easier strolling through the airport. Both Joann and I have one and it sure beats lugging a back over your shoulder along with having a rollaboard in tow.

External Battery Packs

anker slim3

Nowadays, I am rarely without an external battery pack for my phone or tablet. I prefer the Anker Astro Slim3 6000mAh since it has a built-in micro USB for my Androids and has plenty of juice. For newer iPhone owners, the Photive Ultra Capacity 3000mAH
is a well reviewed battery that boasts a built-in lightning cable. It’s nice to know that you’ll never be without a cable if you bring either of these battery chargers.

Portable Speaker

xmini

Phone speakers suck. The X-Mini II portable capsule speaker is cheap and LOUD! I received it for Christmas last year and was pleasantly surprised. It’s not fancy bluetooth; it simply plugs into your device’s headphone jack. It has a USB-rechargeable battery, too. I’ve even used it with our Chromebook and it performs well for watching movies.

Samsung Chromebook

chromebook

Speaking of Chromebooks, I love mine. I bought the Samsung Chromebook (Wi-Fi, 11.6-Inch) used for under $180 from Amazon Warehouse. Even at $229, it’s a nice device providing you know what you want from it. On trips, I use it to do the standard stuff – read/write emails, write blog posts with photos, and watch movies. Battery life is great and the instant-on of Chrome OS is very nice. It’s no Macbook Air, but it’s also not $1000.

Travel Surge Protector

Belkin

After going through a few power strips, I find the Belkin SurgePlus to be the handiest. The swivel plug is key for fitting in tight spaces and it also sports 2 USB ports, great for a multi-device traveler/family. It has 2.1A total so it will charge your larger devices like iPads.

Travel MiFi

Huawei mifi

This is something that is only for international travel. It’s almost always cheaper to buy a local SIM card than to set up a global plan with your US provider. We use the Unlocked Huawei E585 3G MiFi device because we have so many devices that it’s just easier to have a central device to connect to. It takes a bit to initially set up (changing APNs and such), but there are great tutorials on the web and after you set it up once, you’re a pro.

Inflatable Seat Cushion

Thermarest

This is nice for those longgg mileage runs or mistake fares in coach. Since it’s inflatable, the Thermarest Lite Seat packs easily and doesn’t take up much room. I love it for any flight over 6 hours.

Grid-It Organizer

gridit

The Grid-It Organizer is something I like to keep in my personal item to keep little things like cords, cables, ear plugs, spare memory cards, and other small miscellaneous objects in order. You can also get by with a rubber band or some twist-ties.

Waterproof Pack

waterproof-case

This is handy for any water activities. The FRIEQ® Universal Waterproof Case is universal to gadgets that are iPhone-sized and also certified waterproof up to 100 feet. The last time we used ours was when we did a hike in the rain forest of Puerto Rico. It was perfect – one for Joann’s iPhone and one for our point & shoot camera. It worked great at all times, even while rappelling down a 90 foot waterfall!

Flashlight

fenix-e05

This last item may seem weird for a travel item, but I’m one that’s rarely ever without a flashlight. We used ours last in Panama when walking back to the hotel after dinner and drinks. There weren’t many streetlights and with a light this bright, it does help feeling a bit safer. Now, you can accomplish the same with a simple flashlight app on your phone, but I think everyone should have a solid flashlight in case of emergency.

My favorite brand is Fenix because it can run on regular AA batteries (many run on expensive CR123A type) and aren’t too pricey. I have the Fenix LD20; they have an updated model, the LD22, which is just as great.

For something a little more compact, check out the Fenix E05. It’s only 6.5″ long and uses a single AA battery.

Happy Holidays!

If you’re looking for a gift for any type of traveler, I hope this very personal list helps you out. Most of these items are things that I use often and when I find a good product, I won’t be shy about sharing it with friends, family, and readers.

Happy holidays and happy gift hunting!

American Express Small Business Saturday 2013

Registration is now open!

Returning again for the holiday season is American Express Small Business Saturday 2013!

Small Business Saturday is a day to remember the small, local merchant and support them by making purchases in-store on November 30, 2013.

Small Business Saturday

In order to give Amex card holders even more incentive to help out small business owners, Amex is offering a one-time $10 statement credit for any registered Amex card when you make an in-store purchase of at least $10.

A list of eligible small businesses will be available in map form on November 21 so look out for another post from me when more details develop.

Last year, the credit was $25 but maybe a few people went overboard with all their Amex cards last year. Fine, between Joann and me, we had 13 Amex cards that we used at various small businesses around town.

Thus, Amex has lowered the credit to $10; still, free money is free money! And you get to help out your local businesses.

Registration for Small Business Saturday opens on 12:00 AM MST November 24. Enrollment is limited.

You can register any American Express card – credit or charge, primary user or additional user(s). Just no Corporate or prepaid cards.

For more information, here are the full Terms & Conditions.

Chase Freedom 3rd Quarter 2013 Bonus Categories Are Live!

3rd Quarter Bonus Categories

Happy July, everyone! We are now in the back half of 2013. I hope all your travels and miles/points earning strategies are going well.

It’s a new quarter, and that means new Chase Freedom bonus categories.

  • Gas stations
  • Theme parks
  • Kohl’s®

The 3rd quarter runs from July 1 – September 30, 2013.

chase freedom 3rd quarter 2013

These categories are decent. For normal everyday spend, I don’t think one can really spend the $1,500 in the quarter.

What I’ll be doing is searching for electronics or small appliances at Kohl’s to buy and resell either on eBay or Amazon.

The point is to at least break even and come home with the 22,500 Ultimate Rewards points.

Definitely be sure to initiate your shopping from the Ultimate Rewards Shopping Mall because you will earn 10x UR points for shopping at Kohl’s! Couple that with the 5x quarter bonus and you are looking at 15 UR points per dollar spent at Kohl’s online!

If you want more on that strategy, just leave a comment below and I’ll try to explain!

If you haven’t activated your cards for the 3rd quarter (and you have to do this every quarter), head to the Freedom website and activate now.