Everyone knows I’m Mr. Earn and Burn: I typically like to keep my miles balances as close to zero as possible.

I don’t trust any mileage or point program, really. Not for a second. Every major airline has had a drastic, no-notice-given change to their mileage program this year.

That being said, I like to have a little stash.

Where to keep the stash and how many to tuck away

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Fidelity-Amex

You da best

Had to get this off my chest.

There’s always a lot of talk in the points and miles world about which cashback card is “the best.” The speculation is constant, rampant.

  • Bank of America recently introduced a card where one could get 2.65 points per dollar so long as they dump $100,000 into an investment account.
  • The Barclaycard Arrival always gets mentioned because it’s an effective 2.22% cashback on travel purchases.
  • Citibank has a new one too: the Citi Double Cash card.
  • Freedom gets a mention due to its rotating 5% categories, which yes, is a good deal, and yes you can cash it out (but keep them for Ultimate Rewards transfers!).
  • Then there’s the Fidelity Investment Rewards Amex.

Why it’s the king

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<3

<3

In the middle of Eurotrip 2014, I had a moment where I was like, OMG, I’m staying exclusively at Club Carlson properties (except for one night at the Grand Hyatt Berlin).

So the news that US Bank, issuer of the Club Carlson Visa, may be imposing cash advance fees for Serve reloads was disconcerting. And now that Amazon Payments is over, too… I don’t know what I’ll do to manufacture spend now. This is a hot topic in the points and miles community, and there is some speculation about the new REDcard and possible changes to Serve. In any case, I am looking forward to the next step because I do think the Club Carlson Visa is a very good card to focus on for day-to-day, non-bonused, or manufactured spend.

I couldn’t have done Eurotrip 2014 without that card.

How I did it

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Quick note: both of the posts so far today (10/11/14) have poo-pooed various things. I do not like to focus on negativity, but want to be honest. There are lots of good things coming, I promise! 

Air France Lounge entrance @ TXL

Air France Lounge entrance @ TXL

As part of Eurotrip 2014, I had the opportunity to visit the Air France lounge following my unannounced schedule change to an Airberlin flight TXL-JFK.

I showed up two hours early, and was oddly directed to the Air France lounge even though there was a British Airways lounge on the floor beneath it (?). I don’t know what kind of crazy voodoo AB worked out with AF but whatever. I was early and was in need of coffee.

This lounge sucks. Read More

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Had a bit of a scare yesterday. I went to check in for my Airberlin flight TXL-HEL (that was to connect to Finnair HEL-JFK) to end my Eurotrip 2014.

I booked the one way award flight on aa.com and up until I went to check in the day before the flights, it showed up in the “My Trips” section of aa.com.

Trouble in Euroland

When I logged in, it said “No upcoming trips” so I typed in the confirmation number and it found the reso after a few heart palpitations, thank gods. But the flights were wrong. Read More

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Dear readers,

Out and Out has been growing slowly but steadily over the past year and I don’t always update the blog as often as I should.

I do post quite a bit on Facebook and Instagram (especially when traveling) and wanted to put this out into the world if you’d like to keep up in other ways:

Twitter and Instagram are my personal accounts, as I am only one man.

There are also two ways to ensure you never miss a blog post:

Oh, and Dr. Google tells me that last month I had a reader from every single US State. Love it! Thank you for reading!

A reader from every state!

A reader from every state!

I will keep optimizing content as I go along, so keep the emails and comments coming. I love interacting with you guys!

Safe travels and cheers to you. Am enjoying this ride so much.

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A friend of mine (HT: Jason) shared this link with me last night, and I thought I’d pass it along to you guys because I know I will definitely be using it in the future. It’s called Snap, from Groupon.

Snap

Snap’s a new app for saving money on groceries – at any grocery store. You locate a coupon you want to use, “snap” a picture of the receipt, then upload it through the app. After it’s approved, they add money to your account, and you can request a check once you hit the $20 mark, which seems really easy to do as some of the coupons are for unlimited use.

And a lot of the coupons are for household staples. Here are some screenshots: Read More

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Warning: #ShamelessPromo

As of right now, I have zero credit card affiliate links so this is the first one I’ll post.

If you’re in the market for a Chase Sapphire Preferred, or Ink Plus, consider using my links. I get 5,000 Ultimate Rewards points and you get 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points for the Sapphire Preferred (the usual signup bonus) or 70,000 Ultimate Rewards points for the Ink Plus (higher than usual signup bonus but time sensitive). Read More

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Eurotrip 2014 has been very centered around Club Carlson properties. In fact, I’ve done 80% of it with their properties (4 out of 5 – and 3 of those were Park Inns).

The one in Munich was the first.

The hotel

This Park Inn is located about 100m from the Johanneskirchen stop of the S8 S-Bahn stop, equidistant to downtown Munich and the airport. After landing at MUC, I was at the hotel, door-to-door, in about 30 minutes. Not bad.

Park Inn Munich-East check-in desk

Park Inn Munich-East check-in desk

The part of East Munich it’s located in really doesn’t have that much going on. It’s a sleepy section with a suburb-like feel. There isn’t much in the way of food and watering holes. Really just the hotel and a restaurant/beer garden across the street. But for what I needed from this stay, a little off the beaten path was perfect.

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Way back in November 2013, United announced they were devaluing partner award redemptions. Shortly after, Lufthansa announced a new route from YYZ-MUC aaaand… First Class award availability was wide open for months out. How many months out? Nearly a whole year - which is a lot longer than the usual 15 days.

While the rest of the blogosphere was stuck on “Summer 2014″ availability, I kept going through the rest of the months. Munich… October… OMG Oktoberfest! – was exactly my train of thought. I redeemed a one-way to Munich and left the rest to chance. Didn’t want to burn up too many of my Ultimate Rewards points. Plus, I wanted to keep the trip open-ended. I’m not one to plan months and months in advance, so this was quite a leap of faith for me.

The flight

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Made it to Munich safely! Writing this from the fantastic Lufthansa First Class Lounge at MUC. About to get my bearings with a shower and maybe order some breakfast and a beer – I am here for Oktoberfest after all!

Meeting a friend around 1pm – might go ahead and head into the city proper and try to check in early to the Radisson Park Inn where I will be based throughout my Munich adventures.

From this, I can review the First Class Lounge and the hotel – and of course Munich.

So jazzed to be here. Will add more posts with pics soon!

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Writing this from YYZ right now, in the Maple Leaf/Star Alliance Gold Lounge in Terminal 1.

I booked this flight months ago when Lufthansa (accidentally?) released First Class award space with the launch of their new YYZ-MUC route.

Now, the day has finally arrived.

I woke up this morning and made my way to LGA. The flight to YYZ was a little over an hour on a small aircraft, hardly worth talking about, other than the fact that it DID position me to take the YYZ-MUC flight.

I am meeting my friend Angie in MUC for Oktoberfest, and from there going to Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, and Berlin. I want to try to share my impressions “on the road” (or “in the sky” or “in the hotel” as it were) instead of writing after the fact. God knows I have so many neglected reviews and my memory gets so rusty so quickly. I will be out on the road for two weeks and will tag each of these posts as Eurotrip 2014. YESSA!

The Air Canada flight was basically a shuttle service. Toronto is REALLY close to NYC – I was kinda shocked by how quickly we got here. And YYZ is a really nice airport! Super efficient and really nice employees.

The weather today was/is perfect and the flight was smooth. I have 45 more minutes to enjoy the lounge and wifi, then will get to experience Lufthansa First Class for the first time.

Expect a review of the Maple Leaf Lounge in Terminal 1 and of the Lufthansa flight. As you guys know, I’ve had mixed experiences in their famed business class cabin. :/ AUH-FRA was kinda meh but FRA-JFK was rather pleasant. Let’s see how First compares. Trying not to get my hopes up but also expecting miracles… kind of a strange mix of emotions to have to hold inside of one.

If anything, this trip already makes me want to visit Toronto again. I’d love to before it gets too screaming cold.

So here is Day One. I am challenging myself to post each day then to do a mega recap. Godspeed to me!

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    Random Travel Quotes

    "A good travel has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving."
    Lao Tzu