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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Screenshot 2014-09-26 15.58.56
Worth mentioning since I’ve posted about FoundersCard before.

When you join FoundersCard, you get to enjoy the initial rate you paid… forever. I joined when the rate was $495, and have gotten that much value out of the card despite only being a member coming up on a year. Here’s a chance to do even better than the deal I got in on.

Until October 2nd, you can join FoundersCard for $395 a year, and you’d get to keep paying that rate every year you keep the card.

Here is the link to the promo and the promo code to use is FCHARLAN818.

If you’ve been deliberating about whether to join or not, this $100 off the usual lowest rate ($495) might be the thing that makes this deal a little bit better.

Also, if you’re an AA flyer, their current AA promo is 5% off most fares on American. You will receive a discount code that is good for unlimited use. If you heavily fly on American/OW and are trying to meet some sort of status before the end of 2014, you’d get to take advantage of the fare discount and start earning your $395 back right away.

That, combined with the multiple other discounts and freebies offered by the card, as well as the fantastic global networking events, makes this card a great investment for entrepreneurs in major cities.

AA’s last quarter promo was a free Gold status challenge, and bonus Business Extra points. They’ve featured 5% off fares before, and that seems to be a hit with most members of FoundersCard.

Read my full review to learn about the other discounts offered and to decide whether this membership might be worth buying.

If you have any questions, email me at zynner@gmail.com or feel free to post a comment below.

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Screenshot 2014-09-01 23.39.08Also see:

(To begin, if you are not at all into gambling, please skip this post!)

I’ve written about FoundersCard in the past, and, about six months in, am really enjoying the benefits of the card. Click this link to read my review of the card and to learn about some of the benefits. So far, I am loving it. The AT&T discount alone nearly pays for the card, and when you throw in all the perks it offers along the way, it makes this card a really nice companion to urban living. Next month, I will be attending my first networking event here in NYC sponsored by the card and will be sure to write about the experience.

FoundersCard has done a great job at stepping up their benefits package lately, like offering American Airlines Gold status, giving 10% off British Airways fares, and, most recently, offering free Diamond Status with Caesars Total Rewards.

Now, I’m not a gambler and don’t even live near a casino (unless you count Atlantic City), but I went ahead and made myself Diamond with Total Rewards just because of the “why not?” factor. A list of all their casino locations is included here. When I was in Las Vegas earlier this year, I got preferred treatment thanks to Hyatt’s relationship with MLife, and most of those benefits are duplicated with Total Rewards. The biggest ones are lounge access and priority treatment in just about every corner of the hotel and casino.

Diamond benefits

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As a thanks for reading the blog, I decided to make The Points Game e-book free for three days starting today, Labor Day.

It’s the exact same content as what’s in the NEW? section of this website, but formatted for Kindle – in case you’d like to download and read on-the-go.

Feel free to pass the link along to anyone you know who might want an intro to the points and miles world. There’s a lot to know, and it can seem daunting at first, but readers here will know that it is all very worth it!

Without further adieu, here’s the link: bit.ly/pointsguide

Feel free to copy and share anywhere. Enjoy.

Thanks for reading and happy Labor Day!

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Also see:

I won’t spend as much time on this one since I just outlined BA/OpenSkies biz class in the link above. That post talked about flying there EWR-ORY, but in this one, I want to talk about getting back.

It cost slightly more Avios points because we flew ORY-LHR-JFK instead of direct. Since it’s priced per segment, I spent 49,000 Avios + ~$400 on these flights, which would’ve retailed for over $6,000.

The differences

For the ORY-LHR segment, we got the usual intra-European “business class” which is just regular seats with the middle one blocked out. The flight was only an hour, and I wasn’t expecting much, if anything. To my surprise, we were served a course of afternoon tea.

BA tea service - SO CUTE!

BA tea service – SO CUTE!

The other big difference was that instead of a Boeing 757-200 like the flight over, we flew back on a 747-400 for LHR-JFK which had… Read More

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As part of my recent trip to Paris, I got to fly from EWR to ORY on OpenSkies, a subsidiary of British Airways that flies exclusively from NYC-Paris. They have one flight that leaves from EWR and another from JFK. Due to award availability, I dragged myself over to EWR, but was really excited to take this flight.

This is a unique product for British Airways because it’s one of the few routes they fly that don’t involve a connection at LHR, which can add a lot of extra money in dreaded fuel surcharges. I did pay ~$450 + 40,000 Avios for the flight, but in my eyes, it was completely worth it. This flight often retails for over $7,000!

Click here to read about the award redemption for this flight in more detail.

The seat and flight

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Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome Entrance

Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome Entrance

Yep. I stayed four nights here as part of my free Paris vacation valued at over $20,000. Both my partner and I opened a Chase Hyatt Visa credit card. Both came with two free nights at any Hyatt property in the world. Hyatt now has a handful of properties that are in a new category: aspirational Category 7. I was torn between redeeming the free nights at the Vendome or at one of the two Category 6 properties in Hawaii. It’s obvious which one I picked because I’m now reviewing the Vendome. I was underwhelmed by it. It was “meh.”

The reason I chose the Vendome was mostly because of the hype. In the points-and-miles blog stratosphere, people talk about the Vendome like it’s the holy grail of hotels.

Expectations. I tried not to have very many. I was hoping for a nice room as a Platinum member with Hyatt. Nearly the second I walked into the Vendome, I kinda had this sinking feeling that I’d wasted my precious four free nights. Read More

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Many moons ago, I bought a R/T ticket to Italy when Star Alliance airlines were attacking fares in Skyteam hubs. After playing around with some dates and locations, I decided to go to Italy for my birthday. Now I’m back and have so much catching up to do.

  • I flew there and back on Swiss business class, which offered a phenomenal product and service
  • I stayed (for free!) at the Radisson Blu in Galgiznano Terme, Italy, which was a lovely property
  • I got to see Venice and Florence for the first time – both lovely cities
  • And I earned nearly 14K United miles, nearly enough for a free one-way toward another getaway trip

I’ve also been crazy busy with work, but it’s now slowing down and I’m hoping to turn more attention back into the blog, especially before I return to Europe for Oktoberfest in Germany.

Finally, I’ve missed you guys and am looking forward to getting back in the saddle!

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Also see: Rom’s Deals take on a retention offer Screenshot 2014-05-14 08.45.39

Oh man, I have so much to tell you guys about. The trip to Paris, BA lie-flat biz class, and thoughts about Amex, interest charges, and assorted travel fun. But first things first.

The sitch

I think I mentioned that I bought a couple of Amex gift cards via the Barclaycard RewardsBoost portal before. Anyway, I did. I bought two for $1,000 each. The first time, I paid $8.95 in shipping and activation fees, while the second time, I didn’t (I signed up for a 90-day trial of the premium shipping plan). Before buying, I made sure to click through the RewardsBoost portal given by my Arrivalcard. Then I waited for 8 weeks.

Nothing.

I bought other things through the portal too, from J. Crew and drugstore.com. Those all posted fine.

I am now well-dressed

I am now well-dressed

But I was still waiting on eight thousand points to post worth over $88 in travel redemptions (4x points x $2,000 of spend).

Then, somewhere along the line, I got hit with the $89 annual fee and was sent a new Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard.

The “in”

After 8 weeks passed, I gave ol’ Barclays a WTF call. 8,000 points isn’t a ton of points, but it also ain’t nothin’. I gave them my Amex order numbers and the exact amounts of the purchases. They’ve promised to post the missing points in the next 7-10 days.

Then, right after, I mentioned how the annual fee had just hit and asked if there was any way I could continue evaluating the card fee-free due to the recent error and subsequent over-two-month wait in getting points posted.

At that point, I was transferred to a manager.

I explained that I’d been waiting for over 8 weeks on some points, had just received a new World Elite MasterCard, and was still a little on the fence about where to direct the bulk of my spend. I mentioned using the card recently on a trip to Paris, and how I would’ve normally given that spend to Chase instead.

The agent reviewed my account, reviewed my recent spend, and then really impressed me. She waived the $89 annual fee, said she’d personally follow up on the missing 8K points, and gave me an additional 5,000 points for the trouble. I had a moment where I was so impressed with the customer service that all I could say was “Wow.”

Why I think I was offered this

The “in” was the trouble with the portal points posting. BUT, I have been using the Arrivalcard for regular spend. Barclays is a bank that really values engagement with their products. I’ve had a card with them for over 7 years now (the ill-fated Icelandair MasterCard), and made sure to ramp up the spending on the Arrivalcard to demonstrate my willingness to have a banking relationship with them. Their motto is very literally “show me the money.”

Knowing this, I also think they would’ve said they couldn’t waive the fee had I not spent anything on the card in the previous six months. The points trouble was my “in” but the relationship was the kicker.

I really value that. I like knowing that they want my relationship and that they’ll take care of me for giving them my loyalty.

Bottom line

Barclays offered to fix their error, bounced me 5,000 points for the trouble, and waived the $89 annual fee on the new Arrivalcard World Elite MasterCard  – just for making a phone call. They are a bank that looks for relationships with the customers, and in the end, I have to say I really respect them for the way they treated my (very minor) issue.

I’m super impressed by this level of customer service and will definitely be funneling some of my non-bonused spend through this card, especially in conjunction with their super lucrative RewardsBoost portal (and definitely when they offer 4x points on Amex gift cards).

Has anyone else gotten an offer like this? Or had any experiences with Barclays lately?

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From the I’ll-never-use-this files (similar to my previous pondering about Alaska’s MileagePlan), I stumbled upon the Shell Fuel Rewards Network and wanted to share an overview of the program because it looked really interesting.

Stop me if you’ve already heard about it and I must also disclaim: I live in New York City. I don’t have a car. I don’t even know where the closest Shell station is. But I signed up for the Fuel Rewards Network program all the same.

Why?

Automated savings

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You're interesting

You’re interesting

I’ve been curious about Alaska’s MileagePlan program for a while. Between trying out Delta, then racing to qualify for status on American, Alaska has always been that airline that I’ve known about but never really explored. MileagePlan was discussed quite a bit at April’s FTU, and since then, I’ve been looking into the program more.

Pros and Cons

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    Random Travel Quotes

    “When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.”