Meet AwardWallet: The Website To Keep Your Miles And Points Organized.

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This website will become your best friend when you are collecting miles and points.

One of the most helpful tools I’ve found to keep track of all my miles and points accounts is AwardWallet. With their website and apps for iPhone or Android, you’re able to track your airline, hotel, credit card, rental car and many other types of program balances (678 and counting). Trust me, it can become addicting to hit refresh and see if your balances have increased. AwardWallet can track balances for multiple family members but most importantly it will notify you if your balances are due to expire. The worst thing for miles and points junkies is for their hard earned points to waste away, unused.

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….and these are just the airlines I have accounts with. I’m one who admits I need help keeping all this organized. Sharon is good, but she’s not *that* good…plus she doesn’t care 😉

I’m mentioning this because I think AwardWallet has always been a seriously underpriced offering. When I started, you only had to pay whatever you wanted to upgrade to the premium version. Since then, they had suggested you pay $10 for a year, which was still a bargain and an amount I was always willing to pay. The price increased to $30 on February 15, 2017, but you know what? I still think the service they offer is worth the $30.

If you want to sign up, feel free to use my link (I get a small kickback if 5 people sign up using my link). I’d be very thankful if you did.

Feel free to comment if you have any questions on how to sign up and track your programs.

Like this post? We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually just once or twice a day). Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

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Want To Travel With Points And Miles? Have A Goal!!!!

Have a travel goal! That’s one of the first things you need to think about before you start collecting points and miles.

If you’re reading this blog, it probably means you’re interested in learning how to travel better for less money. The best way to accomplish that is by using points and miles. One of the biggest mistakes people make when they get started is not focusing their earning towards a goal. Where do you want to travel?  How would you like to get there?

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If you want to make a trip to Ireland to kiss the Blarney Stone, you need to collect the right miles

Focusing your travel goals will make it easier for you to reach them. Do you want to take

Continue reading “Want To Travel With Points And Miles? Have A Goal!!!!”

How we upgrade the way we travel

Sharon and I love to travel. That’s no secret if you know us. For me, travel has been a part of my life for, well, my whole life. My parents took me places all the time. Now, we weren’t going all over the world. In fact, we hardly ever flew for any vacations until I was in high school. That meant it was usually a road trip for a week or two in the summer

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“Sleep No More” is One Of The Most Fascinating Shows in NYC, Ever!

Sleep No More. If you don’t immediately recognize the title, you’re probably sitting there asking yourself “What’s Sleep No More?”  Here’s a pretty good summation:
Continue reading ““Sleep No More” is One Of The Most Fascinating Shows in NYC, Ever!”

How I Earned More Delta Miles For My Dinner & Hotel Than For My Flights

One of the important things to know about collecting miles and points is unless you’re a frequent business traveler, you’re not going to earn enough miles for that bucket list trip just by flying. By being prepared, we earned a nice stash of miles from this short trip that had nothing to do with being on a plane.

 

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It’s counterintuitive to think anything except flying would earn you frequent flyer miles. I mean, you would figure if you want to earn enough miles for your dream trip, you stay loyal to one airline and get all your miles from flying with them, right? Not too long ago you actually could earn a decent amount of miles for just taking regular flights, even as an occasional traveler. However within the last 2 or 3 years, the major airlines have changed to a system that rewards you by not how far your trip is but by how much you paid for that ticket.

I’ll use our recent trip to New York on Delta and therefore the formula Delta SkyMiles uses to figure out mileage earning for flights on their planes.

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Image courtesy of Great Circle Mapper

A flight from Orlando to LaGuardia airport measures 950 miles, or 1900 miles round trip. The logical way to think about miles would be for flying 1900 miles flight you would earn 1900 miles. Not anymore. Delta’s new math works like this. Since I am only a “General Member,” I earn 5 miles per dollar spent on my ticket. If you fly more often, you can earn a better multiplier, maxing out at 11 miles per dollar for the highest level of Diamond Medallion members. But if you’re like me, you’re usually going to be looking for the cheapest ticket available. Since I found a great fare for this trip, I only paid $129 for the flight. Oh, I paid more for that but all of the extra fees, surcharges and taxes don’t count for mileage accrual. That means I earned a whole 645 miles. That isn’t getting me very far at all.

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Luckily, there are plenty of other ways to earn airline, and in this case Delta, miles. For this stay I found an amazing offer for a room at the Waldorf=Astoria. The Waldorf=Astoria hotels are one of the 14 different brands belonging to the Hilton company. Since I am a Hilton HHonors member (and really, why they use the double H is beyond me – it’s like American AAdvantage. Why bother with the extra letter???), Hilton HHonors offers Points and Miles where you can earn airline miles for your stay on top of Hilton points. As per the Hilton Website, for Delta Skymiles you can “Earn 1 Delta mile per eligible US dollar spent at hotels and resorts within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio of brands (Up to 100 miles per stay at Home2 Suites).”

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Just a reminder than in order to earn any of these airline or hotel miles, you need to be enrolled in the programs (click here to sign up for airlines, and here to sign up for hotels. It’s free!). This takes only a few minutes to do before your trip. If you aren’t signed up, you are not getting the points you deserve.

The next way I earned miles was a pleasant surprise. You see, I’m signed up for the SkyMiles Dining program. You provide your Delta SkyMiles number and credit card number when you enroll and then when you dine at a restaurant on the program and pay with that card, you earn miles. Here is the earning structure:

  • Members earn 1 mile per $2 spent if you elect to not receive email communication from SkyMiles Dining.
  • Online Members earn 3 mile per $1 spent if you elect to receive email communication from SkyMiles Dining.
  • VIP Members earn 5 mile per $1 spent if you elect to receive email communication from SkyMiles Dining AND have 12 or more qualified dining transactions in a calendar year.

I don’t mind getting spammy type emails so I get the newsletter sent to my email and sort it to my “scan through occasionally” folder. This earns me 3 miles per dollar spent as I’ve never hit the 12 qualified transaction threshold in a year to become a VIP (only certain restaurants count – they’re all different price points, but we still don’t go to those specific restaurants often enough).

screen-shot-2017-01-26-at-3-35-48-pmAnyway, I was pleasantly surprised to get an email shortly after arriving home. It turned out that the sushi restaurant near our hotel that I found on Yelp! was part of the SkyMiles dining program. Besides having a totally awesome dinner there, I earned an additional 408 Delta Skymiles ($136 dinner x 3 points per dollar). I was even happier when the next email arrived. It turned our that our favorite place to go after a show, Lillie’s, was also on the program! Woo hoo – more unexpected frequent flyer miles!

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Now don’t go and try and figure out what our bar tab was, OK?

So I earned another 564 miles for dining without even trying, because these were places we were going to anyway; the miles were just a bonus. So I earned a total of 2,069 Delta SkyMiles this trip, of which only 645 were from the actual flight. Still a long way from that fancy seat, but you have to take what you can get.

I’d also like to mention that besides these bonuses, the credit card I used earned me 2 miles per dollar for travel and dining expenses. I also earned 5% back on all of our taxi and Uber rides by using my Discover card because transport is one of the bonus categories this quarter. I’ll get more into that side of earning in a later post.

If you have any questions, please feel free to comment here or ask on Facebook or Twitter.

Like this post? We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually just once or twice a day). Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

Why We Had Never Been to Harlem Before & What We Did When We Went

Since we grew up in the NY area, and because we visit Manhattan at least once a year, it’s hard to find things to do “in between Broadway shows.” We’ve done all the touristy things and a lot of the museums and other things that might interest us. But for this trip, we decided to do something we had never, ever done before – go to Harlem!

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Harlem in the late 1970s. Photo by Manel Armegol

Going to Harlem nowadays isn’t such a big deal but from the 1920s until the early 2000s, Harlem was generally a low income area and not the safest of neighborhoods. Growing up in Brooklyn and then Staten Island, “Don’t go to Harlem; you’ll get killed!” is the kind of thing I heard my whole life. Now, I don’t know whether or not that was really true, but the point certainly scared me enough, as I entered my teens, 20s and 30s, that Harlem wasn’t on my short list destinations to visit, except in a “forbidden fruit” sort of way – part of the reason why I wanted to go because it was suggested I couldn’t/shouldn’t. I’m such a rebel, LOL!

But it’s 2017 now and Harlem had become safer over the past decade or so. Meanwhile, I really wanted to go to a church service in NYC where they sang black gospel, because I truly do enjoy that kind of music; the more hand-clapping and foot-stomping, the better! So I did my research to see what churches in Manhattan had gospel music and which would be the best for visitors, and First Corinthian Baptist Church (FCBC) made the top of the list – so we got an Uber and off to Harlem we went.

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First Corinthian Baptist Church

Sunday worship services were at 7:30am, 9:30am and 11:30am, and it was suggested that visitors arrive early. “Early” is subjective, I’m habitually early as it is, and our Uber took less time than we anticipated, so we wound up arriving for the 11:30am service at a couple of minutes before 10am. It was cold out and we didn’t want to hang out outside for an hour and a half so we decided to join the 9:30am service, even though it was already in progress. I felt badly about that, but the gentleman at the door assured us it was OK.

As visitors, we were directed upstairs. And it was a LOT of stairs. See, FCBC is housed in what used to be the Regent Theater, a landmarked, historic building built in 1913 (yay, more old architecture!), and visitors are encouraged to sit the balcony. So we had to climb up a HUGE flight of steps. But once we made it to the top and had caught our breath, we saw that the view of the pulpit was awesome from up there!

The praise team was in the midst of singing when we arrived, so I was immediately happy and in my musical element. Reverend Dr. LaKeesha Walrond then led the sermon, “How Much Is Enough?,” which dealt with being more in tune with loving and sharing, rather than being focused on having, as she called it, “stuff.” Neither Joe nor I are Baptist, so attending a service that included a video of George Carlin’s classic “A Place For My Stuff” routine (one of the few “clean” George Carlin routines, LOL!) and a reading of Shel Silverstein’s “Hector the Collector” was refreshing and entertaining for both of us.

With a few more songs from the praise team, the service was over. As it turned out, their music was not exactly the type of gospel choir music I had been looking for, but their voices were great, their harmonies were tight and the sermon was enjoyable, so I was still very happy we went!

After church, Joe suggested we go to Hamilton Grange National Memorial, which is the home Alexander and Elizabeth Hamilton built in Harlem in the early 1800s – it’s currently part of the National Parks Department and is the only national memorial that was built by the person who it memorializes. For those of you who are Broadway buffs, it’s referred to in the song “It’s Quiet Uptown” from the stage musical Hamilton. The church was on 116th Street and the Grange was on 141st; we decided to walk it. It was a long walk, especially with temperatures in the mid-30s, but it was fun to see all of the different architectural styles of buildings we passed on our way.

grangeoutside2When we got to the Hamilton Grange, we signed up for a self guided tour. The building is relatively small so only a limited number of people can visit the upstairs rooms at one time. We bided our time by watching a short movie about Alexander Hamilton and looking at a timeline of his accomplishments, which were on 2 rooms on the first floor. After 10 or 15 minutes or so, our name was called and upstairs we went.

Public domain photos courtesy of the National Parks Department. For more photos and information, visit the Hamilton Grange pages of the National Parks Service.

The upstairs was a group of 3 large rooms and a couple of smaller spaces. Since the house had had variety of uses (including as a church) over the past 200+ years, to say nothing of the entire building being moved 2 times (!!!), details of the original house and furniture are limited, so it’s been filled with artifacts that Hamilton once owned, as well as some reproductions and the types of things the family might have owned during their time there. The space was done very well, complete with a hand-painted floor in the entry foyer that was in the style that was done at the time of the very early 19th century. A Parks Department representative remained in the middle of the space to answer questions, and she really knew her stuff!

With a quick visit to the gift shop (Hello, “It’s Quiet Uptown” T-shirt!), we took a train back downtown so we could have lunch. Our visit to Harlem was over. But what a fun day it was! I look forward to visiting the area again one of these days, preferably to get a tour of the Apollo Theater!!!

Like this post? We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually just once or twice a day). Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

To Uber, Taxi or Subway? That Is The Question

As usual, we decided not to rent a car while staying in Manhattan. For us, this is an easy decision to make, as rental cars are expensive, parking is even more expensive and you have many options to get around town.

Just as a reminder, this post is part of our trip report on our trip to see Hamilton.

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