Friday, January 31, 2014

Awsome Deal : Citi Executive AAdvantage World Mastercard Bonus Up To 100,000 Miles

Well I am kind of late in posting this; in fact I am 3 days late. The Point guy reported this on 28th. For 2014 this is the first card which is over 100,000 AAdvantage miles, and it’s by Citi Bank. Citi Bank is offering 100,000 Bonus miles on its Citi Executive AAdvantage World MasterCard.  Application can be found here you don’t have to enter anything Reference Code, or Airport code, just enter your names and Proceed Application


I have been considering this offer since Monday, so finally I and my wife applied for it yesterday and we got approved.  There are some things you need to know before you jump into this application. It needs $10,000 of spending in 3 months and you also get $200 statement credit when you spend. Now the $200 statement credit kind of offsets the $450 annual fee which is not waived for first year to bring it down to $250.

Achieving $10,000 spending in 3 month can get difficult for some. But it can be easily achieved by purchasing Reload card, gift card, pay taxes etc.   


Detail terms:

- Apply now, get the card and earn100,000 AAdvantage bonus miles after making $10,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of card membership. Also, earn up to $200 in statement credits — earn $1 in statement credits for each $1 spent on purchases within the first 12 months of card membership.

-  Elevate the way you travel with these luxury benefits: Admirals Club membership (a membership value of up to $475)

-  Earn10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles after spending $40,000 in purchases each calendar year

-  No foreign transaction fees on purchases

-  Earn two AAdvantage miles per $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases, including US Airways codeshare flights booked on

-  Priority Boarding and 25% savings on eligible in-flight purchases

-  Your first eligible checked bag is free

-  SmartChip technology

-  Expert Concierge Service

-  $450 Annual Fee

Why do I Like this Card

First thing I like this card for its 100,000 bonus miles; I am trying to load up on AAdvantage miles, because one world is best for luxury travel. Plus American Airlines and US Airways is canceling they contract with American Express Platinum, so the Platinum card holders can no longer access the American Airlines Admiral clubs. I love the Priority Boarding, when traveling with family and child it really is horrible when you can’t find an overhead bin right above your seat.


Now let’s see what you can do with 100,000 AA miles

You can get: One person

          4 any time Domestic Tickets

          8 MileSaver Domestic Tickets

          2 Round Trip Economy Off peak to Europe & still have 20K balance

          2 Round Trip Economy Off peak to South America & have 20K balance

          2 Round Trip Economy Off Peak to Asia Zone 1







United Airlines Night Customer Service not Very Helpful

If you don’t know United is about to massively Increase the number of miles it will charge on many routes, its worst if you want to redeem with a partner airline. 

On Jan 28th I was up till midnight, because on Jan 29th the route for Jan 1 2015 opened up. My route was something I couldn’t book online because it included Stop Over and Open Jaw. My Route was

SJD- PHX  open Jaw, DFW-FRA-IST-DAC , Return DAC-BKK stopover BKK-FRA-DFW,

Cabo San Lucas-Phoenix ,  Dallas – Dhaka Via Frankfurt & Istanbul, Return Dhaka to Bangkok stay few days then return to Dallas via Frankfurt.

After the agent put in the destination in the system, she tells me that I couldn’t book this award because it had two stopover SJD-PHX was considered an openjaw and a stopover, and an award reservation can only have one stopover. I was aware of that but I guess I was not completely educated on the stopover ruels, because I though SJD-PHX was just an open jaw.

I then advised the CS to remove the SJD –PHX leg, and do the rest. Then she tells me the system will not show her the award for Jan 1st. I was like what? 
She then suggested me to return on Dec 29th as she could see available flights on that date, but I wanted to spend the new years in Bangkok so I hung up. I then called back, so a different CS rep can help me. This time the rep sounded like he was half asleep, well so I told him what my plans and routes were. He immediately responded without even trying that booking, for Jan 1st 2015 award will not open till Feb 1st. I tried to explain him that the award shows up online but since I need to book an stopover I have call the award reservation dept. He then explained me that if it shows up online then it will be best if I book it online. Man this is horrible up was up all this time for this. So I decided to go to bed, it was around 2 am.

I woke up at 5 am to go to work I wrote down all the airline details. On my way to work around 6 am I called united again.  I gave the united my route, this time it was SJD-PHX stopover/open jaw DFW-FRA-IST-DAC   Return BKK-FRA-DFW, so on this award I have to fly from DAC-BKK on my own expense as this was an open jaw. The agent put me on hold and vanished with no background music for like 20 min, every 5 min I will check my phone to see that if I was still connected. When she returned she tells me that I couldn’t book this award as it was not pricing right in the system and that her supervisor tried it too. I was not sure why because the mileage required for South Asia from Mexico is same as USA Mainland. So I finally told her to Cancel the SJD-PHX and book me DFW-FRA-IST-DAC , Return DAC-BKK stopover BKK-FRA-DFW .

Flight Legs Details

Not all legs had the Business class available so I booked economy. One think with united is that if you book mix cabin, i.e. Economy and Business mix you still be charged the Business award miles.  I didn’t want to burn so many miles flying different classes, also when you travel with a 3 yr old boy it might get hard if he starts running around in business class.

DFW-FRA     with Lufthansa on Airbus A330-300
FRA-IST       with Turkish Airline Airbus A340-300
IST-DAC      with Turkish Airline Airbus A330
DAC-BKK     with Thai Airways Boeing 777-200
BKK-FRA      with Thai Airways Airbus A380-800
FRA-DFW     with Lufthansa Airbus A300-300 

The total cost me 195,000 United Miles, and $502.50

Friday, January 10, 2014

ATM and Foreign Transaction Fees. How To Avoid Them


[Disclosure, I receive referral Bonus if you use the link and the referral code below to sign up for the account. I appreciate for your support]

Traveling Frugal is awesome. I feel very accomplished when I am able travel for less. During my travel I love to use my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, as it does not have foreign transaction fee, and get 2X for travel expenses. At the same time not all Credit Card comes with no foreign transaction fee, you also have to watch out if the merchant is charging you Dynamic exchange rate . But I also hit obstacle when I was not able to use Credit Card, and Cash becomes only option. I was not very frugal when it came to using cash. Listed below are my experiences.

1.       When visiting Agra, India (this was before my miles and point obsession), the hotel clerk told me it would cost more if I paid with Credit Card. The rate was way cheaper with Cash

2.        After I was dropped off from airport to Park Hyatt Vendome in Paris, the Taxi driver told me he only takes CASH, same happened in London.

3.       I love street foods, most of the street food takes only CASH, I came across restaurant by tower of London that would not take Credit Cards

4.       Tipping the Bellboy requires CASH

5.       If you’re visiting a developing nation, you have to use more CASH than Credit Card.

6.       Before going to Europe, I exchanged USD for Euros and British Pounds from my Bank, later to find out I was screwed because when exchanging currency from Bank they give your very bad exchange rate,  and when I returned I had some Euros left which I wanted to deposit back to my account, guess what I got screwed again as I got les USD for Euros

7.       ATMs are available everywhere

So on lot of this above scenarios I had to hit up ATM to withdraw cash.  ATM is available everywhere, problem is when the customer get HIT with ATM fee, twice one by the issuing back and one by your bank for using different ATM machine. You also get charged with foreign transaction fee, so withdrawing 10 could cost you more than 5. So it’s advisable to withdraw large amount.

The only bank that I found that was completely free was Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account. Below are some details, for more information on other features and fees

What are the fees and minimums?

·         Monthly service fees: $0

·         Account minimum: $0

What do I get with this account?

·         Unlimited fee rebates from any ATM worldwide1

·         A 0.10% APY variable interest rate on any balance2

·         Free bill pay on and Schwab Mobile

·         Apply for Schwab Mobile Deposit™ to deposit checks from anywhere

·         Free standard checks and a Visa® Platinum debit card

·         FDIC insurance up to $250,0003

·         A linked Schwab One® brokerage account with no fees or minimums

The bank uses Visa Debit Card; Visa is the one that deducts funds based on the exchange rate

On the other Note, (my experience)

·         Bank of America does not charge any fee for using Barclays Banks ATM in London

·         Citi Bank has lots of branches worldwide, check with Citi Bank if there is a branch or ATM available to whatever location you’re going

·         I couldn’t find a Chase Bank Branch or ATM in London, I called the bank and checked online didn’t find one