Monthly Archives: September 2017

Airport Security Is About to Get Worse: Get Precheck Now

After procrastinating for months, I finally applied for Global Entry, at a cost of $100, which my Executive Platinum American Express Business * card will reimburse me for. Why?

Because a good friend was flying yesterday and she told me that security had been a nightmare. They had to remove all food and electronics and even books from their carry-ons and place them each in a separate bin. I guess I missed this, but back in July the Department of Homeland Security announced it would be piloting these stricter security measures, and now they must be beginning the nationwide roll-out. Continue reading

Attempting to Earn 20,000 AAdvantage Miles by Switching to Sprint

I will need more AAdvantage miles for the trip to Hawaii and Australia that I’m planning, and there isn’t another AAdvantage card that I want to get right now. So I was happy when I learned that Sprint will give you 20,000 AAdvantage miles for signing up for a cell phone plan with them. I had been thinking of switching from Spring sister company Ting anyway.

Unfortunately, Sprint’s horrible customer service seems to be preventing me from getting this deal. Continue reading

Ways to Build Up Points Besides Traveling


When I tell friends about collecting miles, they often tell me that they don’t travel much, so they can’t get many miles.

That may have been true 20 years ago, but it’s not true now. Thanks to credit card offers, shopping portals, and more, you can accrue tons of miles without ever leaving your couch. Here are some ideas:

  1. Credit card bonus offers
    If you’ve ever read my blog before, this one is obvious, but let’s not ignore the obvious. You can get tons of miles, fast, by taking out new accounts with credit cards offering sign-up bonuses.
    If you don’t already have one and you haven’t taken out a lot of new credit cards recently, the best way to start at this game is by getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card. Then you’ll have 50,000 Chase points, worth about $625 in travel.
  2. Dining programs
    Most airlines having a program that rewards you for eating at certain restaurants. Make sure you register every credit card you might possibly use to eat out with a dining program. You can’t register the same card for more than one dining program — they’re all administered by the same company, so if you register a card for a new one, they’ll boot that card off the old one.
  3. Shopping portals
    This is an area I neglected in the past, and now that I’m remembering to shop through the AAdvantage portal, I’m excited to see miles racking up. This works basically like any kind of affiliate program — click through the AAdvantage eShopping portal to a store, and the store will give AAdvantage a kickback, which they’ll share with you in the form of miles.
    The neat thing about this is that sometimes stores run promotions where you can earn more than one mile per dollar for shopping there. Sometimes they’ll even give you a discount. For example, New Balance right now is offering 5 miles per dollar if you click through American Airlines’ AAdvantage, plus they give you a coupon code for 10% off.
  4. Car rentals
    You can give your frequent flyer number when you rent a car or register it in your online profile with the rental car company, but you can sometimes get more miles or points by clicking through your frequent flyer program portal to rent.
    For instance, this summer we rented a car from Budget and we clicked through the AAdvantage portal. We received 500 bonus miles, plus 500 miles for the rental, totaling in 1,000 miles for the 14-day rental.
  5. Hotel stays
    Just like with the car rental, give your frequent flyer number at check in or online when making the reservation to rack up miles. You might even be able to earn miles in addition to the hotel’s own reward points.
  6. Special promotions
    A few months ago AAdvantage offered a promotion promising up to 20,000 bonus miles if you did transactions with specific retail partners and ate at an AAdvantage Dining restaurant. I tried to qualify for the whole 20,000 for both my husband and myself, but I fell short. Still, my husband ended up getting 5,000 bonus miles out of the deal, in addition to the miles he got for each individual shopping and dining transaction.
  7. Other special offers
    You can sometimes get miles for signing up for a new bank account, a new cell phone plan, or practically anything other service that your rewards program decides to partner with.
    I’m currently considering switching my cell phone to Sprint in order to earn 25,000 AAdvantage miles.
    What did I miss? Are there non-travel methods you have used to earn big miles that I should start using too?

Continue reading

EclipseTrip Day 5: Crater Lake

I woke up first in the morning at Broken Arrow campground in Oregon. I had been trying out a highly rated Thermarest mattress and I just wasn’t sleeping well on it, partly because it was too narrow.* So I left my sleeping beauties in the tent and crawled out to explore.

It was sunny but felt pretty cold. I put on a coat and strolled around the empty campground, happy to see a few squirrels and chipmunks around, carrying nuts. So all the animals hadn’t gotten burned up or fled to safer territory. When the kids got up and we started loading the car, some chipmunks got so bold that they went right into the Highlander, and we had to assign Toth the job of chipmunk patrol. We didn’t have much on hand to eat for breakfast, so we didn’t take long to get going. Continue reading

New Big Trip: Anniversary Lodging

At the end of this year, The Miles Dad and I will have been married 20 years. TWENTY YEARS. Obviously, we want to celebrate that by going to Hawaii.

Actually, this trip was our kids’ idea, three whole years ago. Our oldest daughter Nutmeg gave us a card informing us that we’d be headed to Hawaii, and that she and her sister were socking away money to make it happen. They had even approached my parents to hatch a plan for my parents to fly to California to babysit them while we were gone. Continue reading

EclipseTrip Day 4: More Shakespeare and a Spooky Forest

Smoky sunset over Diamond Lake, near Crater Lake.

The less fun thing about staying in home exchanges on a trip is that when you leave, you have to clean. We could tell that the owners of this house, who had no children, were pretty stringent about cleanliness, and in fact they had mentioned in their instructions that they had had the place professionally cleaned for us (which I also do before sharing my home).  Continue reading

Miles Nerd: Planning another big trip

Last year, I pulled off a miles miracle by getting six people to Australia and back in coach using miles. In 2018, I was planning a much easier trip: from the San Francisco Bay Area to Hawaii and back for my husband and I to celebrate our 20th anniversary, plus lodging.

Then, my mom and I started talking about going back to Australia. We have close relatives there, and besides, we didn’t get to see the Great Barrier Reef when we went last year. So I started studying. Continue reading