Archive for November, 2015

Miles, points, and credit card update

November 22nd, 2015, 2:38pm by Mike

You all know I’m into miles and points, and even though I’m not traveling much lately, I stay on top of these things (mainly by reading one blog, linked below several times). Three things to update on:

First, as you’ve probably heard by now, Starwood and Marriott are merging to create the biggest hotel chain in the world. There’s no clarity on what happens to SPG, but the thinking seems to be that it’ll be swallowed up by Marriott Guest Rewards, which is twice as big. And much crappier. May be worth thinking about revisiting all those accumulated SPG points. Personally, I signed up for the SPG Business Amex a couple months ago to get 30k bonus points (which I used to earn in 3 weeks in NYC!), and now their value isn’t as clear (but I did just use SPG points for some flights, which is actually a pretty good use of them, I think, since there’s no blackout dates. We got our tickets for Spring Break that way, which would have been very expensive otherwise). Always the danger with accumulating points — they can be arbitrarily devalued at any time.

Second, and related, Hyatt is running a status match right now to their Diamond Preferred (top level) — so it’s a good time to match SPG to Hyatt, since the future of SPG Platinum isn’t clear. Again, Marriott’s program kinda sucks. This link describes how the early movers did (very well), and it sounds like Hyatt may be getting more restrictive on the status match, but still worth a try. I’m trying, anyway.

Third, credit cards. Some cards that are pretty worthwhile to have are especially worthwhile right now. These two cards in particular:

  • Chase Freedom: Gives The Chase Freedom card has no annual fee, and gives 1% in cash back or points for all purchases, except for bonus categories each quarter that get 5%. It’s usually categories like gas stations and grocery stores. For this quarter, the bonus is for Amazon companies — and not only that, it’s a 10% bonus! With the holidays, a 10% off coupon at Amazon is likely to be pretty useful — and as many have pointed out, if you want to maximize this, just buy gift cards via Amazon (for Amazon or anywhere else) that you can use later in the year.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: Gives Ultimate Rewards points: 1% back on all purchases, 2% on restaurants and travel (defined very broadly). $95 annual fee, waived first year. It is a staple among miles/points people, and right now they’re offering 50,000 points as a sign-up bonus if you spend $4000 on the card in the first 3 months. If you also have the Chase Freedom card, you can accrue ultimate rewards points from spend on both cards — or 10 points per dollar  for Amazon, which is really good.

If you’re interested in either of these credit card deals, let me refer you and I’ll get some bonus points, too! Or don’t, either way, just take advantage of the deals if you want! In the meantime, I’m watching all of my hotel and airline status expire by the end of the year — reward for actually having time at home instead of on the road!

 

 

 

 

 

New Tech

November 19th, 2015, 10:03pm by Mike

I can’t do this in 140 characters, but wanted to run down the new tech I’ve gotten lately. Let’s bring The Board back to its roots!

First, I got a new job, which got me:

  • An iPhone 6, 64GB. Best thing by far is the Touch ID, and I’m already used to the bigger screen — probably because it’s getting cold here and I have coat pockets. I would have wanted the 6S, but this one was free from work. 
  • A Dell laptop. It’s actually pretty nice. At this point, I love having a Mac at home (esp with an iPhone), but I’m addicted to features in Excel for Windows (keyboard shortcuts and pivot tables, to start), PowerPoint add-ins and macros, and OneNote, none of which have feature parity in the Mac. 

I’ve also recently gotten:

  • A Lenovo laptop. I bought this before leaving my last job, since I need a machine that doesn’t belong to some company that can do things like open archived emails. I got this refurbed ThinkPad X220 for $250, and we got Office 2016 for $10 from Joanie’s work. Btw, are any of you using Win10? Should I upgrade from 7?
  • A Pebble Time Round. My third Pebble. It looks like a normal watch (I got the black one), and is about the thickness of one of those thin Skagen watches. The software is much improved from the original Pebbles, and I really like the Timeline UI. And it was $225, so much cheaper than the Apple Watch. We’ll revisit the Apple Watch when v2.0 comes out, but so far, this one is great. 
  • Lots of bike stuff. I’ve been riding indoors on a trainer in my basement, where I have our old TV set up to watch videos or use Zwift. It’s not nearly as good as riding outside, but better than not riding. 

And not tech, but I’m excited to go and pick up our Advent Beer Box in the next couple of days. 

Anything new and exciting from you guys?


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