Family Vacation to Hawaii Part 1 – Airfare

Hawaii is one of our favorite spots to visit since its fairly close and has something for everyone. This time around we only had about one week so we opted not to go anywhere international as it would be too rushed.  Our oldest only has a week off from her preschool so Hawaii was perfect.

View from Hawaiian Airlines window seat

This would be our second trip to Hawaii with both of the girls but our 7th overall trip as a couple.  Our last trip wasn’t so fun as everyone except me got sick and our youngest was only 3 months.  We wanted a redo since last trip was so miserable.

Family Vacation to Hawaii 2017

Part 1 – Airfare

Part 2 – Our stay at the Andaz Maui at Wailea

Part 3 – Good eats and family friendly places around Wailea

Part 4 – Our stay at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki

Part 5 – Good eats and family friendly places on Oahu

In the past we have flown Hawaiian Airlines because they are comfortable and have Extra Comfort seats that allow more leg room especially for a 5 and half hour flight. This time we decided to use some of our Citi Thank You points. Via the Citi Thank You portal, we booked round trip flights from SFO to Maui with an extended layover to Honolulu. The return flight was just from Honolulu back to SFO.

The extended layover in Maui was cheaper than buying a one way from SFO to Maui and then another ticket from Maui to Honolulu. The ticket would have cost about $850/person but we were able to book via Citi Thank You points for 48,000 points each which equates to about 1.78 cents per point.  This is pretty decent considering Citi Thank you points are worth about 1.5 to 1.6 cents per TPG.  You can refer to the Citi Prestige or Premier cards for sign up bonuses.

However, the best way to make use of your Thank You points is to transfer them to one of its partners for redemption. listed below. Sometimes you can get up to $0.10 per point, such as booking Singapore Suites.

  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Asia Miles
  • Etihad Guest
  • EVA Air
  • Air France and KLM Flying Blue
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Jet Airways JetPrivilege
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Thai Royal Orchid Plus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Hilton Honors

They transfer at a 1:1 ratio.  I checked on some of these and it was easier for me to just book the flights straight from Citi.

Enough room to for my youngest to sleep

We were able to get Hawaiian Airline’s Extra Comfort seats which were pretty nice.  They came with 6 more inches of leg room, personal electrical outlet, priority boarding and priority security line and a personal entertainment.   I would highly recommend flying either Hawaiian Airlines or Alaska Airlines which now includes the Virgin America fleet.

Stay tuned for Part 2 for my review of the Andaz at Wailea.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not endorsed by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.  Reader acknowledges that the author gets referral point bonuses for readers using the referral links above.  

Maximizing Your Chase Freedom Card

Image courtesy of Chase

It’s been a while since I last posted.  It’s been a really busy two months with my new job and other things going on in my life. I am thankful every day though for having such a supportive network of friends and family! Especially my wife who has been so supportive of everything I do.   

I haven’t had a chance to finish our Hawaii vacation posts yet but I promise it is coming. We had a wonderful dinner in Napa this past weekend with some good friends visiting from Los Angeles.  During dinner my blog became the topic of conversation and the Chase Freedom Credit Card came up. I thought it would make a good post.

I think a lot of people overlook this card and I bet most of us already have this card.  Some of us may not even use it much like my wife unless I tell her when to use it.

Here are the benefits to the Chase Freedom card: 

EARN 5% CASH BACK on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate.  Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter. See the 2017 calendar of bonus categories.

EARN 1% CASH BACK on all other purchases.

CASH BACK REWARDS DO NOT EXPIRE as long as your account is open. And there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.

EARN A $150 BONUS after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

EARN A $25 BONUS after you add your first authorized user and make your first purchase within this same 3-month period.

NO ANNUAL FEE!!

CASH BACK CAN BE CONVERTED TO CHASE ULTIMATE REWARD POINTS!!!

I’ve been talking about various credit cards in my last few posts that have steeper annual fees but with amazing perks.  This card will however costs you nothing!

Imagine if you maxed out each quarters bonus category which will put you at $4500 per year on category spending. This will give you 30,000 Ultimate Reward (UR) points by year’s end and that’s not including the 1% on other spends.  If you add a authorized user, you can earn twice as fast.  And if your partner gets his own card then you can come up with 60,00 UR points at year end.

I think that’s pretty awesome for spending what you normally spend on and not have to pay an annual fee.

Now there is a slight catch.  You have to have either the Chase Reserve credit card or the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card in order to convert your cash back to UR points.

Transferring Ultimate Reward points is easy!

If you log onto your account you’ll see that it’s very easy to move points from one account to the next.  You can even transfer them to your partner if you share the same address and add him as an authorized user.

The key to getting the most out of your quarterly bonus categories is to ensure you activate your bonus on time and to use your card accordingly.  The current quarterly bonus is Restaurants and Movie Theaters and must be activated by September 14, 2017.

If you use the Chase Freedom along with the Chase Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred or one of the Chase Ink cards (email me for referral) you’re going to end up with a lot of points by the end of the year.  The key is maximize your spending and try to get more than 1 point per dollar spent!  Then you can transfer those points to any of Chase’s reward partners (courtesy of TPG.com) to maximize your point redemption!

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not endorsed by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.  Reader acknowledges that the author gets referral point bonuses for readers using the referral links above.  

TSA PreCheck and Global Entry for FREE with These Premium Credit Cards

Lines at SFO Terminal. TSA PreCheck please!!

Most people I know do not like to wait in lines.  But do you know what’s worse than waiting in a long line? Waiting in line with your kids!!!!  My girls can’t sit still so I always get the “But I’ve been waiting for so so so long!” or “Are we there yet?” comments or my little one simply cries due to frustration.  Fun times!  I’m sure you have you own stories of waiting in long lines at the airport.  However, there is a solution!  TSA PreCheck and/or Global Entry!

Yes these services cost money but it’s worth it!  Even if you don’t use any credit card sign-ups to get these services for free, it’s still worth the money. But I want to help you save some extra cash and not pay for these two services and get them for free when you sign-up for one of the following premium credit cards.  I’m only going to focus on 4 top cards.

In This Post

  1. American Express Platinum Card ($550 annual)
  2. American Express Business Platinum Card ($450 annual)
  3. Chase Sapphire Reserve ($450 annual)
  4. Citi Prestige ($450 or $350 annual)
$200 annual Uber Credit

American Express Platinum Card

The personal American Express Platinum Card does come with a hefty $550 annual fee but it has a lot of pros that offset the cost.  First off it comes with a $200 Uber credit divided into $15 monthly credits plus a $20 bonus in December.  You must link your American Express Platinum card to your Uber account for this to work. You also get a $200 airline fee credit towards incidentals (flight changes, upgrades, baggage fees, wifi, food, etc) after you have selected the airline of your choice.  Note you can only change your airline of choice once a year so choose wisely. Next you get $100 credit towards Global Entry or $85 credit towards TSA PreCheck, but remember Global Entry comes with free TSA PreCheck so you might as well just get Global Entry.

In the first year alone you are already getting $500 in perks that you normally would have to pay for.  Aside from these credits you also get 5X membership rewards on flights booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel, Priority Pass Lounge Pass (valued at $100-$200); Free Boingo wifi access; Centurion Lounge access (one of my favorites); Platinum concierge to book hard to get restaurants such as French Laundry and access to pre sale tickets to well known Broadway musicals such as Hamilton; Starwood Preferred Gold Status and much more. For complete details of all the perks please see here.

If you do decide to apply for this card please use my referral link.   It  comes with a 60,000 sign up bonus after meeting $5,000 in spending within the first 3 months.

Centurion Lounge Access for you and 2 guests

American Express Business Platinum Card

The American Express Business Platinum card offers almost identical benefits as the regular Platinum card with a few exceptions.  First of all the annual fee is $100 less at $450.  Some other exceptions include 5X points when booking flights or hotels through American Express Travel, 10 free passes for Gogo inflight Wifi, 1.5X points for each dollar spent over $5,000, 35% airline bonus when you use all or some points to book a first or business class seat on American Express Travel, you get 35% of those points back.  All other perks listed above remain the same.  For greater details see here.

If you do decide to apply for this card please use my referral link.  It comes with a 50,000 points sign up bonus after meeting $10,000 spending and an additional 25,000 points after another additional $10,000 spending within the first 3 months of opening the account.

I’ve also learned that if you apply for either or both of these cards towards the end of the year you get to use two airline credits since the airline credits are reset each calendar year in January.  You just have to make sure you meet the minimum spends.  So within the first year of opening you can get $400 in airline fee credits.

$300 Annual Travel Credit

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

If you haven’t applied for this card then you’ve missed out on the 100,000 point sign up bonus last year.  But don’t worry the current bonus is still a great deal!  Click on my referral link for this card to get a 50,000 Ultimate Chase Reward point sign up bonus after meeting minimum spend.  We love this card as much as our American Express Platinum cards.  This card comes with a $450 annual fee.  It, however comes with a $300 travel credit that can be used for anything travel related such as airline tickets, car rental fees, etc.  Skies the limit!  Note the difference between this travel credit versus American Express Platinum card’s travel fee credit.  You also get 3X the points when used to book travel and dining.  You also get 50% more travel redemption when booking through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal which means each point is worth at least 1.5 cents.  This card also comes with the $100 Global Entry or $85 TSA PreCheck credit. The Chase Reserve card also includes Priority Pass Select which allows you and your guests to access thousands of lounges around the world.

You earn 50,000 Ultimate Reward points upon spending $4,000 within the first 3 months.  For more details please click here.  In the end if you do apply for this card, your first year’s annual fee really comes down to $50 with the travel and Global Entry credit factored in.

Complimentary 4th Night Free on ANY Hotel

Citi Prestige Credit Card

Currently Citi just boosted their sign up bonus to 75,000 Thank You points compared to the past 50,000.  I applaud Citi for trying to keep up in the race of the premium credit cards.  Some of the perks to the Citi Prestige card include 3X points when you book travel through airlines, hotels and travel agencies, 2X points for dining and entertainment, $250 travel credit (similar to the Chase Reserve), and complimentary 4th night for any hotel worldwide when you book four continuous nights by calling Citi Concierge or booking through the Citi Thank You Portal.  Personally I think the latter is the best perk for this card.  We have saved thousands of dollars by booking some of our hotels through Citi Concierge.  Their rates are the same as the rates you see on the actual hotel website.  Citi will honor any published rate that they can search on a hotel’s website.

Similar to the other cards you get a complimentary Priority Pass card which allows you to bring 2 guests with you for free.  This is a World Elite Mastercard so you will receive complimentary premium memberships to major car rental companies such as Avis, National, Hertz and Sixt among other benefits.  You get up to $100 credit for Global Entry.  This card, however will not reimburse you for your TSA Pre application.  The trip delay insurance is best among all the other cards.  The card will reimburse you for expenses you incur if you flight is delayed by 3 hours! Other cards typically kick in after 12 hours.   Apply here, I do not get a referral bonus for this card.   If you are a Citigold member your annual fee is $350 but if you’re not the annual fee is $450.

Other Ways to Get FREE Global Entry/TSA PreCheck

Now if you don’t think any of the above credit cards are right for you because of their high annual fees then there are other ways.  The following list contain other credit cards and possibilities to get FREE Global Entry and TSA PreCheck:

  1.  First National Bank TravElite American Express® Card (Global Entry only – No annual fee card)
  2. Barclay AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard (Global Entry only)
  3. Citi /AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard
  4. Centurion Card from American Express
  5. American Express Corporate Gold Card
  6. American Express Corporate Platinum Card
  7. U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Gold American Express® Card
  8. U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card (exclusive to U.S. Bank customers)
  9. UBS Visa Infinite (Global Entry only)
  10. Expedia+ Voyager Card from Citi
  11. Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card (Global Entry only; must call to request the statement credit)
  12. Delta Airlines Platinum and Diamond Medallion members can choose to receive free Global Entry vouchers as one of their gifts under Choice Benefits
  13. Orbitz Rewards Platinum members receive free TSA PreCheck (but not free Global Entry)

Conclusion

We as a family all have Global Entry and it makes traveling such a breeze. We never have to take off our shoes or other belongings and the lines are always short.  Rarely have to wait more than 5 to 10 minutes to get through security. If you have kids, I really recommend you consider getting Global Entry or TSA PreCheck via one of the ways listed above. Remember Global Entry comes with TSA PreCheck and lasts for 5 years.  TSA PreCheck is free for children under 12 as long as they are traveling with an adult that has TSA PreCheck or Global Entry and it also lasts for 5 years.   If you have any questions regarding the cards listed above, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or email me. Good luck and see you at the airport!

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not endorsed by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.  Reader acknowledges that the author gets referral point bonuses for readers using the referral links above.