amazon prime Free Amazon Prime (One Year) with Amex Everyday CardsI am a big fan of Amazon Prime, mostly for free 2 day shipping from Amazon.  Amazon normally charges $99 for the Prime membership, but it looks like they have teamed up with American Express Everyday credit cards to offer one year free.  The membership actually offers tons of benefits, which far outweigh the $99 annual fee:

FREE Two-Day Shipping on eligible items to addresses in the contiguous U.S. and other shipping benefits. For more information, go to Amazon Prime Shipping Benefits.

Prime Instant Video: unlimited streaming of movies and TV episodes for paid or free trial members in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. For more information, go to About Prime Instant Video.

Prime Music: unlimited, ad-free access to hundreds of Prime Playlists and more than a million songs for members in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. For more information, go to About Prime Music.

Prime Pantry: Access to Prime Pantry, where members can purchase and ship to addresses in the contiguous U.S. low priced grocery, household, and pet care items for a flat delivery fee of $5.99 for each Prime Pantry box. Prime Pantry orders cannot be shipped to addresses in Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.

Prime Early Access: Get 30-minute early access to select Lightning Deals on Amazon.com and new events on MyHabit.com. For more information, go to About Prime Early Access.

Kindle Owners’ Lending Library: access to members in the U.S. For more information, go toKindle Owners’ Lending Library

Kindle First: Early access for members in the U.S. to download a new book for free every month from the Kindle First picks. For more information, go to Kindle First.

Membership Sharing: Prime members may invite up to four eligible household members living at the same address to enjoy the shipping benefits of a free trial or paid Prime membership at no extra cost. If you purchase a Prime membership as a small business, you may invite up to four co-workers to shop with this corporate account. For more information, go to Share Your Amazon Prime Benefits.

The membership is free for a year if you apply for either the American Express Everyday Credit Card (no annual fee) or the American Express Preferred Everyday Card ($95 annual fee).   Both cards earn full Membership Rewards Points which are transferrable to many airlines.  The Everyday card earns 20% bonus points if you make 20 or more transactions, while the Preferred Everyday earns 50% bonus when you make 30 transactions in a month.

Amex Everyday Credit Card – with free Amazon Prime for a year

  • No annual Fee
  • Get one Year of Amazon Prime plus 10,000 points after you make $1,000 in purchases with your new Card in the first three months.
  • Use your Card 20 or more times on purchases in a billing period and get 20% more points on those purchases less returns and credits. Terms and limitations apply.
  • 2x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x); 1x points on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.

Amex Everyday Preferred Credit Card – with free Amazon Prime for a year

  • $95 annual fee
  • Get One Year of Amazon Prime plus 15,000 points after you make $1,000 in purchases with your new Card in the first three months.
  • Use your Card 30 or more times on purchases in a billing period and get 50% more points on those purchases less returns and credits. Terms and limitations apply. 
  • 3x points at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases(then 1x); 2x points at US gas stations; 1x points on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.

I personally like the no annual fee card better as I can keep my Membership Rewards alive forever.  Overall, I think this is a worthy partnership.  If you haven’t tried Amazon Prime yet, you should.  You won’t regret it.

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I previously wrote about the basics of the Flexperks Travel Rewards Signature Visa from US Bank.  The point of that post is that you can great value from flexperks points (up to 2 cents per point) when redeemed for flights.

flexperks flight redemption Racking up Free Flights with Flexperks Travel Rewards Signature Visa

The 3 key things about the card are:

  • No annual fee first year, $49 thereafter
  • 2x FlexPoints on the category you spend the most on (gas, groceries or airlines) and most cell phone expenses during each billing cycle.
  • 3x FlexPoints on qualifying charitable donations.

With the assumption of each flexperk point having a maximum value of 2 cents each, the 2x and 3x category bonuses equate to a value of 4 cents or 6 cents.  That’s really great!

Racking up free flights by using the card to make Kiva donations:

Using the Flexperks Travel Rewards Signature Visa to make donations on Kiva can really rack up the flexperks points.  To illustrate a simple example, supposed you make charitable donations to Kiva in the amount of $6,666.67, you would end up with 20,000 points since you are earning 3x.  That’s equivalent to a free flight.

Keep in mind that you are going to get these “charitable donations” back in the form of cash over time.  I always like to mention that there is risk involved of losing some money.  However, in my personal experience with Kiva, that loss has been minimal.  You can read more about Kiva here.

The idea here is the same as making 5x cash back on Kiva charitable donations with the US Bank Cash Plus card.

In an extreme example, supposed you loaned $2000 per month to Kiva (not for everyone), you would rack up $24,000 in spend and 72,000 flexperks points.  With $24,000 in spend, you earn an additional 3500 flexperks points which you can use to negate the annual fee (if you chose).   With the signup bonus of 20,000 points (after completing minimum spend), you would be sitting on 95,500 points equal to $1910 in flight redemptions.  That’s a pretty good return on loaning lots of money.

Maximizing the redemption of your flights:

To get the maximum value of each point, it would be ideal to redeem for exactly the allowed ticket value.  For example, you get the most benefit when you redeem 20,000 points for $400 ticket.  However, there might be a flight that is only $300, in which you may be losing a bit of value.

However, according to this post from FrequentMiler, your ticket does not have to be a plain roundtrip ticket.  You can have multiple segments, or even 2 roundtrip tickets (booked as multiple segments) as long as the total is below $400.  In addition, perhaps an economy ticket is $300, but business class ticket is $400.  You might as well book the business class ticket.  Not only will you get maximum value from your points, but you will likely get double miles from the airline for the business class ticket.

The Verdict

With the right strategy, you can certainly rack up lots of free flights with the US Bank Flexperks Travel Rewards Signature Visa.  If you don’t want to pay the annual fee the second year, you could likely downgrade to the US Bank Cash Plus card.

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I’ve know about the US Bank Flexperks Travel Rewards Signature Visa for a long time, but didn’t really care for it since I have plenty of other cards.  After looking at it a bit futher, I realize it has good potential for the frequent flyer.

Flexperks travel rewards signature visa The Basics of the  Flexperks Travel Rewards Signature Visa

The Key Points of the card:

  • No annual fee first year, $49 thereafter
  • Current signup bonus: 20,000 flexperks points after $3,500 spend in 3 months
  • One FlexPoint for every $1 spent in net purchases.
  • 2x FlexPoints on the category you spend the most on (gas, groceries or airlines) and most cell phone expenses during each billing cycle.3
  • 3x FlexPoints on qualifying charitable donations.
  • If you spend $24,000 a year, you get 3,500 additional Flexperks points which can be used to offset your annual fee
  • Get up to a $25 airline allowance with every award travel ticket good towards baggage fees, in-flight treats and more

Although there are a lot of redemption options such as cash back or gift cards, most of them give you 1 cent per point.  However, that’s not where the maximum value seems to be.

The maximum value can be obtained when you redeem the flexperks points for flights.  Basically, you can redeem up to 2 cents per flexperk point value when redeeming for flights.  See the chart below.

flexperks flight redemption The Basics of the  Flexperks Travel Rewards Signature Visa

To get the maximum value from 20,000 points, you would have to find a flight that is exactly $400.  Let’s say you found a flight that’s $350, now you are getting 1.75 cents per point in value.  However, this is still better than redeeming for gift cards or cash back.    It doesn’t make sense to book any flight $200 or less (redemption value of 1 cent per point or less) as you can clearly do better.

You can book the flight once you login to your US Bank account.   The travel portal used to find the flights is run by Travelocity, so the fares should technically be identical to what you find on travelocity.

Thus, the signup bonus of 20,000 points gives you a free domestic flight worth up to $400.  The best part of using these flexperks points is that since it’s a paid flight, you will accrue frequent flyer miles on the flight that you take.

US Bank sometimes has higher signup bonuses, usually during the olympics, so perhaps that’s a better time to apply for the card.  Maximizing value from this card deserves a separate post.

One small important fact you should know from the US Bank website:

We will first consider you for the U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature card. If you are not eligible for the Travel Rewards card, you’ll automatically be considered for the U.S. Bank FlexPerks Select Rewards card which earns 10,000 Enrollment Bonus FlexPoints after spending $1,000 within the first four months, earns 1 FlexPoint for every $2 in net purchases and has no annual fee. The Select Rewards card is not eligible for the double FlexPoints on highest spend in each monthly billing cycle and on cell phone expenses but does earn 1.5 FlexPoints for charitable donations.

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The US Bank Cash Plus Visa Signature card is a no annual fee card that gives cash back on purchases. The interesting part of the card is that you pick the categories each quarter (one 2% category and two 5% categories).

US Bank Cash Plus  The US Bank Cash Plus card   get $425 using it strategically

U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card Benefits

  • 5% cash back on your first $2,000 in combined net purchases each quarter on two categories you choose (like department stores or cell phone service).
  • 2% cash back on your choice of one everyday category (like gas or groceries).
  • 1% cash back on everything else.
  • No limit on total cash back earned.

Make sure you choose your categories each quarter.   If you do not choose your categories, all net purchases will still earn 1% cash back. Categories are subject to change quarterly.  You can find a list of the categories here.

What’s interesting is that one of the 5% categories is charity and that one of the qualifying categories is Kiva.

charity The US Bank Cash Plus card   get $425 using it strategically

I’ve talked about Kiva in the past here and my personal experience with Kiva.  Essentially, you make microloans to those in need in countries around the world, and get your money returned over time without interest.

Given that you can make these loans with your credit card, you could consider the miles or points earned from the credit cards as your interest.  Keep in mind that you are floating money and will be getting paid over months.

So, if you make these loans using the US Bank Cash plus signature visa card, you would be earning 5% on your contributions.  Since US bank limits to $2000 on 5% categories every quarter, that works out to $8000 spend over the year.  Earning 5% on $8000 is $400.

As an added one time bonus, US bank gives $25 when you redeem at least $100.  Thus, you could receive $425 over the course of the year.  This is more money that you would normally get in an average checking or savings account.  Of course, you could withdraw money from checking or savings accounts, but that’s not the case here.  In addition, this money from US Bank is tax free.

Keep in mind that there are risks to Kiva such as loans defaulting.  My personal rate of default has been very low (0.3 %) equivalent to losing $24 on an $8000 loan.

In comparison, there are many cards such as Chase Freedom and Discover card that offer 5% back on rotating categories.  The difference between those cards is that you have to go buy things and there is no such thing as floating money.  With this approach and the US Bank Cash Plus card, you’re not buying anything, but loaning money which you will eventually get back.

If loaning money is not your thing, you could still get 5% cash back by picking other categories.  Given that it’s a no annual fee card, it is just as valuable as the Discover card or Chase Freedom.

Also keep in mind that this strategy applies specifically to the Cash Plus Signature Visa.  If you do not qualify for the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card, you will automatically be considered for the U.S. Bank Cash Rewards Visa Card that earns 1% cash back on all net purchases, but does not offer the 5% and 2% Cash+ Categories.  You can only apply for this card in person.  It is not available online.

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Don’t Trust The Delta Award Calendar

For those that are experts in booking awards with Delta miles, you can likely ignore this post.  For those that struggle to book awards with Delta miles, there is a simple message in this post: the Delta award calendar sucks.  If you are trying to book international awards, you should ignore it or at least realize that what you see is not true.

I was recently looking at flights from Houston to Amsterdam in economy at the low level.  I started looking for one-way so I can find the flights I want and then piece them together in the multi-city search.  In the starting search, I typed in my departure, arrival, date and checked off the “redeem miles” along with “my dates are flexible.”

delta 1 Dont Trust The Delta Award Calendar

Here is what the Delta award calendar showed:

delta 2 Dont Trust The Delta Award Calendar

According to this award calendar, there should be no low level awards available, only peak awards.  This would actually discourage a person from continuing and instead click on a “saver award” date that they may not even want.

However, I continued clicking through on the “peak award” date that I wanted and on the next page, buried at the bottom of the page found a “saver award.”

delta 3 Dont Trust The Delta Award Calendar

So, even though the Delta calendar showed “peak award” on the date that I wanted, when I continued, I actually found a “saver award.”  In essence, you can’t trust the stupid Delta calendar.

To avoid this problem, you can use the KLM or Airfrance websites to look for the award.  The two airlines share the same frequent flyer program called Flying Blue.  You should create frequent flyer account for Flying Blue to be able to check for awards.  Once you have that, you can search for your award on KLM or Airfrance.us.

When I searched the same itinerary through Flying Blue, I clearly see that the low level award is available.  In fact, there are many dates where low level awards are available, yet Delta calendar shows peak dates.

flying blue Dont Trust The Delta Award Calendar

The untrustable Delta award calendar is part of the reason many people including me hate Delta miles.  However, if you know some tips and tricks, you can actually find the ticket you want… sometimes…rarely icon smile Dont Trust The Delta Award Calendar The lesson here is don’t trust the Delta award calendar.  Check for award availability through Flying Blue.

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Comparing the best 2% cash back cards

Of the hundreds of credit cards out there, there are only 3 that currently stand out with rewards in the form of 2% cash back on everything .  A 2% cash back on everything is sort of the benchmark that’s used for comparing other cards and helps determine value of miles and hotel points.  Let’s go over the 3 best 2% cards to see how they compare and how you can benefit from each one differently.

The Fidelity American Express Card

Fidelity amex Comparing the best 2% cash back cardsThe Fidelity American Express credit card is perhaps the all time benchmark for 2% cash back on everything. It’s one of the very best cards out there. I have one and I think that everyone out there should have one.  This card has no annual fee.  There is currently no signup bonus, but in the past, Fidelity has offered a $50 signup bonus and a $75 bonus as well.

It is a card issued by FIA card services, a subsidiary of Bank of America. Rewards are paid out in the form of worldpoints. You earn 2 worldpoints for every dollar spent. Those 2 points are equal to 2 cents but only if the card is linked to a Fidelity account.  You can link it to a Fidelity Cash Management Account or a Fidelity Brokerage account.  If you redeem for anything else besides transferring to your Fidelity, you will get less than 2% back.  Check out this post from Saverocity to learn how to redeem your points correctly.

Since the card uses the American Express network, it doesn’t quite have the worldwide acceptance of Mastercard or Visa.  However, one benefit of being an Amex is that you can use it for Amex Sync offers or the annual Small Business Saturday to save some money. The foreign transaction fee is 1% which is actually better than other Amex cards.  Finally, you can actually use the card to get over 3% value when used for flights.

Citi Double Cash Back Card

citi double cash card Comparing the best 2% cash back cardsThe new Citi Double Cash Card is a new offer from Citi. It is also a no annual fee card like the Fidelity Amex.  Although there is no public offer for a bonus, there are targeted offers of $100 to $200.  The public offer gives 0% APR for the first 15 months, although there’s a balance transfer fee.

It’s earning structure is a little different than the Fidelity Amex.  You earn 1% on your purchases, and another 1% when you pay off those purchases.  As a result, you only earn the full 2% when you fully pay for your purchases, which you should be doing anyway.  It is a mastercard, so it has wider acceptance.  You can also downgrade to this card from other Citi cards if you choose.  This maybe the way to go so don’t waste a credit inquiry.  Rewards can be redeemed when you have a minimum of $25.  They can be redeemed in the form of cash, gift cards, or statement credits.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard

barclaycard arrival Comparing the best 2% cash back cards

The Barclaycard Arrival card has been around for while.  It’s issued by Barclays bank.  It has no annual fee the first year, but $89 thereafter.  Contrary to the other 2 cards, the public offer does come with a signup bonus of 40,000 points (worth $440 when used for travel).

First of all, you earn “miles” with this card.  However, these “miles” should really be called points because they are not directly transferrable to any airline.

You earn 2 “miles” for every $1 spend, and each “mile” is worth 1 cent only when redeemed for travel.  Thus, your rate of return on the card is 2% when used for travel.  However, when redeemed for travel, you get 10% miles returned, which makes the effective return 2.2%.  Each mile is worth 0.5 cent when redeemed for cash back.  This equates to just 1% when redeeming for cash back.  So, technically, this isn’t a pure 2% cash back.  However, if you travel enough, it’s as good as cash.

Considering the large annual fee the second year, the other 2 cards have the edge with the no annual fee.  However, plenty of people have gotten the fee waived the second year.

Verdict

If you don’t have any of these cards yet, perhaps the first one to get should be the Barclaycard Arrival card as Barclays Bank is stingy in issuing cards to people that have many credit inquiries or too much credit already.  In addition, you are getting $440 value, whereas you get nothing with the other cards.  The Fidelity Amex is fairly easy to get as Bank of America (FIA card services) is fairly lenient.  I wouldn’t jump on the Citi Double Cash card just yet unless you get a targeted offer for a signup bonus.  These three are the current best 2% cards out there.

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I find the idea of “hidden city ticketing” pretty interesting.  The only reason to do hidden city ticketing is to save money on airfare.  The idea is best explained with examples:

Suppose you are trying to go from city A to city B.  The price of a direct flight from city A to city B might be more expensive than a flight from city A to city C that connects through city B.  If you take the second option, you could take the A-B leg, get out at B, and never take the B-C leg.

With real airports this time:  I want to travel from Houston to Charlotte (one-way) on October 3rd.  The cheapest NONSTOP ticket I found was $358.

iah clt The dangers of hidden city ticketing and should you be doing it?

However, if I book from Houston to Augusta with a stop in Charlotte, the entire itinerary is only $129 and the Houston to Charlotte leg is the same flight.  I could just get out in Charlotte and never take the Charlotte to Augusta leg.  That is a huge difference in price.  This is an example of hidden city ticketing.

iah clt aug The dangers of hidden city ticketing and should you be doing it?

You can certainly do this, but there are a lot of things to keep in mind to see if the benefits outweigh the risks when attempting this type of thing.  There are certainly many dangers involved.

Is it illegal?

According to this random letter on the American Airlines website, this is not illegal, but more so unethical.  It states:

Although the issuance and usage of hidden city tickets is not illegal in the sense that one could be fined or sent to jail by the government, it is unethical and a breach of a passengers contract with AA. Both tariff rule 100AA and American’s Condition of Carriage, which are incorporated into every ticket sold by American as part of our agreement to carry the passenger named on the ticket, bar hidden city ticketing. In addition, it violates the agencies’ contract to act as an agent for American Airlines.

In addition, some may say it’s unethical on the grounds that you are taking an airplane seat that you don’t intend to use.  As a result, you are taking a seat that someone else may need.

Does it work on roundtrips?

Because the airline will cancel the rest of the segments of your ticket if you don’t take one of the legs, this works best on one ways.  If you do this on a roundtrip, the throwaway segment has to be on your last leg.  However, you could split up the round-trip into 2 one-ways.

Risk with luggage

In the example above, if you check in luggage, your luggage will be directed to the final destination (Augusta).  Since you are going to get out in Charlotte, you don’t want your luggage in Augusta.  Don’t check in luggage!  Just take a carryon.

Flight changes 

Again with the example above, what happens if the flight to Charlotte gets cancelled due to bad weather?  The airline will try to reroute you to the final destination, which means they could route you through a different city altogether.  That’s probably one of the biggest risks of doing this.  You will really have to convince the gate agent to route you through Charlotte.

Airline won’t love you

The airlines really frown upon this kinda stuff.  They do not want you performing hidden city ticketing.  You are not only circumventing the system by paying less in airfare, you are also ticketing a seat that you won’t be using and that they could have sold.  As a form of punishment, they can shut down your frequent flyer account and confiscate all the miles.  This is one of the worst things that can happen as your hard earned miles are valuable.  As a miles and points collector, this would be a big loss in an attempt to save a few dollars.  To potentially avoid this scenario, do not enter in your frequent flyer number of the airline you are flying.  Instead, you could enter in a partner airline’s frequent flyer number.

Don’t buy the ticket from a third party

It’s vital that you don’t buy the ticket from a third party (Orbitz) or a travel agent.  You should book directly with the airline.  The reason for this is that if the airline figures out what you are doing, they could hold the third party accountable and bill them for the difference of the airfare you saved.  If you are going to try to take advantage of a loophole, don’t hold a third party accountable.

How to find hidden city ticketing

Perhaps the best way to find hidden city tickets is ITA matrix.  Search one way fares.  Pick one stop flights and force the software to connect through the city you want to get out in.  As in the example above, your one stop flight should connect in Charlotte, and your final destination should be all the airports within a specified mileage range of Charlotte.  Once you find what you are looking for, just go to the airline website to buy the ticket.

Is it worth it? 

The answer is: it depends.  To me, there are too many risks involved as stated above.   As a result, I might consider it if the flight I need is very short notice, the fare is just outrageous and I can’t find anything with miles.  In addition, this is not something you want to do over and over again.  This tactic should be used very conservatively, if at all.

Final words

Hidden city ticketing is a way to save significant money on airfare, with significant dangers as well.   If you can understand the ideas and consider yourself a risk taker, you can certainly add this to your toolbox of travel tricks.  Use it conservatively, use it with caution.

Final tip

I live in Houston.  Houston (IAH) is a huge United hub.  An airport that United serves 80 miles outside of Houston is Beaumont Port Arthur (BPT).  United has a bus service from IAH to BPT.  For example, if you try to book ATL to BPT on United, you will fly ATL-IAH and then take a United bus from IAH to BPT.  There is no IAH to BPT “flight” on United.

IAH BPT The dangers of hidden city ticketing and should you be doing it?

In addition, if flying United, you cannot get to BPT without connecting in IAH.  As a result, if you are flying United and you want to get out in Houston, BPT would be a good destination for hidden city ticketing.  In case of bad weather, they can’t reroute you to BPT through any other city, unless they put you on another airline, which you could argue against.  In addition, you would not be missing a flight, you would be missing a bus (less trackable maybe?).  However, I do think the “no checking luggage” requirement still applies as the luggage is automatically transferred to the bus.  You don’t want your luggage to end up in BPT.

What are your thoughts on hidden city ticketing?

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Sell your USED prepaid gift cards on ebay

If you love miles and points and read other blogs, chances are you buy prepaid gift cards.  I came upon something interesting the other day on Ebay.  I saw that people sell Visa, Amex, and Mastercard gift cards that have no value left on them.  What’s more shocking to me is that there are actually buyers for these gift cards.

Here’s a few examples of completed sales on Ebay for these gift cards:

ebay prepaid gift card Sell your USED prepaid gift cards on ebay

ebay prepaid gift card 2 Sell your USED prepaid gift cards on ebay

Just from these examples, you can see that you can get anywhere from $1 per card to $5 per card.

These are listed as “collectibles.”  Clearly, if you buy a lot of gift cards, this could be one way to reduce your purchase fees.  Once you have exhausted the balance on the gift card (gone to Wal Mart), put them up for sale in ebay. Obviously, it requires extra effort on your part to sell these through Ebay. You will lose a few bucks to Ebay for commission, and some for shipping.  However, if you can get the right price, you could significantly reduce your cost for MS and as a result be earning miles and points for minimal out of pocket expenses.

Keep in mind that the buyer would have access to your transaction history, but as long as you don’t care about that, it should be ok. Be careful selling used gift cards if you have officially registered any cards with your name and address for online shopping purposes. You don’t want the buyer to be able to access any of that information.

I haven’t tried this, mostly because I don’t buy that many gift cards.  Has anybody done this?

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I am usually not a fan of trip reports or hotel reviews.  However, I felt the need to talk about Berchtesgaden in general and the Intercontinental Berchtesgaden after taking a trip there recently.

It’s funny that sometimes points take me where I may have never gone otherwise.  I had 80,000 IHG rewards points burning a hole a my pocket. That was the bonus from what is now the Chase IHG rewards mastercard.

I actually learned about the town of Berchtesgaden, Germany after hearing a lot about the Intercontinental Berchtesgaden.  With rooms going for 250 Euros a night, it’s not a hotel I would have ended up at without points.  At 35,000 IHG Rewards points a night, it was a good redemption.

My wife and I stayed there for 2 nights. To start, Berchtesgaden is a magical destination. Being there feels like you are in a fairyland. The views are simply breathtaking.

Berchesgaden 1 Intercontinental Berchtesgaden should be on your bucket list

View just outside the hotel. ©Airlinehotelcreditcards.com

Transportation

I use the site Rome2rio to figure out how to get to places. Leaving from Vienna, we hopped on a train to Salzburg and then bus 840 to the main Berchtesgaden bus station (Berchesgaden Hbf).  From there, we took a cab to the Intercontinental Berchtesgaden which was about 14 euros plus tip.

If you have a rental car, it’s all the easier as you can easily drive up to the hotel.  Since we didn’t have a car, we had to rely on public transportation to get around.  The hotel actually gives you  a card that allow you to use the public transportation buses for free which was nice.  However, we realized that we wasted quite a bit of time waiting for these buses.  Also, the last bus to the hotel is at 6:30 pm, so if you decide to stay out beyond that, you will have to take a cab.

In hindsight, it would have been quite advantageous to have a car as it would have saved a lot of time and money spent on cabs as well.

The Intercontinental Berchtesgaden

The hotel is one of the top 5 hotels in Berchtesgaden.  In fact, it seems to be the only “chain hotel” there.  If you are looking to stay with loyalty points, this seems to be the only option.  With all others, you will have to pay cash.

The hotel has an uphill driveway, and is a beautiful multi-stone building.

Intercontinental Berchtesgaden 1 Intercontinental Berchtesgaden should be on your bucket list

© Airlinehotelcreditcards.com

Intercontinental Berchtesdgaden 2 Intercontinental Berchtesgaden should be on your bucket list

©Airlinehotelcreditcards.com

 As you walk in, there’s an open area which is part of the bar with nice views looking out.

Intercontinental Berchtesgaden 3 Intercontinental Berchtesgaden should be on your bucket list

©Airlinehotelcreditcards.com

We got a standard room since IHG doesn’t give upgrades on award stays.  The room was comfortable with a beautiful view from the balcony.

Intercontinental Berchtesgaden 4 Intercontinental Berchtesgaden should be on your bucket list

© Airlinehotelcreditcards.com

Intercontinental Berchtesgaden 5 Intercontinental Berchtesgaden should be on your bucket list

View from the balcony ©Airlinehotelcreditcards.com

The mini bar is complimentary, but only contains juice and water.  Still, not bad considering water can cost an arm and a leg in Europe icon smile Intercontinental Berchtesgaden should be on your bucket list

Perhaps one of the best features of the hotel is the outdoor heated pool.  Again, the view from the pool is breathtaking.

Intercontinental Berchtesgaden 6 Intercontinental Berchtesgaden should be on your bucket list

Heated outdoor pool ©Airlinehotelcreditcards.com

Top 2 Attractions

The number 1 attraction in Berchtesgaden is Königssee which is a glacial lake.  You can get there by taking a short bus from the main Berchtesgaden bus station.  The boat tour (a must do) takes you on a 35 minute tour of incredible beauty ultimately taking you to the main attraction of Bartholomew’s Church.  There is a longer boat tour you can take as well.

Berchtesgaden 2 Intercontinental Berchtesgaden should be on your bucket list

©Airlinehotelcreditcards.com

Berchtesgaden 3 Intercontinental Berchtesgaden should be on your bucket list

One of the other attractions is Kehlsteinhaus (Eagle’s Nest).  You take a very short walk from the hotel (~5-7 minutes) and then take a bus from there.  Technically, it’s a chalet style structure on top of a peak which was intended as a 50th birthday present for Adolf Hitler (history lesson).  The views you see from the elevation are some of the best I have seen.

Berchtesgaden 4 Intercontinental Berchtesgaden should be on your bucket list

©Airlinehotelcreditcards.com

Berchtesgaden 5 Intercontinental Berchtesgaden should be on your bucket list

The Intercontinental Berchtesgaden from Eagle’s Nest ©Airlinehotelcreditcards.com

Conclusion 

Berchtesgaden is a beautiful place in the Bavarian Alps with a lot of history.  It should definitely be on your bucket list.  If you don’t want to spend cash for staying there, consider staying at the Intercontinental Berchtesgaden for 35,000 IHG rewards points a night.  You could also use the free anniversary night from the Chase IHG Rewards mastercard to book this.  It’s a 5 star hotel, very romantic and great for a honeymoon.  You won’t regret it!

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It’s always fun to learn new stuff from the travel blogosphere.  Today, I learned something new courtesy of Travel with Grant.  There’s some great information on his blog.

Apparently, there is a no annual fee from Bank of America called the BankAmericard Better Balance Rewards Card.  It looks like Bank of America will pay you just for using the card every month and paying off more than the balance every month.

BankAmericard Better Balance Rewards  Make money with the BankAmericard Better Balance Rewards credit card

Here’s the details:

  • Earn $25 per quarter to pay down your balance faster when you pay more than the monthly minimum on time each month–that can be up to $100 each year
  • Get more rewards for the banking you already do – an additional $5 bonus per quarter if you have a Bank of America® checking or savings account
  • Cash back is automatically credited to your card balance
  • Pay down your balance faster with a low Intro APR offer
  • No annual fee

It looks like you can pretty much get $100 or $120 a year for free.  What I take away is that you just make a small transaction every month and then pay off a bit more than what’s due.  I did not see any terms for what a minimum transaction has to be.

You can downgrade from the Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa card when it’s time to cancel.  One idea I had is why wait to downgrade at the end of the year.  Why not apply for the Alaska Airlines Visa, get the bonus miles, and downgrade right away so you still have the rest of the year to earn the $100 or $120.

In addition, it looks like you can have more than one of these cards.  Depending on how many of these cards you can get, that’s easy tax-free money.  I’ll be looking to add this to my no annual fee card pile in the near future.  You could consider this as off-setting a nice annual fee card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

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