Tag Archives: IHG Hotels

Travel with Grant Turns 8 Years Old & My Top 8 Travel & Blogging Moments

Good morning everyone, I hope your weekend is off to a great start.  8 years ago today (back on May 1, 2013), Travel with Grant was born!  Even though I am not a full time blogger and writing this post from a secluded beach, I’m still very happy and grateful to still be writing and sharing my thoughts with my readers.  Every year (when I remember), I like to write a birthday / blogiversary post about TWG.  If you want to reminisce through the years, check out these old posts: Year 1, Year 2, Year 3, Year 4, Year 5, Year 6, and I forgot about year 7 during the Coronavirus Pandemic (oops).

Before I share my top 8 blogging moments, I wanted to share some advice I learned about blogging:

  • I feel like the traditional advice and reason for starting a travel blog is to “help friends and family travel.”  That couldn’t be further from the truth for me.  I was tired of telling my friends and family about all the cool credit card sign up bonuses, cool airline alliances, cool sweet spots, and having them not care at all.  I started my blog because I wanted to help people that actually wanted to travel!
  • Blogging is not a get rich quick scheme either.  Most of the time (at least for the first few years), you will be working for free or working for less than minimum wage.  Don’t start a blog for the money because you will run out of steam and enthusiasm very quickly.
  • Anyone can start a blog, but keeping a blog going week after week, month after month, and year after year takes a lot of dedication.  Which leads to my next point – write about the things that interest you.  If you are not excited about a topic, chances are your writing will come off boring and your readers will be bored too.

Without further ado, here are my top 8 travel & blogging moments (in chronological order):

May 1, 2013 – Travel with Grant is born.  I was between jobs at the time and thought that having a blog would help me get a job.  A few months later, I started working at Panasonic Avionics (in-flight entertainment and global Wifi provider), so maybe my plan worked out.  I had never started a blog, so I brainstormed blog names and chose Travel with Grant over Grant’s Trips because when you type out the URL, it looked like www . grant strips . com and I didn’t want people to be dissapointed when they clicked the link.  Looking back at the first few months of blogging is like looking at your work from kindergarten now that you are in college.  Thankfully, my writing, logo, and blog layout improved over time. Continue reading

The Upside of Free Night Certificates over Hotel Points

Good evening everyone.  2 years ago, I wrote Track Hotel Free Night Certificates & Credit Card Annual Fees with my Spreadsheet.  In that post, I shared my strategy for keeping track of free night certificates.  If you have several co-branded hotel credit cards (like the Chase World of Hyatt Credit Card or Chase IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card), you need to keep track of free night certificate expiration dates so you do not forget to use them before they expire or you run out of time to use them at a good property (the hotel is not going to remind you to use your free night certificate – they want you to pay the annual fee and forget to use your free night certificates).  Here are the unused free night certificates I have, as of March 2021.  I sorted the list by the expiration date of my free night certificates, so I know which free night certificates I need to focus on first.

The inspiration for this post came from a recent Miles to Memories post called Don’t Fall Into The Free Night Certificate Fuzzy Math Trap!  In that post, Mark shared all the downsides of free night certificates, like short expiration dates, some certificates only work at certain hotel categories or on certain days, etc.  I totally agree with all of those downsides, but I had the pleasure of redeeming 2 free night certificates today and wanted to share an upside I found with free night certificates.

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I Paid $3,820 in Credit Card Annual Fees in 2020 – Was it Worth it?

Good morning everyone, happy Friday!  After I published How Much Did I Pay in Credit Card Annual Fees in 2020?, several readers asked if I could share how much value I received from each credit card in 2020.  Today’s post is also a sequel to my 2019 post (I Paid $4,588 in Credit Card Annual Fees in 2019 – Was it Worth it?).  All 24 of these credit cards were opened before January 1, 2020, and no sign up bonus is included.  For simplicity, I did not include the value of miles or points earned from credit card spend, since that is somewhat subjective (and most of the miles and points were not spent in 2020).  I counted all credits, reimbursements, retention offers, and referral bonuses at dollar face value.  For hotel free night certificates, I have several from 2020 that expire in 2021 and 2022, so I am using a standard value of $100 for each hotel free night certificate.

I went through all of my credit card statements and online accounts to see which Credit Card Benefits I used in 2020 and those values are summed up in the CCB $ column.  If I received a retention offer, that is listed in the RO $ column.  I listed the credit card annual fee in the AF $ column.  Lastly, I used this formula to calculate the Profit or Loss (P / L column) for each credit card: CCB $ + RO $ – AF $ = P / L

I sorted the credit cards alphabetically and split them up into 3 smaller groups.  Here are some thoughts from the first group:

  • The first 3 AMEX cards were big money makers due to the standard card benefit credits and the temporary pandemic benefits.  It will be hard to beat these numbers in 2021.
  • I never planned on keeping the American Express Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card long term and only signed up for the 70,000 Delta SkyMiles sign up bonus in 2019.
  • In most years, we are easily able to use the $99 Alaska Airlines Companion Fare, but due to the pandemic and very cheap Alaska Airlines flight, we did not use the Companion Fare in 2020.  I am hoping to use the Companion Fare this year.
  • I’m glad Laura (LT) was able to get a $59 retention offer on her Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and a $100 referral bonus.
Credit Card Name Credit Card Benefits CCB $ RO $ AF $ P / L
AMEX Business Platinum $400 Dell credit; $198 airline reimbursement; $160 wireless phone credit; $158 shipping credit; $96 AMEX Offers for Dell & AT&T $1,012 $200 $595 $617
AMEX Gold $120 dining credit; $100 airline reimbursement; $60 AMEX Offer for Shop Small $280 $0 $250 $30
AMEX Hilton Honors Aspire $250 airline reimbursement; $250 resort credit (used at restaurants); 1 Free Night Certificate (expires 7/2/22) (worth $100) $600 $0 $450 $150
AMEX Platinum Delta SkyMiles Downgraded to no annual fee American Express Blue Delta SkyMiles Credit Card to avoid paying annual fee $0 $0 $250 $0
Bank of America Alaska Airlines (LT) Alaska Airlines $99 Companion Fare expired in 2020 $0 $0 $75 -$75
Capital One Venture Rewards (LT) $100 referral bonus $100 $59 $59 $100

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My Rock Solid 2021 Airline, Hotel & Credit Card Predictions

Good morning everyone, I hope you got a good laugh out of my post from yesterday: Reviewing my Embarrassingly Wrong 2020 Travel Predictions.  Long story short, my 2020 predictions were terrible (I had 3 correct and 12 wrong predictions).  I am hoping to redeem myself today with my super-solid, 100% guaranteed-to-happen predictions for 2021.  My crystal ball just got back from the crystal ball repair store and here are my airline, hotel, and credit card predictions for 2021.

My 2021 Airline Predictions

  • Alaska Airlines or Southwest Airlines will make their “convert travel funds to airline miles” feature a permanent feature on their site.
  • American Airlines will finally become a Citi ThankYou Points airline transfer partner.
  • Delta Airlines or United Airlines will introduce a “Cash and Miles” payment option for award tickets (pay 10,000 miles or pay 8,000 miles + $40).

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Reviewing my Embarrassingly Wrong 2020 Travel Predictions

Good morning everyone, I hope you all had a great weekend and a Merry Christmas (if you celebrated the holiday).  Since 2020 is almost over (thank goodness!), let’s review My Wildly Ambitious 2020 Airline, Hotel & Credit Card Predictions.  To be honest, I totally forgot that I wrote this post and I haven’t looked at it since it was published on December 30, 2019.  Here is what I wrote last year for my predictions and my thoughts on each prediction (correct in green and wrong in red):

My 2020 Airline Predictions

  • Alaska, American, Delta, or United will introduce a “Cash and Miles” payment option for award tickets. Clarification: This is not to be confused with Delta’s “Pay with Points” option where you get 1 CPP for each Delta SkyMiles for paid flights. I’m thinking more along the lines of the way British Airways and Avianca do it for award tickets.  No?  I haven’t booked any airline tickets in 9+ months, but I don’t think this prediction came true.
  • Allegiant Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and Sun Country will announce a merger, but I’m not sure who will merge with who.  No, there were no airline mergers in 2020 among these airlines, but I expect to see some mergers of domestic and international airlines next year.

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