Wednesday, September 21, 2011

FrequentMiler has moved to BoardingArea

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

How to maximize points and virtue through Kiva loans

Kiva is a nonprofit organization that provides micro-loans to enterprising individuals around the world so that they may earn their own way out of poverty.  By making loans through the Kiva website, you can be part of the solution to poverty AND earn points and miles.  This post will show you how to do the most good and earn the most points and miles along the way.

The trick is simply to use a rewards credit card to "purchase" loans.  When you receive payments back from your loans, cash them out and make new loans of the same amount, but again with your credit card.  The following steps give more detail:

Kiva loans are not tax deductible, but almost all loans pay back 100% of what you put in. 

This is a group of like-minded frequent travelers who are eager to pay it forward via Kiva.  By joining, you will help this group meet its ambitious donation goals, and you may even be rewarded with a team shirt!  For help with joining the team, check out this MilePoint link.

You can think of Kiva as a savings account where, instead of interest, you earn credit card rewards, and you help make the world a better place.  How many banks can offer that?  Note that, if you choose to, you will have the option to withdraw the money once the loans are repaid, but it can take as long as a year for all of the repayments to complete.

Really, the best loans are the ones you feel best about giving!  However, it is a good idea to find loans that are safest (e.g. most likely to pay back) and pay back soonest.  The reason for preferring earlier payback is that the more often you are paid back, the more often you can use that same money to fund new loans.  This will both help more people and give you more chances to earn credit card rewards.  For many great tips on how to find the best loans, checkout this MilePoint forum.  If you'd prefer to figure it out on your own, this site will help:

After adding loans to your Kiva "shopping cart", it is time to check out.  You might notice that Kiva will, by default, add a suggested donation amount to your tab to cover operational expenses.  Unlike the loans, this amount is truly a tax deductible donation (at least in the US), but it is up to you whether or not to donate this or any other amount.  If you have a US Bank Flexperks card, I'd suggest you decline giving a donation as part of this transaction and separately donate to Kiva (if you're inclined to) via Flexperk's charity link which will give you 3 Flexperks points per dollar.  See my related post "Give to Charity, Fly Free".

In order to use your credit card to pay Kiva, click the link under "Don't have a PayPal account?" (even if you do).  See below:

Then, if PayPal finds your account anyway, select "Continue to pay as guest and do not use my PayPal account".  See below:

As loans get paid back, you can keep the cash in your Kiva account and re-loan the money at any time.  This is the easiest way to do it, but it won't earn you any more credit card rewards.  To maximize your credit card rewards, withdraw your funds each month and purchase new loans with your credit card.  Loans are paid back on the 15th of each month, so consider making this a monthly ritual and you will continually earn points for yourself and loans for those who need them.

Do you have other suggestions for maximizing rewards and virtue from Kiva loans?  If so, please comment below.  I would love to enhance this post over time with your best suggestions.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

40,000 AA miles for $2000 Sears spend!

Last week I posted a way to earn 30,000 Continental Airlines miles by spending $2000 at Sears. Now, there's an even better opportunity.  Through the Aadvantage shopping mall, you can now (for a limited time) get 10 miles per dollar spent at Sears.  On it's own, that means that a $2000 spend at Sears would get you 20,000 AA miles.  However, if you follow this plan, you can get 40,000 miles!

1. Browse to the Aadvantage Shopping Mall and find Sears.  Currently, purchases from Sears via this portal are rewarded with 10 miles per dollar.  Go to Sears from this portal and buy a e-gift card for $2000 (or whatever amount you need).  Note that it may take an hour or so to receive your e-gift card.  From this step alone, you will have earned 20,000 Aadvantage miles.

2. Return to the Aadvantage shopping mall and click through to Sears again.  Find what you need and add it to your shopping cart.  This step will earn you the additional 20,000 miles giving you a total of 40,000 miles for this purchase!  But, wait, there's still more bonus available:

3. Make sure you belong to Sears' Shop Your Way Rewards program.  When checking out of, enter your Shop Your Way Rewards number.  For your $2000, you will earn 20,000 Shop Your Way Rewards points!  Don't get too excited, though.  Each point is only worth 1/10 of a penny.  Still, that comes to $20 worth of points.  You might as well take it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Chase Sapphire: 43% off Land's End Purchase + Free Shipping!

For those of you who love to get stuff from Land's End, here's an outstanding deal.  If you shop Land's End online by going first through the Mr. Rebates shopping portal, you can get 30% off the highest regular priced item, free shipping, AND 5% cash back.  But it gets even better (much better):  If you have a Chase rewards card with access to Chase's Ultimate Rewards Mall, you can get an additional 12.5% back (in travel rewards).  Then, you can get another 1% back through Sears' Shop Your Way rewards!  That means, if you purchase a single regular priced item, you will get back 30% + 5% (of 70%) + 12.5% (of 70%) + 1% (of 70%) = 42.95%!

Follow these steps:

1. Browse to the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall and find Sears.  At the time of this writing, purchases from Sears via this portal are rewarded with 10 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar.  With UR points worth at least 1.25 cents each when redeemed for travel, that's equivalent to a 12.5% rebate.  However,you want to buy from Land's End, not Sears.  So, go to Sears from this portal and buy an e-gift card in the amount you need at Land's End.  Sears owns Lands End, so a gift card from Sears will work at Land's End.  It may take an hour or so to receive your e-gift card.

2. Go to Mr Rebates and log in (if you don't already have an acount with Mr Rebates, you can do me a huge favor by signing up via this link.  Thanks!).  Find Land's End, and notice they are offering a 5% rebate.  Also notice, there are some links for special deals.  The best deal, at the time of this writing, is one that says "30% off Highest Regular Priced Item + Free Shipping on $50+ Order".  Click through that link to shop at Land's End.  When shopping at Land's End, make sure to pick a large item that is not on sale in order to get 30% off that item.  Before you checkout, though, read step 3:

3. Make sure you belong to Sears' Shop Your Way Rewards program.  When checking out of Land's End, enter your Shop Your Way Rewards number.  You will earn 1% back.  Note: you won't earn Shop Your Way Rewards for the e-gift card, but you will earn for your final purchase.  Don't forget to use your e-gift card to make your final purchase.

If you bought just a single regular priced item from Land's End, you should now have the equivalent of 42.95% off! 

To make things clearer, let's walk through a scenario:

Suppose you see a nice jacket at Land's End listing at $259.  Here's what to do:

STEP 1: Figure out how much Sears credit you need.  $259 - 30% = $181.3 + tax.  I don't think they will let you buy a gift card for exactly that much, so instead, buy one for $200.  By going through the Ultimate

 Rewards mall, you have now earned 2000 UR points worth at least $25 in travel.
STEP 2: Via Mr Rebates, click through the 30% off link to get to Land's End.  Find the jacket and add it to your shopping cart.  Thanks to the 30% discount, you save $77.70 right away.  The checkout amount should be approximately $181.30 (I say "approximately" because tax isn't accounted for in this example).   Because you went through Mr. Rebates, this purchase will get you 5% cash back ($181.30 * .05 = $9.07 cash back)

STEP 3: Checkout.  Use your Sears e-gift card to pay.  Make sure to enter your Shop Your Way Rewards number to get an additional 1% back ($1.81)

So, let's look at the final tally:
  • You spent $200 to get a gift card
  • You received $25 + $9.07 + $1.81 = $35.88 back in cash and travel
  • Your total outlay for the $259 jacket is $200 - $35.88 = $164.12
  • Depending on how much tax you were charged, you still have some Sears' credit to spend!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Buy Samsung Tablet & Get 25,000 Delta Miles Free!

Quick deal alert:

Until Sunday, September 18th, make $500 in SkyMall purchases through this link, and you'll receive 25,000 Delta miles.  That's a pretty great deal:  Even if you value Delta miles at only a penny each, its like getting $250 back from a $500 spend. 

One of the best items I've found on SkyMall for $500 is the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.  If you don't yet have a tablet of your own (or you want to gift one to someone), this might be the time to do it!  There are two versions of the tablet: one for $499 and one for $599.  If you go for the $499 one, make sure to also purchase something else to get over the $500 threshold.  Taxes and shipping don't count.  You can find the tablet by searching for Galaxy Tab in the SkyMall search box.

If you don't need a tablet, you might also checkout Samsung TVs and monitors.  I own both a Samsung monitor and TV myself and they're both great!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Give to charity, fly free

Using a travel rewards credit card to give to your favorite charities is a great way to do good in the world and earn points and miles.  With most cards, you will earn 1 point per dollar donated.  Depending on how much you value those points, that could mean more than 2 cents value per dollar donated. 

I recently discovered, though, that you can do even better with the FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature credit card.  With this card, you can earn 3 points per dollar when giving to charity!  Even better, FlexPerks points can be worth as much as 2 cents each when used for travel.  So, with this card, donate to charity and you can earn up to 6 cents per dollar in travel rewards!

FlexPerks rewards works like this for travel rewards:  Go through the FlexPerks rewards site to search for travel (using Travelocity's search engine) and it will let you know how many points are needed for your flight, hotel, or travel package.  For travel priced at $400 or less, you need 20,000 points; for $401 to $600, you need 30,000 points; for $601 to $800, you need 40,000 points; etc.  You also get $25 credit towards airline fees (such as checked bags).

I expect that there are other cards with charitable donation bonuses.  Let me know if you find them!

FYI, here are some of my favorite charities:
  • Doctors Without Borders
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Food Gatherers
  • Kiva (not technically a charity, but Kiva does great work by providing micro-loans to people around the world)

Saturday, September 10, 2011 earn 4 Hilton points per dollar!

Others have previously posted this, but I think this is worth a reminder.  Both US Airways and Hawaiian Airlines have shopping portals that award miles for purchases that are initiated through their portal.  US Airways gives 1 mile per dollar spent at Amazon, whereas Hawaiian Airlines offers 2 miles per dollar.  These bonuses are over and above any miles earned from using a reward credit card for the purchases.

The Hawaiian Airlines deal has a few benefits worth noting beyond the double miles:
  1. Hawaiian Airlines miles can be used for booking award flights on other airlines: Delta, Continental, Virgin Atlantic, and Korean Air
  2. Hawaiian Airlines miles can be transferred from person to person for free if you have a Hawaiian Airlines credit card.  This can be a huge benefit if you have multiple family members or friends with small account balances.  Combine them together for an award flight!
  3. Hawaiian Airlines miles can be transferred to Hilton points: two Hilton points per mile! So, since you get two miles per dollar from shopping at, you will essentially get 4 Hilton points per dollar if you choose to use your miles this way.
So, before shopping at Amazon, remember to go through one of these portals to earn extra points!

Hawaiian Airlines portal link:

US Airways link: