Saturday, November 29, 2014

Get Ready for Christmas Shopping!

Just a reminder to everyone that will be doing online shopping this year: If you don't get miles or cashback on your order, you're leaving money on the table.  Finding the best deal is particularly easy with the rise of cashback/miles comparison websites, a favorite example being

When you get ready to make a purchase, enter the store into the "Search Store" field and the site will show you what cashback or miles deals are available.  I picked Target:

Target Miles/Points offers
Target Cashback
Once you search for your store, click on the link in the results field and you'll be taken to the cashback portal.  From there you'll simply click through (after creating an account if you don't already have one) and shop as usual.  Not every store offers miles or cashback, but nearly all do.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

25,000 Pageviews!

Okay, that's nothing in absolute terms.  Many blogs get more than that per day.  Some probably get more than that per hour.  But for my humble little blog, I'm thrilled to have had 25,000 visits from fellow points and miles enthusiasts.  Thanks!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Registration for American Express' Small Business Saturday 2014 is Live!

Run, don't walk, and register your American Express card (every one you have including authorized users) HERE.  Then, on Saturday the 29th, use your card to make three purchases of at least $10 at a local small business and American Express will give you a $10 statement credit for each purchase.  You can do that three times for each of your cards.  That's $30 in free spending per Amex card!

Which businesses qualify?  Amex provides a useful MAP of qualifying businesses.  Mrs. Points Ninja and I will be restocking our wine cellar at our local bottle shop.  Thanks Amex!

UPDATE:  In my experience, statement credits post within a couple of days of the purchase.  For future reference, the Ts&Cs for the offer are:

Amex Shop Small Australia?

So, I'm a huge fan of Amex's Shop Small Saturday promotion but I thought it was a US only thing.  While looking up the registration page for the US version, I came across this.  Turns out, Aussies aren't being left out of the fun:  Australian Shop Small November

$10(Aus) off a $20 purchase and repeatable 10 times.  Not a bad deal at all if you're an Amex cardholder in Australia!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

An Explosive Weekend - Ethical Duties of Hotels

So, this weekend Mrs. Pointsninja and I had an unusual experience at a hotel.  In Birmingham for a concert, we stayed at a hotel near UAB.  After the show, we walked back to the hotel, across the street from the UAB Hospital Emergency Room.  As we walked in, we noticed that there was a single police vehicle in the street with its emergency lights on.

Shortly after we reached our room (which faced the street), we noticed that several more police cars had arrived and officers had stopped traffic.  As we watched, an ambulance pulled up and parked in the middle of the street.  Curiously, it just stayed there.

I went downstairs and asked a police officer what was going on.  She "wasn't authorized to say", but did say that they were asking people to stay away from their windows.  That raised two threat possibilities in my mind: 1) active shooter, or 2) explosives.  Since none of the officers were taking cover or looking in any particular direction, an active shooter situation seemed unlikely.  Eventually, I was able to learn that there was a person "with a bomb attached to their leg" in the ambulance.  Turns out it was this guy: Article  about Man with Grenade Lodged in Thigh
Daily Mail Story (Typically Alarmist, Gets the Facts Wrong)

While I was standing in the lobby, the hotel staff was discussing what they should do about the request to keep people away from the windows.  The dilemma was this: the people looking out the windows were awake, but (this being after midnight) many other guests would be asleep.  So, what to do?  Call every room?  Start knocking on doors?  Eventually a manager came down and quickly decided what the hotel would do.  And what did they decide to do? Nothing.

Since the "bomb" was actually a non-explosive practice grenade, this turned out to be the right call.  Waking people up to tell them about the threat would have alarmed them and probably would have resulted in guests leaving/checking out (at least one group did so while I was downstairs).  BUT neither the manager nor the front desk staff knew that the threat wasn't real at the time.  Should they have risked notifying their guests?

Maybe the reasonableness of the manager's decision is reflected by what I did.  What did I do?  I went back upstairs and went to sleep in my room facing the street.  Why?  Well, the police were being officially cautious, but they weren't actually being cautious.  Officers were standing around drinking coffee and chatting out in the open.  Hospital personnel were milling about.  The street was closed to traffic, but not to pedestrians.  That's not what you do when there's a genuine threat of an explosion.  Because of that I discounted the threat and went to bed.  I can only hope that the manager's decision not to act on the police request arose from a similar thought process.

Friday, September 26, 2014

American Express - Small Business Saturday returns for 2014

I have long dubbed American Express as America's Most Generous Credit Card Company.  Amex is well-know for generous sign-up offers as well as its Sync program and for its long-running Small Business Saturday promotion.  For several years, Amex offered a $25 statement credit for making a $25 purchase with a small business that accepted American Express cards.  Last year, Amex dropped the value of the credit to a (still generous) $10 per card.  I'm delighted to say that Small Business Saturday is coming back for 2014 and it's more valuable than ever!

According to the terms and conditions for this year's SBS, each Amex card iseligible for 3 statement credits of $10 each.  Starting November 16, you'll need to register your Amex (don't forget authorized user cards!) and make 3 purchases of $10 or more at a qualifying small business.  Amex helpfully provides a Map of qualifying merchants.  I'm guessing that this promotion will run like the recent local Shop Small August promotion that offered 3 x $5 statement credits.  In that case, I was able to make three separate purchases at the same merchant for each card I had.

 Personally, I'm surprised and pleased that this year's promotion is more valuable than last year's.  I'd also like to note that Amex provides some helpful tools for small businesses to promote the event and drive sales.  This is a great opportunity for businesses to bring in customers and we've certainly seen some creative ideas for taking advantage of Amex's generosity.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Buying United Miles? Or Buying United Mugs?

View From the Wing recently posted details regarding an offer that would allow the purchase of United Miles at 1.9cpm.  Gary say's he's not a buyer at that price.  But how about at 1.86cpm?  Still no?  How about if I throw in a free personalized mug?

FTD is currently offering 1,500 United miles for any purchase.  The cheapest thing (that I can find) on their website is a personalized "I love you" mug for $14.99.  It does qualify for the 1,500 miles:
Does that tempt you, Gary?  Well, they do charge shipping, so the actual price is $27.98:

As much as I like View From the Wing, don't expect any mugs, Gary.  At 1.86cpm I'm not a buyer either!