Archive for the Websites Category

Resurrection!…. and managing accounts.

Posted in Award Wallet, Travel Tips, Websites with tags on August 26, 2011 by getgowing

Hello everybody!  I’m back from the dead.  Throughout my hiatus, I was meaning to update this blog, but enjoying my destination kinda got in the way.  Sorry.  I’ll be writing my reports from my first round the world trip back in April and this trip too.  Stay tuned.

After signing up for a few credit cards and doing various promotions, I have too many accounts with various airlines, hotels, car rental companies, and other miscellaneous reward programs to keep track of.  Luckily I came across Award Wallet.  Not only does it store your account numbers and passwords (can have the website securely store it, or store your passwords natively on your computer), but also shows your balances, as well as expiration dates.  Its free to sign up, and nowadays, I’m not sure what I did before without it.  Currently it helps me remember information for over 15 reward programs (airlines, hotels, car rentals, survey sites, casino points, credit card rewards).  Even if you don’t have that many accounts, even if you only have 2 or 3, its still a valuable tool to keep track of all your expiration dates in one place.

One of the great features of the website is that you can use it to manage multiple users.  Lets say I manage my entire family’s accounts of frequent flier miles.  I could use the site to store all their account numbers & passwords/pins and I can label them “Mom” or anything I choose.

Sign up for a regular account is free.  I was skeptical at first, too.  But then all the major players of this travel hacking game use this site too.  Can’t be that bad or unsafe then.  (Here are the FAQs if you are still a little wary.)  Until they last, I have a few free coupon codes to upgrade to an Award Wallet Plus account.  As long as you are a new user, you too can have a free Plus account.  From the FAQs, here are the benefits of upgrading:

Regular vs. Plus account

I have a referral link for anybody interested in joining.  (Get Gowing Award Wallet referral signup link)  If you are interested in the code for a free upgrade to Award Wallet Plus, leave a comment here or on the Get Gowing Facebook Page and I’ll send you one.

My Flight Memory statistics

Posted in Flight Memory, Websites with tags , , on June 16, 2011 by getgowing

An interesting website I stumbled upon a few months ago, and started filling out and updating is Flight Memory.  A neat little site that stores all your flight information, and can show you on a map all the routes you’ve flown, longest flight (by distance or time), shortest flight (by distance or time), most popular airports, etc.  You should check it out!  Here’s mine.

(I had to dig through my email for all my previous itineraries.  I want an accurate reading of how long I’ve been on a plane, so I use either or soon after I land to check the actual departure/arrival flight times, versus the scheduled ones.  My charts are a little inaccurate since I didn’t start using actual times until January 2011.  Also, I only have stats going back to only 2006.  I know there are several flights missing in my childhood, including several trips from NY to the West Coast, and 2 trips from NY to the Philippines.)

Get Gowing on Flight Memory

More interesting statistics on the linked page

My US domestic map is also on the linked page

2-for-1 movie tickets on Fandango!

Posted in British Airways Chase Visa, Credit Cards, Deals, Promotion, Visa Signature, Websites with tags , , , on June 10, 2011 by getgowing

After writing about the free Hilton HHonors Gold Elite status with a Visa Signature, I remembered about another benefit available to Visa Signature cardholders.  Again, if you got in on the British Airways Chase Visa card that offered 100,000 miles I blogged about before, that card is eligible for this promotion.

Fandango offers two-for the price of-one movie tickets (up to $19 including the Fandango convenience fee) for Visa Signature cardholders, every Friday from now until July 29, 2011.  Only caveat is that the tickets have to be purchased on Fridays only, and can only be for a movie that evening.  But you can continue to get 2-for-1 every week, you’re not limited to just once.  Check it out at!  (HERE are the official Terms & Conditions)

On a Friday night with your significant other, perhaps have a nice dinner, watch a movie, then check in to a Hilton, score an upgrade to a sweet room, and have an awesome date night.  (Gentlemen, have the romantic evening continue on in the morning for her.  Go to the lounge, get some breakfast, and serve it to her in bed.)

Stacking deals to increase your miles / cash-back bonus

Posted in American Express, Big Crumbs, Credit Cards, Deals, Evrewards, Miles, Promotion, Travel Tips, Websites with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 3, 2011 by getgowing

In 13 days, I will be arriving in Tokyo for my trip to Japan.  And after Japan, I’ll be heading to Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and the Netherlands.  Since there will be a decent amount of non-flying travel involved here, I want to use this trip to try out backpacking through these areas instead of lugging a suitcase around everywhere.  Last time I went to Japan, I was lugging two suitcases through the Tokyo subway during rush hour.  First and LAST time I ever do that again.  So I did my comparing, shopping, test-fitting, and was ready to purchase, what I think, is the perfect backpack for me.

Whenever I buy anything online, I’m not trying to just find the best price….I’m also looking to maximize my mileage earning potential (or cash-back bonus potential) while paying the best price I can find.

I first use Google, Yahoo, or Amazon to find what site has the best price.  In this case, was the cheapest, by about $39.  Next I take note of the other sites that were more expensive.  Many businesses will match, or even beat, a price a competitor offers for the same item.  Even if a business doesn’t advertise price matching, many times if you call them, they will do it for you anyway for the possibility of repeat business from you.

Now I have a pool of a few sites where I can buy my item for around the same cheaper price.  I next check to see if my credit cards have them as a vendor in their online shopping malls (like: ShopDiscover or Membership Rewards Shopping) where I can get extra points/cashback/miles just for shopping through their online mall.  Also I will check if any hotel or airline programs offer deals like 4 points/$ or 3 miles/$ for spending through their link of a site.  A GREAT site to compare all of these at once is!  It’s still in beta, but it compares all these deals so you can see how much bonus you can earn on your purchase, and handpick what you want to use. search for eBags

Lets say in this exercise, you are trying to maximize your mileage earning (instead of cash back).  Recapping:

  • Negotiated a cheaper price through price matching
  • Earning miles by making a standard purchase on your mileage earning credit card
  • Earn BONUS miles by making the same purchase through the airline’s website

So instead of buying in a brick-and-mortar store, you buy online, hopefully save yourself from paying sales tax, probably get free shipping, and earn a handful more miles doing so.





BUT WAIT, there’s more!

If you know in advance you will be making a big purchase, or if you don’t but are a habitual shopper, you should go through another site to reap some cashback rewards from a certain site, as well as all the bonuses from above.  That sentence was a little vague, sorry.  Big Crumbs (link is one paragraph later), offers cash back on purchases made through vendors on its site, even on purchases on eBay, and signup is FREE!  But where you can get a triple dip from this site is that they offer cash back on gift cards!  SO….

  • Using your mileage earning credit card, buy an American Express gift card from Big Crumbs(1.6% cashback)
  • Negotiate that price match to a cheaper price
  • Shop through your airline’s online shopping mall to earn bonus miles
  • Use the gift card to purchase the item
If you like what you have been reading on this blog, or even if you don’t, please help me out and use my referral link to sign up for Big Crumbs.  Just use my link or click on the banner below.  Besides gift cards, they have some crazy awesome rates for other vendors, like 36% return on fees from eBay, or other stores/services that give upwards of 40% back!  And as your cash back builds up, payouts occur monthly.  (Original post continues beyond the banner)

Lets make some assumptions to give you real world numbers.  Be forewarned – math intensive from here to the end.
You are buying a $1,100 TV.  You are able to price match it on a competitor’s website for $1,000.  Your mileage earning card earns 1 mile/dollar.  Your airline’s online shopping portal gives 5 miles/dollar for shopping through them.

Scenario 1 (buying with no regard to what I have talked about here):

  • Investment:  Spend $1,100
  • Return:  Gain 1,100 miles for using your mileage earning credit card
Scenario 2 (using these techniques to maximize return):
  • Investment:  Spend $1,000 + an hour of time for research
  • Return:  Gain 1,000 miles for buying a gift card on Big Crumbs.  Gain $16 (1.6% cashback) on  your $1000 gift card from Big Crumbs.  Gain 5,000 miles for buying through your airline’s online shopping mall.  In total = (1,000mi + 5,000mi) + $16 cashback = 6,000mi + $16 !!!
Scenario 1 vs. Scenario 2:
Scenario 1 you gain one hour of work.  Scenario 2 you lose one hour of work.  But you gain $116 and 4,900 extra miles.  Is an hour worth $116 and 4,900 miles to you?  I’d take a job that pays ~$116/hour in a heartbeat.

However, this is not what I did when I bought my backpack.  I chose a slightly different route.  Because of the recent British Airways Chase Visa credit card signup bonus I wrote about, I now have 100,000 miles with British Airways.  And I also have a plethora of miles with Delta.  Now, one of my new adventures that I want to take is a true long-haul First Class experience.  Delta doesn’t have any real first class in their fleet, and therefore doesn’t allow any first class redemptions on any partner airlines either.  That is not the case with my British Airways miles, however.  I plan on flying First Class on Cathay Pacific to Asia, which will cost me 150,000 British Airways miles.  That is in addition to the backpacking trip through South America that I want to take in Business Class on LAN Airlines which will cost 80,000 British Airways miles.  So I need to get to 230,000 miles on British Airways somehow.  (Let’s not forget the extra 50,000 Membership Reward Points I was given just for making a phone call!)  My options are:

  1. Spend on my British Airways Chase Visa credit card which earns 1.25mi/dollar
  2. Spend on my American Express Platinum card which earns 1 Membership Reward point/dollar
I can transfer my AmEx points to British Airways, 1 point = 1 dollar.  This would be a no brainer, since with my Amex I’m essentially only getting 1 mi/dollar vs. BA Chase getting 1.25 mi/dollar.  BUT American Express is running a promotion, now through July 31, 2011, where you will get a 50% bonus on any transfers to British Airways.  Now the AmEx gets 1.5 mi/dollar if I transfer before July 31.  So I’m going to be using my AmEx to buy my backpack.

The backpack costs $279 full retail.  And I found that most stores are charging that much.  I did find one store, that sells it for $239.98.  Sweet.  Now I have a significant price difference to get it matched to.  After contacting several stores, the best price I could work out is either from Eastern Mountain Sports, or eBags.  Both offer free shipping.  EMS has physical stores in my state and all the nearby surrounding states, so I’d have to pay sales tax on my bag.  eBags is online only, so free shipping and no sales tax.  I was able to negotiate EMS’s price match lower, so that after sales tax, I would be paying the same, about $239.  I went with eBags because you get a 5% rebate on all purchases which you can redeem on a later purchase with them.  Not sure if I will ever use them again, but at least its something more than EMS offers.

At this point, I have all I need to come out ahead of the curve with this purchase.  BUT, if I shop through American Express’s Membership Rewards shopping mall (but also requires the use of my card attached to my account, not a gift card) I can earn 4x bonus Membership Reward points!

So I could earn 4 MR points/dollar, with a transfer bonus of 1.5 mi/point, comes to a whopping 6 MILES / DOLLAR!  I already feel like a million bucks.  BUT…..I actually will get even more points than that.

The price match guarantee policy for eBags is that you buy your item first, then if you find the same exact item in stock from another site within 10 days of purchase, they will reimburse your credit card the difference.  So I will still get the 6 mi/dollar for the original purchase, then get back $39.02 for the price difference.  Here’s the math:
Investment = $279.00-$39.02 = $239.98
Return = ($279.00 x 4 MR shopping mall bonus) x 1.5 AmEx/British Airways transfer promo = 1,674 British Airways Miles
Overall miles per dollar = (1,674 / $239.98) = 6.975 Miles / Dollar

I think I did pretty well compared to just using the British Airways Chase card at only 1.25 Miles / Dollar.  Now in actuality, American Express will probably take away 39 Membership Reward Points ($39.02 rounded down) because it thinks that the $39.02 reimbursement is a return.  In that case, I will only earn:

($279 x 4) – 39 = 1,077 points
(1,077 x 1.5) = 1,615.5 miles = ~1,616 miles
which would bring my overall to 6.73 miles / dollar.  Still a good deal.

A Look into a Cheap All-Inclusive Trip – Paradise Island, The Bahamas

Posted in Airlines, Bahamas, Bahamasair, CheapCaribbean, Travel Tips, Trip Report with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 22, 2011 by getgowing

This is a guest post from my friend Patrick.  He is still a little wet behind the ears in this travel game, but he’s learning quickly.  I also may be the reason there is a little more plastic in his wallet.  🙂  Recently in early May Patrick went on a trip to the Bahamas.  As I do not have any experience in the Caribbean or all-inclusives, I’ll let him fill in some gaps in my travel resume.

So if you are like me, you are always wanting to travel, but may never have the available funds to go to that 5-star resort you are dreaming about. Don’t fret though! There are still plenty of options available to you! Let me start by saying I was and have always been skeptical of those online websites advertising unreal prices for these resorts in Mexico, Aruba, The Bahamas, Jamaica, etc. Maybe it’s that I like dealing with people in general, atleast making it feel more legit. Well I came across a website: I began looking through their online deals, and boy was their some great ones! Of course though, I was crazy skeptical of the whole website, I mean there had to be a catch right? For their prices to be so cheap, how could there not be. Well I decided to book a vacation to the all-inclusive resort: Paradise Island Harbor Resort in The Bahamas. As advertised, it was around $450 per person after taxes which included: flight (from Fort Lauderdale to Nassau), hotel room PLUS a free upgrade by booking through their site, all food and drinks paid for (all-inclusive), as well as access to all the activities of the resort (free scuba diving class, conk cracking demonstrations, access to weight room, access to rental bikes, etc.). Still, after booking, I was still skeptical. I figured we would get there and there be a limit to food/drinks, limited access to resort options unless you pay an extra fee while there and what not. Boy was I wrong…

Our trip began by me driving to Fort Lauderdale to catch our flight. Living in Auburn, AL this was obviously kind of a long trek just to get to a flight. Well they did offer other flights out of major airports (ATL being one of them), but decided not to take that offer since it would have bumped up my overall price by around $100 or so. In hindsight, I should have taken up that offer since gas prices as of recently ended up costing me more than the $100 to drive there and back. I can say, when we got to the Fort Lauderdale airport, I was not impressed with how it was run at all. Coming from one of the more efficient airports in ATL to this smaller airport with terrible parking was not so great. We got in line for our airline (Bahamasair) around 2 hours before our flight, which I figured would be PLENTY of time. Unfortunately, there were around 30 people in front of us, and the employees seemed way more interested in talking to one another than checking people in.

FLL Bahamasair nonproductive check in counter

As we watched the time tick by, we realized that:

  1. We were not going to have our bag checked in time.
  2. We were not going to be checked in in time to make the flight.

Fortunately for us, the entire group around us was on the same flight, so the flight was able to be held until everyone was checked in. Overall that whole experience was quite stressful and I honestly contemplated calling a manager of that airline about the problems I had checking in, but elected to pass on that since we did not miss our flight.

We left Fort Lauderdale around an hour and a half behind schedule and landed in Nassau, went through customs, grabbed our bags, and headed to the taxi area. FIND SOMEONE TO SPLIT THE CAB WITH! Most people flying into the airport are headed the same general direction, so ask around, fill up your cab. It will save each person $10-$15! All in all, we only spent $10 on our cab out to the resort, as the guy who rode with us actually overpaid for his portion of the cab (by his own account, not a mistake). So the total for the cab for us was $15, not too shabby to start the trip. As we arrived at our resort, I was honestly not expecting much. I knew it was a 2 and ½ star resort, so I figured it would be nothing fancy. Honestly, I was very impressed overall with the building itself. It was a bit outdated inside, but for the price, it was completely reasonable. We were greeted by a very nice bellhop who offered us drinks the minute we walked in. A Bahama mama in hand less than 2 min after you arrive is DEFINITELY a good thing for me!


Check in went smoothly, got our free room upgrade (went from 8th floor facing the island to the top 12th floor facing the marina). The room itself was outdated. TV was old, sheets looked rather old, some minor paint problems, but honestly, we didn’t spend much time at all in the room and the view from the room more than made up for it!

It should be noted though that when we first turned on the water for both the shower and the bathtub, the water was very brown coming out. I am not sure if the room had just not been used in a while or what, but that was a down part of checking out our room.

The water did clear up very quickly though (4-5 sec of running the water), so it ended up working out. We dropped our stuff off and headed for the pool area.

An overview of the pool area: the pool was actually very nice. Small waterfall, large swimming areas, hot tub, no deep end. I thought the pool was great, and it ended up being where we spent the majority of our time. The beach area near our resort though was not that great. The sand was nice but it was quite small and the actual swimming area was not large at all. With the resort being on the marina side of the island, they had to block off an area of swimming so that no one swam out and was killed by a boat driving in….obviously an issue. The water was not that “crystal blue” water you think of when you think of the Caribbean either.

But if beaches is what you want, don’t worry! On the other side of the island (a 10 min walk) there was a gorgeous public beach. White sand, blue waters, tons of swimming room.

This was EXACTLY what I wanted. We only spent 1 day there though, as we liked hanging around the pool for the food and drinks.

Speaking of food and drinks, I was honestly floored by what we got. I was expecting a limited amount of food per day, horribly mixed drinks, etc. because the price was so cheap. Man I was WRONG WRONG WRONG! The food was MUCH better than I anticipated. There were options: you had a buffet for all 3 meals inside (with a good bit of options per meal), a pool bar and grill that offered conk fritters, burgers, fried fish and what not. There was also a fine dining room you had to make reservations for, but we only did that one once. The ‘fine dining’ experience was not the best. The menu was VERY limited (only 3 entrée choices if I remember correctly, limited appetizer choices, etc). The wait staff did a great job making sure we were always taken care of though, so that was a definite positive. I personally loved the buffet. I thought the quality of food was much better than I expected, and there were a lot more options per meal than I expected as well! Fish, beef, chicken, all kinds of different options for food. The pool bar and grill was pretty good as well. It did sometimes take them a while to get you your food, but in the process, they were very quick about refilling your drinks to keep you happy in the meantime. Speaking of drinks, they offered a great selection. Bahama mamas, Bahama papas, Yellow birds, Pina Coladas, Strawberry Daquiris are just a few of the options.

They used house liquor, which to be honest, I could not tell a huge quality difference than what I normally drink. I did meet a guy there who complained of the quality and said he planned on buying his own liquor there (cheap in The Bahamas), but honestly, I thought that was ridiculous. I was all for the free drinks. Definitely a great part of my trip was sipping those by the pool enjoying the sun!

In our free time, we went to Atlantis resort to go to the casino and the aquarium, went snorkeling, went to the public beach, and went to the straw market. Atlantis was fun. I do not understand why people would pay so much more money to stay there though. Yes they have a spectacular pool area. Yes they have a ton of beach space. Yes they have an aquarium. But you know what? We got almost the same experience just by going there at the right times. I’ll explain.

If you go to Atlantis in the day, they charge you to go to the aquarium (I want to say around $30 per person). But if you wait until nighttime (my fuzzy memory thinks its after 7pm), they open it up at no charge.

We actually did this twice since it was a pretty cool aquarium.

some lobsters


The Atlantis pool area was around $100 to get a 1 day pass, so we obviously passed on that opportunity. As for the beach, it is built on the same side as the public beach we went to, so walk down the road 5 min and you can go to the same beach for free as opposed to the $30 they charge you to use “their” beach. The casino was pretty nice, though the table limits were out of my budget. The cheapest I ever saw a blackjack table get to was $15 per hand and on the weekend the cheapest I saw was $25 per hand, so no gambling for me this trip. Another option you have for fun is snorkeling/scuba diving. We decided to go snorkeling as opposed to scuba diving because:

  1. It was around $40 cheaper per person
  2. I am not scuba certified (which isn’t a problem, you can still go, they just hold your hand basically the whole time, and I have never liked that)

Snorkeling cost around $50 per person and it was WELL worth the money. We drove about 30 min out to “Cannonball Reef” and jumped in. There were not a ton of different species of fish, but there were plenty of those species there. The water visibility was wonderful. Probably the highlight of the trip for me. The scuba diving, from what I saw, did not seem like it was worth the money. I was able to free dive to the same depth as the scuba divers, but I guess if you really love scuba diving and have the extra cash, go for it, I just didn’t think it would be worth it. The last major experience we had was the straw market.

I LOVED the straw market. It was packed with all kinds of fake designer watches, fake designer bags, homemade straw items, and many many other items. If you like to heckle prices with people, go here! Tons of fun.

Overall, I recommend this trip to anyone! I think the best thing about this trip was getting there and really not having to worry about ANY money. I would do all-inclusive at a resort like this anytime I travel, mainly because you can still go to all the other “expensive” resorts and see what is going on there if you really want to. So if you are like me, love to travel, but are on a very limited budget, go this route. You will not regret it!

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