Saturday, April 8, 2017

Chase Sapphire Reserve: $300 Annual Travel Credit



The Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card made headlines last year by launching with the most features and benefits from a credit card released to date. The amount of benefits is staggering! I wanted to write a guide to help you get the most from your Chase Sapphire Reserve.

[I will now refer to the Chase Sapphire Reserve as the CSR]

The first benefit lauded on the CSR website is a $300 annual travel credit. This is the official description of the benefit from Chase:

$300 Annual Travel Credit: A statement credit will automatically be applied to your account when your card is used for purchases in the travel category, up to $300 in statement credits annually (“annually” means the year beginning with your account open date through the first December statement date of that same year, and each 12 billing cycles starting after your December statement date through the following December statement date). Purchases are when you, or an authorized user, use a card to make purchases of products and services, minus returns or refunds. Buying products and services with your card, in most cases, will count as a purchase; however, the following types of transactions won’t count: balance transfers, cash advances, travelers checks, foreign currency, money orders, wire transfers or similar cash-like transactions, lottery tickets, casino gaming chips, race track wagers or similar betting transactions, any checks that access your account, overdraft advances, interest, unauthorized or fraudulent charges, and fees of any kind, including an annual fee, if applicable. We do not determine whether merchants correctly identify and bill transactions as being of a certain type. For more information about Chase rewards categories, see www.Chase.com/RewardsCategoryFAQs. Statement credit(s) will post to your account the same day your travel category purchase posts to your account and will appear on your monthly credit card billing statement within 1-2 billing cycles. Qualifying purchases made by authorized users on your account will be included in the $300 Annual Travel Credit. Maximum statement credit accumulation for the Annual Travel Credit is $300 annually. The Annual Travel Credit will be issued for the year in which the transaction posts to your account, through your December statement date. For example, if you pay for baggage fees, but the airline does not post the transaction until after your December statement date, the cost of the baggage fees will be allocated towards the following year’s Annual Travel Credit maximum of $300.

Here's how the description can be interpreted in plain terms. You will receive upon being approved for the CSR $300 in travel credits. This credit will expire at the first December statement date after approval. For example, if you sign up for the CSR in October you will have to use the $300 statement credit by your December statement date. After the first December statement your $300 annual travel credit will be based on the upcoming 12 consecutive billing cycles (December to December) to redeem. To redeem your travel credit you or any authorized user must charge on purchases coded as travel. These are the purchases that qualify as travel by Chase:

Merchants in the travel category include airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, campgrounds and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, and parking lots and garages. Please note that some merchants that provide transportation and travel-related services are not included in this category; for example, real estate agents, in-flight goods and services, on-board cruise line goods and services, sightseeing activities, excursions, tourist attractions, merchants within hotels and airports, and merchants that rent vehicles for the purpose of hauling. In addition, the purchasing of points or miles does not qualify in this category.

To clarify, gambling and theme park admission will not qualify as "travel".

Now you don't have to spend your $300 all at once. You will receive statement credit for whatever amount you use. I used my entire $300 on one purchase. I was credited my entire $300 annual travel credit on the statement that my travel posted to my credit card. You are credited on the statement in which your travel credit posts which is not necessarily the statement in which you book your travel.

This was the first post in my deep dive of the Chase Sapphire Reserve. I really believe that the CSR is the BEST credit card for travelers. I will continue reviewing each of the benefits of this credit card so you can get the most out of it! If you have any additional questions please leave a comment.

(I am not compensated for this review.)

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast (Podcast Pick)

Listening to a past episode
If you like to travel you've probably thought about taking a cruise. I'm anxiously counting down the days to my next cruise. Royal Caribbean is the cruise line that I am loyal to. When I want expert cruise advice from knowledgeable insiders I listen to the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast. The podcast is a companion to royalcaribbeanblog.com. This fan created podcast features interviews from cruisers along with guests from the Royal Caribbean company. Each week you'll get a new episode that is around 30-45 minutes discussing Royal Caribbean news, reviews of cruises, advice, and listener questions and emails. The host is Matt Hochberg who is a cruising enthusiast. I've found his commentary and experience to be invaluable. Each week I get excited when I see a new episode arrive in my feed! Even if you haven't cruised before or thought about it I encourage you to subscribe and see what all the fuss is about. If you are a fan of Carnival, Disney, Norwegian, or another line still give this podcast a listen. You'll be able to compare what Royal Caribbean offers with your favorite cruise line. This is how I got started on cruising and its been a great journey! Who knows maybe I'll see you at sea!

How to listen to the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast:

1. The official website of the podcast: http://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/podcast

2. iTunes:   https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/royal-caribbean-blog-podcast/id685427740?mt=2

3. Google Play: https://play.google.com/music/m/Ivzhqk4apf244bja3v54p2pzpaa?t=Royal_Caribbean_Blog_Podcast

4. Pocket Casts: http://pca.st/UNVE

5. In other podcast clients search: Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast


Enchantment of the Seas (my last cruise)

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Clark Howard Podcast (Podcast Pick)


Overview

Do you want to learn how to save more, spend less, and avoid ripoffs? If you do I suggest you subscribe to The Clark Howard Podcast. The Clark Howard Podcast is a daily podcast ( Monday - Friday) that takes Clark Howard's nationally syndicated radio show and packages it for distribution as a podcast. Each episode is approximately an hour and 15 minutes long.

Radio Shows as Podcasts?

I find podcasts to be an excellent format for consuming radio shows that you can't listen to for one reason or another. Podcasts can be like a DVR for radio! I've even discovered new radio shows by listening to their podcasts!

Summary

Clark Howard has vast knowledge on funding your retirement plan and building/rebuilding your credit. Clark has put his vast knowledge to use in his own life as proof of its value. Still, Clark doesn't claim to give perfect advice. For example, occasionally a segment called Clark Stinks will be played. Clark Stinks covers when listeners feel that Clark didn't give the best advice. Clark covers these audience concerns on air. I find it refreshing to listen to a true consumer advocate that is focused on helping his listeners have a more enjoyable life. I listen to every episode of the podcast and highly recommend it as a Podcast Pick.

Links

Clark Howard's Official Website: here
Clark Howard On Demand app (Android): here (iOS): here
Pocket Casts (Android & iOS) link to subscribe: here
iTunes link: here

Friday, January 15, 2016

Broadcasting

I love to research, study, and learn. The topic that is interesting me right now is: broadcasting. I have become fascinated with broadcasting because I have been relying on broadcast services for my entertainment. Meanwhile, I've noticed that Silicon Valley has been pushing streaming services on the general public. These streaming services and ala carte video services offer lots of choice to the public. One downside is the cost. Streaming services require an internet subscription and many times internet plans aren't unlimited which will restrict how much content you can consume. Many people have overlooked AM/FM radio and over-the-air (OTA) TV as valuable sources of entertainment. All you need is a tuner (a radio or a televison) and an antenna to receive the content being broadcast 24 hours a day over the airwaves. While I am researching this topic I will continue to share little bits of my research. 

Do you listen to or watch any content from a broadcast network? If you do leave a comment!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Keurig



I started my morning at 7:15 a.m with a 10 ounce cup of coffee from my Keurig coffee machine. I really like how quick and easy it is to operate the Keurig line of  products. The products aren't perfect and a few issues have been magnified since Keurig switched to its new 2.0 system. For example, I got irritated when I put one of my favorite K-cups in the brewer and it wouldn't brew. This is because Keurig 2.0 systems have digital rights management (DRM). This means that in a 2.0 brewer a K-cup won't brew unless it is made specifically for the 2.0 system. I didn't know this and I got disappointed when my stash of K-cups were seemingly useless. All hope isn't lost if you have a collection of older K-cups. Your first option is to brew all the cups with your original brewer before switching to the new machine, or you can buy this chip that will trick your Keurig 2.0 into thinking all K-cups are compatible with it.

The coffee I've been drinking recently is called The Original Donut Shop which is a medium roast coffee. I use the most diluted setting on my brewer which is 10 ounces per K-cup. I'm not a coffee fanatic so I can't go into great detail on flavor but it has a good slightly bold coffee flavor without needing much sugar or creamer. When I price shopped the K-Cups I found that a cup of coffee was about .66 per cup which is a bit expensive but the instant coffee is so convenient that I find it worth the extra cost compared to operating a traditional coffee machine.

So even though the Keurig HOT beverage system has its flaws I still like it and use it to kick start my mornings.

(The blue words are links to the products they describe)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

My First Pet


Humans are naturally attracted to watching and playing with animals. This fact is why we often want pets with us in our homes. I've always had a special love of animals. When I was seven years old I got my first pet. My first pet was a fish I named Rainbow. Rainbow was a male Betta Splendens (more commonly called a Betta or Siamese Fighting Fish). Betta's were trendy pets in the late 90's. You would often see them in bowls or vases with houseplants growing out of the top. The attention surrounding this species of fish attracted me and my parents to bringing one home. We only brought Rainbow home after we had made sure we had the necessary supplies to take care of him so he would live a healthy and long life. Even though it has been over 15 years I can remember feeding him and watching my mom do the maintenance of changing his water and cleaning his bowl. The experiences I had with my first pet grew my love of animals. Since then I've expanded my fish keeping hobby from having one 2.5 gallon bowl to having four aquariums! Having a pet also helped teach me responsibility. I learned that certain tasks needed to be completed at certain times for Rainbow to stay healthy. These tasks included feeding him and changing his water. Rainbow lived for over three years because my parents were involved with his care and I'm grateful for that. A child shouldn't be left to care for a pet without any oversight. While pets can teach responsibility we also have a responsibility to take care of them when we bring them home. I'd love to hear the story about your first pet! You can share your story in the comments below :)

Friday, September 18, 2015

Walking: A Beneficial Exercise


Walking is a beneficial exercise. Walking regularly can help you maintain a healthy weight. Walking can help you prevent or manage heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. Walking can build bone strength over time. Walking can improve your balance and coordination. My favorite benefit of walking is that it makes you feel better and happier. With all those benefits you probably want to quit reading and walk right now. That sounds like a great idea! You can walk and come back to finish this article later.

Many people don't walk because they don't know where to walk. Usually you can walk around your neighborhood. However, if you don't have sidewalks or you live in a high traffic area you could consider other options. You don't have to buy a treadmill or gym membership to go walking. You can go to your City Hall and find a list of local parks. Usually a city park will contain a walking path. Every once in awhile you can mix things up and enjoy walking a nature trail at a state park or forest. (Some state parks may have a small entrance fee.)

The most important equipment you need when walking is your shoes. Make sure your shoes are sized correctly, not excessively worn, and support your feet. If you will be going on a long walk or the weather is warm consider taking a small water bottle to stay hydrated.

I like walking to relax. Here's a tip: Keep your phone in your pocket. I find that walking offers a nice time to collect your thoughts and disconnect from the high stress world that we live in. By being observant when you walk you'll get to enjoy the natural scenery. It's amazing how seeing a butterfly or a squirrel can brighten your day if you're feeling sad. If you are feeling really anxious listening to some easy listening music may help you as you walk. Be careful walking with noise cancelling headphones. You should always be aware of your surroundings to stay safe from any form of danger.

These are some basic suggestions I wanted to share so you can be happier and healthier by walking . I'd keep writing but... I'm lacing up my shoes to go walking.