The Points Guy http://thepointsguy.com Fri, 29 May 2015 21:29:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 Dip Into the Sexiest Hotel Pools Around the World http://thepointsguy.com/2015/05/sexiest-hotel-pools/ http://thepointsguy.com/2015/05/sexiest-hotel-pools/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 21:29:46 +0000 http://thepointsguy.com/?p=124208 Summer’s almost upon us, and in most areas of the world, that means heat! There’s really no better way to enjoy warm weather than a refreshing pool experience, so to make sure we stay cool, TPG Contributor Lori Zaino leads us to some of the most incredible hotel pools around the world. Make sure to check out her round-up of Best Hotel Pools Around the US, too!

The jungle setting for the Hanging Gardens pool in Bali.
The jungle setting for the Hanging Gardens pool in Bali.

The Hanging Gardens — Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

This free-form, split-level infinity pool sits high above the Bali jungle, making you feel as if you’re floating through canopies of palm trees, vibrant jungle flowers and tropical plants. The pool itself was created from Batu Chandi stone and is walled with solidified volcanic ash, and it was designed to imitate Bali’s famous rice paddy terraces. June rates start at $378 per night.

Enjoy some amazing views of Ipanema Beach and Sugarloaf mountain at the Fasano Pool
Enjoy some amazing views of Ipanema Beach and Sugarloaf Mountain at the Fasano Pool.

Fasano Hotel — Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

The Philippe Starck-designed Fasano Hotel boosts a glorious rooftop space dedicated to a glass-walled infinity pool made of white marble. You can enjoy breathtaking views of Sugarloaf Mountain, Ipanema Beach, the Rio de Janeiro skyline and the massive ocean below. June rates start at $467 per night.

shutterstock_159545888
One of the most famous pools in the world: the Sands Skypark Infinity Pool. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Marina Bay Sands — Singapore

The Sands SkyPark Infinity Pool is arguably the most famous swimming pool on Earth. Located on the 57th-floor rooftop of the Marina Bay Sands hotel, this Moshe Safdie-designed pool is the world’s largest at this height, measuring 150 meters (about three times the length of an Olympic sized-pool) and holding 376,000 gallons of water. If you aren’t feeling brave enough to swim to the edge and enjoy the views, though, know that there are plenty of safe, stable sun loungers available. You must be a hotel guest to enter this pool, so be prepared to spend at least $270 per night in June.

Dip into the floating pool on Lake Como
Dip into the floating pool on Italy’s Lake Como.

Villa D’Este — Lake Como, Italy

The Floating Pool at the Villa D’Este on Lake Como wins big points for originality. Dipping into the lake itself just doesn’t scream luxury, so a floating pool and jacuzzi were both built into a pontoon that floats along the lake for the utmost opulence. Swimmers and loungers can enjoy transcendent views of the surrounding lake, mountains and forest greenery. Luxury doesn’t come cheap, however. June rates start at $800 per night.

The Golden Energy Pool at the St Regis Lhasa
The Golden Energy Pool at the St Regis Lhasa.

St. Regis Lhasa — Tibet

The awe-inspiring gold energy pool at the St. Regis Lhasa is is actually dyed gold, but its lack of karats won’t keep you from having a deeply relaxing experience. Floating and wading are encouraged, whereas diving isn’t allowed; the saltwater pool water is good for the skin, but not recommended for open eyes. This is a Starwood property, so if you’ve got some Starpoints sitting in your account, you’re halfway to your personal zen. This SPG Category 6 property starts at just $125 per night or 20,000 Starpoints.

Swim with unique views of elephants
At Tanzania’s Four Seasons Serengeti, you’ll swim with views of elephants.

Four Seasons Serengeti — Tanzania

Although the private villas at this resort come with their own swimming pool, the main infinity pool is really the place to be. Overlooking an active watering hole for local wildlife, this pool enables you to sip Champagne in a beach lounger or simply float around, all while viewing elephants and other wild animals doing their thing. June rates at this Amex Fine Hotel & Resorts ( Amex FHR) property start at $1,590 per night.

This view is truly paradise
At the Banyan Tree Sechelles, the pool view is a true paradise.

Banyan Tree Seychelles — Mahe, Seychelles

Set in the tropical paradise of Seychelles, this large infinity pool overlooks the magnificent, indigo-blue Indian Ocean. While the villas also offer private pools or jacuzzis with breathtaking views, there are none more panoramic or spectacular than those you’ll see from this main pool. The hotel is part of both the Visa Signature Hotels program and the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts program, and June room rates start at about $900. 

You can swim in the biggest swimming pool in the world in Chile
You’ll find the biggest swimming pool in the world in Chile.

San Alfonso Del Mar — Algarrobo, Chile

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, this apartment-style hotel features the world’s largest crystalline water pool — roughly two-thirds of a mile long and able to hold 66 million gallons of water. One of the most striking features of the pool (well, after you take its enormous size into account) is its intense, transparent turquoise color, developed by collecting ocean water and keeping it in perfect condition. The pool is heated to about 79 degrees Fahrenheit, which is more than 15 degrees warmer than the bordering ocean temperature. The pool has a small indoor section and there is also a deck with lounge chairs and a jacuzzi. June rates start at $70 per night.

The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong's indoor pool made our list for its fabulous views
The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong’s indoor pool made our list for its fabulous views.

Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong — Hong Kong

This is the only entirely indoor swimming pool on our list, and with good reason. While not out in the fresh air, this indoor infinity pool does offer absolutely amazing views of the city skyline of Hong Kong from its “pool-to-ceiling” windows. Adding to the high-end ambience, there are 144 LED screens on the ceiling and an outdoor jacuzzi on the same floor. June rates at this Amex FHR property start at $493 or 70,000 Reward points per night. 

Enjoy this water oasis in the middle of the desert
Enjoy this water oasis in the middle of the desert.

Qasr Al Sarab Resort by Anantara — Abu Dhabi, UAE

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to discover an oasis in the Bedouin desert, here’s your chance to find out. This free-form, curving pool sits in the middle of the dry, red sands of Abu Dhabi. Just be prepared for temperatures that rise above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. June rates at this Visa Signature Hotels property start at $273.

The Grace Santorini pool is the perfect place to enjoy the sunset
The Grace Santorini pool is the perfect place to enjoy the sunset.

The Grace Santorini — Santorini, Greece

The Grace features the largest infinity pool on the Greek island of Santorini, and the white-and-blue, Cycladic decor makes it a gorgeous, romantic spot to enjoy uninterrupted views across the Aegean Sea. Meals are also served poolside at any time of day. June rates at this Visa Signature property start at about $900.

This pool is best seen at night, thanks to its illuminated floor
This pool is best seen at night, thanks to its illuminated floor.

Playa Vik — José Ignacio, Uruguay

This unique design retreat offers a 75-foot granite infinity pool with a special quirk: There’s a fiber-optic-lit celestial map of the Southern hemisphere illuminating the pool floor. The edge of the pool dangles 32 feet over the gardens and beach below, and you can enjoy gorgeous views of the ocean and beach out to Punta Este. Room rates start at about $900.

Have you ever floated around in any of these amazing pools? Do you have any favorite hotel pools outside of the US? Please feel free to comment in the section below.

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Virgin America 60% Bonus on Purchased Points http://thepointsguy.com/2015/05/virgin-america-bonus/ http://thepointsguy.com/2015/05/virgin-america-bonus/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 21:01:59 +0000 http://thepointsguy.com/?p=128435 Now through June 25, 2015, Virgin America is offering bonuses of up to 60% on purchased miles. Unlike some past Virgin buy miles promos, which were just a flat bonus no matter how many points you purchased, this one is tiered.

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Here’s how the bonus works:

  • Buy 1,500-4,500 Elevate points and earn a 30% bonus
  • Buy 5,000 or more Elevate points and earn a 60% bonus

Normally, Virgin America Elevate points cost 5.2 cents each, however with this bonus if you were to purchase 5,000 or more, you’d be able to purchase them at 3.25 cents each, still not the greatest deal, since in TPG’s monthly valuations, he values Virgin America Elevate points between 1.5-2.3 cents each.

The Elevate program is a hybrid of fixed-value and traditional frequent flyer programs; when you redeem on Virgin America you can use points for any flight, but when redeeming on partners there is an award chart and availability is limited.

However, for those interested, you can purchase a maximum gift of 20,000 Elevate points before any bonus in your individual account per calendar year. Also, note that purchased points take up to 72 hours to appear in your Elevate account.

As a reminder, Virgin America is a 2:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, the points program of premium cards such as the Platinum Card and Premier Rewards Gold card, as well as the EveryDay Preferred and EveryDay cards, so that is probably a better way to top up your Elevate account.

Do you plan on taking part in this offer? Let us know by commenting below.

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US Expanding Customs Preclearance to 9 New Countries http://thepointsguy.com/2015/05/dhs-preclearance-new-airports/ http://thepointsguy.com/2015/05/dhs-preclearance-new-airports/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 20:38:57 +0000 http://thepointsguy.com/?p=128441 If you’ve traveled to the US from Canada; Dublin and Shannon in Ireland; or any number of airports in the Caribbean, you’ve probably encountered a Department of Homeland Security Preclearance facility before boarding your flight home. Unique to the US, this allows DHS to process passengers abroad before they even board their flight to the United States — in a nutshell, you go through all customs formalities on foreign soil, including baggage screening, duty payments and often an interview with an immigration officer. When you land in the US, you walk off your plane in the airside section of the terminal, allowing you to board a domestic flight without additional screening.

Generally, this process works out well for passengers, who can schedule tighter connections without the risk of missing a flight because of immigration or security checkpoint delays. As you can imagine, stationing hundreds of immigration officers abroad is hardly a small expense, but the program does give inspectors an opportunity to live in another country (usually for a few months at a time).

A CBP officer checks a passenger's documentation after arriving to the US. Courtesy DHS.
A CBP officer checks a passenger’s documentation after arriving to the US. Courtesy DHS.

Well, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson today announced the intention to expand Preclearance to an additional 10 airports in nine countries, including Brussels Airport, Belgium; Punta Cana Airport, Dominican Republic; Narita International Airport, Japan; Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Netherlands; Oslo Airport, Norway; Madrid-Barajas Airport, Spain; Stockholm Arlanda Airport, Sweden; Istanbul Ataturk Airport, Turkey; and London Heathrow Airport and Manchester Airport, United Kingdom.

In a statement, DHS said that nearly 20 million passengers traveled to the US from these 10 airports last year, so this does sound like a good move. It’s unclear if Global Entry will be available, but (with a few exceptions) these facilities typically process passengers a bit more quickly than their counterparts in the US.

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Wine Travel: Margaret River, Western Australia http://thepointsguy.com/2015/05/western-australia-wine-travel/ http://thepointsguy.com/2015/05/western-australia-wine-travel/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 20:09:15 +0000 http://thepointsguy.com/?p=127171 This week, we kick off a new series on wine travel by TPG Special Contributor Eric Rosen. He’s just launched a new website called Cluster Crush, which features all kinds of useful (and fun) information about the world of wine, from basic education to travel tips to advice from chefs about how to pair wines with food. All in the spirit of fun, the motto is “Stomping out the pretension and getting to the good juice.”

Today, Eric takes us to one of his favorite wine regions: Western Australia’s Margaret River.

Check out Eric's new wine site, Cluster Crush.
Check out Eric’s new wine site, Cluster Crush.

Though most people associate Australian wine with big-name regions such as the Barossa Valley in South Australia, the Yarra Valley in Victoria and the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, the little, off-the-beaten path region of Margaret River in Western Australia is one of my favorites (though those others are great, too!).

Getting There

The closest city to the Margaret River is Perth — the most isolated major city on Earth. Don’t let that deter you, though. Qantas, Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand all fly there, as do Cathay Pacific, Singapore, Garuda, Malaysia and more — which means you can use all manner of miles to book award tickets. While business-class awards on Qantas and Virgin tend to be in short supply (and non-existent on Air New Zealand), it’s not impossible to use your miles to fly here.

I actually booked not one, but two separate itineraries here this past year using my American Airlines AAdvantage miles for a Qantas business-class ticket. I booked the first last July for travel in December, when I thought I would come over the holidays. The total came to 62,500 miles and $27 in taxes and fees, though because I have the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard, I got a 10% mileage refund, so it ended up costing me only 56,250 miles!

Mileage
I booked JFK-LAX-SYD for 62,500 miles and $29.70 in taxes — but that was before my 10% mileage refund!

But then in November, I decided to change my ticket to coincide with the whale shark season up at Ningaloo Reef (April to July) and had no trouble finding a new itinerary from Los Angeles (LAX) to Perth (PER) via Sydney (SYD) in Qantas business class, and simply changed the ticket (I didn’t have to pay a fee since travel was more than 21 days out) for another $16 in taxes and fees.

LAX Perth
My final ticket to Perth (PER) via Sydney (SYD).

I only booked my ticket through to PER while I worked out my Ningaloo Reef dates. You have to fly to an airport called Learmonth (LEA), but there are several flights a week on Qantas with decent availability if you want to use either American AAdvantage miles or British Airways Avios.

From Perth, the Margaret River region is about a three-hour drive down the coast past some beautiful beaches and charming little towns. The region lies on a spectacular stretch of coastline where red-rock cliffs cascade into the Indian Ocean, with nothing between you and Africa except an expanse of water. It truly feels like the end of the Earth.

Where to Stay

This is a big vacation area for Perth-dwellers, so there are a variety of accommodation options, from budget beach shacks to full-on epicurean escapes. Your best bet is to do a little research through the Tourism Western Australia site to find something that suits your budget and needs.

CapeLodge-R1
Cape Lodge, one of the classic luxury lodges of Australia.

I really like four properties in particular. Based on its architecture, Cape Lodge actually looks like it should be in South Africa, but it’s one of the best-known hotels in Western Australia thanks to a phenomenal food and wine program, and —bonus! — it’s near many of the wineries.

On the beachy side of things, Smiths Beach Resort is luxurious but casual, and Bunker Bay Resort is good for families and part of Accor, so you could use some of your Le Club Accor points. Finally, for a splurge, Injidup Spa Retreat is a true retreat with just a handful of cliff-top villas offering panoramic views of the Indian Ocean and hiking paths lined with wildflowers.

Where to Taste

But you didn’t come here just to luxuriate in a hotel — you came to taste some wine (and possibly some chocolate, olive oil and cheese, as well). What makes Margaret River different from other Australian regions is its focus on Bordeaux varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc (rather than the more typical Aussie varietals of Shiraz and Chardonnay).

That’s because back in 1965 an agronomist named Dr. John Gladstones made a study of the geology and climate of the region, and determined that it most closely resembled Bordeaux thanks to a maritime influence and gravelly soils. It wasn’t long before people were planting vines right and left, though the region still makes just a tiny percentage of the country’s total wine production.

Vasse Felix
Vasse Felix, Margaret River’s first commercial winery.

Cullen Wines was one of the pioneers here, both because it planted its first vines back in 1971 and because it spearheaded biodynamic farming in the area. Among the flagship wines to taste are its barrel-fermented Kevin John Chardonnay, and the Diana Madeline red blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Cabernet Franc that varies by vintage, but is known for a fine balance of fruit, minerality and complexity.

Established in 1967, Vasse Felix was Margaret River’s first commercial winery, and remains a big name to this day. This is a great spot to stop for lunch thanks to its gourmet restaurant, which specializes in pairing seasonal menus of local produce with its wines. Try the current Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon blend that hearkens to Bordeaux’s Entre Deux Mers region, the barrel-fermented Heytesbury Chardonnay and the latest vintage Cabernet Sauvignon to get a good benchmark of the wines this region is known for.

Vineyards at Cape Mentelle. Photo courtesy of Cape Mentelle.
Vineyards at Cape Mentelle. Photo courtesy of Cape Mentelle.

If you’re a fan of white wines, try Moss Wood’s Semillon, which is citrusy and crisp thanks to its finely balanced acidity (though the rich but bright Pinot Noir is also a delightful idiosyncracy for the region). You might also stop by Leeuwin Estate to try its famous Art Series wines including a Sauvignon Blanc with alluring tropical and floral top notes and a spicy, berrylicious Shiraz.

Among the other big names, Cape Mentelle is a heavy hitter and well worth a visit if only to orient your palate to the flavor profiles of the region. The boutique Fraser Gallop is an under-the-radar star that has racked up wine awards for its red blends but still sells them at a very reasonable price point.

What (Else) to Do

Hiking along the Cape to Cape Track during wildflower season. Image courtesy of Tourism Western Australia.
Hiking along the Cape to Cape Track during wildflower season. Image courtesy of Tourism Western Australia.

Besides the wine, there’s plenty to do in Margaret River. This is one of the world’s top big-wave surfing destinations, with over 40 breaks and an annual competition that draws famous names from all over the world. On the foodie side of things, try to make time for a visit to the Margaret River Chocolate Company for sweet treats, the Margaret River Dairy Company for delicious local cheeses and Olio Bello to taste the staggering selection of olive oils.

You can also spend a few days hiking along the Cape to Cape Track between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin (though best save this for wildflower season from September to November).

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Last Chance for the IHG Rewards Card 70,000 Points Offer http://thepointsguy.com/2015/05/70k-ihg-rewards-offer/ http://thepointsguy.com/2015/05/70k-ihg-rewards-offer/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 20:00:59 +0000 http://thepointsguy.com/?p=128421 As a reminder, the increased 70,000-point sign-up bonus for the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card ends this Sunday, May 31, so if you’ve been thinking of getting this card, now is the time. To qualify for this offer, you must spend $1,000 within the first three months.

Aside from the points, this card comes with an annual free night certificate that you can use at any IHG property worldwide, including The Palazzo and Venetian in Las Vegas. You also get IHG Platinum Elite status, which doesn’t compare to elite status with other brands, but gets you a 50% bonus on base points earning and the potential for upgrades. The card carries a $49 annual fee, which is waived the first year

IHG award nights start at 10,000 points for Category 1 properties, and go up to 50,000 points for top-tier Category 9 properties, with plenty of options in between. 70,000 points could get you two nights at Category 6 properties such as the Intercontinental Budapest or the Holiday Inn Beachcomber Resort in Waikiki. 70,000 points would also go a long way with IHG PointBreaks, which go for 5,000 points per night, meaning you’d have enough points for 14 nights’ worth of hotel stays.

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70,000 points can get you two nights at the Intercontinental Budapest.

These are the published benefits for the IHG Rewards Card:

Sign-Up Bonus

  • Earn 70,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. This bonus offer is available to you as long as you have not received a new cardmember bonus for this product in the past 24 months.

Rewards

  • Earn 5 points per $1 spent when you stay at our hotels.
  • Earn 2 points per $1 on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores & restaurants.
  • Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

Benefits

  • Annual free night
  • Platinum Elite status as long as you’re a Select cardmember.
  • Automatic 10% points rebate.
  • No foreign transaction fees when you use your card for purchases abroad.
  • $0 Introductory annual fee for the first year, then $49.

For more analysis, check out Jason Steele’s recent review of the card, and for some ideas on how to use the sign-up bonus, check out these posts on 7 Great IHG hotels in the US and Incredible IHG Hotels for International Gateways.

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Google Bringing Improved Credit Card Payments to Android Phones http://thepointsguy.com/2015/05/android-pay/ http://thepointsguy.com/2015/05/android-pay/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 19:18:31 +0000 http://thepointsguy.com/?p=128334 You’ve probably heard enough about Apple Pay on iPhones and the Apple Watch already, but what about an equivalent for Android users? Beginning with Android M, the next version of Google’s smartphone OS, you’ll be able to swipe a credit card payment using your phone, letting you keep your plastic cards in your pocket (or even at home).

Of course, contactless payments are nothing new — retail stores and subway stations in Japan have been accepting wireless payments for more than a decade, and Google’s even dabbled with NFC payments off and on since 2011, but with Apple’s recent adoption, banks, merchants and phone manufacturers are really stepping up their NFC (near-field communication) game.

According to a Google blog post, Android Pay is coming later this year, with support from American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa. You’ll be able to pay at 700,000-plus stores across the US, and potentially some around the world as well. Several plastic credit cards already support contactless payments, including the Chase Freedom card and the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express. With both of these cards, you can simply tap the card to a reader to pay, just as you’ll eventually do with an Android smartphone.

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Cuba Removed from US State-Sponsored Terrorism List http://thepointsguy.com/2015/05/cuba-removed-from-us-state-sponsored-terrorism-list/ http://thepointsguy.com/2015/05/cuba-removed-from-us-state-sponsored-terrorism-list/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 18:18:51 +0000 http://thepointsguy.com/?p=128356 As relations between the United States and Cuba improve, the Obama administration has just announced that Cuba will be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Cuba is the latest country to be removed from the US terrorism list. (Photo via Shutterstock)
Cuba is the latest country to be removed from the US terrorism list. (Photo via Shutterstock)

The order to remove Cuba from the US terrorism blacklist was signed by Secretary of State John Kerry. This is the latest step in improving diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba. Earlier this year, the US relaxed its travel restrictions with Cuba, making it easier for US citizens to visit the Caribbean island nation.

Current countries on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list include Iran, Sudan and Syria.

For more information on Cuba, check out these posts:

Is it Safe to Visit Cuba?
My Amazing Experience Exploring Trinidad, Cuba
Casa Particulares: One Incredible Weekend with Three Cuban Families
5 Reasons to Use a Travel Agent for Visiting Cuba
10 Types of People Who Need To Visit Cuba Now

What are your thoughts on this latest announcement about Cuba? Feel free to comment below.

Hat Tip: New York Times

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Deal Alert: Flights to Hong Kong From $574 http://thepointsguy.com/2015/05/deal-alert-hong-kong-574/ http://thepointsguy.com/2015/05/deal-alert-hong-kong-574/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 17:40:45 +0000 http://thepointsguy.com/?p=128365 Airfare deals are typically only available on limited dates. We recommend that you use Google Flights to find dates to fly, then book through an online travel agency, such as Orbitz, which allows you to cancel flights without penalty by 11pm Eastern Time within one day of booking. Remember: Fares may disappear quickly, so book right away and take advantage of Orbitz’s courtesy cancellation if you’re unable to travel.

Hong Kong is back on sale! These fares aren’t quite as fantastic as what we saw last week, when United had deals from several cities to Hong Kong from $515 round-trip, but there are certainly some solid options available, from airports around the US. The best deal this time around is on Korean Air from San Francisco, priced at $574 round-trip with a stop in Seoul in each direction. Alternatively, you can fly Asiana’s new A380 from Los Angeles (also with a stop in Seoul) for $666 or from New York for $689. United, meanwhile, has nonstop flights from San Francisco for $687 or Newark for $762.

Here are a few examples of what we found:

San Francisco (SFO) to Hong Kong (HKG) for $574 on Korean Air:

San Francisco (SFO) to Hong Kong (HKG) for $574 on Korean Air.

Los Angeles (LAX) to Hong Kong (HKG) for $666 on Asiana:

Los Angeles (LAX) to Hong Kong (HKG) for $666 on Asiana.

New York (JFK) to Hong Kong (HKG) for $689 on Asiana:

New York (JFK) to Hong Kong (HKG) for $689 on Asiana.

San Francisco (SFO) to Hong Kong (HKG) for $687 on United (earns 13,828 PQMs):

San Francisco (SFO) to Hong Kong (HKG) for $687 on United.

Newark (EWR) to Hong Kong (HKG) for $762 on United (earns 16,120 PQMs):

Newark (EWR) to Hong Kong (HKG) for $762 on United.

Dallas (DFW) to Hong Kong (HKG) for $763 on American (earns 16,200 EQMs):

Dallas (DFW) to Hong Kong (HKG) for $763 on American.

Maximize Your Purchase

Don’t forget to use a credit card that earns additional points on airfare purchases, such as the American Express Premier Rewards Gold or Citi Prestige (3x on airfare) or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on all travel purchases). Check out this post for more on maximizing airfare purchases.

If you’re able to score one of these tickets, please share the good news in the comments below!

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Points Intervention: Paying Bills with a Credit Card http://thepointsguy.com/2015/05/points-intervention-episode-10-paying-bills-a-card/ http://thepointsguy.com/2015/05/points-intervention-episode-10-paying-bills-a-card/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 16:29:00 +0000 http://thepointsguy.com/?p=128122 In Points Intervention, I help people get their awards earning on track. This month I’m working with small-business owners — just in time for them to take advantage of the Chase Ink Plus Business card’s current offer of 50,000 bonus points after a spend of $5,000 within the first three months.

Intervention: Christophe Carón Episode 3

This week I am working with Christophe Carón, owner and manager of Délice and Sarrasin, a crêperie in the West Village in New York City. He wants to choose the right business credit card for his spending and traveling patterns to maximize the accrual of points and miles, as well as benefits for his business.

In yesterday’s video, I recommended a few credit card choices that might be best for Christophe and his business, including one that gives him a percentage of cash back for every dollar he spends on the card.

Wouldn’t it be great if Christophe could use that cash-back credit card to pay all of his bills so he can get cash back for the considerable amount of spending that is required for a new business?

Christophe laments that when he pays bills online, he has to do an Automated Clearing House (ACH) transaction in which he transfers money from a bank account, instead of charging the bill to his credit card, otherwise the vendor will charge him a fee.

To Charge or Not?

I help him work out the numbers to determine whether or not the fee is worth it. With the Capital One Spark Business Card, he would be getting 2% back on his spending, so if the fee is less than that, he would still benefit. If the fee is the same, there are still advantages to using a credit card versus an ACH transaction or (gasp) mailing a check:

  • With a credit card, you have purchase protection.
  • Paying all your bills with a credit card can organize your spending better, since many companies give you analytics and spending reports.

points intervention
It Never Hurts to Ask

I can’t say this enough: It never hurts to ask for what you want. Some vendors will try to charge you a fee for paying with a credit card, but you can always ask them to waive the fee. If they want your business, they just might eat that cost themselves.

Speaking of eating, if you’re in the West Village anytime soon, Christophe recommends the kale, scallops and coriander galette — the number one item on the menu at Délice and Sarrasin!

After this high-level conversation about utilizing the right credit card for his business, Christophe might have more questions, but at least he’s off to a good start.

If you missed the previous episodes of our conversation, visit them here:

Episode 1: Saving on Foreign Transaction Fees
Episode 2: Using a Cash-Back Business Credit Card

And if you or your small business needs a Points Intervention, email intervention@thepointsguy.com.

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Deal Alert: Head to São Paulo from $488 on Delta and United http://thepointsguy.com/2015/05/sao-paulo-from-488/ http://thepointsguy.com/2015/05/sao-paulo-from-488/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 15:20:22 +0000 http://thepointsguy.com/?p=128282 Airfare deals are typically only available on limited dates. We recommend that you use Google Flights to find dates to fly, then book through an online travel agency, such as Orbitz, which allows you to cancel flights without penalty by 11pm Eastern Time within one day of booking. Remember: Fares may disappear quickly, so book right away and take advantage of Orbitz’s courtesy cancellation if you’re unable to travel.

Looking to head down to South America this summer on the cheap? Both Delta and United are offering some great fares for travel between June and August from many cities to São Paulo, Brazil, including flights from Los Angeles (LAX) and New York (JFK).

New York (JFK)-São Paulo for $488.24 on Delta (earns 9,490 MQMs):

New York-São Paulo for $488.24 on Delta.
New York-São Paulo for $488.24 on Delta.

Los Angeles (LAX)-São Paulo for $492 on Delta (earns 11,965 MQMs):

Los Angeles (LAX)-São Paulo for $492 on Delta.
Los Angeles (LAX)-São Paulo for $492 on Delta.

Los Angeles (LAX)-São Paulo for $503 on United (earns 12,532 PQMs):

Los Angeles (LAX)-São Paulo for $503 on United.
Los Angeles (LAX)-Sao Pãulo for $503 on United.

Miami (MIA)-São Paulo for $503 on Delta (earns 10,496 MQMs):

Miami (MIA)-São Paulo for $503 on Delta.
Miami (MIA)-São Paulo for $503 on Delta.

These cheap fares to São Paulo are also available from Phoenix, Dallas, Philadelphia and St. Louis.

For more on São Paulo, check out The Points Guy’s Tivoli São Paulo ReviewFavorite Places: SPOT & Skye Bar in São Paulo, Brazil and My Trip to São Paulo Brazil on the New American Airlines 777-300 in First Class.

As a reminder, you’ll need a tourist visa if you want to head down to Brazil — for help with visas we recommend our friends at Allied Passport & Visa.

Maximize Your Purchase

Don’t forget to use a credit card that earns additional points on airfare purchases, such as the American Express Premier Rewards Gold or Citi Prestige (3x on airfare) or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on all travel purchases). Check out this post for more on maximizing airfare purchases.

If you’re able to score one of these tickets, please share the good news in the comments below!

Hat Tip: The Flight Deal

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