Showing posts from October, 2016

Tokyo Food

(Last update Nov 2017)

We get asked a lot about our favorite places to eat in Tokyo. Back in 2016, we lived in southern Shibuya in a neighborhood called Ebisu. It's actually tough giving recommendations because most folks visiting Tokyo have visions of Michelin-starred, special occasion omakase experiences and we spent most of our time looking for folksy, cheap, down-home neighborhood eats. If you're thinking "Jiro: Dreams of Sushi", I'd say just hit the Michelin guide for Tokyo and let your hotel or Amex concierge book for you. If you're thinking more "Midnight Diner" then continue on...

TIP: Some places you may need to look at the Kanji from the Instagram check-in or the Google Street View to help find the place. Also, I've omitted places where you need to speak/read Japanese to dine.
Every guidebook tells you to go to Tsukiji fish market, and you should. If you're a true lover of sashimi, just stop in at one of the stalls and grab …

How we're getting to Boracay, Philippines

SummaryJFK—Houston—Taipei—Kalibo—Manila—Seoul—JFK$439 JetBlue positioning flight from New York JFK to Houston80,000 United miles from Houston to Taipei on the EVA Air Hello Kitty plane in Business Class.🛬 UPDATE:Trip report for this flight!$498 from Taipei to Kalibo on China Airlines in Business Class🛬 UPDATE:Trip report for this flight!$115 from MPH to Manila🛬 UPDATE:Trip report for this flight!75,000 Korean miles (Korean Air credit card bonus topped off with Chase points) plus $45 for Manila – Seoul – JFK in Business Class🛬 UPDATE:Trip report for the Manila to Seoul leg!
🛬 UPDATE:Trip report for the Seoul to JFK leg!TOTAL: 155,000 miles + $1042 . CPM low: 2.2¢, high: ∞ (Hello Kitty plane has been on the bucket list for a while now!) but seriously, somewhere in the 3.5¢ range, HOU-TPE r/t is $4800.all numbers are per person As I mentioned before, we've had long-term plans to attend a wedding in the Philippines. There were a bunch of good options, but in the end we decided to…

Which JetBlue card should you get?

JetBlue has a fairly straightforward rewards program. You earn 3 points for every dollar you spend, and each point is worth about 1.3¢ – in other words, you're getting slightly under 4% as a rebate in point form. (Taxes and fees on airfare don't earn points)

If you have the no-fee JetBlue Mastercard, you'll earn an additional 3 points per dollar spent on JetBlue flights, for a total of 6, which brings your rebate up to almost 8%.

But if you'd like to earn yet another 3 points per dollar and get a 10% bonus every time you redeem your points, you can upgrade your no-fee JetBlue Mastercard to the JetBlue Plus card. That brings your effective rebate up to 12.8%. (But beware! ONLY the primary cardholder gets the 10% bonus!)

The PLUS card carries a $99 a year annual fee, but also comes with a card anniversary bonus of 5,000 every year (a $70 value), bringing the effective annual fee down to $29. Ergo:

If you spend more than $700 per year on JetBlue airfare, get the Plus card.…

JetBlue Mosaic math

One of my rules of traveling is that airline elite status is best earned when someone else is paying.

I'm still seeing friends planning crazy year-end mileage runs (during the holidays when airports are at their worst!) just to keep Delta/United/American status. I can't help but wonder if they're doing that out of old habits or if they've adjusted their math for the new reality.

These days airlines reward points based on dollars spent (not miles flown), and airlines are actively pushing to sell every single upgraded seat instead of giving it away as a free upgrade to their elites. With load factors on the airlines at an all-time high, the era of the complimentary upgrade is largely a thing of the past. (And as I've written about before, I found complimentary upgrades to be way more stress-inducing than you might expect).

My husband flies JetBlue for work and was surprised when he made their "Mosaic" elite status only halfway thru 2015. JetBlue had never o…

Using your Amex travel fee reimbursement for gift cards

One of the gimmicks credit cards use to help you offset their high annual fees is they offer an "airline fee reimbursement". The hope is to get you to sorta lop that $100 credit off your perception of the card's annual fee. But of course if they make it hard enough to use the credit, they get to keep this money you thought was yours. 
For example, Amex makes you choose a single airline where these fees will be reimbursable. You can only change your choice once a year. Airfare itself on that airline doesn't count (the idea is that Amex is helping you offset all of those pesky baggage and Premium Economy upgrade fees, not the flight itself). 
Well I chose Delta as my airline and it's getting near the end of the year and I haven't used the $100. I'd read online that you could actually buy a Delta gift card and this would count toward your credit. Long story short: American Express does NOT consider Delta gift cards bought from as airline fees. Ugh…

Ugh! yer killin' me here! Bottega Veneta Amex offer!

Amex periodically has offers you can attach to your card. Most of the time it's for things I don't use (trendy and expensive restaurants, expensive shops, weird online offers, and chain hotels) so I just skim the list when it comes out. Well, today I saw this one:
I love Bottega. And unfortunately my job took a sh*t last week and my cashflow is about to drop off dramatically. Not exactly the time for me to go buying $600 sneakers and a $400 wallet. But I soooo want to!! *stomps feet angrily*

UPDATE: in a bout of distraught, post-election retail therapy I ended up buying two pairs of bottega shoes, AND a belt! The 20,000 points showed up a week later. 

Ok with that out of the way, this essentially amounts to a 25% rebate from Bottega in points form. Their catalog has been sitting on my desk for the past 2 weeks and dang their fall shoes are cuuute :)

ANA Amex is running a similar promotion with ANA – spend $1000 in airfare and get 20,000 points back. That one might also be good…