My Favorite Credit Cards for 2020

It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about my favorite credit cards. I’m here to tell you what I’m using to travel for nearly free in 2020.

  1. American Express Gold Card (I got the rose gold card which was a special offer that ran last year which I’m sure they will run again due to popular demand)
  •  Benefits that make the $250 annual fee worth it:
    • 4x points on groceries and dining
    • 1x point on all other purchases
    • 3x points on airlines booked directly airlines or
    • 40,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months
    • $10 a month credit to Shake Shack, Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Grub Hub and more
    • $100 airline credit for incidental costs like baggage fees, lounge passes, pet fees, etc. (no Wifi)

2. American Express Green Card

  • Benefits that make the $150 annual fee worth it:
    • 3x points on global dining and travel hotel, flights and ridesharing
    • 1x point on all other purchases
    • 35,000 points after you spend 3,000 in the first 3 months
    • $150 away credit purchased directly through Away (this is a limited offer so hurry because the offer ends on 1/15/20!)
    • $100 LoungBuddy Credit
    • $100 Clear credit (you’ll only pay $9 if you are United member which is currently the cheapest way to get the pass)

I previously was using the Chase Sapphire Reserve, but I decided to downgrade this year to the Freedom Unlimited card, because I wanted to save on the pricey $450 annual fee when I was essentially getting the same benefits as the American Express Green Card.

Hopefully this post was helpful and can help you save money and make your dream trips happen!

Barcelona

How We Got There

We booked pretty late about 1.5 out from our trip, but I believe we could have found a cheaper flight. We paid $590 per person roundtrip from Chicago directly to Barcelona on Norwegian airlines. This is a low cost airline so don’t expect anything free. The nice thing is you can order food, drinks and snacks directly from your seat. You just swipe your card and the attendant will bring you your food a few minutes later.

Where We Stayed

Because we were in a group of 5 we wanted to all stay together. In Europe, many hotels only allow for two people rooms either a king bed or two twin beds so we chose to stay at Airbnbs.

We stayed here for two nights and then we stayed here for two additional nights.

Sights to See

  • Park Guell

Buy tickets here ahead of time because they sell out! It was under construction a bit when we arrived via taxi. Beautiful views of the city.

  • La Sagrada Familia

The famous church you should also buy tickets ahead of time here, because they sell out too.

  • Arch de Triomf

Places to Eat

  • Catalana

Churros and THE best sangria!!

Last, you can get Tapas anywhere. They were pretty affordable you just pick out the ones you want and they heat them up for you!

 

 

48 Hours in NYC

So this is my third time in NYC and I can’t believe I’ve never posted about it!! My friend Keeley lives there so she did a great job planing our weekend.

First, I flew into JFK and split a taxi which was cheaper than Uber with my friend. It cost around $70 with tip in the the city to my friends apartment in West Village.

Work Out

I’ve been dying to try Barry’s bootcamp. Since we don’t have it in Scottsdale I had to try during my time in NYC. The one con is it’s $30+ a class, but it’s worth it. You can even pre-order shakes so they are ready for you once you are done with the class.

Eats & Drinks

Lil Frankies

Touristy Things

Get your steps in and head to Central Park. New York in the spring is absolutely stunning while all the flowers are blooming!

Cartagena Colombia

We flew from Cusco with two stops in Lima and Bogota before getting to the coastal city of Cartagena. We were lucky and were able to get on earlier flights for no extra cost. Originally we were going to waste almost a whole day of traveling. Cartagena reminded be in a way of Miami. My favorite parts were the amazing food and colored buildings.

Where We Stayed

We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Cartagena which was an amazing location right across from the beach, mall and tons of restaurants. We stayed a total of 3 nights which was a perfect amount of time to explore the city. It only cost 8,000 points a night (24,000 total) which I was able to transfer directly from my Chase credit card points directly to Hyatt points. We loved the amenities here including the gym, pool and restaurant. The breakfast buffet was amazing with fresh juices, omelet bar, and so much more.

Where We Ate

  1. Mangata for dinner!!
  2. Kai Sushi Wok one of the best poke bowls of my life!!
  3. Crepe & Waffles which we found out is a chain in Colombia
  4. Desayunos for breakfast
  5. Cafe Del Mar for drinks. Warning: self seating and hard to get a table during sunset. The service was pretty bad, but it has a great view of the ocean.
  6. Cookie Jaar- $2 ice cream sandwich combos

Old Town

Why You Should Get the Southwest Credit Card This Year (Before February 11th)

Not gonna lie, I had the Southwest card a few years ago and cancelled it, because there really weren’t to many perk compared to the Chase Sapphire Reserve I got last year.

BUT this year, it’s like they knew they had to be competitive to keep up with the other travel reward credit cards out there. They rolled out 30,000 bonus miles plus the companion pass.

If you don’t know what the companion pass is that you get to pick a partner to travel with you for free for the rest of 2019. If you have a significant other or bestie that lives in a major Southwest hub then this credit card is for you!! One of the reasons I chose this card is because Southwest has a direct flight back to my hometown in Columbus so I will get that in savings just during our holiday flights from PHX to CMH.

You have 3 options. I chose the lowest annual fee of $69 aka the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card. You get 2x points on Southwest flights and hotels and 1x points on everything else. You also get 3,000 anniversary points every year.

As soon as you get the card you should try to spend the $4k, because I read it can take up to 8 weeks to get the companion pass and it’s only valid for the rest of 2019.

But, before you apply…

  1. You aren’t eligible if you currently have a Southwest Credit Card
  2. You’ve earned a new card member bonus on a Southwest credit card in the last 24 months

Be sure to check back at the end of the year and I will let you know how much use I get out of the card and put a $ amount to value the companion pass.

48 Hours in Dubai

Ohhh how I loved Dubai, but really….I would move there. Dubai is a desert so yes it’s hot. When we arrived there was a dust storm and it wasn’t good visibility of the skyline. I recommend going during later months (not August like us), but whenever you can go go. It’s a once in a lifetime trip.

Aquarium in the Mall
Burj Khalifa
Burj Al Arab

Where We Stayed

The Conrad. The Conrad is a Hilton brand. I am obsessed because I used to work for Hilton. I used 34,000 Hilton points for one night. The best part is our flight wasn’t until late so they let us check out at 7pm (the latest late check out I’ve ever had). Which was much needed because it’s so hot you need at least 2 showers a day there.

This was in a great location right across from the metro. It has a pool and a spa. The do deals throughout the summer so I got a 30 minute massage and 30 minute facial for $88. Not. Too. Bad. Right?

Conrad Spa

Where We Ate

There’s tons of places to eat at the mall. Not gonna lie…we weren’t local the whole time. We had Cheesecake Factory and Paul Bakery. I even heard they are getting a Chick-Fil-A soon.

For dinner, I highly recommend Zuma. If you like sushi there’s a ton of different options.

Zuma salmon

Also for breakfast or coffee I highly recommend Paul Baker. You’ll see the latte and crepes above 😋.

There are also a ton of restaurants by the Burj Khalifa. Which is a perfect spot to watch the fountains, much like the ones in Las Vegas Bellagio, but better!!

Just know Dubai is pretty pricey. You only need a few days there. I wish we would have had more time to see the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, but maybe next time.

Overall, we didn’t get a rental car. It was easy to around the metro station was right in front of our hotel, but we aware there is a women’s section!! Rayan and I were standing in the all pink section and didn’t notice why everyone was looking at us. It’s for women and children LOL.

Hopper

Okay I’m going to be honest I’ve had Hopper downloaded and been “watching” flights for probably a year and a half and never actually booked anything until this week. If you have no idea what Hopper is….it’s an app that monitors prices of flights and hotels during your desired dates or even flexible dates.

What I Like About the App

You can put in one ways, round trips, even hotels and dates and it will predict if the prices will go up or down. If you allow the notifications, it will tell you to buy now and they don’t predict lower prices in the future.

I basically put in every and any flight and haven’t had much success booking in time until now. I even put it just ideas that I’m not super serious about booking just to keep a pulse on prices. I think it hasn’t worked in my favor for the year and a half I’ve had it is because I get anxious and plan things way in advance so I don’t always wait it out as long as I probably could to save more money. But, this week I got a notification that PHX to OGG (Maui) was $166 for a one way. THAT’S RIGHT. Only $332 roundtrip which is less than I would pay to go to Ohio. DONE. I booked through the app and there were NO booking fees, which is amazing. I got the confirmation email shortly after.

Most of you voted “no” you don’t use it on my Instagram poll tonight. I recommend downloading it here

I’m interested do you have any success stories with Hopper? If not, download it and let me know what you think in the comments below!

Road Trip From Denver to Seattle

My college best friend, Ashley told me she was going to drive herself from Denver to Seattle by herself for her new adventure doing travel nursing. My first thoughts? How long is that drive? Are you breaking it up? Where are you stopping? She goes into telling me everyone doesn’t have the time off and she was just going to do it…alone. She proceeds to tell me its 21 hours in total, but she plans to stop in Yellowstone National Park to camp during the first night. Then, stop in Boise, Idaho the second night to finish in Seattle on the third day. Okay…I’m in.

I won’t dive into what to do in Denver since I barely spent time there on this trip, but if you are looking for things to do or places to eat find my Denver post here!

Day 1

Tip: my friend got the “America the Beautiful” annual park pass here. This pass paid for itself on this trip. For $80 a year you can get into a ton of National Parks and your guests too! We could use it at Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and the Lava River tube in Bend, Oregon (from our road trip).

Things to know about the pass:

  • Covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges as well as standard amenity fees at national forests and grasslands, and at lands and waters managed by the Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers.
  • Passes are punched at the time of sale and valid one full year from month of purchase (through the last day of the month).
  • Allows a pass owner and all passengers in a private vehicle, or the pass owner and 3 adults at sites where per-person fees are charged.
  • When using your pass, photo identification will be required to verify ownership.

We started driving from Denver to Yellowstone National Park. This took about 9 hours from Denver. We drove the whole park which took quite some time. We left around 6am and didn’t top exploring until 10pm. The good thing is there is so much daylight in the summer. The sun didn’t set until 9pm! We came from the south entrance and started west towards our first stop at Old Faithful. Then drove counter clock wise up to Mammoth Hot Springs, Tower Fall, then following the Yellowstone River to Yellowstone Lake.

Day 2

We woke up in Yellowstone then drove a short distance to the Grand Tetons National Park to Jackson hole. Jackson Town is known for the old western theme. We went to Persephone Bakery for a turmeric latte for some caffeine so finish the drive. Once we got to Idaho, I found the Shoshone Falls near Twin Falls, Idaho on Pinterest. It was $3 per car (cash) to get in. Apparently Shoshone is taller than Niagara Falls! It was super hot the day we went so we just snapped a couple pictures from the lookout points then headed on to Boise.

Places to Eat: The STIL (Sweetest Things In Life) was the cutest ice cream shop in downtown Boise. They also offered beer, wine and alcohol infused ice cream and floats. You must show your ID to try the infused flavors. STIL had a great modern atmosphere… I would highly recommend!

Day 3

On the third day, we started our morning in Boise to Bend, Oregon. This stop was a bit out of the way to Seattle, but I highly recommend. It reminded me of a mountain town in Colorado. About 20 minutes from bend is the Lava River Tube which is over a mile long underground.

Places to Eat: Spork in Bend, Oregon. We went to Spork around 5:30pm for dinner and the line was already superrrr long. The service is great and offer drinks while you are in line. We asked the server what was good and the story of Spork since they had a ton of reviews on Yelp for such a small town. It started as a food truck then expanded into an Asian and Mexican fusion. We ordered 4 small plates which was about perfect. They are known for their spicy fried chicken which I recommend.

We ended up being in Bend on the first Friday of July which had a ton of live music and art open until about 8pm. It seemed like everyone was out enjoying the food, breweries and shopping Bend has to offer.

Day 4

The final day was about a 5.5 hour drive from Bend to Seattle. There’s not much to stop at along the way other than Portland.

Below is a picture from our friends rooftop. Seattle is such a beautiful city with so much to offer. To see what I did on a previous trip check out my Seattle post here.

And that wraps up our PNW road trip. If you have 5 days to take this road trip is totally doable. You can book two one ways and rent a car to make it pretty affordable.

Vancouver

Where We Stayed

Hilton Vancouver Metrotown which costs $189 CAD/night or $146 USD per night. It was a really central location. We rented a car one day from Enterprise.

Things To Do

  1. Suspension Bridge- the famous bridge cost $46 per person. Buy tickets online to by-pass the line! Be sure to take advantage of the free shuttle that runs from a few major hotels. We took it from the Hyatt Regency downtown and was about a 25 minute shuttle to and from the hotel.
  2. Rent a car and drive north to the mountains! We rented from this Enterprise which was only less than a 30 minute walk from our hotel for $45 CAD for a day rental
  3. Stanley Park-you can rent bikes or walk around the huge park filled with flowers.
  4. Olympic Park
  5. Whistler-we walked around the village and took the gondola between the peaks. It cost about $45 a person, but the views were worth it! There are even restaurants at the top of the mountains. The had free tub rentals and trails to hike. I couldn’t believe how much snow there was still in May!

Eat

Check out the Gas town and Yale town for dinner. Yale town seemed like the trendy place to be. We went to The Banter Room for dinner. They had a fun ambiance and deals on alcohol. Overall, Vancouver and Whistler were so easy to get around. We went for a total of 3 days and took the Translink almost everywhere for $10 CAD a day for unlimited rides. It was super clean and easy to use.

Rocky Point 2.0

This was my second trip to Rocky Point in Puerto Penasco, Mexico. Just a 4 hour drive to “Arizona’s beach” from Phoenix. This time we decided to stay at Las Palomas resort.

Things to do: our favorite bar which was a short taxi ride away is Wrecked at the Reef from our resort. This trip we didn’t do much exploring out of the resort, but you can rent jet skis or ATV.

All the food and drinks were between $5-$10… so cheap.

Shout out to my friends who all split this amazing Airbnb with me for my birthday weekend. We stayed here which was $192 a person for 2 nights. This place holds 10 people but let us know at check in we could have 11 people for $20 extra per night. The Airbnb host was very responsive. I would highly recommend staying here! Although, it isn’t a penthouse (top floor), the balcony has amazing beach views and amazing sunsets.

Pro: Las Paloma’s is very safe. It has all the amenities you would want for a vacation including multiple pools, hot tubs, beach access, swim up bar and restaurants on site. They even had a cleaning service every day. Last, the pool hosts fun events like cooking classes and daily deals with drinks. For example, you get 2 for 1 drinks between 2-3pm.

Cons: no visitors in Las Palomas. Our friends were staying at another hotel and because they didn’t have wristbands they couldn’t access to our pool. Security was every whereeeee. We asked the front desk and they wouldn’t even let us buy them day passes. Also, they wouldn’t let us check out pool towels on the day of check out. Be sure to bring towels from your room if you plan to use the amenities on the day of check out.