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Wednesday 31 August 2016

Contest to Win $1000, Plus Your Free Credit Score

As reported a few weeks back, Borrowell is a company that has a deal with Equifax Canada, but only to give you a credit score update once every 3 months.  They're running a contest until September 30th, and one winner will receive $1000.  You'll need to provide them with your email address, but that's a no-brainer considering they're giving you a free credit score--a new concept in Canada though as posted a couple of weeks back, Credit Karma is coming to Canada, and will hopefully give you regular updates of both your TransUnion and Equifax scores as they do in the States.
Click here to enter the contest and to sign up.

Wednesday 24 August 2016

The Most Valuable Hotel/Airline Points System

I’ve written before about the power of SPG points–how you can transfer the points to over 30 airlines, and do so at a premium ratio (for most airlines) when you transfer in increments of 20K SPG points (for 25K airline points).
And NOW, with the SPG/Marriott merger, these points are worth TRIPLE their value in the Marriott points system--and can be switched back and forth between the two!

SPG points are currently the most valuable hotel point system around because of their unique flexibility.  You can transfer your points to the following airlines through your online SPG account:
Here's the airlines and the ratios:
Aegean Airlines1:1
Aeromexico Club Premier1:1
Aeroplan/Air Canada1:1
Air Berlin1:1
Air China Companion1:1
Air New Zealand Airpoints65:1
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan1:1
Alitalia MileMiglia1:1
All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club1:1
American Airlines AAdvantage1:1
Asia Miles1:1
Asiana Airlines1:1
British Airways Executive Club1:1
China Eastern Airlines1:1
China Southern Airlines Sky Pearl Club1:1
Delta Air Lines SkyMiles1:1
Emirates Skywards1:1
Etihad Airways1:1
Flying Blue1:1
Gol Smiles2:1
Hainan Airlines1:1
Hawaiian Airlines1:1
Japan Airlines (JAL) Mileage Bank1:1
Jet Airways1:1
Korean Air1:1
LATAM Airlines LATAM Pass1:1.5
Miles and More1:1
Qatar Airways1:1
Saudi Arabian Airlines1:1
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer1:1
Thai Airways International Royal Orchid Plus1:1
United Mileage Plus2:1
Virgin America Elevate1:1
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1:1
Virgin Australia1:1

It's a great way to top up your frequent flyer miles with a certain airline for a free flight.  Flying Blue (Air France's air miles system) is a gem, and can get you flights for less points than other airlines with more availability at times.

Now how will you get the points?  If you click on either the business or personal link above, you’ll only have to spend $500 in 3 months to get 20K SPG points.  Get your significant other to apply, and you can either use it to transfer to an airline point system that will take you BOTH, for example, to Seattle/L.A (long haul flight across North America).  Cheapest way is with Aeroplan as the conversion is 1:1 + 5K bonus Aeroplan points when converting 20K SPG points or to United points,–while they have a LOT of availability for Air Canada flights without the high taxes–unfortunately, with SPG, they only transfer to United at a 50% conversion (1:2).  It’s unfortunately the only way I know of in Canada to earn United miles (other than RocketMiles, a website that gives you points for booking hotel stays that you can transfer to United, many other airlines, and even Amazon for gift cards--oh, and of course, by FLYING and PAYING for a United flight--what a concept).

United miles are amazing in some cases.  For example, YYZ-LAX for next to nothing in taxes with lots of availability.  YYZ-TLV on Air Canada, for NO fuel surcharges!  If you have a Social Security Number, you’d definitely want to get the Chase United Mileage Visa, that offers terrific features, along with a 50K welcome bonus (at certain times or if you already have a chunk of miles in your account–how many, I’m not sure about).  If you sign up for a United Mileage card and then attempt to book a flight, you’ll see the offer going from a 30K welcome bonus + $30 statement credit to a 50K + $50 +5K more for a secondary cardholder.  Ahhh, America–you gotta love their credit card offers!

Tuesday 23 August 2016

PRE-Renew Your Ontario License Plate Before September 1st!

The Ministry of Transport is increasing the cost of renewing your license plate sticker yet AGAIN on September 1st.  If you have your license plate is coming up for renewal in the next 6 months, you can beat the price increase by paying for it before September 1st.  On the 1st, rates go from $108 up to $120 in Southern Ontario.  Beat the increase and renew today!

Sunday 21 August 2016

HOT!! Wonderland 2017 Season Passes for about $10-$20? A How-To...

Canada’s Wonderland has begun selling its season passes for $68.99 ($1 more than last year).  They start selling them when the EX opens. For those of you with children, season’s passes add up to expensive entertainment–unless you subsidize your ticket with discipline.  This is what I mean…

Again, Wonderland is offering the season pass at the lowest price of the year (it goes up as opening day and beyond approaches for next season)–but if you purchase it before this year ends, you will get one of two presents from Wonderland (along with other Cedar Fair parks, including Cedar Point but at different prices, but the same deal apparently):
(A) A single day admission ticket (if you don’t currently have a season’s pass for 2016), worth between $42.99 (if you purchased it 3 days in advance online) or less if you went to Costco when they had them $10 off ($30 instead of $40) or got some other deal of the number of deals out there, to $48.99 buying them online from Wonderland (less than 3 days in advance, PLUS $5.99 service charge online), to up to $62 at the front gate.  Unfortunately, that ticket they give you as a gift is not transferable, so you must use it still within the 2015 season.  If you’re purchasing a season’s pass for 2016 for a child turning 3 (at age 3 they need to have their own pass), the single day admission ticket is sadly useless.  I’ve spoken to management about it, but as with any big company, it’s like trying to move a mountain.  If you buy one for the first time this year, hopefully, you’ll save a LOT of money next year if they offer the same deal that I detail below…
(B) BUT THIS is the SWEEET deal: with each renewed Season’s Pass, Wonderland will give you a Fast Lane PLUS pass, which gets “you” access to a by-pass line for 19 of the more popular rides PLUS Leviathan and Behemoth (the biggest roller coasters).  It must be used this season and it’s worth $75.71 (including taxes).  Yes, Wonderland charges $75.71 (more online) to make a one day experience more enjoyable ON TOP of the single day admission ticket.
It is also TOTALLY TRANSFERABLE, though the central info number of Wonderland will tell you otherwise.  So go and sell it!  Resist the urge to use it!  It’s easy to resist for your little ones, who cannot even enjoy the bigger rides that the Fast Lane PLUS is directed at, but YOU will need to show more discipline!  Want to go when the lines are shorter?  Go Sunday at 9am (early opening for Season’s Pass holders) or on a weekday, especially Tuesday to Thursday at 10am sharp, or on a weekend in September or October, when they also have a Halloween Peanuts show for the kids and seasonal decorations all  over the park—AND SHORTER LINES!
Want to save money on camp and have a caregiver at home with the kids?  Get a Wonderland season’s pass, and just go for a couple of hours in the morning, before the lines get nasty (though for the little ones, the lines are only REALLY nasty on the weekends, Fridays, and holidays).  They’re somewhat tolerable in the afternoons.  We just go in the mornings and early afternoons, then pack it up.
For the last two years, I got into the Wonderland line and joined several others who were selling other tickets that they couldn’t use to Wonderland.  Me and my girls were the only ones selling the Fast Lane PLUS receipt (to exchange for the wristband) and within 10 minutes, I’d sold all 3 for $50 each two years back, and $60 each last year in the Wonderland ticket line! This year, they're being sold in two locations-both at the front gate (probably your best bet, but watch out for security--see below), or at the "Locker Room" store, which is where everyone picks up the Fast Lane Plus pass wristband.     
This year (and last), according to the 2016 version of the receipt that gets you the Fast Lane PLUS, you need to present the receipt to the “Locker Room” store (located at the beginning of International Street, on the right when you enter) “along with the Season Pass” to exchange it for the wristband, so you’ll have to take everyone with the receipt with you, as the “person must be present to get wristband” and to top it off, the free pass ticket bar code must match the season pass holder’s ID.
Not true, practically speaking.  I spoke to employees at the front gate and at the "Locker Room" --they don’t even ask for your season’s pass (which they did not to those I sold mine to), to confirm that you aren’t transferring it.  So this time, I found people who were happy to pay less, considering I offered to wait around to be sure they got their wristband, and THEN they paid me.  You will have to have initiative to do this of course.  You could try to sell it on a website like Kijiji (I see 2 selling for $50 today), but at Wonderland, it will obviously sell much faster.  I picked people near the end of the line so as to not be so obvious as to what I was doing.  I felt a bit guilty but really there’s nothing explicit on the receipt that Wonderland gives you to exchange for the Fast Pass PLUS that states that it’s not transferable; in fact, when I bought the season’s pass, the person at checkout said that I could do whatever I wanted with it, and that it WAS transferable.  Security at Wonderland has a job to do and they've been directed to stop people from reselling anything on Wonderland property, so if you're not comfortable selling it at Wonderland, Kijiji may be the better route.
Selling them at $60 each, which is still a savings of $19.10 per Fast Lane PLUS if someone in line bought it without a deal online.  That’s like 5 Season’s Passes for the price of ONE!  If people in line purchased a Fast Lane PLUS along with a ticket online, then they aren’t going to buy your passes.  Also, those paying $145 for EVERYTHING for the day (admission, Fast Lane Plus, food, drinks, and parking) won't be interested. Those that haven’t AND carry cash, let them know that it will cost them $79.71 for the PLUS version including tax at Wonderland. Online, it's more due to the service fee. At $60 each, they’re saving $15.71 each.  You can then direct them to the left side of the counter at the Locker Room, as the pass they’re buying from you is considered prepaid, so they just have to take it and slap the Fast Pass Plus wristband on the purchaser.  An employee may take them to a kiosk near the store to exchange the receipt for the wristband. Some may already have a day pass purchased online or a season’s pass and they want an extra Fast Lane PLUS or one of many admission combinations, but either way, $68.99-$60 is $8.99 + tax on a $68.99 season’s pass, or about $18 per season’s pass!  Sell them for $70, about $8 per seasons pass! Enough detail?????
Let me know how successful you are! 

Friday 19 August 2016

Flights from Toronto to Costa Rica for $220CDN Taxes IN!

Dates in September-November are available.  Upon several different dates, the best price I could find was $345, but YYZDeals is reporting flights as low as $220.  Now, the $345 price was a LOOONG route,  23+hours back and forth (return) with a stopover as opposed to direct with Westjet (shortest) coming in at 10 hours and 45 minutes total travel time return.
To get the deal, go to Momondo through this link, and type in YYZ to SJO with your dates.  Momondo will show you almost a 3 week window for pricing.  According to YYZDeals, check these dates to start with:
Sep 7 to Sep 19, 20, 21, 22 or 24
Sep 14 to Sep 25 or 26Sep 14 to Oct 1Sep 20 to Oct 3, 4, 6, 7, or 8Oct 12 to Oct 23, 24, or 25Oct 19 to Nov 1, 2, 3, or 5Oct 26 to Nov 7, 8, 9, 10, or 11

Wanna Order a Horse From Europe & Ship it Fed Ex? Wanna meet Sting? Black Eyed Peas? AMEX Concierge Will Arrange It...Maybe...

Since getting my AMEX Biz Plat, I've been trying to learn what I can about the benefits, and here's a great one (BTW, yes, FREE--a premium AMEX Business Platinum card, with a total of 80K Membership Rewards points through the method described in THIS link:

AMEX offers its platinum (including biz plat) holders access to its concierge service.  They will handle practically anything.  For example, I asked them to find me a patio swing with mosquito netting.  Raccoons killed the last one, right down beyond the cushions to the material--one day, fell right through it. ):  They asked me for an example.  I showed them one on the CDN Tire website though they're sold out at this time of year.  They offered me an email or phone response--I'm good with email.  They'll get in touch with CDN Tire's distributor and see what they can do.  WOW!!

I also tried to get cheap tickets for a Mirvish production starting in mid December, but though they have a deal with Ticket King (that sells the tickets), it's NOT a deal, just good seats.

Craziest deals that Marina @ Amex Concierge told me about--ordering a horse from Europe and shipping it overnight with Fed Ex.  Crazy!  How about meeting a famous musician?  They can arrange it, but for THAT, you'll pay extra--perhaps as much as $10K or 1 million AMEX points.

Thursday 18 August 2016

The BEST FREE Credit History Service-COMING TO CANADA!!

Credit Karma is a free service in the States that gives Americans access to their credit history.  It makes paying for Equifax, TransUnion and Experian in the States pretty much a waste of your money.  In the States, you get your Equifax and TransUnion scores, all of your open accounts, latest reporting balances on each account, EVERYTHING!!
Sign up now HERE to get redirected to Credit Karma's Canadian link, that when the service starts, they'll send you an email with a link to sign up!

A Free AMEX Biz Platinum With LOTS of Fringe Benefits For Travel

So besides being able to now get a free AMEX Platinum Business card and a total of 80K AMEX Membership Reward welcome bonus points through the instructions in this post, you also get LOTS of fringe benefits.

The Plaza Premium Lounges are found around the world at airports in Hong Kong, Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada (Edmonton, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Toronto), China, India, Malaysia, Maldives, Oman, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Taipei, UAE, and the United Kingdom (Heathrow).

The Plaza Premium is in THREE locations at Pearson:

  • The International Departures Terminal 3 near gate C32
  • Domestic Departures, Terminal 3, between gates B22 and B24
  • US Transborder Departures in Terminal 1, near Gate F82
Here's a link to the Plaza Premium Lounge website.  You and your spouse and up to 2 children under 18 will get in free---children 2 AND under don't pay.  The attendant at the desk may be lenient and not charge anything if you have one more child in the fam'.

You also get free access to Swissport Lounges (formerly known as Servisair Executive Lounges) around  the world, including two in Calgary and one in Montreal.  They also have several lounges in the United Kingdom, as well as ones in Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Netherlands, Portugal, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, and the UAE.

Here's a link to their website for more info.

You get what is known as Cloud 10 benefits, which for the Biz Plat, include waived $25 valet service at Pearson, 15% statement credit on your Pearson parking at the Express Park in Terminal 1 and Daily Park in Terminals 1 & 3, free wifi.  More info here.  

There's also a revesting area--after you pass security, you can peacefully put your luggage back together. Next time, leave your Ming dynasty porcelain and assembled-in-your-luggage-10000 piece jigsaw puzzle at home. ;)  I'll have to look out for it and report back the next time I'm at Pearson. Sounds like kind of a ridiculous benefit.

There's also access to a "Cloud 10 lounge," which I believe I saw last time I was at Pearson--it's in the public area with no food or anything.  Lousy "benefit."

You'll get a 15% discount on Car Care, to get your car detailed while you're jetting off on vacation or business.

You'll get "Pearson Priority Security Lanes" at Terminals 1 & 3 so you can clear security faster.

Here's other benefits with the card:

To clarify, you do NOT get access to the Centurion Lounge at Pearson (sorry--an earlier post stated otherwise) unless you have the AMEX personal platinum.  Also, you have to pay to get into lounges associated with "Priority Pass"--it's a group of  over 600 lounges worldwide--they cover you're $99USD membership fee in the club--but then you still have to fork over $27USD to enter any lounge, and there's no way to pay for a year to get in all the time--only the personal platinum has you covered on that one.  You will have the option of paying for the rest of your family to enter as well ($27USD) even though they don't have a membership with Priority Pass.

Click here even MORE info on the AMEX Biz Plat benefits!