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Presidents’ Day Weekend: California Zephyr Amtrak from Denver to Emeryville (San Francisco)

Good morning everyone.  A few months ago, I wrote about my experience taking the Coast Starlight Amtrak from Seattle down to Los Angeles.  I am very excited for my next (and probably last) “premium” long-distance train ride from Denver to Emeryville (near Oakland and San Francisco) on the California Zephyr Amtrak.  I have a few friends in Denver/Boulder that wanted to experience a “premium” Amtrak experience before the January 24, 2016, Amtrak devaluation, so we planned to go on Presidents’ Day Weekend / Valentine’s Day / NBA All-Star Weekend (shout out to the BBVA NBA Credit Card).

Long before the Amtrak devaluation, Chase lost Amtrak as a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Reward Points on December 7, 2015.  Since I was 99% sure I was going to use the Amtrak Points before the Amtrak devaluation, I transferred 25,000 Chase Ultimate Reward Points to Amtrak Points.  With 25,000 Amtrak Points, you can get a Superliner Bedroom for 1 zone on any long-distance Amtrak route.  Denver is right on the border of zone 1 and zone 2, so you can go in a Superliner Bedroom from Denver to anywhere in the Western Zone or anywhere in the Central Zone for 25,000 Amtrak Points.  Since my friends are in Denver and I live in San Francisco (easy access to Emeryville), we looked at routes between those cities.  After coordinating schedules and checking availability on the Amtrak website, we decided to go from Denver to Emeryville during Presidents’ Day Weekend (only Presidents’ Day on Monday was blacked out, but the weekend was fine).

Amtrak Zone Map

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New AMEX Offers: KLM $200 Off $1,000, Hilton Garden Inn $40 Off $200, a Few Others

Good morning everyone.  It’s been a while since I last reported on AMEX Offers.  The offers have just been so bad for the last few weeks that it wasn’t even worth mentioning.  The streak has been broken with 2 pretty good travel offers.  The first is from KLM, where you can get a $200 statement credit for spending $1,000 or more on KLM flights.  The only cash back portal that has KLM is Ebates (they are offering 1% cash back for KLM flights).  The second offer is from Hilton Garden Inn, where you can get a $40 statement credit after spending $200 or more.  iConsumer is offering 3.2% cash back for Hilton Garden Inn.  This offer is not valid at any other Hilton properties and the total stay charge must be higher than $200 to trigger the statement credit.

KLM AMEX Offer Hilton Garden Inn AMEX Offer

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Which Credit Card

False Alarm: Citi Forward Card is not going to 2x and Citi Business Thank You Card is not Available

(Hat Tip to Travel Codex for the inspiration)

Good morning everyone, happy Super Bowl Sunday.  Before the Big Game kicks off, let’s examine the recent changes to the Citi Thank You Points program terms and conditions.  If you like long, boring posts about Citi credit cards, this post is for you.  I know Travel Codex covered this topic on February 2, but my letter arrived late (a recent change of address is causing all my mail to arrive late).  Anyway, in the letter, Citi announced 4 changes:

  1. Auto-enrollment in Shop with Points at Amazon.com
  2. Pay with Points
  3. Treatment of Points Balances Upon Death
  4. Points Expiration

I will go super in-depth to cover each of these topics and share some interesting findings regarding the Citi Prestige, Citi Premier, Citi Forward, and Citi Business Thank You Card.

Citi Thank You Point Changes Letter

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FlexPerks Visa Signature Card

Upcoming US Bank FlexPerks Visa/AMEX Credit Card Changes to “Grocery”; FlexPoints Purchase & Transfer Limits

Good morning everyone.  After a busy morning of paying credit card bills, I spotted a few changes to the terms on my US Bank FlexPerks Visa Signature Credit Card and US Bank FlexPerks AMEX Credit Card.  The changes to the terms are identical for both credit cards.

On March 1, 2016, US Bank is going to change the 2x bonus category from “grocery” to “grocery stores.”  I’m not sure if this is going to be a big deal, but I assume this change will reduce the number of merchants that qualify as “grocery” (aka Target and other merchants).

US Bank FlexPerks Visa AMEX Terms Change

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2016 Eurotrip Travel and Expense Summary

Good afternoon everyone, here is a summary of my 2 week trip to Europe from January 2016.  Here is my planning and booking process: Hotel & Flight Bookings for LHR, CDG, NCE, MUC, VCE, and DUB.  Here is a visual representation of my intra-European flights.  I also flew from SFO-LAX-LHR on American Airlines and DUB-SFO on Aer Lingus (not pictured).

GCM Eurotrip 2016

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