Lets go on a wild ride of TBB pimping the few credit cards he has for a few points, talk about Uber drivers, learn about the “new” United award rules, the new Seminar focusing on Family Travel, how to get to Africa with AAdvantage miles, the KKR purchase, awesome Internet maps and a ridiculously expensive hotel in Geneva (first thought I had was to kickstart it for you guys because you are just dying to read a review!).


TBB Blog Mission: To Entertain. Educate. Inspire. In That Order

You can support TBB by clicking/forwarding any of our Referral Links and starting your online shopping at our Amazon affiliate link . Or click on the Amazon Banner on the right, thank YOU!


Suddenly, there are a lot of referral deals out there by current users. Frequent Miler wrote a post with all the best referral offer deals out there and graciously offered readers to post their own referral links in the comments. You can do that here too of course. But I prefer if you talk to your mother and mother in law and to all your extended family and direct them to me so I can refer them (assuming you can’t do so!). Full disclosures: My site made $2.27 yesterday…almost covered my large Panera coffee! I wonder if KKR will make me an offer I can not refuse too LOL. In other words, any help is certainly appreciated! <——notice the strategic placement of the exclamation mark, I learned that from Million Mile Secrets woohoo!

So…let me get to the point: The TBB household can refer you to both Personal and Business Starwood SPG Amex cards. You eventually get 30k SPG points and we get 5k SPG points. I can also refer you to Chase Freedom card, you get $200 cash back (20,000 points really) and I get 5,000 points. Amex deal: must be approved by June 30. Chase deal: must refer you by June 20. These are the highest offers. So please hurryyyyyy!

If I refer you to a card and you dare carry a balance I will dispatch my cousin Vinny and he will set you straight about that. Carrying a balance is NOT allowed EVER among TBB readers. If you carry a balance, please leave. Stay away and work your ass off to pay it all off. Then come back. Clear?

Are we seeing the beginning of a new trend of banks trying to distance themselves from the bloggers with these referral offers? I doubt it…but I sure hope so. My eyes can’t take it anymore!

And these prepaid cards keep on coming! New one by Amex called “One VIP”…It’s getting so so crowded!

Just as I was thinking about that the other day…and I have not had my first Uber ride yet! Mile Nerd writes his last Uber post for a while. As I was saying, I was wondering these drivers must be on their phones non stop looking for the next best ride. I am not sure I want to be riding with them…

Apparently things are still wide open with United awards, despite all the sensational blog posts you have read. Drew at Travel is Free said so. Who would you believe? The bloggers who spend their time pumping credit cards?

The DealMommy is organizing another Seminar, this one focusing on Family Travel, very cleverly called FamilyTravelforRealLife. It will be August 23rd at the Hyatt House (hmm, hope it is as good as the one in Charlotte!). Check it out. Apparently, there will be no Vendoming and going to the Maldives discussed here :-)  I sure hope my Blog Reviews are considered before speakers are chosen. #hint

Milenomics wrote some decent tips on booking awards for all three alliances.

Wandering Aramean wrote “A better AAdvantage award to Africa“. While so many other bloggers were busy pumping credit cards all day…Here is something that can actually help somebody save some miles and fuel surcharges using AA miles bypassing Europe. Excellently educational comments too.

KKR to Buy Internet Brands for $1.1 Billion. By Dealbook (HT to Rapid Travel Chai). This does not look good dear readers for the future of our beloved Flyertalk. And can you imagine even more credit card pumping at Frugal Travel Guy than now, OMG! Reader msmcmotown made this comment which I am afraid I agree with: “Flyertalk is an afterthought on this deal. The other IB segments are the focus, although KKR thinks they can increase add revenue in the ‘Home and Travel” segment, which includes FT. If they can’t better monetize the eyeball traffic, they’ll spin it off, or close it down. Pumping of CC on the big blogs will look like nothing compared to what we’ll soon see on FT–and it won’t just be cards! Fees for premium services or functions have been discussed. We’ll see increased mining and sales of user data across all the IB brands, including FT.  One thing will soon be certain: RIP Flyertalk as we know it.”


23 scenic natural areas to explore before you die. By Matador Network.

Guilin and Lijiang River National Park (China)

Guilin and Lijiang River National Park (China)

40 maps that explain the internet. By Vox. I love this!

freedon on the net map

I don’t love this. Let Freedom ring proudly!


Some of the most ridiculously expensive things ever. By THE CHIVE. Wow, so ridiculous!

ridiculous expensive hotel night President Wilson Geneva

Hotel Room: Royal Penthouse Suite, Hotel President Wilson in Geneva. Price: $65,000 per night. I am going Kickstartering, please donate :-)


Spooky cities: the world’s strangest underground cities in pictures. By The Guardian.

Jurong Rock Caverns Singapore


New Ink Chase Bold is here. Very first charge on it was ?…quiz time.

Always honored to get a link to my Epic rant earlier this week at Mileage Update. I have given up on getting links from any blogs in the Ignore list LOL.

Howie’s latest post titled “If you could only have one card” almost left me ^**%$#&$@. “Congrats” Frequent Miler, look at what you are surrounded with. :-)


left, top, right. Don’t miss the credit card “tool” on the very top!  KKR will “improve it”…yikes!


Crazy day on Thursday. Ford came out earlier this week with this amazing offer for the 2014 Fusion Energi hybrid. Started calling around and pretty much they were all gone. Managed to find a white one, made the deal on a two year lease and we picked it up around 8 pm. Stylish car and gets 43 miles per gallon (and 100 miles per gallon on battery!). Son gets the 185k miles on it Toyota Camry as it appears he will keep the 4.0 GPA. No more juggling cards around, hooray! First time leasing a car. That was weird as I like to drive them to the ground…

The Chicago Seminars are still not sold out, just fyi. I find it sadly hilarious that the first six speakers listed are in (or associated with) the TBB Ignore Blog list!

Personal Finance: “Millionaires’ top 5 investing mistakes“. Not too surprisingly, these are the most common mistakes I see in my day job.

I want the Spurs to beat Miami. For the record.

And I leave you with this disturbing picture…

wtf gif

TBB is not related to this person in any shape or form or…, well, everything!)


Check out my updated blog lists: Blogs I Love, Blogs I Like, Blogs I Ignore

Thank you for reading and supporting my blog!


Please pass my blog link to your friends and family if you think they will enjoy it too.




55 comments on “Credit Card Referral Offers, Uber, United rules, Family Travel Seminar, AAdvantage to Africa, KKR buying Internet Brands, Internet Maps, Geneva’s President Wilson Hotel

      • In SF, an Uber driver hit a family and killed a little girl while he was searching for a fare. Uber took the moral high road here and claimed no responsibility since ‘drivers without fares are not Uber drivers.” Needless to say, lawsuits are in process.

  1. There are a lot of things about Drew I disagree with, especially his ill advised news letters that can cause real damage for newbies. On the other hand, the way he claws thru and deciphers routing rule changes is just amazing. His synopsis at the end is just a ‘cherry on top’

  2. Congrats on your son. I used to get a new car every 2 years, now I drive them in the ground. My latest project has 252k and simply refuses to break. Yup, it’s a Subaru. It is nice having gone 10 years without a car or lease payment. Too bad I didn’t invest in Tesla with that extra cash

    • I have been like this up to this point. I like to drive them at least 10 years. Never had a car payment actually! So, this is kind of new to us but I think it fits our driving style and needs right now. Son gets the beat up Camry that refuses to die (2001 model!), wife drives the Fusion once or twice a week car pool to work to Dearborn from Ann Arbor then it is all around town driving. After two years we reevaluate. It was one of those deals for Ford employees that it was too hard to believe or refuse. FULLY Loaded SE model. $269 per month for 12k miles per year for 2 years, no money down. We can easily live with this payment for 2 years I think. Heck, we are saving $453 per month on health & dental insurance (for FAR BETTER policies) for moving to Ford employee status. I just hope the Camry lasts longer.Leaning towards investing more in it, it is timing belt time…200k should be easy, maybe shoot for 250k miles

  3. Thanks for the shout out. I’m working hard to present speakers that are not as well known but whose either point of view of knowledge base I like.

    And DM me for a funny story that is NOT for TBB on this topic.

    • Looking good as far as I can tell. Looking for a family trip to Greece in late August but have no time to look for awards for 4 :-)

      As Northwest Platinum I almost never had any issues booking for 4. Even after Delta came aboard, the trick was to wait until the last moment to book awards. Now even that is not viable. So I wing it…when I have time….which is almost never LOL.

      Feel free to tell me the story anytime. I like funny stories a lot

  4. IB was owned by two equity firms before that, H&F and JMI. The bought it for 640MM and just sold it for 1.1B. The feared carving was already done by the previous owner, the former IB had 12 or so categories, now its just 4. The yahoo version of the press release mentions FT as one of the assets. The Autodata Solutions segment has absolutely nothing to do with vbulletin based forums for example… I’m sure it generates more cash too, but needs a lot of TLC. FT is a cash cow by page impressions alone, don’t get misled by the CC pumping, that ship has sailed and the cash CC companies will invest into that kind of customer acquisition is bound to dry in the next year.

    Based on the Amex and Chase clampdown this year I guesstimate Barclays and co winding down the pumping incentives pdq.

    • I think you are right Oliver. It is not like FT was owned by some charity previously and any high volume site like that is going to make it’s money from ads not affiliate income. And yes I think the banks will ease off on the affiliate channels though it is clearly a steady source of referrals for them. However I would expect to see the Amex affect of narrowing down the list of approved sources to a few top producers and squeezing what they need to pay them. Shame really, couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of people… LOL

    • Thanks for your insights Oliver.

      I think KKR is a little different animal among all these PE firms. Ruthless guys and not with the best business acumen either. So, I expect to see more hands on “executions” to be carried out. I also expect to see the FTG site fully covered by credit cards from its present 85% of it…just kidding…well, not really :-)

      I always thought that the cc affiliate pumping ways are just not sustainable. At the same time, they are still on. I think that goes to show you the amazingly sad state of the US consumers who just easily fall for marketing gimmicks and their pathetic ways of handling money and debt that has allowed this pumping to go on. It must be profitable for the banks (of course we know it is super profitable for the bloggers/pumpers) to gouge the ones who screw up and end up paying for the right of the more responsible ones in this hobby to travel the world for free :-)

      Full disclosure: TBB made $0.88 from Amazon yesterday. I think I am resigned to the fact that there will be no offer from KKR in the future…or ever! #sadface

      To the few people who allowed me to refer to SPG/Freedom cards, I like you and thank you! If I only pimped that several times a day…cough

      • ‘I think KKR is a little different animal among all these PE firms. Ruthless guys and not with the best business acumen either. So, I expect to see more hands on “executions” to be carried out.’

        I doubt they will dig down into FT and FTG to clean up anything. Its not like they are spending millions without any returns: its semi-amateur writing on FTG & the Gate that doesn’t cost much and FT generates content and polices itself for free, all it consumes is server space, some bandwith and electricity. If the community manager would ask for a million a month to spend on creating content and it would not return the investment with a serious profit any manager would chew him/her up, especially if its owned by private equity.

        • Great points Oliver, thanks as always. I have been really surprised FT kept most of the original feel/mystique/sense of community since Randy sold it. Hope it continues…
          The moderators, overall, doing a great job. Wish you wee a little more hands off but I understand ;-)

      • The “Tricks and Traps” of CCs have been covered quite well by numerous sources and very clearly explained by Elizabeth Warren. The sweet spot for CC companies are folks on the financially edge and struggling.
        I doubt FTG, TPG, VFTW, OMAAT etc capture that audience. That’s why I’m surprised this has been going on for so long.

        • You’re right. It doesn’t make any sense. While the banks certainly make money off transaction fees, the real pile of gold is interest on balances. That is not our community. I would think the banks would also do annual reviews of affiliates based on how much money those cards made for them. If the majority do some MS to get the bonus, put the card in the sock drawer and cancel after a year, where is the benefit to the bank?

          • The benefit is that they do not micromanage the way you and many others expect them to. As long as the top banks still make a killing, they will tolerate a tiny–I repeat–tiny percentage of gamers who still bring to the table one asset others don’t, which is low default/delinquency risk.

            What is reasonable to expect in improved economy is lesser sign up bonuses. But that’s always been the case.

            • Yeah, at the end of the day, this segment of quirky points obsessed addicts is a tiny segment of the market. The BIG money is in targeting the newbies, get them interested, hold their attention (using pics of FC flat beds, champagnes, caviar, suites, lavatories with showers, blah blah) and then serve them an Ink Bold or an SPG card. A tiny percentage will get it and stick with it and do it right (always paying off balances). Some will screw up and the banks will milk them. Then more newbies are hit…and on it goes. The current system allows the banks to keep doing this (higher bonuses and paying bloggers to sell product). Nowhere else this system exists. We love it of course but there is a very high societal cost that is being paid and that really bothers me. The pumper sellers do not give a shit, they just count the money and are prowling for more newbies to hit. And on and on we go…

              Bonuses are not getting higher, more devaluations are coming, the road to full revenue based is ahead within a few years, banks are not paying more for apps and looking to leave the affiliate ranks (Amex). Still value in it, YES! But it sure is not getting any easier for the mile junkies.

              The luxury aspect of the game is ending too. GL is smart, notice the latest tiny shift to “love flying economy” lol.

              • Yeah, it’s funny how Gary has seen the light. :) Is Lucky going to follow up? :) I’m flying coach to Brazil the day after tomorrow, and couldn’t be more excited!

                To play a devil’s advocate, which wouldn’t be the first time, Gary has an excellent write up today on booking AA.

  5. Oh well … the [Boston Garden] Buxx card won’t work as a valid debit card for online child care center payments. That suxx…

    Drew’s article about United changes harkens back – though he won’t say so explicitly – to a clash between Gary and Seth/WA. Gary reported UA route changes based on overblown squawking by the usually overblown MatthewLAX (the same guy who got kicked off for talking back to UA flight attendants en route to IST, then raised a huge stink about it). Seth noted, in his rather blunt style, that the reports were just rumors rather than facts. Gary hemmed and hawed. If you read the original FT thread, many contributors were reporting that they could still book awards, while others were suddenly discovering that the multi-city/one-way engine is easier to search than the round-trip engine (a longstanding situation) and others were busy casting the same tired insults on Jeff Smisek. Seth was right; Gary was wrong, and should learn not to trust silly sources.

    I like Seth. He’s rough around the edges because he doesn’t suffer fools and he seeks info with a “just the facts, ma’am” nose.

    • Hmm…. Seth also likes to provoke, antagonise and gets very aggressive at times, especially when he knows he is right ;)

      • I finally dropped VFTW from my reading list too. I never really learned anything, but kept a series of blogs open “just in case” one had something others didn’t (rarely the case). His pretentiousness finally got to me (wrongly used median vs. average just to sound technical, for example, and then used the word “concort” in his comment reply to mine, which is only found in urbandictionary.com).

        I definitely find Saverocity and many of the smaller blogs mentioned here more useful. The best of the BA blogs, FrequentMiler, has also gotten dull and uninformative (more talk about referring people, sigh), which is truly a shame.

        • I was looking for a word for a while but was not coming to me. I think Smith nailed it:


          Anyway, I was busy reading how “fun” it is to fly economy again…

          and then, about the Virgin Atlantic…pajamas LOL

          I think BA is becoming a like a glass bubble of blogs….so many are losing sense of what is going on on the ground with us the commoners lol.

          Seth has never made a comment in my blog…#sadface
          Maybe I should take off WA off my Like list to get his attention…just kidding.

  6. TBB: how can you call out others for pumping/pimping credit cards, when you are doing the same for SPG? Seems a bit hypocritical,

  7. On Milenerd’s Uber driver assessment, I cannot agree more. 1st Uber trip the driver jumped a concrete road divider and then later went down the wrong way of a one way street while looking at his phone. Next Uber trip my wife and I were holding on for dear life as Dale Earnheardt Jr drove us to SNA (I felt safer in cabs in Cairo). 3rd trip request driver picked someone else up at terminal and left us hanging. Uber blows IMHO………………………..on hold right now with BA Avios for 45 minutes and counting, I need an unlimited phone plan!

    • Yep on Uber. With all these new taxi like services, it won’t be long before we have an accident between an Uber and a Lyft driver. I assure you smart phones will be nearby lol.

      I dread the day I have to call BA for an award. I remember pre Avios massacre, it wasnt’ too bad booking my South America award on LAN.

      Keep the faith!

  8. MMS has moved on from having Emily modeling Chase cards to having her model Chase brochures as well

    Anyone else pissed off at the National Donut Institute for making National Donut Day the first Friday of June?

    Why would anyone want a free donut from Krispy Kreme today when they can get 3.21 points if they pay for it instead?

    • Lol, you are on, still laughing.

      I had no idea MMS can get lower, just keep sinking (and I bet you income probably going up).

      Will you be attending his presentation in Chicago Steve? May have a secret tip LOL!

  9. If FT goes down the crapper, it wouldn’t be the end of the world for most of us

    Truth is, I would love for any excuse to move full time from FT to the Saverocity forums anyways. If the true gamers from FT move there as well, I see no reason it can’t be everything that MilePoint wasn’t, the same way the Saverocity blogs turned out to be everything the First2Board wasn’t

  10. Middle.

    Go Spurs!

    While FT isn’t perfect, the sheer volume of datapoints will be difficult to replace if/when anything happens to it.

    • Yeah, I agree. But you know it took a while for FT to get to that volume. If I only had time to visit the Saverocity and Travel Codex forums….Time will tell.

      The Milepoint forums shows how hard it is to crack that huge first mover and volume of data already in place.

      Spurs yes yes yes. I can’t stand to see slick hair Riley, the Decision LeCrampon, hideous fashion pseudo model Wade, photobombing Bosch, traitor Allen and the other Miami Beach players win another one. NO NO NO, if there is a God :-)

  11. I’m excited to be speaking at Family Travel For Real Life! It is aiming to be a great day!

    As for your post, I haven’t had a car payment forever either. It must be weird to have a payment all of a sudden. It does seem like a good deal though.

    Finally, I am loving this Amtrak trip! We are having a great time. Thanks again for the great review!

    • I think you are a great fit for this seminar, all the best with it!

      Yeah, having a payment for the first time is weird. At least I can get some miles using this Evolve thingie before it devolves to oblivion!

      Hope your Amtrak experience is as good as ours. The Starlight ride is great.

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