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The TBB team took three days off from the blog to go on a retreat involving team building exercises and other weird stuff like that. Sadly, we all got bored and decided to come back refreshed and unleash yet another  TBB post and contribute to world peace and understanding. Actually, not much was going on in the blogosphere over this weekend. Talk about slow, earning 5% cash back and stuff like this and that.

Loyalty Traveler wrote “Hilton HHonors Seasonal Reward Rates Clarified“.  I agree with the reasoning and sentiments expressed here. It is sad to see Hilton HHonors so quickly degenerate to one of the worse loyalty programs. And my family has had some amazing memories in Hilton over the years. Anyways, I will quote LT:
“HHonors Rewards are much more confusing now since there are seasonal rates on Standard Rewards. A category 7 hotel might be 30,000 points or 40,000 points or 50,000 points or 60,000 points per night.” and
“HHonors calls this variability in reward pricing seasonal award shift. I call it seasonal award shit.”

There was lots of unnecessary hype about the Citibank Executive MasterCard offering  75,000 American Airlines miles after $7,500 in spending. The problem: $450 annual fee and not waived. No thanks, I will pass. I need to start burning some of my 1 million plus AA miles, it is just ridiculous!

That was one weird Friday interview at Million Mile Secrets (you can shamelessly google it if you are so curious about it, you can do iiiiiiiiit! ) by yet another beginner who stumbled up upon sites like Extra Pack of Peanuts, MMS and the Points Guy in 2012 (hey, wait a minute, these are all listed in my critically acclaimed “Blogs I Ignore” list). Coincidence?

Question: I tried to redeem Club Carlson points for two nights (for the price of one) for a relative. When I entered his information the website did NOT give me the free night and was told that cardholder must be traveling. I can always book it for me and then add a second guest either online or by calling. I do not think this will be a problem, correct? Any direct experience with this issue please leave me a comment or email me, thank you!


The World’s Tallest Waterslide is opening at the Schlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City this summer. It is 17 stories high, taller than Niagara Falls. Awesome video! The Verrückt means insane in German. Back in 2005 I took my son to the Schlitterbahn water park near San Antonio and we had a great time! Maybe I should take my kids there again for a weekend.

Schlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City

TBB kid Numero Uno posing at Schlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City


The Ancient Ghost City of Ani. By The Atlantic. Wow. Here is the little intro before 27 magnificent photos. I first learned of this place when Yomadic visited it.

Situated on the eastern border of Turkey, across the Akhurian River from Armenia, lies the empty, crumbling site of the once-great metropolis of Ani, known as “the city of a thousand and one churches.” Founded more than 1,600 years ago, Ani was situated on several trade routes, and grew to become a walled city of more than 100,000 residents by the 11th century. In the centuries that followed, Ani and the surrounding region were conquered hundreds of times — Byzantine emperors, Ottoman Turks, Armenians, nomadic Kurds, Georgians, and Russians claimed and reclaimed the area, repeatedly attacking and chasing out residents. By the 1300s, Ani was in steep decline, and it was completely abandoned by the 1700s. Rediscovered and romanticized in the 19th century, the city had a brief moment of fame, only to be closed off by World War I and the later events of the Armenian Genocide that left the region an empty, militarized no-man’s land. The ruins crumbled at the hands of many: looters, vandals, Turks who tried to eliminate Armenian history from the area, clumsy archaeological digs, well-intentioned people who made poor attempts at restoration, and Mother Nature herself. Restrictions on travel to Ani have eased in the past decade, allowing the following photos to be taken.

10 Breathtaking Photos of the Northern Lights, taken at the Isle of Lewis in Scotland. By Bored Daddy.

Isle of Lewis Norhtern Lights photos

Shot by Scottish fish and chip shop owner Colin Cameron, 37.


This Mike Hollingshead, the Michael Jordan of storm chasing, reveals his 16 most incredible storm photos:

Hollingshead storm chaser Nebraska

Nebraska 2009 storm


A map of the internet in 1969:

Internet map 1969

Found here



16 Basic Principles for Avoiding Stupidity. Good short piece, especially for the younger TBB readers!


Hey I want to be famous“. Cutest video on Vine!


Breaking News! We interrupt this blog post to bring you never before seen footage of TBB when he was growing up in the streets of Larisa, Greece. So smooth, so smooth :-)

insane skateboarding

Warming up


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55 comments on “Hilton HHonors, Citibank 75k AA miles credit card, Schlitterbahn Water Park, Ani, Isle of Lewis, Storm chasing, Avoid stupidity, Wanting to be Famous

  1. Think of the frenzy if the AA card had sales link, Think of all the pitches extolling this as the greatest card since well the American Express platinum card. Hilton should just switch to points to dollar system it would be less confusing and get on with what they are trying to do.

  2. About the Club Carlson thing – I was going to do that, but when I called the hotel to add someone, I was told that the person on the reservation had to check in with his/her passport. I don’t know if your reservation is domestic or international, but if that is the policy, international reservations may not work.

    • Oh, that is not good news. But I can sure understand that it could lead to abuse. The reservation is in Paris. I wonder if I try to add the “second” guest with the Club Carlson reservation folks instead of the hotel directly. Thanks for the feedback.
      Did you set a PR?

      • This is pre-free-night benefit, but I accidentally reserved a night at the Radisson Blu in Manchester under my wife’s name, but she was back in the states. They didn’t care, let us checkin early, and gave us a free pot of tea and biscuits while we waited.

      • I suppose you book online with your name, then see if you can add a second guest to the reservation either online or by phone. Tell them you are meeting your brother in Paris and you flight arrives much later than his. I see no problem with that. I’ve done this with Marriott and Hilton several times.

      • Unfortunately, no. Everything was going like clockwork for 17 miles and then I got hit with the stomach flu. Every time I ran, I would have to stop to get sick. :( made for a very long 9 miles! Ended up with 3:52, 32 minutes off the goal. Oh well! Thanks for asking!

        • @ TJ: I am sensing in the era of free night benefits with the Visa…this may not apply anymore.

          @ Grant: Yes of course this is how it usually works. But the cautionary language in the Club Carlson site (in red font!) appears very strict. It comes down to whether the relative feels comfortable about getting into trouble and then not having lodging while there! I would like to see if others have had direct experience with this issue.

          @Charlie: Sorry to hear about that. Still great times! I would never finish a marathon in less than 3 days :-)

  3. 1. There’s a free $5 Walgreens GC for buying 2 Vanilla cards mentioned at FT. That’s minor, but it reminded me that I can use my Citi Dividend for up to $6K in a single year, regardless of quarter or day, get 5% back at drug stories in 1Q, and effectively earn 3.6% back, either in daily spending or in BB loading. Will have to see if my local Walgreens accepts credit for variable Vanilla.

    2. A request of those who write “family” miles and points blogs, such as they are.

    Signing up or hitting a spending threshold or paying an annual fee for a number of hotel credit cards gets me 2 nights/weekend nights/1 night/free nights at various chain hotel brands for two people, usually in a standard room.

    What is the additional cost, if any, for adding a baby (<1 year), toddler (1-2 year), child, to these free nights?

    This issue arose because I was playing around with the free night at IHG, and some properties in Spain (may have been MAD IC) enforce a strict 2-person rule for free night certificates.

    I imagine the issue is either brand-specific or property-specific, but it would be an interesting/worthwhile post to read.

    3. The pictures (and video!) of your son looking blasé or sullen are great.

    • harvson3–in my limited experience, either (a) no charge, or (b) we just show up with kids that aren’t on the reservation and it’s no problem. I’ve never done this abroad, though.

      We booked a room at a Sheraton last year and the site wouldn’t let us book more than 1 or 2 (can’t remember which) per room. We had six people total over two rooms. When we showed up, they saw the crowd and upgraded us to suites, I guess b/c it’s more of a M-F hotel and this was a Saturday.

    • @ harvson3: Walgreens is a much better run company than other convenience/gas station stores. From my experience, no credit cards accepted…it appears to be hard coded in the cash registers. No time to find exceptions to the rule!

      This has been an issue with most European hotels. Websites appear to be “coded” to allow only two per room. Most have specific language about it (“Rules and regulations” blah blah blah). Well, I have done this many times with my family of 4. I book rooms for two. I check in myself or with my son. Wife and daughter go “for a walk” and meet us up later. It has never been a problem with us after we checked in (even after the front desk person sees us all walking in the lobby after only two checked in). This is my experience regarding regular awards and not the Free Night Certs. I can not imagine them being different.

      Son is taking drivers license test tomorrow which is just mind boggling.

      @ Nick: I have always booked for two.

    • Hi Harvson,
      I dealt with this last year and wasn’t able to do TBB’s trick as I was traveling solo with 2 kids, then 6 and 9. I never felt comfortable just chancing it in Europe, esp. traveling solo. Booking over the website, I would book for two to guarantee the room, then contact the social media team (over twitter for Club Carlson and Hyatt in my case last year). By doing it over social media, they were more likely to give me the kids for free (and an upgrade in the case of Radisson Belfast).

      That’s how I would go, especially since you must be a IHG Platinum if you have their CC, right?

      IHG is usually very family friendly, but InterContinental is the least family friendly of all of their brands.

      • Good info, thank you. I don’t think I have ever traveled with both of my kids and not my wife. I may not have survived it :-)

        Any feedback on my Club Carlson 2for1 award deal for a relative? Am I being way too picky here?

        • Thanks for the replies.

          Successfuly bought two $500 Vanilla Vs at Walgreens, bought two granola bar boxes with the $5 Walgreens GC. Used a CC. 495 activation

          Now have a back-up 4% for non-bonused places that don’t take Amex (the vet, etc.).

  4. ” I need to start burning some of my 1 million plus AA miles, it is just ridiculous!”
    They can also be used for Car and Hotel awards.
    Stayed at Hilton Barbados for 11000 AA points/night. Got free breakfast as HH Gold.
    Sure isn’t the same as using points for Hookers and Blow in 1st class.

    • I will take 16 Pointbreaks nights for FREE anytime before parting with $450.
      Especially after my two hour ordeal last night on the phone with AAdvantage who seems determined to ruin my trip to Maui.

        • How about IC Pnom Penh? Mendosa? Or wait for better ones? The common people do give a sh*t about this card. Ok, ok, it is not a big deal of course. I just get a kick out of all these Chase salespeople pushing all the other cards for IHG Rewards points!

          • Let’s compromise. Get the AA Executive card and 75K more AA points, book your Maui trip with Aanytime awards, cancel after one month and don’t pay any fee. And get 80K IHG points and wind up using them for $400 worth of stays at HIXs and a free night each year. Or get lucky and actually have a use for a Pointsbreak stay or two with a family and a schedule. And everybody’s happy!

  5. “Just speculation here, but if he is focused on Delta (I’m deducing that from the title), wouldn’t the cards he promotes the most typically be Amex, since they are the co-branded cards? So he wouldn’t necessarily be actively promoting Chase as much as another might.” -> quotation from brooklynmatt on FT.

    Well done Matt, seems like you know the tricks of assimilation very well and will go far in life.

  6. Rick’s piece today brought back memories of when FTG was a great blog

    Where he would actually do more than the legally bare minimum to warn of the potential risks and pitfalls of the game we play. These warnings generally got lost and replaced with telling newbies to “Open these 12 credit cards and put 23,000 in spend to spend 8 free days in XYZ!!!!”

    If you’ve been around the hobby long enough, you probably remember the pre-affiliate days when Rick couldn’t remind you enough times that your credit is your most important asset. Before today, I couldn’t remember the last time such a warning was made on the blog in an area that more than 1 out of 5000 readers look at

    • I read the piece this morning at Panera drinking my hazelnut coffee and had some good feelings about it, it was like a blast from the past (pre sell out days).

      Going through the blogs today it hit me ;-)

      The bloggers who still have Chase links do NOT mention the IHG 80k offer. TPG had to post the Pointbreaks list and of course push the Ink cards and tell his audience how you can transfer Chase UR points to IHG! Which brings this to mind:

      I have seen DP mention the IHG 80k offer before.I hope he did not get lose his Chase links because of that! That would totally suck! Then again lots of these banking marketing schemes suck by nature :-)

  7. Buzz have you ever seen the movie “The Party” with Peter Sellers, 1968 flick by Blake Edwards. Sellers plays a very bad actor from India that wrecks the filming of a movie, and then instead of getting blacklisted gets invited to a Hollywood party that he then wrecks. Here is the first 5 minutes that I hope will make you pee your pants. Ramsey………………………….

  8. My wife cancelled her Delta Amex two months ago to avoid paying the annual fee. They just sent her an offer for 50K miles + $50 statement credit + annual fee waived first year. I love it!

    • I saw this before Seth posted about it. I thought about having it on TBB but changed my mind. An isolated incident in China. There are lots of weird thing happening in China.

      I don’t think bloggers would get that low…oh wait…

  9. Looks like the commentors at HMT tore BMG a new one. Yet another reason why TPG deserves his place on your blog-$hitlist

    • Yeah, this has been everywhere. I had a draft Buzz post ripping bloggers about the 75k offer that is just not that good but now will have to reevaluate LOL.
      I am very tempted but I got so many AA miles already and I cant’ get AA to get me back from Maui even. So…I need not to jump on it. $10k on my Amex Blue card and made $500 already :)
      I need to SERIOUSLY focus on burning now.
      But first I need to work and finish TBB post and then start packing for my flight to Orlando for a conference…

      • Even at 75K, as long as you met the spending within the first month the fee is refunded if you cancel within the following month. Now that it’s 100K and only $250 fee, it’s worth keeping for a lot more folks.

      • Wow whale hunting and devaluations are making things harder and harder. Today my wife Macys card cash back got devalued by 50% because she doesn’t spend like a whale and they had already devalued the coupons. With better algorithms banks and reward/award are rooting us deal seekers out slowly while rewarding the whales.

        • In the good old days I could schedule flights and guarantee myself bumps! It all started with that as I do not remember the last time I got bumped! They are slowly on to us. They know we are addicted, we are miles/points junkies..we come back for more, more, more :-) We bitch and moan about the next devaluation but we don’t go anywhere really…

          We should start a support group:

          Hi, my name is George and I am a miles addict. Maybe we get a real doc in this hobby to be the authority in miles/points addiction syndrome. 12 steps and all!

  10. Buzz sorry those SkyNazi’s at AA are giving you grief on your Mowi Wowi trip………………that being said I jumped on the AA 100k Plat. offer and did an unanticipated AppOrgy today. Oy Vey its going to be a pain in the Arse to MS all those miles.

    • I wish somebody would buy my firm out so I can do this MS and blogging stuff all day.
      Just kidding.
      At this conference we have an odd crowd: Mitt Romney, Sugar Ray Leonard and Huey Lewis and the News…I thought that this dude has long been dead!

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