If You Enjoy the Credit Card Points Game…

Here’s one you may want to take advantage of relatively soon (offers expire April 24th) – the new AmEx Marriott Bonvoy Card – referral link here (yes, if you apply and get approved through this link, I get a bonus)

I’ll cut to the chase on the why (and realize this is all before the bonus you get following signup):

  • Yes, there’s a $450 annual fee – big downside, but you quickly get that back the following ways:
  • $300 annual Marriott credit. Think of all those vacations, work trips, family holidays, weddings, bar mitzvahs, etc. you need to attend. That by itself reduces the net cost of the card to $150.
  • Reimbursement for TSA Precheck or Global Entry (which includes Precheck) $100 value.
  • Priority Pass Select membership – get into airport lounges without flying elite or paying per visit. Do you know how many $7 bad coffees and $12 bad beers / cocktails I’ve been able to avoid on layovers or delayed flights? Not to mention legit food instead of deep-fried or infinitely shelf-stable chips/crips? And clean bathrooms, spacious outlets, proper air conditioning, gorgeous views, etc.? Basic priority pass costs $99 per year PLUS $27 per visit per person. Under the Amex arrangement you get (last I checked) up to four guests on your own admission.
  • Boingo Wifi membership – free. Normally this runs $14.99 per month. It’s not my preferred way to connect, but to each their own.
  • Free gold status in the marriott / bonvoy / starwood system. This is a hidden gem of upgrades, etc. I’ve been able to upgrade from regular rooms to suites avoiding the need to pay for a 2nd room. Easily covered the annual fee of this card in a single transaction.
  • There’s also perks that are common or of not particular interest to me: no foreign transaction fees, 6 points per dollar spent at Marriott hotels, collision damage waiver on rentals, roadside assistance, travel and bag insurance, etc.
  • On your first anniversary (and every anniversary thereafter you get a free night). So, $900 for two years worth of annual fees=$600 in credits, plus free night (variable value), plus PreCheck/Global Entry, plus lounge access, plus boingo…and we still haven’t gotten to the signup bonus.
  • If you get the signup bonus (by spending $5K in 3 months, and I have all kinds of ways you can do that), you’ll get 100K Marriott Bonvoy points – worth between 2-5 nights in Marriott properties (depending on the fanciness of the hotel). You can also transfer these points on a 3:1 basis to lots of airline programs (so ~33K miles).

So in two years – $900 in fees gets you…$600 in credits, plus between 3 and 6 nights in hotels, lounge access, status with the hotel chain, pre-check/global entry, boingo, etc. If you do any traveling this card pays for itself pretty quickly. Oh that link to apply? Right here (and yes, it’s a referral link, I get a bonus too).

Naturally you should pay off your bill every month – bonuses aren’t worth the interest rate you’ll pay. But you know that, right?

Three things…

This is what I imagine will be the first of a few “political” posts over the coming years, if that’s not of interest to you – okee dokee.  If it is, stay tuned.

First up:

Dear flacks… It’s time to get the torches and pitchforks.  I know we may not like the press when they don’t respond to your pitch (pitch better, seriously) but the removal of our some of our most respected press outlets from the WH briefing room last week is something to get riled up about.  This is your industry, you have a huge stake in this game and if you don’t see it you shouldn’t call yourself a PR pro, turn in your flack card – I’m embarrassed to know you. No, I won’t explain it to you.

But what to do? That I can help with:

  1. Subscribe to your local paper and national news outlets – it helps with the moneyz and it helps circulation numbers so that imbecile in chief can’t claim that our press is failing.  And yes – it’s our press.
  2. Buy some swag – wear your heart on your forehead, chest, mug, pens, anything. Avow public and notoriously that you believe in Real News and Real Facts and Real Press.
  3. Become an Associate Member of the Society of Professional Journalists. You don’t qualify to be a full member (only press does), but this pretty good too.

If you don’t know the SPJ – read here. In short though, “The Society of Professional Journalists is the nation’s most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior.”

The second thing:

Bomb Threats at JCCs

I don’t know what to say. I grew up in JCCs. Nothing needs to be said here, nothing should need to be said here, but it’s everything. It’s people across this nation deciding that the best way to exact revenge upon people – mostly seniors and children – that have never done anything to them is by calling in a fucking bomb threat. And to what end? None – just fear, confusion and doubt.

The worst part – this is the lowest possible form of terrorism (and don’t think it’s not).  This is the violent equivalent of prank calling your neighbor. These wimps are literally calling in their violence.  You really want to show what kind of badass you are – show up at a Krav Maga class and start a fight or tell them you called in a bomb threat to their child’s preschool – I’ll pick you up at the hospital.  I’ll go one better – show up in NYC (I’ll reimburse your flight) and explain to me, eye-to-eye, what anyone has ever done to you that merits anything approaching this. No promises about a hospital pickup after that though.

The last thing…nearly the last straw:

“Sometimes it’s the reverse, to make people, or to make others, look bad,” (also, C’mon – this has Bannon all over it).

In a public forum, our President, implied that member(s) of the Jewish community was calling in the bomb threats to make others look bad. The over 100 bomb threats (link 2 above). All independently came up with this grand idea?

It’s not the lack of taste, the lack of evidence, the part where governement is supposed to protect, or that this is the beginning of an open door to search warrants (or searches without warrants) and investigations that’s bothering me (well, ok, they are…but not the big thing).

What’s bothering me this time though – is that I almost let this one slide. It didn’t surprise me. I tweeted, FB’d, IM’d privately but then I moved on. I didn’t Never Forget.  This is how it starts – directing blame without proof and creating an enemy.

I forgot…that’s what made me angry.

The last few hours in links :) (June 17th, 2013 from 05:11 to 16:18)

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The last few hours in links :) (June 14th, 2013 from 02:50 to 19:35)

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The last few hours in links :) (June 13th, 2013 from 10:02 to 19:05)

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The last few hours in links :) (June 12th, 2013 from 13:15 to 19:47)

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