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Boost your airline mileage with a credit card

April 18th, 2014 No Comments

Airline Credit Card

With summer coming up and vacation on the brain, I thought this would be a great time to mention credit cards can be helpful in helping you boost your mileage.

I would NEVER give you this kind of advice. I’m terrible with anything and everything that has to do with credit cards.  On the other hand my friend Gary Leff, Conde Nast Traveler expert who blogged a MTM 6-part series called “How To Get More Luxury Out of Your Vacation Without Spending A Lot,” is the perfect person to consult on this front.

I ALWAYS check his blog and tweet him questions before I book anything!

The 10 Best Credit Card Signup Bonus Offers Right Now

**Click the title for links to the different cards.

  1. Citi Executive / AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard 100,000 miles after $10,000 spending within 3 months. It’s a $450 annual fee card which comes with American Airlines lounge access, and has a $200 statement credit as well in the first year.
  2. Ink Plus Business Card is a small business cards that both offer 50,000 point signup bonuses after $5,000 spend within 3 months. It has a $0 fee the first year, $95 thereafter.Points transfer to United, British Airways, Korean Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Southwest, Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, IHG Rewards, and Amtrak.
  3. Ink Bold Business Card is nearly identical to the Ink Plus card above, except that it is a charge card (must pay bill in full each month) rather than a credit card (should pay bill in full each month). Like Ink Plus, it has an offer of 50,000 points after $5,000 spend within 3 months and has a $0 fee the first year, $95 thereafter.Both cards earn 5 points per dollar on telecommunications (cable tv, cell phone, internet) and at office supply stores; earns 2 points per dollars at gas stations and hotels; and has no foreign currency transaction fees.
  4. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers a $0 fee the first year ($95 thereafter); 40,000 points after $3000 in spend within 3 months, 5000 additional bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening.It has no foreign currency conversion fees, double points on travel and dining, points transfers to United, Hyatt, Southwest, Amtrak, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Korean Airlines, Marriott, IHG Rewards, and Ritz-Carlton. Probably the best all-around credit card, and with a great signup bonus.This is the card I recommend most to beginners in the hobby for getting started, but it’s one that beginners and experts alike can benefit from.
  5. Citi American Airlines MasterCard: 50,000 bonus points after $3000 spend within 3 months, no fee the first year.
  6. British Airways Visa Signature® Card: 50,000 points after $2000 in purchases within 3 months,If you spend $30,000 on the card in a calendar year you earn a companion certificate so you can redeem miles and a second passenger travels on the award for no additional miles (but does pay the taxes and fuel surcharges). Here’s my full discussion of this offer.British Airways offers family accounts so you can pool your miles. One person could get the card, spend $30,000 on it this year and earn 87,500 points (signup bonus plus 1.25 points per dollar for spending). A second person gets the card, and spends only enough for the 50,000 point bonus. Together they then have 140,000 points that can effectively be used twice for 280,000 points worth of travel as long as they fly together and exclusively on British Airways.
  7. Mercedes-Benz American Express Platinum card: 50,000 American Express Membership Rewards points after $3000 spend within 3 months, $475 annual fee (which also gets you a $200 airline fee credit, $100 credit if you are signing up for Global Entry, and lounge access with American, US Airways (both ending March 22) and Delta — plus a Priority Pass Select card for Alaska Airlines and many international lounges).
  8. United Explorer Card: There’s a 50,000 mile signup bonus with additional miles possible, it is targeted but many have been able to get the card. I love that the card comes with primary collision damage waiver benefits for rental cars. If the offer was generally available to everyone it would be higher up on my list. There’s also a small business version of the card — log into your MileagePlus account and click on the Explorer card for business. Some people click around to other cards and back and see the 50,000 point card offered to them.There’s also a business version of the card that offers 50,000 miles after $2000 spend within 3 months, $0 fee the first year.
  9. Southwest Airlines® Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card: 50,000 points after $2,000 within 3 months, that’s ~ $714 worth of airfare, and it’s even incrementally better than that because you only pay the segment (security) taxes and not the excise taxes you’d be out of pocket for on a paid ticket.
  10. US Airways Mastercard 40,000 points after first purchase, $89 fee (not waived the first year).

Reasonable people can disagree on the ordering — how you will value points depends on how many you already have and what awards you’re after.

(About half of the card links in the list above offer referral credit to Gary if you are approved after applying through the links in this post. I appreciate your support.)

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How to get more luxury out of your vacation without spending a lot: Part 6 of 6 from Gary Leff

October 25th, 2013 No Comments

Gary’s Tip #6: The Citi Bank Hilton Reserve Card 

“Hotel chains treat their frequent guests much better than someone they don’t know well.  The top stayers get suites, late checkout, free breakfast, free internet, and even services like dedicated reservations representatives (I have one with Hyatt, Starwood offers them to members who stay 100 nights per year), and lots of bonus points.  But you don’t have to be an uber-regular to get some of the better treatment.  The big hotel chains have relationships with big banks, and they extend some of the benefits they offer their own elite members to guests who sign up for the credit cards that their best friend banks offer.

The very best deal comes from Hilton and Citibank. The Citi Hilton Reserve Card has a $95 annual fee but gives you Gold status in the HHonors program just for carrying the card.  That means free club lounge access (evening snacks, daily breakfast, at many hotels free cocktails), free internet, and upgrades — probably not to suites, but often to a bigger room or a better room..  As a signup bonus, they’ll give you two free weekend nights at nearly any Hilton family property in the world after you put $2500 of spending on the card.  That’s certainly worth more than the annual fee.”


Many thanks to Gary for sharing 6 great tricks on getting the biggest bang for your buck so we can travel in style!  To read the entire series, click here.  If you travel often, follow his blog for regular tips and current deals.  The man is an expert at discovering loopholes, online mistakes the airlines and hotels have to honor, and how to manipulate the fine print. You can feel free to tweet him questions @GaryLeff.  He’s super sweet so don’t be shy.

(Photo is room at Hilton Waldorf-Astoria Orlando resort via.)

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M&Ms for your mind

June 26th, 2013 No Comments

Mary Rambin Warhol

The New York Times Sunday edition is one of my favorite things in life. Each section feeds a different passion of mine: travel, style, news, tech, sports, social issues, and even relationships (of every variety). Basically, the writers deliver news with an approachable and digestible voice that makes sense in real life. Reading the articles, one by one, is like enjoying each M&M until the bag is empty. (Yes, I eat the WHOLE bag.  “Just a few” doesn’t fly for me.)

I used to throw out “Sunday Review” because, let’s face it, there’s so much you can read before you want to start the day. Now it’s one one of my coveted sections. Everything we talk about on a daily basis, these writers turn on it’s head and take a new approach that blows my mind wide open.

For example, last Sunday, Elizabeth W Dunn and Michael Norton drew me into their piece called “Happier Spending” with Square’s new Wallet feature. (Wallet allows you to store your credit card info in their system and pay with your id at participating retailers.) Little did I know I was embarking on a dialogue about the pains and pleasure of how and when people spend money. Examples that followed: Birchbox, Hershey’s kisses, and vacation prep, that lead me to their finding:

“Paying up front hurts in the moment but enhances every subsequent moment.”

Before I knew it, I was dissecting my own spending-enjoyment experiences. My shoe purchases came to mind first. I hesitate to buy statement shoes, neglect them for months, and then wear them every day 4 months later.

The other articles in Review were just as interesting. Topics covered span the board. You really never know what you’re going to get, but I’m willing to bet you’ll mind will pucker and you’ll devour the whole thing without thinking twice.


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Why not get paid during maternity leave in the US? Sign the government petition, deadline today.

February 27th, 2013 No Comments

Maternity leave statistics


Click here to sign the petition that expires today if you believe women on maternity leave should get paid during their absence.

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Earn real money with your old stuff!

February 27th, 2013 No Comments

Threadflip Mary Rambin

I’m not going to lie, it’s nice to have checks coming in from my resale sites these days.  Clothes, jewelry, and accessories that I NEVER or rarely wear anymore are now making me real money!  The key is to be smart about where you resell your stuff.

My outlets:


  • Consign top designer brand pieces that are like new.  A concierge will come to your house if you have 10 pieces or more to consign or you can ship them in for assessment.
  • You get 60% of selling price. That’s the best I’ve ever seen.
  • For info or to consign, contact Nicole.Fornaro@therealreal.com


  • DIY consignment
  • Post your own picks to their site, describe the item, and name your own price
  • Share your sale across social platforms to promote
  • They provide shipping label already paid for
  • Fee: 20% of sale price
  • Shop my closet here

Local Consignment Stores

  • Take in your stuff and they pull what they want
  • Usually hangs on the racks for 90 days until which time you donate or take back
  • Labels they accept depends on the store.
  • Ones I use: Labels in Atlanta (will take my Zara!), Little Bird in Houston, tons now in Soho NYC I’ve seen


  • Sell all of my old gold and silver jewelry instantly for cash
  • Pay the highest price per ounce I’ve seen
  • Have a party and earn 10% of total they buy
  • Email me Mary@MoreThanMary.com for more details and I can help set you up
  • Have earned THOUSANDS without selling a lot of stuff

Other sites I’ve heard of:


  • Consign any label women’s clothes
  • Fees 38.5% of sale
  • $10 for clean out kit


  • Consign iAnything or video games
  • Fees: 12% first 100, 8% after that, $1-3 for shipping kit


  • fee 15% sale price plus $2.34 closing fee

Collectables, furniture, designer goods:


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When you NEED to buy organic + other money-saving grocery shopping tips

August 30th, 2012 No Comments


Hilary has our answer!

(Is it just me, or are you loving all of her helpful tips too?!  The girl poses these questions before I even get a chance to ask!)

The rule of thumb is:

If the food comes in a shell,

is not porous,

or you can scrub it,

you don’t need to buy organic.

So you need to buy organic: meat, milk, and produce that you can’t scrub (like broccoli, berries, or mushrooms).  The exception is eggs.  We learned that last week.

With fruit, you need to beware of shiny skins.  They are sprayed down and that pretty shine is the build up of chemicals.  If you are willing to scrub this off (lemon juice works well), then you can feel free not to buy organic.  But with something like an apple or cucumber where it’s almost impossible to get it all off, you should choose organic.  As Hil says, “if a bug isn’t going to eat it, neither should you.”

With fruits like pineapples, bananas, melons, avocados etc, since you peel off the skin, you don’t need to buy organic.

Almonds, all nuts actually, come in shells, so any pesticides they were exposed to were removed along with the shell!  Hilary also says if you buy your nuts in the bags instead of boxes you’ll save money.  Check out the unit price next to the total price.

Other things that don’t have to be organic:

Here are more of Hilary’s insights:

Sugar is sugar.  Cane sugar, agave, maple syrup, corn syrup, it all metabolizes pretty much the same, according to Hilary.  I’m not sure I buy this totally, it’s probably the first thing I’ve seriously questioned, but she claims it all hits your blood system the same way. If you read the “turbinado” bag, it is a “cane” product so I suppose she is right.  She has been about everything else :)  Since sugar is cane and the skin is taken off before processing, then you don’t need to buy organic.

It’s cheaper and better for you to buy frozen veggies in a BAG not a BOX.  Make sure they are flash-frozen to preserve the nutritional value.  Veggies in boxes have usually been cooked once and have additional stuff on them for flavor.  When you cook them again, you are killing the reason you are eating them.

The vine attached to the tomato means that the fruit still has a small source of energy and will last longer on your counter top.

As long as the only additional ingredients in canned beans is water and salt, you’re good to go!

If you are cooking with olive oil, which Hilary does not recommend due to its low smoking point, you don’t need to spend the money on “Extra-Virgin.”  The only time you should use olive oil is for dressings and sauteeing over low heat. Hilary suggests cooking with coconut oil, which I have tried, and adds an interesting dept to my dishes.  I use grape seed oil for simple sauteeing.

Vegetables that have been fried are not good for you.  When you cook something until it’s crunchy, you’ve taken away all it’s nutritional value.  Might as well get chips instead!

Speaking of chips, the “crunchy” rule applies as well.  To my shock and disappointment, sweet potato chips are not better for you than regular potato chips.  THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS WHEN BUYING CHIPS: the fat source – what kind of oil was used to make them.  Look for bags with nut oils instead of vegetable or canola.

If you are going to buy pasta, choose the ones with whole grains so you’re actually getting the fiber the box claims you are.  At the end of the day it’s all pasta and there are many better choices for your source of carbs.

Veggies in the deli case are shinier and more expensive, both of which signal a bunch of stuff has been added.  Opt for the veggies at the salad bar for a lower price and fat content.

More to come on how I’ve been executing Hilary’s actual nutrition plan for me.  It ain’t easy, I’ll tell you that much, but totally worth it when I execute her rules properly.

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In which Suze Orman rains on my parade.

April 25th, 2012 2 Comments


Would it kill her to say, “Life is short.  Spend money on what you love.  Buy lots of shoes.  Have fun sister.”  I actually think she might keel over if those words came out of her mouth!

As I can finally see the light at the end of my very long, painful, practically shoeless tunnel of debt, I’m dedicated to being financially responsible.


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5 easy ways you can make airline travel more affordable

April 20th, 2012 3 Comments

Traveling so often, I’ve devised a little system to help make the numerous tickets more affordable.   These tips assume you have already checked Kayak or Yapta for airlines for lowest prices. Here’s what I do:

  1. Fly during non-peak hours.  If you can fly during the middle of the day, the plane will be unfortunately be smaller and older, but the ticket is cheaper, and you’ll have a better chance for an upgrade.
  2. Buy your tickets on Wednesday at least 2 weeks before departure.  A pilot told me once that Wednesday was the day the fares drop and thus far, that’s been true!
  3. Make the actual purchase on the airline’s website.  This way if you mess up on the date or time, you have 24 hours to change it without a fee.
  4. Pay with Bill Me Later This line of credit through your PayPal usually offers you 6 months no interest on individual purchases over $99.  That way you can take the time to pay for each ticket because they have their own deadlines.
  5. Stick with the same airline. Don’t settle for a cheaper ticket and use a random airline. Stick with the same ones and rack up miles.  If you’re not a frequent traveler this doesn’t apply.
  6. Save miles for international travel.  Whether you rack them up through travel or credit cards, don’t use miles domestically.  Gary Leff, the airline saving expert, taught me that.  Read his blog and follow him on twitter @GaryLeff for the best deals before you travel.

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