The irritation of having leftover foreign currency

Posted by: Jason

I try to use credit cards on trips whenever possible. It’s a lot simpler for me and I then can avoid returning home with spare unused money. While this is possible in some countries, others still rely heavily on cash rather than card. When I do have extra cash, I just dump it on the hotel cashier as I’m leaving the country.

I traveled to Norway in the 90s and had a 50 Norwegian kronor bill left over that features Aasmund Olavsson Vinje on the front.

Image courtesy of Leftovercurrency.com

Image courtesy of Leftovercurrency.com

This bill has been sitting in a file folder for over ten years and I was finally excited about the prospects of dumping it due to a recent trip to Norway.

As I was at the airport leaving Norway, I walked into a shop to buy a couple of candy bars and finally rid myself of this note.

I handed the money to the cashier and you would have thought I had handed her Monopoly money. She stared at it, mumbled something to her coworker, and then handed it back to me saying “Sir, this currency is no longer valid, you will need to visit a bank.”

I must admit that I haven’t been following the latest development in Norwegian kroner banknotes but a quick search to Wikipedia indicates that my Aasmung Vinje bill was discontinued in 1999.

I walked out of the store crestfallen and tried to find a bank at the airport but couldn’t and had to board my flight. The persky 50 kroner relic went back into my wallet and headed back to the United States.

So what are my options now? I’m not even sure if this bank note is even valid in order to be exchanged anymore. I could always try to sell it on Ebay (this auction sold for $4.95!)

I’ll probably end up putting it back into the file folder to be forgotten for another decade until I can devise another way to spend this money.

Get $20 Amazon credit free by using Membership Rewards points

Posted by: Jason

You can earn $20 in savings with Amazon simply by linking your Membership Rewards account and then using some points to pay for an order by November 9, 2014.

First you will need to link your eligible American Express card to your Amazon.com account at this link.

Second, add product(s) sold and shipped by Amazon to your cart.

Third, enter promo code SWP20AMR in the promotional code box on the checkout page and pay at least a portion of the order with Membership Rewards points.

Lastly, the $20 savings will be shown on the final page.

Did you receive your mystery check from American Express yet?

Posted by: Jason

Has anyone else receive an unexpected check in the mail from American Express? My wife was surprised to open an envelope this weekend and see a $200 check from American Express. She was expecting a card offer or advertisement. The letter said the enclosed check was “reimbursement for the value of Starwood Starpoints that we were unable to apply to your account at the time you earned them.”

Free cash

Free cash

A few people on Flyertalk are speculating it might be a scam. It concerned people that the checks were an even dollar amount. How can everyone who received a check end up with an even dollar amount? Also, another red flag to some-the checks were issued by what some consider a competitor to American Express.

My wife did not think it was a scam, but she called American Express anyway, and they indeed confirmed that it is legitimate. She made sure to use the phone number on the back of the physical American Express card and not any phone numbers included in the letter. She asked them how they calculate the dollar amount for each customer. The agent said he doesn’t know how they did the calculations and he thinks it was Starwood who determined this. It seems the American Express agents are not sure of the specifics. They did say the discrepancy came from an annual audit.

For my wife, this reimbursement of points awarded was on a Starwood American Express account that was cancelled in 2011.

Personally I also had my own Starwood American Express account but have not receive a check in the mail though it was open during that same time period.

Have any of you received this same mystery check in conjunction with the Starwood American Express card?

Changes coming to the Starbucks Rewards program?

Posted by: Jason

I am a newly minted Gold member of the Starbucks Rewards program as I chronicled in this post. I earned Gold status by earning 30 stars. A star is earned for each transaction regardless of the dollar amount which makes it a pretty easy way to amass stars.

This morning I received an email from Starbucks asking if I would like to participate in a survey regarding the Starbucks Rewards program. Right away they inferred that they’re testing ideas on changing the Starbucks Rewards program.

Changes coming to the Starbucks Rewards program?

Changes coming to the Starbucks Rewards program?

It’s apparent from the wording on some of the questions that they’re testing the idea of changing the way you earn stars from how much you spend rather than the number of purchases. This question was asked numerous times in different ways.

Changing of the Stars?

Changing of the Stars?

They then gave different scenarios involving which earning style would be most beneficial.

Pick your poison

Pick your poison

It was also interesting that there were quite a few questions asking if there should be no membership levels so that it would be equitable to all. That seems to defeat the purpose of a loyalty program, to have higher status and therefore bragging rights?

starbucks4

In my survey I chose all of the options that included stars based on purchases rather than dollar amount but it seems almost inevitable that Starbucks will eventually change their Reward program to be less lucrative.

The silver lining in taking the survey was that I was given a $5 egift card for finishing it so if you received the survey in your emails, make sure and take it.

Free $5 - score!

Free $5 – score!

7,500 American Airlines miles for two Radisson stays

Posted by: Jason

Club Carlson is running a promotion where you can earn 7,500 American Airlines miles for two Radisson hotel stays. You must register by October 15th and complete two Eligible Stays by December 15, 2004.

AA_PromoTakeOffwithMoreMiles_header_890x225

From the terms and conditions: “An “Eligible Stay” for purposes of this Offer is a stay of one or more consecutive nights at a Participating Property, at a rate eligible for Gold Points®.”

thanks to reader Sice for the tip.

I’ve earned Starbucks Gold level and I’m not sure why

Posted by: Jason

I’m not a coffee drinker and therefore have never really paid any attention to Starbucks. At airports there is always a pretty lengthy line at Starbucks in the morning so I can appreciate people that do enjoy coffee and especially Starbucks coffee.

I knew that Starbucks had a loyalty program but had no real reason to ever join it until Gary posted some free Starbucks codes that he had seen on Dans Deals. I figured that it can never hurt to sign up for a lot of loyalty programs especially when these programs will reward you with something free in your birthday month.

Gary then posted a deal to get ten more free stars (five of which worked for me) and so I was now up to 20 stars without actually purchasing anything.

Incredibly, there were opportunities to pick up two more free stars and now being at 22 stars, Gold level was within reach though logically it makes no sense but at this point I was obsessed with hitting Gold level.

At Gold level, you receive:

* Free Drink or Food Reward Ever 12 Stars
* Personalized Gold Card
* Exclusive Offers Just for You
* A free drink or treat reward and 15% off StarbucksStore.com for your birthday
* Free Refills on Brewed or Iced Coffee and Tea

There’s something about hitting a new loyalty level regardless of the program. Similar to the time when I hit Staples Premier level by buying Free After Rebate items. I received a shiny new card in the mail.

Back to Starbucks – Groupon had a $10 gift card for $5 deal which I purchased and now had $10 to try and earn some stars so I purchased a hot chocolate one day and then some baked goods another day and was slowly inching up towards Gold status.

I then stumbled upon a perpetual Star creating machine that someone shared with me that is simple and brilliant. I won’t share it in this post so as not to kill it, but I will private message you via Twitter if you want to know – @questformiles

Therefore I earned the last 6 stars and just earned Gold status!

Starbucks Gold Status

Starbucks Gold Status

I’m very proud of adding Starbucks Gold status to my arsenal of various loyalty programs though as I’ve mentioned not sure why I even bothered!

A Stormtrooper fan’s passport photo

Posted by: Jason

The Star Wars movies are the fifth highest grossing movie series of all time. The franchise has created two different trilogies with filming of the seventh movie happening now.

Scores of fans both young and old find different ways to show their love for the movie. Some fans have set up the 501st Legion which consist of people who wear armor of Imperial Stormtroopers, bounty hunters, Clone Troopers, Sith Lords amongst others. There are over 6,500 people that belong to this Legion with new people being added daily.

Stormtroopers teaming up with Jared from Subway. Photo courtest of 501st.com

Stormtroopers teaming up with Jared from Subway. Photo courtesy of 501st.com

With the ALS ice bucket challenge going on, a Legion member would of course do it in full Stromtrooper gear. You can see the video below and others at his Youtube channel.

So it should come as no surprise then when it’s time to get your passport photo done, you would do it in Stormtrooper gear in perhaps the most awesome passport photo ever.

Photo used by permission of passport holder

Photo used by permission of passport holder

This Stormtrooper fan’s life has been influenced so much by Star Wars that he now works in the film industry. May the force be with you in your travels – always!

San Antonio SeaWorld all you can eat plus admission $45

Posted by: Jason

SeaWorld San Antonio is offering a single admission ticket plus all you can eat food at the park for $45.00. To redeem this deal, go the United San Antonio Credit Union page, and click on “order online” for SeaWorld tickets.

seaworld

You will then have the option to buy Adult park tickets plus all you can eat for $45, and children tickets plus all you can eat for $35. The All Day Dining voucher will be redeemed for a wristband that will allow you to get one entree, one side item or dessert, and one soda each time through the line.

The tickets must be redeemed by January 3, 2015.

Thanks to reader John for the tip.

The ISIS mobile wallet has a branding problem

Posted by: Jason

The ISIS mobile wallet created in conjunction with AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile in 2010 has a serious branding problem. It coincidentally has the same name as the radical Islamic militant group that is threatening to blow up a US city and recently filmed the beheading of a US journalist (link does not show the video).

The ISIS mobile wallet has been trying to gain traction in the crowded mobile payment sector by offering promotions such as free $50 for signing up for Serve via the ISIS mobile app or receiving a free small Jamba Juice smoothie every time you pay with ISIS to name a few.

Despite all of their work to establish the ISIS mobile wallet brand, a simple google search currently shows the ISIS name results associated with the radical group rather than the mobile wallet.

ISIS Google Search results

ISIS Google Search results

Therefore ISIS mobile wallet really has no choice but to disassociate and rebrand itself which they indeed announced last month. As of today, however, they have still not announced a new name for the platform.

The Le Meridien resolution

Posted by: Jason

Alas, there was no over the water bungalow awaiting me at check in, even as a Delta Platinum member. But I am known as Mr Emergency Air France according to the TV and the room is lovely.

IMG_1137.JPG

As a consolation prize, this was our comped lunch at the restaurant.

IMG_1138.JPG

Will Delta Platinum status equate to an over the water bungalow?

Posted by: Jason

I posted how my flight back from Tahiti has been delayed due to a fuel issue. After waiting for two hours, they announced that our flight had been cancelled and instructed us to go see a representative in order to get
overnight accommodations.

There were a lot of people in front of me and they were all being told that they would be put up at the Radisson.

My initial thought was that we were all going to be put up in a local hotel so the Radisson seemed like a fine choice.

as I handed the representative my boarding pass, she mentioned “platinum” to her co worker along with some words in French and pulled out a separate sheet.

“Mr. Milesquest, you will be staying at Le Meridien”

I nodded my head in agreement, hiding my joy and headed to the luggage carousel to pick up my bags.

I’m sitting on the bus right now waiting for all passengers to get on. Each person getting on this bus has huge grins on their faces.

So the question is – when we arrive to Le Meridien, will Platinum status get me an over the water bungalow???

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