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Introducing TravelMore – All Your Favorite Travel Blogs In 1 Place

Too Many Blogs

If you are anything like me, the first thing you do at work in the morning is visit your favorite bookmarked travel blogs or open Feedly and check the latest miles / points news.

I’ve literally been doing this daily since 2009 when I got into the miles / points game and now I re-check the blogs a couple times a day.

To me it is the equivalent of checking the New York Times or CNN because I want to make sure I know what is going on and never want to potentially miss a deal.

Keeping this obsession in check used to be pretty easy thanks to Google Reader but after that got shut down, I opted to just return to bookmarking instead of switching over to a new RSS reader like Feedly.

The reason for this was because it was getting really annoying seeing 30+ exact same “BREAKING: 50,000 POINT SIGN UP BONUS” posts from different bloggers talking about the same credit card offer or deal…

On top of that, last month when I went to the annual Boarding Area convention in Las Vegas and was amazed to hear that Boarding Area has grown from 35ish (I think) blogs last year to 74 now! There are so many new Boarding Area bloggers that they created a new sub-section called Prior2Boarding!

While I love BoardingArea and think it is awesome to see so many new faces and voices at Boarding Area, as a reader I feel like it is overwhelming to try and keep up with all the miles / points news.

When you take BoardingArea and throw in First2Board, Saverocity, Upgrd, FlyerTalk, MilePoint, the independent sites like The Points Guy, Million Mile Secrets, MileValue, and then all the smaller guys I don’t even know about, you are easily looking at 100+ blogs to follow daily!

Enter TravelMore

Last week, I started wondering if there was a way to use technology to solve this problem and built a small site for my own enjoyment called TravelMore (http://TravelMo.re).

TravelMore

TravelMore

TravelMore does 3 main things:

1. Aggregates All Your Favorite Blogs In One Place

All the posts from BoardingArea, Prior2Boarding, First2Board, Upgrd, TPG, MMS, MileValue, Doctor of Credit, etc are now in one central place.

If you are a blogger or reader and come across a great post that is not posted, you can manually post the link to share with the community.

2. Categorizes The Posts

My issue with Feedly is that sometimes the short headlines can be misleading.

In the below example, if I was just glancing, I would have no idea what this post is really about.

Miles? Manufactured Spend? Credit Cards?

Sniply-1

Feedly

With TravelMore, now all the posts get categorized with one of the following tags:

  • Airline
  • Hotel
  • Credit Card
  • Manufactured Spend
  • Trip Report
  • Mileage Run
  • Everything Else
Categorization

Categorization

So when you see a headline, you can now easily see what it is about!

Instantly Know The Context

Instantly Know The Context

3. Displays The Top 10 Posts 

The 3rd major feature of TravelMore is that it allows users to upvote the best posts so instead of each of us individually reading 300+ posts a day (of which 90% are similar), you can now just instantly see the Top 10 Posts of the day and it updates in real time.

So for example last night, Trip Sherpa at Upgrd.com posted that the Hyatt Diamond Challenge is going away.

As soon as it happened, someone posted it to TravelMore and readers pushed it to the top. So if you visited TravelMore this AM, you instantly saw that Hyatt had stopped offering Diamond Challenges.

"No More Hyatt Challenge"

“No More Hyatt Challenge”

Additional Features

Outside of the 3 main features, there are some additional features that people might find useful like being able to see all the newest submitted posts (basically a Feedly-like feed).

Also if you are too busy to check the blogs daily, you can subscribe to the daily email digest which will send you the Top 5 posts from the previous day.

Daily Newsletter

Daily Newsletter

I Could Use Your Help / Feedback

I literally built TravelMore overnight to ‘scratch my own itch’ as they say, so if you have any additional features that you think would be useful, please do share and I will work towards implementing them.

I am also manually posting most of the links right now from a RSS feed. I am working towards automation but it is a challenge because there is no way for a computer to auto-categorize a post without first understanding what it is about…

So in the meantime, if you are a reader and find a great post, I encourage you to post it and share it.

If you are a blogger, I also highly recommend self-posting your newest content because then you will automatically be notified of any comments users make.

For example, Points With A Crew posted on TravelMore last night and because he posted it under his account, he was instantly notified when someone commented on his post.

Example from Points With A Crew

Example from Points With A Crew

Recap

While I am happy that there are so many new blogs out there, as a reader I know it can be a bit overwhelming!

Hopefully TravelMore can help some of you more effectively read the the travel blogosphere.

I purposely designed TravelMore to be open ended and allow users to submit posts and upvote the best content. If you find TravelMore remotely useful, please remember to do your part to upvote the best content and be an active part of the community and not just a lurker : )

Keep calm & travel more!

-Parag


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Redeem Award Wallet Referral Points For Real Miles

Redeem Award Wallet Referral Points For Real Miles

Award Wallet is one of the most useful frequent flyer tools out there. I use it on an almost daily basis!

If you don’t have Award Wallet, I highly suggest getting it because it is free and allows you to track almost all of your hotel and airline frequent flyer miles in one central place.

Link To Sign Up

Although Award Wallet is great for tracking all your miles, I personally use it the most for looking up my login information for all the various frequent flyer programs I am enrolled in. Seriously, what is my US Airways number again…?

Anyway over the past few years, I have been telling people to sign up via my link which got me a couple free upgrades. I always give those upgrades away to readers and friends because I don’t need them all.

Well the other day, I noticed under the amount of upgrades I have to give away, there was another line called “referral bonus points”.

"Referral Points?"

“Referral Points?”

I had no idea what that was so I clicked on it and it turns out  you can redeem your referral bonus points for actual air miles!

I went ahead and redeemed my referral points for US Airways miles since they offered the best value.

"Early Christmas!"

“Early Christmas!”

Although 3,000 miles is not much, I will certainly take it and big thanks to Award Wallet for even providing this option because I’d certainly be telling everyone about Award Wallet without these bonus points.

A few days later, the miles were dropped into my account!

"Wahoo!"

“Thanks Award Wallet!”

So if anyone out there has referred users to Award Wallet, check to see if you have any “free miles” you can redeem.

For those of you that have a referral link, feel free to post it in the comments of this post so others can use it to sign up.

Free Award Wallet Upgrade Codes

For those of you that don’t have any referral points, you are still in luck.

Award Wallet gives me free 6 month upgrade codes occasionally when people sign up.

I currently have 43 of them that I’d like to give away.

If you would like one, I have dumped them into a shared Google Doc which can be found here. If the sheet is empty than more than likely they have all been used.

First you need to create an Award Wallet account, which you can do here.

Then just go into the Google spreadsheet and copy the code.

Once you log into Award Wallet, on the left side you will see the below menu.

Click on “Upgrade Using a Coupon” and paste the code.

AwardWallet.com-3

“Upgrade Using a Coupon”

"Paste Code Here"

“Paste Code Here”

If the code is successful, then PLEASE GO BACK INTO THE SPREADSHEET AND MARK THE CODE AS USED!

Recap

After all these years, Award Wallet is still the easiest way to manage your points and miles.

I highly suggest signing up if you don’t already have it. It will make your life so much easier…

-Parag


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How To Liquidate Prepaid Cards Via Amazon Payments

Amazon Payments

Note: Due to quite a few reader emails, this is a repost from 2013 so it may be old news for some of you. If you are trying to meet a $10,000 or $6,000 minimum spend then this is an easy way to liquidate any prepaid gift cards you may have purchased… 

I have talked many times about how awesome Amazon Payments is to “spend money” for free.

At a minimum, you should be able to “spend” $1,000 a month on your credit card and earn 12,000 miles a year for free.

If you have other family members & friends involved, you can easily “spend” $5,000 a month.

Now while you could hypothetically use the same card on all of your family’s Amazon accounts, that is just asking to get shut down…

While you certainly can use Bluebird, if you want to use Amazon then the workaround is to simply use prepaid cards. This way you can still “spend” $5,000 in a month but when you liquidate the prepaid cards on Amazon it won’t show up as all coming from the same credit card.

This is also useful if you have to “spend” a lot of money in a short amount of time. If you have the cash to float, you can simply buy a bunch of prepaid cards to hit your minimum spend and then slowly liquidate them over a few months using Bluebird and Amazon.

Using Amazon

Unfortunately when I first tried liquidating prepaids cards on Amazon, it kept giving me an error, so I thought Amazon knew it was a prepaid card and that was why it was being blocked.

Turns out Amazon was just “pre-authorizing” the cards, so when I tried to move $500 at a time, it probably “pre-authorized” the card for $500+, hence why I got the error.

Through some trial and error I figured out there is an easy way to override Amazon’s “pre-authorization” and liquidate prepaid cards for their full value.

Example

1. Check Your Prepaid Card Balance

For this example I will use a OneVanilla prepaid Visa card but the steps are applicable to any prepaid card that has debit functionality.

The first thing you need to do is check the balance of your prepaid card.

To do this, look on the back of your card. Normally there is a website you can check or a phone number you can call.

In my case, the website is OneVanilla.com.

Once you go to the website, enter the details of your card.

My OneVanilla prepaid card had a whopping $1.71 left on it.

It is also recommended that at this time you input your zip code on OneVanilla because you will need to enter it later on Amazon.

2. Enter Your Card On Amazon Payments

After you have your card balance, head over to Amazon Payments and log-in.

Once you  are logged in, click on Your Account, then Edit My Account Settings, and then Add, Edit, or Delete My Credit Cards.

Account Setting

Click on Add New Card

Manage Credit Cards

Go ahead and enter your card information here.

I use my real information, but it doesn’t really matter because it isn’t actually tied to your prepaid card.

My Account Settings-1

2 IMPORTANT THINGS:

1. Put in the WRONG expiration year. If the expiration is 2021, then put in anything else. This is extremely important or it won’t work properly.

2. Make sure the zip code matches what you have on your prepaid card’s website (if applicable). OneVanilla makes you enter a Zip Code on their site if you want to use the card for online purchases, so make sure the zip codes you enter match, or again it won’t work.

After you do all that, scroll to the bottom and hit Add Card.

Your prepaid card will now show up in your credit card section on Amazon.

Manage Credit Cards-1

Since we entered the credit card expiration date wrong in the step above, we now have to go in and fix it, so click on Edit.

Go ahead and change your expiration date to the correct year and hit update.

My Account Settings-2

Now when you go to your credit cards section, your updated prepaid card should be there.

Manage Credit Cards-2

You can now use your prepaid card like any credit card you have on file.

In my case, I only had $1.71 left on my card, so when I went to send money, I entered $1.71 as the amount I wanted to send.

Recap

Obviously you can use this technique with the $500 OneVanilla prepaid card or AMEX gift cards if you can still find them but use caution because not all of them may work with Bluebird or Amazon.

I am about to sign up for the INK Bold and Citi AA 100,000 mile offer so I will be using this technique to hopefully complete the minimum spend.

Let me know if you have any questions!

-Parag


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