The best of 2019 and TFB in 2020

For this episode I want to look back on 2019, some of the highlights of things I’ve seen and learned and then look ahead to 2020 to help galvanize you and me to try something different and employ some strategies to make travelling more enjoyable and hopefully a little less expensive. Let’s go back and look at some of my favorites of this past year: Best hotel stay:  Aria Gorgeous  Well appointed rooms, as one would expect I like the way the casino feels---it’s very open, fresh looking Maybe the most comfortable bed in Vegas Booked through Chase LHRC  Rate was just above $100 Priority check-in $100 fab credit---used at Carbone $30 breakfast credit If you are interested in adding bank provided booking portals to your travel repertoire in 2020, start off right by checking out a recent post by BW on about the Mastercard Luxury Hotel and Resorts Portfolio. It’s underreported, but can be just as good if not better than FHR and LHRC. Ok everyone, let’s go over these booking portals one more time: Amex = Fine Hotels and Resorts Chase = Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection Mastercard = Luxury Hotel and Resorts Portfolio Are we having fun yet? We’ll get to this again a little later Best meal of 2019 Alinea Pricey---$600 a couple and up A true food “experience” Over a half dozen courses A trip to the kitchen to see the show It’s a world renowned restaurant and while I like to promote budget conscious choices, it’s sometimes fun to splurge Honorable mention: Carbone Wonderful, delicious Italian Calm, pretty atmosphere I had great company on my visit Great Italian food is hard to beat Penne with vodka is a must Best gambling experience: Craps at the Cal A Vegas Vacation meet up Many of the gambling podcast community’s greatest were there Me, of course YCBOT BunBoy 360 Vegas crew Most importantly, great community members as well Dynamite session---I think I tripled up All this despite only 2x odds Best points and miles learning: Status Match Galore MilesTalk has a great rundown Being able to finagle the system in a way that one elite hotel status grants top tier status in a plethora of other networks Caesars Diamond and MLife Gold are great examples Make sure to use your $100 celebration dinner before Jan 31 Also match back to Wyndham in January as well For 2020: Do a credit card audit early in the year Are you using all the benefits of your cards? Annual fees are a “travel membership” you’re paying If you have $1200 in cc annual fees, you’re paying $100 a month for that membership Is it worth it? Do you have benefits that overlap? Is it time to close a card? Be aware of credit score considerations Are cheaper alternatives available? I’ll likely dump the Amex Platinum this year It’s pricey at $550 and I’ve gotten full value out of it in the past, is was always a stretch to do so I’m not confident my travels will justify it this year The two sexy perks for me are Centurion Lounge access and FHR I may be able to supplement that with a cheap Mastercard that allows for access to their luxury hotel program Also I need to recognize that while Centurion Lounges can be nice, I’m rarely impressed by them  I can also just try to show them my Twitter feed to get in---the standard “do you know who I am?” usually works Cards I’m looking at for 2020: Anything in the Capital One family Expanding transfer partners Good sign-on bonuses Spark has 200k after considerable spend Another Amex card to replace Platinum Green seems fun but the perks aren’t a true “value” to me Clear credit doesn’t cover full cost Neither will Away credit Gold is a front runner with the grocery bonus category Travels for 2020: Louisville last weekend in Feb (had to reschedule) April 17 weekend - Biloxi Fanboy Fanfare?  A collection of gamblers and podcasters convening on the Mississippi coast Links: Bougie Miles MasterCard Portal MilesTalk Status Match 

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