How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall . . . on the Cheap?

$25 gift card with ticket purchase
$25 e-gift card with when you pay with Masterpass

The old Carnegie Hall joke is a cliché, but here’s a deal that will get you in to concerts there for as little as $5.

Carnegie Hall has partnered with Masterpass to offer concert-goers a $25 MasterCard eGift card when purchasing a ticket valued at $30 or more.

You need to purchase the tickets online at carneigiehall.org, and checkout with Masterpass.

The offer is good on any “Carnegie Hall Presents” performance ticket of $30 or more.  There are lots of concerts to choose from as shown in the listing of upcoming events!

Upcoming "Carnegie Hall Presents" concerts
December 2016 “Carnegie Hall Presents” concerts

Please note that this offer is limited to one Mastercard eGift card per person, per performance.  The deal is good for purchases through June 30, 2017.

Masterpass is a digital wallet that can be used to make purchases online and in-store. You can fund it with a credit or a debit card.

I don’t have any experience with this form of payment.  If you do, please share in the comments the pros and cons.

Other Ways to Save on Tickets to Carnegie Hall

Carnegie Hall offers many other options for discount tickets.  There are:

  • $10 tickets for  for students
  • $20 tickets for young adults
  • 30 percent discounts for members of the military and the New York Police Deparment.

In addition, there are public rush tickets for $10 — even for sold out concerts — and you can often find obstructed view seats for half price.

What’s more, Bank of America cardholders receive ten percent off the full ticket price when using their card and promotional code BAC24503.

Nice Holiday Parking Deal at Washington Dulles International Airport

Garage Parking for $12/day in December 2016
Park in Garage 1 at IAD for $12/day during December

Flying out of Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) this coming month?

The airport is offering close-in garage parking for only $12 per day, a $5 discount off the regular rate.

Return home to covered parking now through December 31, 2016 via a special coupon offer!

The regular rate for parking in Garage 1 — near the terminal — is $17 a day.

Economy parking in the remote lots is $10 per day, so this a a nice deal!

Use this link to print a personalized coupon which you must present to the cashier when exiting the garage.

The coupon is valid for a single transaction and may not be combined with other offers.

An Easy Way Earn a Free Trip Just by Shopping for Groceries

Staples Now Sells Safeway Gift Cards
Staples Now Sells Safeway Gift Cards

According to the USDA, an average family of four spends upwards of $1000 per month on groceries.

What if you could save five percent of that cost?

Better yet, what if you could earn 60,000 frequent flyer miles each year just from your grocery spending?

Since I’ve never seen this mentioned elsewhere, I wanted point out that Staples.com is now selling Safeway gift cards.

If you purchase Safeway gift cards with an small business credit card that pays five times points on office supply store purchases, such as a Chase Ink card, you can accumulate five percent cash back or five times points for travel.

Staples.com sells two types of Safeway gift cards in several denominations up to $200 — emailed cards, and actual plastic gift cards.  There is a mailing fee of $2.00 per card for the plastic version.

I have been buying these cards for sometime, and have only encountered two Safeway cashiers that know how to use the emailed version of the gift cards.  So if you opt for the paper gift cards, be prepared to endure the wrath of shoppers standing in line behind you!

Did you know about this deal before reading this post?

Fee Free Visa Gift Cards at AAA Mid-Atlantic

Fee Free Visa Gift Cards at AAA Mid-Atlantic
Fee Free Visa Gift Cards

Twice a year,in June and DecemberAAA MidAtlantic members can buy Visa gift cards fee free in AAA stores.

The promotion is back this year from November 25 – December 25, 2016.  You can purchase these gift cards with a credit card, and can load up to $500 per card.  Typically, AAA limits purchases to two cards per member.  The cards are issued by MetaBank®, and you can set a pin.

Please note that there is a  monthly inactivity fee of $2.95 after 12 consecutive months of inactivity.

Five Ways to Save Big on a Whole Foods Thanksgiving Dinner

Table Decorations by Willams-Sonoma
Table Decorations by Willams-Sonoma

Check your calendar.  Thanksgiving is just a week away!  If you are hosting this year, it is seriously time to start planning your menu!

Thanksgiving is a huge deal in our family.  We traditionally have:

  • the meal before the meal;
  • the meal; and
  • the meal after the meal.

As our family celebration has grown to over twenty people (think two turkeys) it is sometimes practical to bring in prepared food.  After all, the point of the holiday is to spend time with friends and family, not to be stuck in the kitchen all day.

When Whole Foods Market invited me a few other bloggers to sample their traditional Thanksgiving meal and their Top 10 Holiday Wines, I was intrigued.

Does the Food Measure Up to Grandma’s Standards?

Thanksgiving Dinner from Whole Foods Market
Thanksgiving Dinner from Whole Foods Market

Actually, yes!

The turkey was delicious — moist, flavorful, and nicely seasoned.  The traditional side dishes complimented the turkey:  crisp, vibrant green beans, tart cranberry orange sauce, real mashed potatoes, mushroom stuffing — the works!

In my estimation, the Whole Foods traditional Thanksgiving meal was a good value at $89 for six to eight diners.

Everything tasted homemade, the veggies were fresh, not soggy.  This meal was far, far better than the $49 disaster I ordered from Safeway a few years back.

But you can do much better price wise!

What’s Included in the Whole Foods Traditional Thanksgiving Meal?

Delicious!
Delicious!

The basic package that feeds six to eight people is on sale at Whole Foods Market for $89 and includes an uncooked oven ready turkey, gravy, traditional sage stuffing, homestyle mashed potatoes, organic cranberry orange relish, and a choice of two vegetables or homestyle casseroles.  All this is on sale from the regular price of $119.99.

The small turkey included in the basic package weighs about 13 pounds.

For larger gatherings, a dinner that serves 12-16 costs $169.

You choose the style of turkey from five offerings:

Small Turkey Feeds 6 to 8
Small Turkey Feeds 6 to 8
  • Locally sourced
  • Organic
  • Heirloom bronze (higher percentage of dark meat)
  • Kosher
  • Brined

The ready-to-cook turkey is rubbed with herb butter, and rests on a bed of mirepoix.  You just need to pop it in the oven.

You can choose two vegetables or casseroles from this list:

  • Maple carrots with pecans
  • Creamed spinach
  • Roasted brussels sprouts
  • Green beans with roasted shallots
  • Organic harvest roasted vegetables
  • Garlic roasted fingerling potatoes
  • Organic corn pudding
  • Butternut sweet potato casserole
  • Organic green bean casserole
  • Macaroni and cheese

    All the trimmings!
    All the trimmings!

Yum!

And for $99, you can get a fully organic turkey dinner with a slightly  different selection of sides.

You schedule a time for pickup with your local Whole Foods store — they are even open Thanksgiving morning if that works for you!

Five Ways to Save Big on the Whole Foods Thanksgiving Package Deal

Top ten holiday wines
Top ten holiday wines

Fishing4Deals is all about the deals, so I am going to show you five ways to maximize your savings.

  1. Shop the sale
  2. Order online and get a $10 off coupon
  3. Get the Whole Foods App
  4. Seek out local specials
  5. Pay with Whole Foods Gift Cards purchased at a discount

Shop the Sale

Whole Foods is offering special deals on some other Thanksgiving basics.  For instance, you can order two bakery quality pumpkin pies for $15.  Fruit pies are $9.99 each.  The store is featuring a Cuvee Papale red wine for $10 off.

Order Online and Get a $10 Coupon

Save $10 if you order online

If you place your dinner order online before November 22, 2016, Whole Foods will email you a coupon for $10 off your next in-store purchase of $75 or more.

Get the Whole Foods App

Download the Whole Foods app for Apple or Android.  If you’re not using the app, you may be missing out on some pretty big discounts.

Every Wednesday, Whole Foods loads new deals that are only available by scanning a barcode on your phone when you check out.

The app also provides weekly coupon specials that are available to all shoppers.

Scan the barcode when you check out for savings
Scan the barcode when you check out for savings

Seek Out Local Specials

Pick up the weekly flyer of in-store sales and the bimonthly coupon book at the front of the store.  You may find some seasonal specials for your Thanksgiving table.

For instance (for my Northern Virginia friends) the Tysons Corner Whole Foods Market is offering 25 percent off a bottle of wine!

Pay with Whole Foods Gift Cards Purchased at a Discount

Here’s the real deal:  I never pay cash or credit at Whole Foods Market.

My trick is to buy Whole Foods gift cards at a discount.

For example, Staples sells Whole Foods gift cards.  There is no fee for the purchase of these gift cards in-store.  If you pay with a Chase Ink small business credit card, which earns five times points at office supply stores, that effectively amounts to five percent off the cost of groceries at Whole Foods.

Whole Foods Gift Card
Whole Foods Gift Card

Alternately, if you have an American Express card, check your AmexOffers for a deal at Staples.  My card has an active offer for a $20 statement credit for a $75 purchase at Staples. Purchases of Whole Foods and many other gift cards are eligible for this offer — which could bring the cost of your turkey dinner down to $69!

You may also be able to find Whole Foods gift cards at a drugstore like Walgreens.  The Chase Freedom credit card is offering five times points at drugstores this quarter.  If you purchase a Whole Foods gift card at a drugstore and pay with a Freedom card, you will earn five percent cash back.

If You’re Not Cooking, You Have Time to Decorate

Thanksgiving tableware by Williams-Sonoma
Thanksgiving tableware by Williams-Sonoma

Williams-Sonoma partnered with Whole Foods Market for the blogger meet up, and they provided two sample table settings to create a festive mood.

The first tablescape was designed for a formal dinner, complete with seasonal china and serving bowls.

The second casual tablescape featured porcelain dishes from William-Sonoma’s economical Provisions line, and modern serving pieces from the Open Kitchen line.

Economical porcelain dinnerware
Economical porcelain dinnerware by Williams-Sonoma

Do these designs give you any ideas for your own celebratory feast?

***

Cousins in New Jersey are hosting Thanksgiving this year, so I won’t be cooking.  Where will you be spending the holiday?

Disclosure:  I have a partnership with Whole Foods Market and was compensated for my work, but all words and opinions are my own.

DC Restaurant Week — Get It While It’s Hot

DC Restaurant Week Seafood
3 Course Lunch for $22 at Ford’s Fish Shack

Temperatures this August in Washington, DC have reached record highs.

Anyone who’s anyone has decamped to Martha’s Vineyard.

That means restaurateurs are trying to fill their tables by offering fixed price menu specials:  $22 for lunch, and $35 for dinner.

Over 260 restaurants in DC, Maryland, and Virginia are participating in DC Restaurant Week, which runs from August 15 – 21, 2016.  It’s a good opportunity to try some of the region’s highly acclaimed (and expensive) restaurants.  Several that are tempting me include:

  • Del Campo — Latin American in Penn Quarter
  • Dino’s Grotto — Italian in Shaw
  • Jaleo — Spanish in Penn Quarter
  • Oyamel — Mexican in Penn Quarter
  • Rasika — Indian in Penn Quarter
  • Zaytinya — Mediterranean in Penn Quarter

Restaurant Week at Ford’s Fish Shack

We snagged a great deal at a fabulous seafood restaurant in Loudoun County:  Ford’s Fish Shack.

A choice of three fixed price specials are offered at lunch and at dinner during restaurant week.

Naturally, we chose the “Eat Like a Mainer” lunch special for $22.

This included:

  • Jalapeno corn muffins
  • Cup of clam chowder
  • Hot lobster roll with butter and garlic
  • Cold lobster roll in mayo
  • Shoestring French fries
  • Blueberry pie with cinnamon ice cream

Highly recommended!

Amex SPG Surprise Retention Bonus

Amex Retention Bonus
It never hurts to ask.

Amex has been bending over backwards lately to encourage me to keep my Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) business credit card open.

I had been set to cancel the card when the annual fee went up from $65 per year to $95.

But American Express has been wooing me back with special offers.

First, I received a targeted offer for 5,000 bonus points if I spent $5000 on the card, and 10,000 bonus points if I spend $10,000.

Ordinarily, those spending thresholds would be far out of reach.

But thanks to a number of concurrent Amex Offers, that provide statement credits for purchases at popular vendors, such as Staples and Home Depot, I hope to qualify for these bonus points.

Amex SPG Surprise Retention Bonus

Amex is reluctant to waive the annual fee on their SPG credit cards, but it never hurts to ask!

In my case, after talking to a customer service representative, I was transferred to a “loyalty representative.”

The second representative offered me a $25 statement credit if I agreed to keep my credit card account open.  That doesn’t bring the annual fee down to the original $65, but it is close.

I believe I can more than offset the $70 fee with rebates via “Amex Offers,” but it remains to be seen what the offers will be in the coming months.  I can usually take advantage of offers for pet food or groceries, and Amex has has been pushing a number of travel offers lately.

Have you snagged a retention bonus for an Amex card?

Remember, it never hurts to ask!

How to Land A Pair of Group A Boarding Passes on Southwest

 Joel Shprentz Photo
Photo by Joel Shprentz

Here’s a tiny hack that might help you get a better seat on your return trip when flying Southwest Airlines roundtrip in a single day.

Southwest Airlines does not assign seats, and follows an open seating model.

Customers board in order of the group (A, B, or C) and number (one to sixty) on their boarding pass.  The earlier you check in, up to 24 hours prior to your flight, the earlier your assigned spot in line.

Group A boarding passes put you at the front of the line, increasing the likelihood that you can sit with your travel companions, and giving you the best chance for a window or aisle seat.

Cool Tools has a neat trick to up your chances of getting Group A boarding passes  for both legs of your trip when flying out and back on the same day.

As Cool Tools notes,

If you book a one-day round trip on Southwest, you won’t be allowed to check in for the return flight until after you complete the first flight.

However, if you book two one-way trips instead of a round trip, you can check in for both flights exactly 24 hours before the scheduled departure.

Two one-way tickets are priced identically to a round-trip ticket, so there is no extra cost to pursuing this strategy.

Turf Not Surf — $1 Filet Mignon Sliders at Morton’s Steakhouse

Morton's Steakhouse $1 Petite Filet Mignon Sandwiches
Quite the deal!

Usually I am all about the seafood, but I had to pass along this upcoming deal at Morton’s Steakhouse.

On Friday, August 12, 2016, Morton’s is offering petite filet mignon sandwiches for $1!

The offer is good from opening until 10 p.m. at the bar — no takeout permitted.

The Morton’s website lists all their locations, but recommends calling your local restaurant first to see if they are participating in this special offer.

 

Forget Tokyo’s Robot Cafe; Kyoto has Roberoids!

GEAR Show in Kyoto
GEAR Show in Kyoto — Circus arts at their best

You’ve probably heard the hype about the Tokyo Robot Cafe, but did you know that Kyoto has real life Roberoids?

The Roberoids are stars of the GEAR Show, running at Kyoto’s Art Complex 1928. 

These robots perform mime, magic, juggling, and break dancing.

Art Complex 1928, Kyoto
Art Complex 1928, Kyoto

Their skills are showcased in a non-verbal performance with a story line that pulls at the heartstrings.  The show is very entertaining with lots of incredible special effects.

The production values are amazing.  The technical wizardry reminded me of the Broadway production of the The Curious Case of the Dog in the Nighttime.

The GEAR show has been running for several years straight with a rotating cast.

The theatre is in a cool art deco building in downtown Kyoto.

Tickets are discounted if you order online in advance.  Also, you get a ticket discount any time during your birthday month.

But don’t take my word for it.  You can read all the rave reviews on TripAdvisor!