How to Unmask Priceline Express Deal Hotels

Priceline Express Deals Revealed with Mobile App
Priceline Express Deals Revealed with Mobile App

Travel companies are so keen to have you try their mobile apps that they provide a variety of incentives to do so.

Most often, these incentives are in the form of loyalty program points.

If you find that you get more value from discount travel brokers like Priceline, you may be interested in their latest holiday offer.

For a limited time, Priceline is revealing the name of five Express Deal Hotels to iPhone and Android app users.

Priceline Express Deals Unmasked

Priceline Express Deals Revealed with Mobile App
You can get five “Unwrap Credits” to unmask the name of the hotel.

To participate in the offer, you must download the latest version of the Priceline app and sign in to your Priceline.com account.

Your account should now show five “Unwrap Credits.”

You can use the credits to reveal the name of an Express Deal hotel before booking.  Express Deals do not require bidding.

Not all hotels are participating in this promotion.  Eligible hotels are marked with a red bow!

The offer runs through January 3, 2016.

This post contains affiliate links.  Thanks if you choose to use them!  

16 Percent Cash Back at 150+ Stores, Plus Travel Deals

16 percent off online purchases via Ebates today
16 percent off online purchases via Ebates today

Ebates, the cash back online shopping portal, is celebrating its sixteenth birthday by offering sixteen percent cash back on purchases from over 150 online stores.

Most of the sales run all week, but the sixteen percent cash back on Priceline Express Deal hotel rooms is today only.

Not to be outdone, FatWallet, another cash back portal owned by the same company, is matching the sixteen percent offer at Priceline and is offering additional bonuses on travel purchases originating at their site, today only.

This post contains affiliate links.  Thanks if you choose to use them!

Resort Fees Revealed

ResortFeeChecker.com
ResortFeeChecker.com

Resort Fee Checker is a new online tool that allows travelers to check the resort fee at over 2,000 U.S. hotels.

Resort fees are those annoying, expensive charges that hotels tack on for routine services that should be included in the room rate.

Resort fees are most frequently imposed in these popular destinations:  OrlandoLas VegasMiami,  AnaheimOahuPhoenixPalm SpringsMaui, and San Diego.

The fees can range from a few dollars up to $35 per night.

There fees cover a variety of amenities which vary from property to properly.  These amenities that are commonly free at other hotels, may include:

  • Pool
  • Fitness center
  • Business center
  • Internet access
  • Newspaper
  • Faxes
  • In-room coffee
  • Parking

Resort Fees:  Know Before You Go

Add-on charges such as resort and parking fees are especially annoying for users of Priceline and Hotwire, because the fees are may not revealed until deep into the booking process.

Resort Fee Checker was developed by the folks who run the HotelDealsRevealed website, where consumers can report the specifics of their Priceline wins.

Don’t be caught unaware!  If you are planning a resort trip, do your research in advance.

This post contains affiliate links.  Thanks if you choose to use them!

Which Cash Back Credit Card is Best for Priceline Purchases?

southwest  credit card bwi

Would you buy a used car(d)
from this woman?

I call myself the Priceline Queen, so I thought it would be fun to do a little analysis of which credit card is best for Priceline purchases.

On the face of it you might guess that The Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card is the best bet, but that is not always the case.

For purposes of this analysis, I focused on three cash back, no annual fee credit cards issued by Barclays.

The three contenders are:

  • Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard®
  • The Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card
  • Upromise World MasterCard®

Ultimately, I decided not to publish the quantitative analysis, because the results were completely dependent on the hypothetical assumptions.  It makes more sense for you to consider your individual spending patterns.

Instead, I prepared a comprehensive table comparing the three options, considering the pros and cons of each of these cash-back, no annual fee credit cards from Barclay’s Bank.

In Brief

The Priceline Rewards™ Visa® Card pays 5 percent cash back on all Priceline purchases, and it offers a $100 bonus for new applicants, after spending $1,000.

The Upromise World MasterCard® pays 3x points on gas purchases at Exxon/Mobil and 5 percent cash back on online purchases via the Upromise shopping portal, plus an additional 5 percent or so depending on the vendor, and it offers a $50 bonus after the first purchase.  A ten percent payout on many travel purchases sounds pretty good, if you have faith that the Upromise shopping portal will pay out benefits.  That’s a big if!

The Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® offers a $200 bonus after you make $1,000 of purchases within the first three months.  It pays 2x points on all travel and restaurant purchases, and you earn back 10 percent of the points your redeem for travel expenses.

You can shop through the Upromise shopping portal using any credit card, but only the Upromise World MasterCard® pays the extra five percent.

Upromise is for Everyone

You don’t have to be a college student or the parent of a college student to take advantage of the Upromise savings program.  Rebates from the credit card and the Upromise shopping portal are available to anyone registered with the program.  You can request a check when your rewards balance is $10 or more.  The catch is that you have to remember to go through the Upromise shopping portal, and that shopping portals are not always reliable in issuing the promised rebate.

Table Comparing Three No Annual Fee Cash Back Cards

This table is large, so please click through to see the complete analysis.

ATTRIBUTES
BARCLAYCARD ARRIVAL
PRICELINE CREDIT CARD
UPROMISE CREDIT CARD
BASICS & FEES
Credit neededExcellentExcellentExcellent
APR - Interest rate0% APR for 1st 12 billing cycles; then, APR of 14.99% or 18.99% based on credit worthiness. 0% APR for 1st 12 billing cycles; then, APR of 14.99% or 20.99% based on credit worthiness. 0% APR for 1st 12 billing cycles; then, APR of 12.99% or 20.99% based on credit worthiness.
Annual fee$0$0$0
Foreign transaction fee0%3%3%
Card brandWorld MasterCardWorld MasterCardVisa Signature
INITIAL BONUS
Initial bonus points05,000$50 after first use
Minimum spend for bonus points$1,000$1000 in 1st 90 daysUse card within first 90 days
Bonus points awarded for meeting minimum spend20,000 5,000
Total bonus points after meeting minimum spend20,000 = $200 statement credit toward travel expenses10,000 = $100 statement credit$50 rebate
REWARDS EARNING STRUCTURE
Earn rate2x points on restaurants and all travel expenses; 1x points on everything else. 5x points on "eligible" Priceline.com purchases; 1x points on everything else.5% off on online purchases at Upromise.com; 3% off gas at Exxon/Mobile; 2% off movie theaters; 1% off everything else.
Bonus earnings10% bonus points on travel redemptionsNone, but could shop through Upromise or other online portal for extra savings.

Earn extra points from merchants in shopping portal. Many online travel agencies, hotels, cruises, and car rental agencies can be found in Upromise portal.

Priceline payouts: 6% on Name Your own Price hotel; 5% on Hotels; 3.5% on Activities; 3.5% on Cruises; 5% Name Your Own Price Car; 3.5% on Rental cars; 3.5% Vacation Packages; 3.5% Name Your Own Price on Airfare; 1% on Airfare
REDEMPTIONS
Redeem for statement creditYes, in increments of 2,500 ($25) or more Yes, for any purchase of $25 or moreRequest a check;

Deposit in 529 college savings account.
Restrictions on redemptionsMust have 2,500 points minimum to redeem. To redeem for a $100 statement credit, for example, you must redeem your points towards a purchase of $100 or more.Quarterly checks if balance exceeds $10.
Other redemption optionsCan redeem points for statement credits or gift cards at half the value of travel redemptions (not recommended).Use to pay off Sallie Mae student loans.
ADDITIONAL BENEFITS
Free FICO Credit Scoreyes, 4 times a yearyes, 4 times a yearyes, 4 times a year
Purchase and Travel Protectionsyesyesyes
1 year free TripIt Pro subscriptionyesnono
LIMITATIONS
Can only redeem points at full value for travel expenses. Earn only 1x point for Priceline.com purchases on cruise bookings, non-Name Your Own Price® car reservations, and hotel reservations designated as Pay When You Stay.Payouts from online shopping portals are often unreliable.

Hard to remember to go through shopping portal.
OTHER FACTORS
Initial bonus worth $222;

Subsequent earn rate of 2.2% on all travel and restaurant purchases can pad your travel funds;

Relatively easy to cash out points for statement credits for travel purchases, but may require calls to customer service;
Initial bonus worth $100 toward Priceline reservations. 5% off prepaid hotel reservations on Priceline.com. $50 initial bonus. 3% savings on some gas purchases. 5% savings on purchases through Upromise shopping portal, plus extra payout from many travel vendors and 900 other merchants.
MY TAKE
Good for budget travelers that prefer flexible paid travel over reward redemptions.Good for heavy users of Priceline. Best earning rate (app. 10%) on online travel purchases, except direct purchases from airlines and some hotel brands.

Good option if you do a lot of online shopping.

You need to consider your own spending circumstances to see which credit card makes most sense for you.  Where do you come out?

Click here to compare current rewards credit card offers.

Barclaycard Arrival: The Definitive One Year Review

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2/20/2014 Update:  The terms of this offer were changed today.  In order to earn the 40,000 bonus points, you must spend $3,000 within the first 3 months of opening the card.

Is Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® the Best Travel Rewards Credit Card for General Spending?  

Over the last couple of months, my family has had a number of major expenses pop up some of which may resonate with you:

  • the check engine light came on in my 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid:  $5000 repair bill
  • ditto for my husbands 2003 Volkswagen Passat:  $3800
  • my daughter got braces:  $4650
  • the heat pump finally gave out:  $6995

Granted it is unusual to have so many large, chargeable expenses totaling $20,000 in a two month period.  But it it is easy to anticipate similar health, home maintenance, and auto repair expenses over the course of a year.

In our case, the car mechanics, the orthodontist, and the HVAC installer all accepted credit cards for payment, but only MasterCard or Visa, not American Express.  That mirrors my experience with other small business vendors where we have regular large expenditures, such as the dog kennel or the vet.  

None of these household expenses are considered “bonus” categories with any credit card product that I am aware of.  Except the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®, that is.

(There is a Fidelity credit card that pays 2 times points, but it is an American Express card, which is not accepted everywhere.  There is a Capital One Venture card that pays 2 times points; the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® effectively pays out 10 percent more than that — 2.2 percent.)

Earn 2.2 Points on All Charges, if Redeemed for Travel Expenses

BarclayCard ArrivalIt’s a bit redundant, but the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® — pays 2 times points on everything.  There is no limit on the amount of points you can earn.

In my case outlined here, with $20,000 in expenses we could earn 4o,000 points.  40,000 points can be redeemed for $400 worth of travel expenses (the points are worth half that if redeemed for cash).  You earn a ten percent bonus on redeemed points, so 4,000 points are redeposited in your account, worth another $40 toward travel expenses, for a total of $440.  The ten percent bonus provides an incentive to keep using the card in order to redeem all your points.

How Much Travel Can You Buy for $440?

Exactly $440 dollars worth!  Depending on your bargain hunting skill and preferences, you can use this money for budget hotels, rental cars, train tickets and airfare.

You can travel when you want, and where you want, without worrying about limited award availability or blackout dates.

What’s more, you will earn frequent flyer miles and loyalty program points on your purchases!

I was an early adopter of the Barclaycard Arrival — I received a targeted offer and opened the card a year ago.  I have written about it on and off, but I wanted to share my experience with the card one year out.

By comparison, with a miles earning credit card, my recent charges would earn 20,000 miles  — perhaps enough for a one-way ticket on Southwest Airlines or two roundtrip tickets on Amtrak, but hard to redeem for much else.

Get a Sign-Up Bonus Worth $440 Towards Travel

Some credit cards are good for everyday spend, others provide generous sign-up bonuses.

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® does both!

Beyond the 2.2 percent payout rate for general expenses, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® offers an excellent signup bonus.

If you spend $3,000 within three months of opening the card, you get a bonus of 40,000 points, which can be redeemed for $400 worth of travel.  Furthermore, you earn 10 percent back on all redemptions for travel expenses, meaning another 4,000 points are awarded, making the initial bonus worth more than $440.

Other Benefits of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

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Quickie Deal — 10% Priceline Express Deal Coupon

William Shatner
William Shatner

Here’s a quickie discount on Priceline Express Deal Hotels.  This offer for a 10% discount is valid in any city!

If you have travel coming up, use this offer to save 10 percent off the cost of your hotel.  You can stay any time, in any city, in a two star and above hotel.

Coupon code valid NOW thru Sunday, Feburary 16, 2014.  

Coupon Code: QD3LQR7V 

If you have travel planned to any of these sunny destinations, there is a coupon for 5% off Priceline Express Deals, which is good through February 28, 2014.

  • Los Cabos
  • Puerto Rico
  • Puerto Vallarta
  • Daytona Beach
  • Phoenix/Scottsdale • Las Vegas
  • Long Beach, CA
  • Orange County, CA

The coupon is good on two star and above hotels. Stay anytime. Coupon expires 2/28/14.

Coupon Code:  METRO8

Busting the Myths: New York City at Holiday Time

2013 Thanksgiving Day Parade
2013 Thanksgiving Day Parade

The holidays are the best time of the year to visit New York.  There’s extra energy in the city, and the holiday lights and decorations can be magical.  Not to mention the shopping!

We visited our family in New York over Thanksgiving — and took in the best of the holiday season.

Over the course of our visit, we managed to bust several pervasive myths about holiday time in New York City.

1.  You have to arrive at 6 a.m. to see the Thanksgiving Day parade

Everyone warned us that the parade route would be packed and if we wanted to get a spot we’d have to arrive very early.  We sauntered over to 6th avenue at 50th Street at 10 a.m. and had a great vantage point with Radio City Music Hall in the background.  We weren’t in the front row, but back where there was space to move around.

2.  The best shopping deals are on Black Friday

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New Years Eve Priceline Coupon Code

Priceline Coupon CodeI love reeling in a good deal! 

That’s why I enjoy bidding for “name your own price” hotels on Priceline

On December 31, 2013, for one day only, Priceline is offering an extra 5 percent discount off “name your own price” hotel rooms.

The coupon code is JE27MES7.

The discount applies only to two night reservations for two star hotels and above.

When I book Priceline hotels, I like to use my Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® credit card, which earns two times points on Priceline reservations.  This no annual fee travel rewards credit card offers a $200 signup bonus (worth $220 because of a 10 percent bonus on redemptions).

We stayed at the Sheraton Times Square in NYC over Thanksgiving.   We booked the room through Priceline, and paid with the Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard®.

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The Priceline Queen Strikes Again!

Sheraton Times SquareAs usual I’ve waited until the last minute to make reservations for our trip to New York City for Thanksgiving.

Hotel rooms are scarcer than hen’s teeth and the prices are sky high.

Every time I search online, the prices are even higher than they were just hours before.

There’s hardly any availability on Hotwire, unless you want to stay out at Laguardia or in Hoboken.  I’ve given up on finding a room that will accomodate all three of us — our daughter will have to stay with her Aunt on the pull-out sofa.

Finding reasonably priced room in Chelsea, our preferred neighborhood, seems impossible.  Modest properties like Four Points by Sheraton are charging nearly $300 a night — before taxes.

But wait, what’s this?  A listing on Priceline’s Express Deals for a four star hotel in Midtown Manhattan for $135 a night.  This wasn’t there yesterday!  I wonder if I can snag this property for less by bidding on Priceline’s Name Your Own Price site?

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