Reselling is Horse…. or is it?

Buying and then reselling consumer goods as a means to manufacture increased credit card spending is something I have been taking a closer look at in the past couple of months, inspired by the likes of BigHabitat and TaggingMiles. However I have got to say every time I see an “opportunity” come up I have struggled to see how compelling the value proposition is. And this afternoon I saw that again. BigHabitat tweeted that BestBuy was having a flash sale on iPad’s with $100 off:

So intrigued I quickly started to work out the math. Now Chris at BigHabitat has already written up his rebuttal to my ensuing dissing of this opportunity, and his numbers differ from mine, but let me take you through how I came to my conclusion on this.

iPad Air 2

Analyzing the Resell Opportunity

My first step was to see how much these were selling for on Amazon. The iPad 2 Air 64gb seems the most popular model, with a retail price of $599.99 so $499.99 plus tax with this BestBuy deal. Now Chris seems to think they are selling for $578, but my search at the time he tweeted showed pricing at around $567-69:

Amazon Reselling iPad Air 2

Now of course just because it sells for $567 does not mean I would pocket $567. But apparently Amazon already thought of that and created a tool that let’s you calculate the net proceeds on a sale. Plugging in this item shows that I should net about $533 based on selling at $567.

So what is this baby going to cost me? Well here in NC I will pay 6.75% sales tax, so at a $100 discount I am getting it at $499.99 plus tax which comes out at…. well right about $533. Now I am guessing for guys like Chris and Trevor @ TaggingMiles who do this day in day out they are probably thinking breakeven is OK. But as a cynic over here, I am thinking a trade like this where I am just breaking even apart from the points sounds terrible. Oh and wait that calculator does not take into the account the cost of shipping this damn tablet to Amazon either. So I am already losing money at this point.

Let’s first play devil’s advocate and look at what is earned doing the deal:

  • 2% Best Buy rewards – so about $10 in short-expiring vouchers that require me to spend more at the big blue box store everyone loves to hate. Chris gets a bigger number because he does this more often and gets $15, but I go with what I would actually get not what someone else gets
  • Portal points / cashback – Chris goes the SouthWest route but y’all know what I think of those cattle herders, I would have gone with Discover Deals 5% cash back so $25 in cash which I can maybe get $50 worth of value on car rentals from. And when you rent a car you get to choose your seat too.
  • Whatever you earn on the card used to fund the acquisition. Let’s keep it simple and say I use a 2% cash-back card to earn another $10.66. Chris is working towards min spend on a credit card but I am basically discarding that as a bonus. Now he does make a valid point he could have juiced it up by running to a grocery store and getting a Best Buy gift card at 5% back, but that would not have worked here and just adds more complexity to an already complex proposal.

So at the end of the day I see the earning as $45.66 on $533 spend, a “return” of 8.5%. Chris used a whole bunch of more optimistic numbers than I did but came to something not so far off in he thinks he’s getting 9.5%. We are in the same ballpark. And that number sounds awesome right!? Well yes but….

Analyzing the Regular MS Opportunity

This is where I had to stop and think a little. Because a simplistic comparison would be to see how this compares when manufacturing spend using the same kind of 2% card. But that fails to address that there are still many 5x opportunities in the general MS world. At the very least it now seems we can do $50k at 5x on the old Amex Blue Cashback card, and of course you can do $50k at 5x at office supply stores using Chase Ink. And it is very possible to get multiples of these cards if you have willing family members etc. So I am going to compare with MSing on a 5x card, as the scale of these cards definitely compares to the scalability of the resell opportunity.

So let’s consider a simple MS turn – buying one visa gift card at a drug store and then using that visa gift card to buy a money order which is then used to pay the funding 5x card. In this case the economics break down as:

  • Spend $504.95 at 5x earning cash back of $25.25
  • Assume money order cost at high end so $0.99
  • “Sell” the gift card for the money order netting you $499.01
  • Net profit = $25.25 cashback less $4.95 GC fee – $0.99 money order fee = $19.31 or 3.8% of spend

Comparing Reselling vs Regular MS

When I started to write this post it was titled “Reselling is Horseshit”. However this is where blogging can be quite enlightening as when you take the time to analyze the opportunity in detail and think about the risks and rewards in more detail, you can ultimately change your opinion. I still think at the end of the day for me reselling is not that appealing, but it’s definitely a useful arrow in your quiver. Here are my thoughts on the advantages and disadvantages of each method:

Simplicity: Regular MS is much more simplistic, you do not need to set up Amazon selling accounts, you don’t need to understand the pricing of anything. Regular MS definitely wins out on simplicity.

Accessibility: Regular MS can be very easy or very hard depending on where you live. I have written in the past how I thought NYC was an “MS wasteland” and on the flip side my hometown of Raleigh makes life very easy. However reselling is generally do-able from anywhere, though some in-store deals are geographically specific. But overall I’d say reselling has the edge in terms of accessibility.

Time: While BigHabitat points out that driving around looking for GC’s can be tedious when there is a great deal on, doing “regular” MS is very time efficient. Many people can slot a stop off at a grocery store or drug store as part of their regular commute. On the other hand I know that some of the reselling gang can literally spend their entire evening looking through Staples or Sears for resell opportunities. Then once the goods arrive they have to be shipped to Amazon, and then you have to track your sales and track returns and so and so fourth. Without doubt reselling is more time consuming.

Risks: I think BigHabitat does a pretty good of assessing the risks in reselling. However many of his points were very specific to this product (the iPad) opportunity – that the item sells quickly, that Amazon does not sell it directly. But either of those could actually change really quickly. The best way to simplify the description of risks in reselling is that the risks are complex. There are a host of factors that can significantly affect what you might ever get back for an item you buy and understanding these takes expertise. But gift cards are pretty straight forward. They are not entirely without risk either, but generally you are not going to buy a $500 gift card and then because you waited a couple of weeks before cashing out you suddenly find it’s only worth $300 because the issuer came out with a new style of card and there was a price war on the old one.

Profitability: In this example of a good resell opportunity vs a good regular MS opportunity the resell op comes out on top. There are some great resell opportunities that can be better, but there are also some amazing regular MS opportunities where you basically get paid to generate points. But comparing the base levels while I think reselling is more profitable I think I see this as a tie. Let me borrow an oft used and rarely understood phrase from my investing career – I think the risk adjusted returns are about the same. Now while I am not using any fancy formulas to reach that conclusion, what I am thinking is that after you take into account what I feel is the additional risk taken and time required to do reselling effectively, I think the returns are about the same. Yes one may make 8.5% while the other makes 3.8%, but over the long run the time I spend getting my 3.8% and the chances of things going wrong and me having to deal with that make up for that.

Bottom Line

At the end of the day I think reselling is a good additional tool for generating fake spend that can be more profitable in absolute terms. However given the additional risk and complexity involved I still think it’s an “experts only” area and you should only get into this activity if you are willing to put in the time and effort to really understand the nuances of this little cottage industry. It may not be absolute horseshit, but it is a niche that takes some mastering.

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Staples at 16% Cashback from Ebates, today 5/13/15 Only

 

I am sure this is not the first place you will read about this but this one just has to be worth a mention. I had to rub my eyes when I saw the email this morning. For today only you can get 16% cashback on your Staples.com orders via ebates:

Staples 16 Ebates

 

I’m not going to really go into any details… I am in the middle of writing a rebuttal to BigHabitat’s excellent response to me dissing reselling, and now that post is going to take longer because I am going to be spending most of the day ordering crap from Staples.

Remember to use one of your Chase Ink Bold’s for 5 points per dollar, if you have any left with available credit after all the fun at OfficeMax and OfficeDepot the past week or so.

Oh and be sure to keep good records on this one… offers this good tend to lead to “mistakes” in tracking etc.

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Impact of Credit Card Churning on your Credit Rating

There are many blogs and sites that discuss the impact of obtaining multiple credit cards on your credit score. They largely focus around the simple concept of what happens to your credit score when you have an inquiry, and how that lowers your score a little but then that score dip recovers shortly after and you are back to normal. And that largely makes sense if you get a couple of new credit cards from time to time. But those of you that know me know that I tend to be a little more hardcore about this hobby than average. Whenever someone asks me which one credit card they should get for this game I always answer “never get one, get them ALL”!

Anyway over the past twelve months, for reasons way beyond the scope of this post, I have obtained four different mortgages and attempted to obtain a couple of auto finance deals. I figured it would be worth sharing my experiences here as some of them shed a light on the impact of obtaining multiple credit cards on your ability to obtain other forms of credit.

Impact on Mortgage Applications

I have obtained four mortgages in the past twelve months. One was a refinancing of an existing mortgage where I was paying down the balance (i.e. my new borrowing was lower than my prior borrowing), the other three were for new properties. I was approved for all four.

In each application I ended up having to provide an explanation letter – not about the new accounts, but about the new inquiries. This seemed odd to me but hey I am not the one doing the underwriting (personally I would be more interested in actual accounts opened and credit obtained than requests for credit).

For each inquiry I simply had to provide a simple explanation along with a statement of whether new credit was obtained. In most cases I simply stated “Rewards credit card” and that new credit was obtained.

You can click here to see a redacted copy of one of these letters of explanation. I never had any follow up inquiry after this and the mortgages were all approved.

Impact on Auto Loan

In addition to the mortgages I have had a variety of auto loans or auto leases over the past several years. I have never had the large number of inquiries or accounts on my credit report even come up as a question let alone an issue on any of these until my most recent attempt at getting a cash-out auto loan from PNC. It may be down to a cash-out financing being viewed as more risky (I was essentially looking to borrow money using my wholly-owned and unencumbered vehicle as collateral) or that PNC is just a more risk averse lender (I suspect the latter), but I was ultimately declined for this loan application. This is despite having a long stand and strong banking relationship with PNC and having the local branch manager appeal the decision. The denial letter was highly comical:

PNC Auto Loan Denial

I particularly enjoyed the colorful language of my apparent “pyarmiding of indebtedness” – using pyramid as a verb is certainly a new one to me. Thanks PNC! On the back of the same letter was details of the credit report used and as you can see there was certainly no issue with my credit score:

PNC Credit Score

At the time of applying I also had approximately five times the amount of my loan request in cash in my checking account, so even with that 792 credit score, no recurring debt, a history of on time payments and so on I was still consider one pyramid of debt too much for their taste.

Bottom Line

In general I have been quite aggressive in pursuing credit card deals and churning credit cards to earn miles, and over the years it has had very little impact on my ability to obtain credit including very large home and auto financing. However my clean run has come to an end and the lesson for me is that there will be certain lenders who just do not feel comfortable with the kind of actions we engage in and their impact on our credit reporting. Hopefully these real insights will help you make a better decision as to whether or not you continue to engage in this kind of credit card churning when you are seeking more significant financial borrowings.

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United adds twice daily DENver Service to RDU

United is adding not just once but twice-daily service between RDU and DENver starting September 13th 2015.

RDU DEN United

It’s great to see United extending their service at RDU. Currently DEN has only been accessible with SouthWest and y’all know what I think of those wahoos.

This is of particular interest to me with my ski obsession as United offers onward connections from DEN to some of the ski resorts such as ASE for Aspen/Snowmass and EGE for Vail and Beaver Creek. Right now award availability is wide open on this route and the onward connections to the ski resorts for the 2015/2016 season so I may just have to start dropping some United miles for next years ski trips.

Now all we need is for Delta to bring back Salt Lake City…

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OfficeDepot $20 off $300 Visa Gift Cards 5/3/15 through 5/16/15

OfficeDepot’s latest weekly ad is offering $20 off $300 in Visa Gift card purchases. Time to dust off those Ink cards again! Gosh I hope y’all have quite a few businesses that you are running ;)

Office Depot Visa Gift Card

It states the limit is two offers per person (i.e. $600 spend), but I am not even sure how that gets enforced, so could be a busy week ahead touring Office Depots

Enjoy!

 

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Alaska Airlines is Coming to RDU!

Alaska Airlines RDU

Posts here at Milesabound are just like London buses… you don’t see any for ages, and then out of nowhere three of them all arrive at once!

Anyway I got really excited this morning when I saw from my Facebook feed someone posting to fellow-Flyertalker CMK10 that, via Airline Route, Alaska Airlines is adding service to a number of new destinations in the south-east including my beloved home town of RDU! I know this is a “local” event but I do know a lot of my readers are from round here these parts :)

Alaska Airlines RDU

You can also read the full press release from Alaska Airlines, but this is exciting for me for a number of reasons:

  • I have a boat load of $99 plus taxes companion vouchers under with Bank of America credit cards. I think we all know that good old BofA doesn’t mind the c-h-u-r-n word as much as many of it’s brethren
  • Those companion tickets ARE eligible for mileage accrual and upgrades
  • Alaska has a ridiculously generous status match program. I am fairly sure if you have most-visited-player status at your local bingo hall you can convince AS to match that to their upper tiers
  • Alaska is just a really nice place, and the airline is a really nice airline

So that’s it, it’s great to see Alaska expand into the south-east, those of you over in the Northwest now have easy access to some wonderful cities in Nashville, Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill and Charleston. There is a very high probability I will be flying the inaugral of the RDU flight and will likely make a lot of use of this route. Now all I need to make life perfect is for Delta to bring back their SLC flight… :)

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Discover Card Extra Cash Back Offers

Discover Extra Cash Back extracbb

It’s been a while since I wrote about opportunities to earn some extra cash back with Discover. But I was just thinking about it recently and figured I would check my accounts and see if there was anything on offer.

Discover Credit Card Extra Cash Bank

You can see if you are eligible for any extra cash back earning opportunities by using the link discover.com/extracbb. That will direct you to a page to log in to your account and it will either give you the offer you were targeted for or noting if you are not so lucky. I control three discover credit card accounts and had an offer on one of them. Some sleuthing around the web shows some other offers available:

  • Extra $200 cash back for $1,500 spend per month between 5/1/2015 and 9/30/2015 (5 months) makes for an effective 3.67% cash back ($275) on $7,500 spend
  • Extra $150 cash back for $1,000 spend per month between 5/1/2015 and 9/30/2015 (5 months) makes for an effective 4% cash back ($200) on $5,000 spend
  • Extra $75 cash back for making $1,000 spend makes for an effective 8.5% cash back ($85) on $1,000 spend

All of the above assume you are spending at an earning rate of 1% cash back. If you can make some of that spend in Discover’s quarterly 5% cash back categories you may fare significantly better.

Discover Extra Cash Back extracbb

I value Discover cash back very highly as they can be redeemed at effectively double face value for some car rental programs, in particular National car. So having this will be nice (my one card got the $200 offer which is the lowest percentage earner but the highest absolute dollars earner I have seen – the other cards got rocks)

Discover Debit Card $0.20 Cash Back Per Transaction

If you have a Discover checking account (I do – signed up a while back for an easy bonus) you can always get $0.10 cash back per transaction up to 10 transactions a month. However from May 1st – July 31st (i.e. three months) they are doubling that to $0.20 per transaction.

Discover Debit Card 2x

Now hey this is definitely not as awesome as the legendary Banana Republic deal which gave uncapped $2 per transaction for two months (and they ran it twice – God bless them!) But it is definitely better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick and will add up to $60 cash back which as I note above is effectively worth $120 in National car rental certificates. Key is being able to find somewhere that allows small transactions. I will go back to paying my water bill one cent at a time so as to fully maximize this.

I’m guessing some of you may find this too time consuming for the reward, but hey a deal is a deal….

Bottom Line

I really love the Discover cards and checking accounts… bonuses galore, great cash back opportunities and the ability to lever up the returns with some of the redemptions. Be sure to periodically check discover.com/extracbb to see if you have any goodies lined up for you.

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Citi ThankYou Credit Cards – Some Citi Loving!

Citi ThankYou Prestige Credt Card

It’s been a while since I wrote anything much about credit cards but I have to say over the past several months the miles and points business seems to have shifted back towards credit card sign up bonuses as opposed to huge amounts of easy spending, and at the forefront of this for me has been Citibank.

Now while I have had a lot of fun with the Citi AA Executive cards, it looks like the door is closing if not completely closed on that particular fun game. However Citi has just significantly spruced up it’s Citi Thank You credit cards and I understand you may have read about this elsewhere but since I don’t tend to read many other blogs these days I really can’t be sure ;)

Basics – The Three Flavors of ThankYou Cards

First of all let’s look at the basics. Citi has three different types of ThankYou credit cards. They all have similar sounding names all beginning with ‘Pre’ so personally I was a little confused as to what was what so hopefully this will clear it up for anyone as dumb as I am:

Citi ThankYou Preferred

This is the base card with no annual fee, and a low sign up offer of 20,000 points for $1,500 spend within 3 months. The sign up bonus is NOT available if you have had this card – open or closed – within the last 18 months. (HT to Pointie in the comments for correcting me this card is not churnable)

Citi ThankYou Preferred Credit Card

For those of us lucky to get in on the wonderful 5x for first 12 months offer, those cards were Citi ThankYou Preferred cards. While there is nothing particularly exciting about these cards, they don’t carry a fee and there have been reports of some good retention offers to increase the value of retaining the card.

Also it’s worth noting that if you also get the Citi ThankYou Prestige card (detailed below) then the sign up bonus is actually worth $320 in American Airlines travel. That is actually not a bad sign up IMHO.

Citi ThankYou Premier

This is the intermediate card with a $95 annual fee (waived in the first year to get you hooked in!) and is where things start to get interesting.

First of all there is a nice sign up offer of 50,000 points after spending $3,000 within 3 months. So that’s a $500 value right off the bat, or $800 if you get the Prestige version (detailed below). However note the language in the sign up offer exclude anyone who has had this card – open or closed – within the last 18 months. So you can only get this card at least 18 months after closing a prior Citi ThankYou Premier.

Citi ThankYou Premier Credit Card

The Premier also has a reasonably attractive earning structure, which is:

  • 3x on Travel including Gas
  • 2x on Dining out and Entertainment
  • 1x on the rest

The big earning point to note is the 3x on Travel which includes gas. The Premier is the only version of the card that gives an earning multiple on gas, though I am not sure this is a significant enough feature to justify keeping the card long term compared to what the Prestige offers.

An important point to note is this version of the card allows you to transfer ThankYou points to various airline programs. If you only have the Preferred version you cannot do this (in many ways this is similar to Chase with their base, no fee Freedom card offering no transfer options but the $95 annual fee Sapphire Preferred version opens up the transfer door).

If you don’t fee you can justify the higher base fee of the Prestige as detailed below, or you spend a gazillion on gas, this could be a card worth keeping. And my bet is there will be some decent retention offers to compensate for the $95 annual fee after the first 12 months are over. But for the sign up on it’s own, this is a very attractive card.

Citi ThankYou Prestige

This is the top of the range card and where things start to get really exciting, at least for me.

The public sign up offer is 50,000 ThankYou points after spending $3,000 within 3 months. However there are numerous reports of a 60,000 ThankYou points sign up if you apply in branch, and further reports of targeted 100,000 ThankYou points offers.

A key differentiating benefit of the Citi ThankYou Prestige card is it allows you to redeem for paid American Airlines (and US Airways while they still exist) tickets at a rate of $0.016 per 1 ThankYou Point. So that values these sign up offers at $800 – $1,600 in American Airlines tickets! That makes this sign up offer about one of the most lucrative on the market currently at time of writing (April 2015). Similar to the Citi ThankYou Premier card above, the sign up bonus is only available if you have not had a Citi ThankYou Prestige card – open or closed – within the last 18 months.

Citi ThankYou Prestige Credt Card

This is Citi’s top of the line ThankYou credit card that competes in the same bracket as the likes of the American Express Platinum cards, so here are the key terms:

  • Annual fee of $450 (or $350 if you are a Citigold client) NOT waived
  • $250 annual airline credit that can be used on any airline purchases
  • American Airlines Admirals Club lounge access along with Priority Pass Select access for you and up to two additional guests
  • $100 global entry fee credit
  • Fourth night free on hotel stays

The annual fee for the card may be steep, but the benefits listed above significantly offset them. If you are thinking of just keeping the card for the first year then the annual fee is a no brainer as you will be able to get the $250 airline credit twice as this is a calendar year benefit (defined in the terms and conditions as being December to December). However if you are really averse to the annual fee it is worth noting that if you cancel a Citibank credit card within 37 days of the annual fee posting, then that fee will be refunded back to you. And of course if you think there may be exciting offers on this card in 18 months time, that may be another incentive for not keeping it after you get the sign up bonus. It definitely is down to personal aims.

The earning structure for this version of the card is also pretty attractive and certainly more attractive than the Amex Platinum:

  • 3x on Air Travel and Hotels (note excludes gas unlike Premier)
  • 2x on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment
  • 1x on the rest

The earning on travel is very attractive as that means you are earning 4.8x if you plan to redeem your points for American Airlines travel, and even the base 3x earning structure is competitive with the likes of the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card.

Comparison of the Three Citi ThankYou Pre Credit Cards

This table shows a summary comparison of the key points of the three different flavors of Citi ThankYou Pre credit cards:

Card Annual Fee Sign Up Bonus Churnable Earning Structure Other Benefits
Citi ThankYou Preferred $0 20,000 ThankYou Points after $1,500 spend in 3 months 18 months after closing account 2x on dining at restaurants and entertainment, 1x on the rest None
Citi ThankYou Premier $95 50,000 ThankYou Points after $3,000 spend in 3 months 18 months after closing account 3x on Travel including Gas
2x on Dining out and Entertainment
1x on the rest
Ability to transfer ThankYou Points to airline miles
Citi ThankYou Prestige $450 / $350 for Citigold 50,000 ThankYou Points after $3,000 spend in 3 months. Potential 60-100k offers available 18 months after closing account 3x on Air Travel and Hotels
2x on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment
1x on the rest
Ability to transfer ThankYou Points to airline miles
Ability to redeem for American Airlines tickets at 1.6x
Admirals Club and PriorityPass lounge access
4th night free for hotels
Global entry credit

Notes on Applying for Citi Credit Cards

While I am l loathe to call it a “rule” as you will not find it written officially anywhere in any terms and conditions, there is significant anecdotal evidence to suggest that as at the time of writing Citi implements the following restrictions on applying for credit cards:

  • You can only apply for one credit card in a 7 day period
  • You can only apply for two credit cards in a 65 day period
  • YMMV but generally they do not like more than 6-7 hard inquiries in the past 6 months

So if you plan on getting multiple versions of these cards, keep these “rules” in mind. In particular when trying to follow the 7/65 day “rule” note that a declined application counts as well, so if you get it wrong you can screw things up for yourself. And definitely keep in mind that with Citi these “rules” are a moving and evolving target, so if it works today be aware it may not work tomorrow. That’s a risk we all have to take in this game.

Bottom Line

It really is great to see Citi spruce up this line of cards and offer something really competitive in the credit card space. Things have been getting quite depressing from American Express of late with cutting back on benefits, limiting sign up bonuses to once per lifetime and declining customer support, so it’s great to see Citi breathing some life into this arena.

For me it’s likely I will keep a Citi ThankYou Preferred or two in my credit card arsenal, and I will definitely be keeping the Citi ThankYou Prestige for it’s line up of great benefits which for me at least massively offset the seemingly steep annual fee. I will probably get the Citi ThankYou Premier too but that one may be a sign up bonus play only. What about your wallet?

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Mountain Collective – Small Price Raise, Still Great Value

Mountain Collective 2015 2016

I have raved and written extensively about this ski season ticket a lot in the past, but it really is an excellent deal and one of the few ways to access some of the best ski resorts in North America at prices that make sense to regular folks and the deal-seeking type that follow me here on Milesabound.

Anyway the price for the 2015-2016 has increased modestly from $369 to $379. The child price remains at the amazing price of $99! (Yes, I used an exclamation mark!) I just bit the bullet and bought this for myself and my kids next season. Children are classified as “12 and under” and it’s based on the date of purchase. My son will become a teenager in July so this is great that he will get another year of child pricing.

Just as a reminder from my prior post, for $379 for adults and $99 for children the Mountain Collective Pass gets you:

  • Two days at Alta / Snowbird in Utah
  • Two days at Aspen / Snowmass (or Buttermilk, Aspen Highlands) in Colorado
  • Two days at Jackson Hole in Wyoming
  • Two days at Mammoth Mountain in California
  • Two days at Squaw Valley / Alpine Meadows in California
  • Two days at Whistler / Blackcomb in British Columbia, Canada
  • Two days at Lake Louise/Sunshine Valley in Alberta, Canada
  • Two days at Valee Nevado in Chile (summer 2015 only)
  • All subsequent days at 50% off
  • No blackout dates. So perfectly fine during Christmas holidays, MLK or President’s Day weekends

At the time of writing the one extra day at one of these resorts is STILL INCLUDED. There is no doubt based on both what they promise and how this was sold last year that this will be removed eventually, so if you can commit to it, now is a good time to buy. I decided to add my third free day at Aspen/Snowmass as Denver is easy to get to from RDU and me and the kids had a great time year this season.

Philip Hall Raleigh NC Milesabound Mountain Collective

At the top of Snowmass, using my Mountain Collective Pass

Bottom Line

The 2015-16 Mountain Collective Pass continues to offer great value despite the modest price increase. I would expect the price to climb a little further as time passes and the third free day which is currently available at one resort is likely to be removed too.

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Mountain Collective Pass 2016 – Keeps Getting Better!

Mountain Collective 2015 2016

I have written about this awesome ski pass ever since it came out. Last year I purchased the pass myself, and before that I had written about it the past two years in a row. Last year they added some key resorts such as my favorite mountain Whistler in British Columbia and Mammoth Mountain in California.

Mountain Collective

For the 2015-16 season they continue to add to the list of available resorts with the addition of Sun Valley in Idaho. Lake Louise/Sunshine Valley is a new addition that happened to be added midway through the 2014-15 season and is another great addition. And the pricing has remained very competitive with adults at $369 (a modest $10 increase) while kids remain at the incredible value price of $99.

So for $369 for adults and just $99 for children 12 & under you get:

  • Two days at Alta / Snowbird in Utah
  • Two days at Aspen / Snowmass (or Buttermilk, Aspen Highlands) in Colorado
  • Two days at Jackson Hole in Wyoming
  • Two days at Mammoth Mountain in California
  • Two days at Squaw Valley / Alpine Meadows in California
  • Two days at Whistler / Blackcomb in British Columbia, Canada
  • Two days at Lake Louise/Sunshine Valley in Alberta, Canada
  • Two days at Valee Nevado in Chile (summer 2015 only)
  • All subsequent days at 50% off
  • No blackout dates. So perfectly fine during Christmas holidays, MLK or President’s Day weekends

At the time of writing you can pick an additional third free day at your choice of any one of the resorts.

The way to maximize the value of the pass is obviously to make shorter weekend type trips to as many as possible of each of the resorts. For the 2014-15 pass that I purchased I have so far managed to use two days at Whistler (I had booked three but scheduling only allowed me to make use of two), two days at Snowmass and I have two days coming up at each of Alta, Squaw Valley and Mammoth Mountain. So I should get a total of 10 days for the $359 I paid last year, so a really unbeatable $35.90 per day skiing at a series of world class resorts. Given current lift ticket pricing I would say the breakeven is at around 3 days for adults and 2 days for children and anything above 4 days for adults is very good value.

I think I will have to go for this again for the 2015-16 season and I am hoping I can also make use of the two days in Chile in the Northern Hemisphere summer. Let’s see how much skiing I can get in!

Bottom Line

At just $369 for adults and $99 for children 12 and under the Mountain Collective remains a blockbuster value ski lift ticket for the 2015-16 season.

 

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The excitement! Banana Republic Targeted 3x Until 5/31/2015

Hey folks! I’m back!!! Yes, things sure have been quiet around here lately… those of you that know me personally know that my life has been somewhat crazy over the past 6 months or so and so the blog has taken a back seat. But what better way than to come out of retirement than a new Banana Republic deal!?

“They” say in this circle of ours that to justify having a blog you need a niche. Well seems my niche is how to get the most out of your Banana Republic card. And while this one is definitely not as much fun as the original Banana Republic deal, which continues to this day to be one of my favorite deals and frankly funniest story tell, it is a pretty good deal.

The card is offering a targeted offer of 3x points on all transactions outside of Banana Republic/Gap brands from now until 5/31/2015. If you already have the card and you are interested, check your email or call customer service and see if you can get it added.


Now I know 3x is not 5x but the nice thing is the 3x will work anywhere that is not a Banana Republic/Gap brand, so a nice option for other MS tricks that can often only utilize 1x or 2x earning rates (such as the various Buxx programs if you still have cards that are alive, or Amex gift cards via portals). Personally I will probably go quite big on this using Amex gift cards via TopCashBack. With a cash back rate hovering around 1.5% that more than covers the MS costs so should be a nice way to rack up a few hundred bucks in free clothes from Banana Republic, Gap, Athleta (well probably not for me lol), Old Navy etc.

I wonder if I can get a job as a Banana Republic model?

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