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Sunday, January 19, 2014

My almost free air and hotel booking for upcoming Miami trip

English: no original description
English: no original description (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love to travel.  But sometimes trip costs can be expensive.  But who does not like to getaway during winter for few days.Thanks to Amex Canada.  I was able to use the points earned from American Express Gold Rewards card and American Express Starwood Preferred Guest credit card and book my air ticket for less than $60 (only paid the taxes) and hotel was 100% free.

American Express Gold Rewards card offers 25K bonus points and it is free for the first year.  It is a great card.
  • You will earn double points for every $1 in eligible travel purchases charged to the card, including flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, and more.
  • You will earn double points for every $1 in eligible gas, grocery and drugstore purchases charged to the Card.
  • You will earn one point for every $1 in purchases charged to the Card everywhere else.
The points from the transactions are posted immediately and you don’t have to wait till the statement. One disadvantages is that it may take little bit of time for them to post the bonus points but they will eventually post. Other disadvantage is that I would like to use this card for groceries as well but Real Canadian Superstore does not take American express. Please also note this is a charge card and you have to pay full balance each month.

Time to time Amex has bonus which will let you transfer the points with 50% bonus to BA – Avios points. (That means 25K will be 37.5K Avios points. You can book return ticket to from Toronto Miami for 20K+ $60 using Avios in points in the American airlines. That is direct flight.
If you like for apply the card, here is the Application Link

I also have an American express Starwood Preferred Guest credit card which I use for my business expenses. This card will earn SPG points on purchases.  I am ardent fan of SPG hotels and when I got the card I received 21K bonus points.  Unfortunately this card has fee of $120/year.  As I use the card for business purposes that fee is deductible. SPG points are well worth for the fee.
  • You will earn one point for every $1 in purchases charged to the Card everywhere else.
  • You will receive a Free Weekend Night Award when you reach $40,000 in purchases each year.
  • You will get an automatic upgrade to Starwood Gold level when you spend more than $30K in a year.
 I was able to earn 13K points with transactions I posted to the card. I was able to book Four Points Sheraton in the Miami Beach for 20K points for two days and then Sheraton airport hotel for 14K.

SPG points can be transferred to airline points as well. It provides bonus for transfers to most of the airlines (provide bonus of 5K if you transfer 20K points). I usually keep the SPG points for hotel stay as those are more valuable for me for hotel stay.
If you like for apply the card, here is the Application Link

Voila I have booked air and hotel with out of pocket cost of $60.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Great Travel Site for Air Travel Booking

Image representing Momondo as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase
 I have used expedia and cheapoair to get a quotes for airline tickets but found it does not give me a good price when there is more than one transit. I recently found Momondo is a good site when you have multiple transits.  I was able to print the quote and took it to my travel agent to get it matched. Next time, I am actually going to book the tickets via the site.
It is a Danish company and they are in the business since 2006.
Here is more info about the company and some reviews about the company.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Online Shopping for clothes

I used to shop at Amazon and Chapters for books and other things. But I my sister does most of her clothes shopping and her kids shopping online. Recently I started online purchasing for clothes at Land’s end.  Initially I was bit nervous about sizes and quality but so far happy with the casual clothes purchases.  During November – December they had 30% off and free shipping and I was able to buy fleece tops for $10.00 and no tax or duty or shipping charges.   If you are purchasing anything less than $20.00, there will be no duty or sales tax but usually shipping charge will apply.

They have online chat line in case you have question about sizes and the online reviews are also helpful. Once your order, if they have it in stock you will get it in 3-4 days. They also adjust the length or make cuff for free.
Time to time they email discount coupons for 30% off or 40% off. Recently I bought ski jacket with 30% coupon and it is pretty good deal.  If you are not satisfied with the purchase you can return it but there will be shipping cost of $7.95 but if the product is defective they will waive shipping charge. I have done around 10 purchases in the last 4 months and only one I returned because the size was not what they indicated. You can also get rebate by going through rebates sites (Great Canadian Rebates, Red Flags Deals or ebates)
All the billing will be done in US dollars. I use rewards visa which provides good exchange rate without additional charge.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

CRA treated you unfairly – What is your option?

Spring = Tax Headache
Spring = Tax Headache (Photo credit: Canadian Pacific)

Have you ever had a situation where CRA treated you unfairly?  Dealing with CRA can be very intimidating experience and you did not know that you had another option for better resolution. It is Taxpayers’ Ombudsman.
The Taxpayers' Ombudsman is an independent and impartial officer who reviews complaints from people who believe they have been treated unfairly or unprofessionally by the Canada Revenue Agency.
As a tax payer you have following eight basic rights that are included in the Tax Payer Bill of Rights.
·         the right to be treated professionally, courteously, and fairly (Taxpayer Bill of Rights, Article 5);
·         the right to complete, accurate, clear, and timely information from the CRA (Taxpayer Bill of Rights, Article 6);
·         the right to lodge a service complaint and to be provided with an explanation of the CRA findings (Taxpayer Bill of Rights, Article 9);
·         the right to have the costs of compliance taken into account when tax legislation is administered (Taxpayer Bill of Rights, Article 10);
·         the right to expect the CRA to be accountable (Taxpayer Bill of Rights, Article 11);
·         the right to expect the CRA to publish service standards and report annually (Taxpayer Bill of Rights, Article 13);
·         the right to expect the CRA to warn you about questionable tax schemes in a timely manner (Taxpayer Bill of Rights, Article 14); and
·         the right to be represented by a person of your choice (Taxpayer Bill of Rights, Article 15).
It is Taxpayer’s Ombudsman’s responsibility to ensure CRA actually complies with these basic rights. 
Before you file a service-related complaint with the Taxpayers' Ombudsman, follow these steps:
1.    Try to resolve the issue with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) employee you have been dealing with or phone the number you've been given.
2.    If you are not satisfied, speak with the employee's supervisor.
3.    If you are still not satisfied with the way your issue is being handled, complete Form RC193, Service-Related Complaint to file a formal complaint. For more information, visit CRA – Service Complaints.
Submit a complaint
If you are not satisfied with the way your service-related complaint was handled by the CRA, submit the details of your complaint to the Taxpayers' Ombudsman using the Taxpayers' Ombudsman - Complaint Form.
Print your complete complaint form and send it along with any supporting documentation by fax to 1-866-586-3855 or by mail to:
Office of the Taxpayers' Ombudsman
50 O'Connor Street, Suite 724
Ottawa ON K1P 6L2

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