How to Earn Major Free Travel Money with Barclay Travel Community

Recently, I was perusing my favorite travel hacker websites and came across a Milevalue post about the Barclay Travel Community. When you post short travel stories to the community board, you earn points redeemable for Amazon e-certs, but if you also have the Arrival+ credit card, you benefits can really start to add up. In this post, I'll go deeper to explain the potential of combining Barclay Travel Community stories with the Barclay Arrival+ card to earn serious travel play money!

The Travel Community Point-Earning Basics

  • Write a 100+ word story (+1 photo) and you receive 150 points
  • Add up to 25 "details" to that story for 10 points each
  • Every "kudos" you get from member is an additional 10 points
  • You can write up to 100 stories per month, but only 5 per city/state/country ever

The way it's typically been described by most bloggers who have written on the topic, you should write a story, add 3 details, and hope you get some kudos every once in a while. That's going to earn you about 180-200 points per story. Let's say you wrote 10 stories like that per month, you would earn approximately 2000 points, which equates to $20 in Barclay Arrival+ points, redeemable for travel charges to the card. Walking this equation out to 1 year, you would earn about $240 worth of free travel for an hour per month of reminiscing about your travels. Sounds pretty good, right?

Barclaycard Travel Community on Expert Mode

If you do as much travel as me, there is much more potential to this program than just a couple hundred dollars per year in travel credits. While other bloggers have written a bit about the program, I'm going to dig deeper and give you a specific outline for serious earning. Here's the system I plan to employ, step-by-step:

  1. Sign up for the Barclay Arrival+ if you don't already have it - This travel hack really only works well if you stack the participation points earned in the travel community with the credit card. In addition, the card has a 50,000 point sign-up bonus right now, so that's an extra $500 in travel money!
  2. Write 100 stories each month - Pick 20 cities you know best and start there. Write 5 stories per city, focusing on a specific topic so that as the months go on you will still have things to write about. The city/state/country limit makes this tough, but in practice I have been able to select counties and districts within the same area as the city I am talking about, so that's your workaround. If you complete just this step, you will earn 15,000 points or $150 in travel money per month for about 8 hours of work.
  3. Add value with details - After you have completed your stories, go back and add as many details as time allows. Since the stories take time, don't bother with the details unless you have more than 8 or 9 hours per month to spend (more on why later). I was able to bang out 2 details per minute and feel I could probably write about 6 details per story without working too hard. A good method for this would be to make a list of easy details to add to any story (every story could include info about which metro is nearby, where you ate and stayed, etc.). Adding six details per story equals 600 details per month for an additional 6,000 points.
  4. Build a kudos machine - Perhaps the most interesting possibility for adding value where other bloggers have not written is in the extra 10 points per kudos. You don't have to be an Arrival+ cardholder to have a Barclay Travel Community account, so there's no reason you couldn't enlist some friends, find other enthusiastic community members, (or let your multiple personalities chime in). If you got 10 kudos per story, that would add an additional 10,000 points per month, worth $100 in travel. How long would it take for ten accounts to sign in and essentially push the like button over and over? Not long at all.

Adding It All Up to Rake in the Arrival+ Points

Here's my math for the system I just suggested:

15,000 + 6,000 + 10,000 = 31,000 Arrival+ points per month

8 hours + 5 hours + 1 hour = 14 hours of work per month

31,000/14 = 2,214 points per hour or $22.14 per hour

And here's why I did the steps in that specific order:

15,000 points/8 hours = 1,875 points per hour

6,000 points/5 hours = 1,200 points per hour

10,000 points/1 hour = 10,000 points per hour

The least efficient point-earning opportunity here is adding details and the most profitable is getting kudos. Therefore, getting stories up quickly so you can maximize the kudos opportunity is the first priority and details are really just a lower-value add-on. However, if you are 100% sure you're going to hit 100 stories per month, it might make sense to add a few details while writing stories, just so you don't have to click back and re-acquaint yourself with the story later.

The Bottom Line 

While I think it would be difficult to keep this earning strategy up year after year, by combining the Arrival+ signup bonus of 50,000 points with the 31,000 points per month from the travel community, you could earn 422,000 Arrival+ points in the first year, netting you $4,220 in free travel credits, which could be used for flights, hotels, Airbnb, Uber, and on and on!

ht: Milevalue.com

How to Always Get 10-15% off Hyatt Hotels

Lots of people prefer Hyatt brands because of their consistent quality and good locations in major cities. While it's not the largest hotel group, Hyatt does have a strong reputation as one of the better ones. Usually, these kinds of things come with a price-tag, and it's true that Hyatt hotels are not the cheapest. In this post, I'll share a simple secret for getting Hyatt hotel stays for 10-15% off, every single time, with no black-out dates.

Use gift cards to achieve significant savings at Hyatt Hotels

Well, the secret is out in the section heading, but I can't tell you how many times gift cards have reduced the cost of purchases I've made over the last few years, and hotels are available at a discount this way, too! you can buy Hyatt gift cards for 10-15% off nearly all of the time. To do this, search gift card resellers like Cardpool.com and Raise.com, or let GiftCardGranny.com do the searching for you. GiftCardGranny will find the highest offers from most of the major gift card resellers, ensuring you get the best deal.

At this time, there are numerous electronic gift cards and even some physical ones that are being offered on multiple sites for 13-14% off. I have checked up on these deals periodically over the last several years and it's always between 10-15%.

These gift cards can then be used to book upcoming stays at more than 500 Hyatt brand properties, including: Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Hotels, Andaz, Hyatt Centric, Unbound Collection, Hyatt Place, Hyatt House, and Ziva & Zilara All-Inclusive Resorts. You can find a full list of participating properties here.

 Hyatt Playa Del Carmen Resort

Hyatt Playa Del Carmen Resort

Why discounted Hyatt gift cards are so great

One of my favorite booking sites is Hotels.com, which essentially offers about 10% off all the time, either in coupon-form or with their rewards program (after 10 stays, you get a free night equal to the average value of those stays). You may have another OTA (online travel agency) that you use to get regular discounts as well, and the advantage is that you are not beholden to a single brand.

Here are the reasons I still feel Hyatt gift cards are often the better option:

  • Buying gift cards will often earn you a better discount than OTA's
  • You can stack the discounts from gift cards on top of any Hyatt promotions
  • You will still earn Hyatt points for your stay
  • Your stay will count towards achieving status with Hyatt
  • Hyatt will treat you better (hotels tend to give their worst rooms to OTA bookings)

Limitations of using Hyatt gift cards

As is always the case, when you turn cash-money into a gift card or credit with a particular business, you must actually use the full balance in order to make it worthwhile. Gift cards are a profit-leader for many business because they are counting on low redemption rates. The good news is, since most of the gift cards are electronic and the 10-15% discount rates are consistent, there's no need to buy the cards speculatively. When you know you'll need to book a hotel stay, just purchase the gift card immediately before booking to ensure optimum use.

Another limitation occurs if you already have the Hyatt-branded credit card from Chase. In this case, you'll be earning 1 Hyatt point per dollar spent at a gift card reseller, instead of 3ppd for using the card directly at a Hyatt hotel. I find this to be mostly insignificant, since the earnings rate is low either way.

One other thing that's important to point out is that terms and conditions suggest Hyatt gift cards are basically limited to North and South America, so if you have plans to stay in other parts of the world, you may be out of luck. For more information about gift card uses at Hyatt, here's a link to the Hyatt Gift Card FAQ's page.

The bottom line

As you can see, there are lots of reasons to purchase Hyatt gift cards at a discount. In fact, if you have plans to stay at a Hyatt, or just have general plans to stay in a city that has Hyatt properties in North or South America, this 10-15% discount option should always be on the table.

 Andaz Papagayo Peninsula Resort

Andaz Papagayo Peninsula Resort

Stacks on Stacks: Using Travel Hacking Know-How to Reduce the Cost of Other Items

If you've been following this blog for a while, you'll know that I'm all about stacking multiple avenues of savings together to make travel as inexpensive as possible. Today, we'll take a look at how to do the same with other expenses, all in accord with the site motto: "do more and love every minute."

AMEX Offers - $25 statement credit after $100 spent at Staples

If you have an American Express credit or charge card, you have access to "AMEX Offers." Once you click on these offers (to add them to your credit card), they give you the opportunity to earn a statement credit after completing a transaction with AMEX-affiliated vendors. Today, an offer for Staples popped up:

My wife and I have several AMEX accounts between us, so I quickly added this offer to every account it popped up on (3 of our 4 AMEX accounts had the offer available). Once added, the stacking fun began in earnest.

Using discounted gift cards to buy discounted merchandise + topcashback.com rebate

First, I used the topcashback.com portal to access the Staples website, earning a 3% rebate on anything I spent there for the next seven days (more info on topcashback.com and other portal sites is available in my miles and points e-guide). Savings: $3

Once on the Staples website, I looked to see what gift card options were available to me and discovered that Banana Republic's gift cards were 20% off. I found the most perfect-fitting shirt there recently and have been wanting to buy a few more in different colors, so this was a perfect opportunity for me! I quickly snapped up $125-worth of BR gift cards for $100. Savings: $25

Immediately after my gift card purchase, I received an email from AMEX showing that the terms of my offer had been fulfilled, earning me a $25 statement credit on my next credit card bill. Savings: $25

Finally, I headed over to Banana Republic, where I noticed several of the shirt I wanted on sale for 40% off ($30 instead of the usual $50). After tax, that put four shirts at almost exactly the $125 in gift cards I had purchased. Savings: $80

The Bottom Line: Huge Savings Through Stacking

Let's walk it all back in reverse. The shirts were originally 4x$50+tax for about $215 total. I purchased the Banana Republic gift cards for $100. After subtracting the $25 statement credit and the $3 topcashback.com rebate I'll be receiving, I spent $72. By quadruple-stacking my discounts, statement credits, and rebates, I ended up saving 66% off retail for shirts that I'm really excited to have.

This was a particularly good stacking opportunity, but these types of opportunities are out there all the time. I still have two more accounts to use this AMEX Offer on, so I will end up saving even more. Staples sells Whole Foods gift cards, so I will probably by $200-worth of those for $150 after receiving the statement credits. That will net me $50 in free groceries, allowing me to shop at a place I normally avoid because of price-shock! I feel a celebratory craft beer coming on...