About a year ago I posted that I was gearing up to go for NCL Platinum status and going to do it in just one year (i.e. go from Silver to Platinum). Well, I can tell you that by the end of May I will have reached that lifetime elite level in just a few cruises booking mostly suites and Haven cabins plus some real extreme stacking of deals and offers.
In another post in December I started the series I am still working on with the steps I take to get max benefits and the lowest price with little real money out of pocket for my trips. After all, we all try to travel for “FREEEEEEE” but in reality if I can end up paying somewhere between 10-40% of retail I feel I have accomplished my goals.
One of the things I touched on was being really diligent in looking for targeted Amex Offers For You to help lower the price. Now here is where this part gets fun – you can use it many way.
For example, if you have the prepaid tips yet to pay and add some onboard credit and run that as one charge for at least $500 it triggers the $100 back with Amex.
But there are other ways to trigger and use this to get max value. You can, and I have tested this, make payments to say Expedia on an upcoming sailing that is not paid in full (clearly at least $500) and that also will trigger the credit. Want to get even more creative? Keep in mind Amex does not care who is sailing just that you made the charge. So, say your sister / brother was targeted for this offer. Have them make a payment for you and you pay them net $400 back for a $500 charge (or a number of them). Or…
I mentioned buying credit / cash for onboard use works too (yes, I have tested this with past offers). Here is an idea I will try for my next sailing – buy $500 onboard credit and…
Use my onboard credit to pay for my Cruise Next purchase (and decline onboard credits i.e. just get them for half off). Thus for net $400 out of pocket I am getting $1000 to use later on for NCL sailing’s (ProTip: if you book with say Expedia – call after booking and they will call NCL to apply the Cruise Next to your newly booked itinerary). There are some restrictions to these certs but I have no issues working within the rules to get real value.
One thing I did not mention that other readers use also is being an 100+ share NCLH shareholder (at least 15 days before sailing). Now these credits are not the same as prepaid credits so keep in mind this perk is only credit for things you need to pay for onboard. Still a nice stackable perk.
Now one thing you want to avoid like the plague is the NCL credit card from Bank of America. What a total FAIL this card is. However, there are other really nice cards to consider if you want to find ways to pay for a trip and not have it really impact your budget.
My fellow blogger Frequent Miler was the first one I saw post about the change to allow US Bank FlexPerks to be redeemed instantly for payments as low as $10 for travel via text. How sweet and I registered and instantly burned up my balance of FlexPerks points for an upcoming sailing via payment to Expedia (they code and run as an NCL direct charge).
Now there are lots of cash back or cash back type offers Discover, Citi, USAA etc. that offer cash back as statement credit. These cards are clearly worth looking at. But cash can be used for anything, so what other cards work to allow payments on a cruise and then you can use points to pay back those charges?
- US Bank FlexPerks (32k for 2k until 10th March) worth $480 (not my link fyi)
- US Bank FlexPerks Business (25k for 2k spend) worth $375
- Capital One Venture (50k for 3k spend) worth $500
- Capital One Spark Miles (50k for 4.5k spend) worth $500
- Barclays Arrival+ (40k for 3k spend) worth $400
All the above are examples of cards that you can make a charge / payment on a cruise and then later use the points to pay yourself back (note: Arrival+ offer is often 50k points).
Bottom line I hate paying real cash for travel. I want to try to always use points to make my trips as cheap in cost as possible and by carefully choosing where and when I buy a cruise, making careful payments over time and then looking for stacking offers I can lower the price to a level I can afford! – René
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