WELCOME TO THE ULTIMATE
Have you heard the buzz? One of our favorite credit cards for travel rewards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred, has hit a magnificently high sign-up bonus! If you were ever thinking of starting the points game, now would be the time.
For years, the sign-up bonus for the CSP was 60,000 points, until a few months ago when Chase raised it to 80k points to entice new clients ready to travel after the pandemic, but now they've outdone themselves with an unbelievable 100k points sign-up bonus! 100k points can get you very, very far in the world of points; it's worth at the very least $1250 in travel, but if you play your cards right can be worth hundreds of dollars more.
So here's how we spent our Sunday:
1. Chase does not allow two Sapphire cards owned by the same person at once, and we already have the Chase Sapphire Reserve. So we first needed to call Chase and ask them to downgrade our Chase Sapphire Reserve to a Chase Freedom Flex. (This is also known as product change).
By the way, we downgraded the CSR to the Freedom Flex because we also already have a Freedom Unlimited-- but if you don't yet have an Unlimited, that is a good choice to downgrade to also.
Additionally, keep in mind that you can only receive a signup bonus for a Sapphire card every 48+ months, so make sure you've held on to your card for at least two years before trying this downgrade hack.
2. Ask Chase to reduce your available credit with them. This is because sometimes Chase will deny your application if the amount of available credit they've offered you is already high (regardless if you use it all or not). So reduce your credit line to an amount that closer aligns with your monthly spending habits to improve the odds of being accepted for your new card.
3. Apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred using the 100k signup bonus offer link.
Note: you might further increase your odds of getting approved if you wait 31 days from downgrading to apply for your new card.
4. After getting approved for your new card, spend $4000 on it in the first three months and collect your points. Note: it does have a $95 annual fee, but the perks will more than cover this. Besides the killer sign up bonus, you will also enjoy 5X points on Lyft rides, 2X points on dining and travel, up to $50 statement credit for grocery items (this alone offsets most of the annual fee), free DoorDash DashPass for a year and many other perks.
5. If you benefit from the perks of the Chase Sapphire Reserve including the lounge access it comes with and therefore don't want to see it go, after qualifying for the CSP, call back Chase and ask them to upgrade your Freedom Flex or Unlimited back to the Chase Sapphire Reserve. This works because while you can't get approved for a Sapphire card when you already have one, you CAN upgrade another card to a Sapphire even if you already have another Sapphire.
You should definitely take advantage of this offer while you can! Happy hacking!
Dazzling resorts dotted along the white sand shores of Cancun, Mexico come a dime a dozen, but we chose to stay at The Pyramid at Grand Oasis and will definitely be returning again. Here's why.
1. Location, Location, Location! The best beach experience in Cancun lies on what is referred to as the "Hotel Zone"- a 1/3 mile stretch of beach which boasts the clearest water and finest, whitest sand. The Pyramid is located directly in the center of it, where you are within walking distance to shops, malls and restaurants, should you feel the need to leave the resort (although with so much to do, you won't want to!)
2. The food! The Pyramid has some of the BEST restaurants in Cancun; literally, five of them are listed in the top ten restaurants in Cancun on TripAdvisor. The food quality is tremendous (think the best meat cuts and seafood!), with incredible variety (all you can sushi!) and great ambiance (gorgeous sea views!). Now, if you've visited all-inclusive resorts in touristy areas before, you may be familiar with having to line up at 8am to make dinner reservations, or risk eating at the same mediocre buffet for the fourth day in a row. You won't have that problem here, but pay attention! Oasis Hotels bought out what used to be two separate properties- The Grand and The Pyramid and combined them into one. Make sure to book The Pyramid at Grand Oasis (and not just the Grand Oasis), because you will get a different colored wristband that allows you access into exclusive restaurants. Because there are less people who book The Pyramid (as it is more expensive, but well worth it!) there are no lines and no reservations required. Just be sure to check which restaurants are exclusive and frequent those, as the Grand Oasis options aren't nearly as good and often have long lines. Definitely eat at Market Place for breakfast (the least crowded of the buffets by far and with more choices and a better view). For dinner, eat at Carayes Seafood at least once!
3. The rooms: While you MUST book The Pyramid for access to a more exclusive experience, we don't actually recommend staying in the Pyramid. The Pyramid building (although with newer renovated rooms) is towards the back of the property and doesn't have any ocean front rooms. So we recommend booking a Pyramid Oceanfront room (not the same as 'Sea View"), which is actually housed in the Grand Oasis building (confusing, we know!). These rooms have incredible balconies directly overlooking the ocean and are phenomenal. If you are traveling with a family, we reccomend spending a little more to upgrade to the Pyramid Suite which are on the top two floors, as it is more spacious with two rooms, and two balconies each overlooking the ocean.
4. Peacocks! How can you resist a property that has roaming peacocks throughout the property? While you are eating in a restaurant or lounging by the pool, peacocks will suddenly surprise you at your feet. Need we say more?
5. Loungers, daybeds and pools! While the Grand Oasis boasts the longest pool in Cancun (1/4 mile!), there is also a separate pool for those staying in The Pyramid. It is much smaller, but the plus is that it is surrounded with beautiful cabanas and daybeds available only to Pyramid guests, so no more waking up a the crack of dawn to reserve a cabana with your towel. Many all-inclusives in Cancun charge extra to use beach and pool cabanas and loungers, but we loved that at the Pyramid they are truly all-inclusive and free for guests.
If you still aren't convinced that this is the spot to be, The Pyramid also has nightly shows akin to Cirque Du Soleil, held in their giant Pyramid amphitheater. They also have ae robust gym full of all thee equipment you need, hammocks throughout the garden, and other entertainment such as tennis courts and golf. See you in Mexico!
We spent an unforgettable spring break in Zion National Park, Utah (where we learned the correct pronunciation rhymes with 'lion' and not 'lie on' like we had been saying lol).
The two most iconic hikes of Zion are Angels Landing (too dangerous for children!) and The Narrows, which despite what others may tell you, is definitely doable with kids!
Follow this plan and you'll be on your way to making fantastic, Insta-worthy memories.
1. Get There and Book Accommodation: The closest airport to Zion is McCarran International Airport of Las Vegas. So fly into Vegas, rent a car and drive to Springdale, UT (a little over 2 hours). Springdale is right at the foot of Zion and has many campgrounds, "glamp-grounds", and hotels, so you’ll have lots of options for where and how to stay.
2. Shuttle Tickets: At exactly 5:00pm, shuttle tickets for the following day are released. NOTE: If you do not get shuttle tickets, you can’t go! The tickets are highly competitive to score and on most days will be completely sold out by 5:01pm. So be ready, signed in to an account and refreshing the page at 4:59pm. We had 5 devices trying at once and one of them got through for tickets on the second day of trying. If you try every day of your trip and still aren't lucky enough to get tickets, you can always show up to the Visitor Center the day of and enter the standby line, for a chance to get on the last shuttle of the day at 2pm. However, the line is known to already be a few hundred people long by noon, so be prepared to wait if you choose this option.
3. Check Conditions: On the morning of, be sure to check the weather for any signs of flashfloods (!). During a flash flood, water walls 12 feet high or more can rush down the canyon and because there are steep cliffs on either side, it can be fatal as there is no way to climb to higher ground. Yes, people have died on this hike. Often times, flashfloods can be caused by storms miles away, while the weather overhead looks clear, so it's imperative to check the weather within a 30 mile radius of the park. If the weather looks good all around, you then need to check the water level of the river. This is especially important if you have children doing this hike. (Remember, what may be waist-deep water for you, will be chest-deep water for them!) The ideal height for this hike is anything flowing below 50 cfs (cubic feet per second). If it is at 50 or below, a child age 5-8 will have no problem doing this hike. If you have a child younger than 5, use your discretion. You might need to carry them in a carrier, unless they are advanced hikers and know how to swim.
4. Find Parking! If all the stars have aligned for you, you will still need to find parking at the Visitor’s Center. By 11:00am, this parking lot will fill up, so beware! If you don't find a lucky spot, you will need to look for (paid) parking back in the city of Springdale and take the free shuttle to the Visitor Center. NOTE: This is not the same shuttle that you have tickets for. If you are staying at a hotel in Springdale with parking, it might be a better idea to just leave your car there and take the shuttle to begin with, especially if you are staying at one of the hotels which has a shuttle stop in front.
5. Get Your Gear: You will need to rent gear from Zion Outfitter, located next to the Visitor's Center. They rent water proof pants, socks and shoes and special canyoneering hiking sticks. The water is COLD and the hike is hard so you will need this special gear. The package costs $55 per person per day to rent. Those who didn’t have gear didn’t make it very far into the river or in at all. Trust us, do not attempt this hike without renting the proper gear.
6. Ready to go: Once in your gear, walk to the Visitor's Center and show your QR code to board the shuttle into Zion at your designated time. You will need to pay an entrance fee to enter the park which is $20 per person. Ride the shuttle all the way up the canyon to the very last stop (stop number 9 also called "Temple of Sinawava"). This will be your last place to use the bathroom, so take advantage. From there, follow the paved pathway for about one mile to get to the Narrows entrance. When the river walk dead ends, it's time to descend the stairs, enter the water and let the true adventure begin. This is also the perfect place and time for a picnic lunch to give you energy for your journey ahead. You don't want to risk having soggy sandwiches, should you lose your footing accidentally and fall in (which you will, at least once), so eat before you enter the river. The entire Narrows hike is 8 miles up the river (and then you must come down!), but the sweeping views start almost immediately, so don't worry if you don't go all the way up, we'll never tell 😉. In fact, we only hiked about 2 miles total in the water and it was more than enough for the gorgeous views and fun experience.
What to do on the days you don't have shuttle tickets: Without shuttle tickets, you can still explore the East end of Zion, which is open to car traffic. The highlight of the East side is the one mile long Zion Mount Carmel tunnel, which was blasted straight through the sandstone cliffs, and includes fun peepholes throughout to look out at the valley down below as you drive through. Be sure to stop along the pullouts for some gorgeous photos amongst red rock cliffs as you meander your way up to the tunnel.
Immediately to your right as you exit the tunnel (drive slow as you near the end so you won't miss it!) is the parking lot for perhaps one of the most picturesque hikes in all of Zion. It is a very short (1/2 mile hike) to the Canyon Overlook. However, the parking lot is tiny (only a dozen spots), so it will take a certain amount of luck to do this hike. If you can't get a parking spot, keep driving and there are plenty of places where you can pull over and do an impromptu day hike. There aren't officially marked trails in this area, so people just stroll along the rocks and river beds at the sides of the road. Keep your eye out for the big horned sheep that roam this area frequently! Finally, be sure to pack lots of water and food because traffic builds up to get back through the tunnel in the afternoon and you might be stuck there for awhile.
Have you ever hiked The Narrows? Let us know how it went and if you have other tips!