A quick recap, after listening to a "gambling with an edge" podcast with Bob Dancer and Richard Munchkin I found out about a website called millionmilesecrets.com which gave me some great information on Southwest airlines Rapid Rewards Program.  The most important was that even though I was already a credit card holder and had received the 50,000 mile bonus last year they had another card I could apply for and get the bonus again!  The best part, this bonus counts towards the 110,000 mile requirement to achieve the companion pass.  This pass, once earned will allow you to choose a companion who will fly free each time you book a ticket and its good for the full next year and as early in the current year as you can earn it.  They do charge about 11 bucks round trip in fees for this free flight, plus they have done a good job of getting me to purchase the early bird which gives you an early boarding position at the expense of $25/round trip.  But when I have the miles to book mine for free, I can get 2 tickets to Vegas for $75 bucks fees and early bird included!  Not to mention they still offer 2 free checked bags and free carryon!

So the past couple months I have been making purchases in the rapid rewards shopping site when retailers offer big bonuses.  For example I bought an airline approved hard case for golf clubs and a ipad mini case for about $240.  This was through ebags.com I believe.  Since I entered their site from the rapidrewards page I earned 18 miles per $1 on that purchase!  I also bought a couple sweatshirts and a couple outlet priced jackets from backcountry.com the same way at 12 miles per $1.  These offers are not advertised and you have to check the site frequently but when a retailer is offering a bonus to shop there, its a great way to earn some miles.  

I had been obsessively checking my southwest app on my phone to check for my miles posting multiple times a day.  My most recent was a sams club membership which gave me 500 miles.  This was when i was only 300 miles away!  Well, I'm still waiting for that to post but in the meantime my credit card posted on the 27th and I was 100% companion pass achieved!  I was nervous because my next trip to vegas is over new years and I know that the tickets will continue to inflate as that time approaches.  So I was ready to go book my first ticket with a companion pass!

A great tip that I wish I had known was that to book a companion pass ticket you need to have your ticket booked first.  Had I known this I would have booked my ticket 2 weeks ago when the flight I wanted was on sale and would have saved about 7,000 miles.  Not the end of the world, but something to consider if you are in that same position.  Once you have your flight booked you go back into the rapid rewards section of the site, click on your trip and it will have a small button that says add companion.  You do need to first set up your companion and it states that any changes will need to be made over the phone so make sure you are accurate with this on the first go around.  So all said and done, I have 2 flights booked over new years, and still have some rapid rewards left in my account for a rainy day!  I get to enjoy this benefit until 12/31/2015.  As long as no major changes occur to this program next year, the smart play will be to have my wife open a couple cards during the 50,000 mile sign up bonus and do it again!
I retrieved a nice little surprise from my mailbox this morning, my first little bonus from being a backer on Kickstarter for the Five Hundy by Midnight travel guide!  It may not be common for me to use a Koozie, but you better believe this thing is getting packed for my next Vegas trip.  

We are also 5 days away from VIMFP (Vegas Internet Mafia Family Picnic).  Another year goes by where I will not be attending this event :(.  If you already follow the vegastripping.com site, listen to five hundy by midnight or the vegas gang podcasts you are already aware of this collection of awesomeness that will be taking over the D.  I will be watching from the sidelines again, but this year Hunter developed a VIMFP app to help follow along at home.  If you have any interest in this check out the following link: http://www.vegastripping.com/picnic/

Everyone has their obsessions and for those Vegas-addicts this "picnic" serves as an amazing outlet.  Vegas-geeks unite each year in October and the Vegas Gang do an amazing job organizing these events for all to enjoy.  It's on my bucket-list to attend, lets hope it continues, because it looks like a blast!

In the meantime, I will be drinking my favorite craft beer in my new Koozie, listening to Five Hundy and stalking on the VIMFP app!
As cooler temps and shorter days remind me that the end of the year is near, I continue my final stretch to reach 110,000 rapid reward points to obtain the coveted companion pass.  My goal is to get the pass by November and have a chance of booking airfare with it over the new year.  The point requirements for flights in this timeframe need to hold up to make this a worthwhile trip.  I start this October with 7800 points to goal.

I signed up this summer for the 2nd southwest credit card which gave me a 50,000 mile bump towards this goal.  I will have about 3500 points post at the end of October for charges made on these 2 cards.  Leaving me with 4300 points to go.  I've been skeptical of the rapid rewards shopping site as it seemed that some of the bonus points didn't post, although I didn't keep accurate enough records to prove this.  I have made some smaller purchases that did post and count towards the pass recently so I decided to go for it.  Ebags.com currently has $1 = 18 miles!  I already have new luggage what else could I need from here.  Well I found a hard travel case for my golf clubs and a nice ipad mini case totaling $250.  Doing the math thats equal to 4500 miles!  If this posts correctly I'm in.  If it doesn't I will be sweating the final month of the year to get miles to post in time.  

I will continue to make updates here as to my progress towards the pass.  I have no idea if I automatically get the pass when the correct number of miles are reached, if I need to call and request it and I do not know how long it takes before I can start using it.  I ambitiously booked 4 comped nights at Bally's (wow, that last quest for diamond must have helped!) as I've never been comped over new years before.  Let's hope I can get my airfare comped as well!