Checking out the Chase/United VIP Lounge + My Black Friday Extravangza

I’m hoping all readers are having a lovely Thanksgiving and holiday weekend! Yesterday I spent Turkey Day with Mr. Points Traveler and his family. One of the perks of having an extremely diverse family is having all kinds of food at your fingertips – aside from a traditional turkey dinner, we also had loads of yummy Filipino dishes, sushi on demand (yes, we have a sushi chef in the family!), and some Italian and Polish specialties. I think I am still recovering from my food coma. Hopefully everyone else got to enjoy some delicious meals and joyful times with their loved ones as well.

What I love most about Thanksgiving weekend is Black Friday and Cyber Monday (and now we have Orange Wednesday – what’s that about?) because I get the same rush from scoring amazing deals on gifts as I do from all things points and miles – love that feeling!

What’s depressing though, is hearing the stories about the violence and death that occurs over deals – especially at Walmart. On our way home last night we drove by a huge commotion that included firetrucks and police cars; you would think we were driving by a multi-car pile-up catastrophe, but nope – just traffic being directed into the infamous Walmart parking lot – jeez.

I tried to stay up until midnight last night to get in on some deals the second they were released, but I stood no chance with the amount of food I consumed – it was lights out before 9 pm for me.

I did, however, wake up bright and early, roll over, and tell Mr. Points Traveler to rise and shine – it’s mall time! I had a loaded AmEx (with sync offers), and I was ready to shop. Plus, I needed an excuse to check out one of the only two Chase/United VIP mall lounges in America this holiday season (I also wanted to try one of those hyped-up Cake Boss cupcakes).

Mr. Points Traveler and I headed to the Short Hills Mall in NJ at around 930 am. To our surprise, there was NO traffic and the mall wasn’t the slightest bit overwhelming. Here’s how I made out:

First things first – I had an AmEx offer for $50 off a $200 in-store purchase at Henri Bendel that was set to expire tomorrow. I was feeling like it was time to treat myself to a new purse, and with the 40% off sale that was going on in store, this would be perfect. I ended up going with a really nice deep teal purse with a $378 price tag on it. After the 40% off discount, it came to $226.80. I also got a free Henri Bendel mug and a $20 gift card for making the purchase. After I used my synced AmEx, I received notification that I would be getting a $50 statement credit in a few days – total price: $176.80. Here it is:

Screen Shot 2013-11-29 at 9.38.03 PM

Next, I headed to White House Black Market where I also had an AmEx sync offer for $50 back on a $200 or more purchase. The entire store was 30% off and I had no problem getting a few new dresses and sweaters at great prices. I was planning on heading to Neiman Marcus to also take advantage of their $50 back on $200 AmEx sync promo as well, but I had stopped myself because it really isn’t a store within my budget.

After spending time shopping, it was time to check out the Chase/United VIP Lounge. The lounge is available for all United co-branded credit card holders + one guest (photo id required). Inside, there are large big screen TVs, lounging chairs, free wifi, phone charging stations, a complimentary coat check, free holiday gift wrapping, and refreshments.

Since it was Friday, they were featuring desserts and cupcakes from Carlo’s Bakery aka Cake Boss (so Jersey) so it was a madhouse in there (that, and because it was Black Friday). I had high hopes for these cupcakes, and while they were pretty, it could have fooled me that it didn’t come prepackaged from Walmart, to be honest. I still appreciated the complimentary refreshments (the bottled waters and hot beverages are always nice).

Screen Shot 2013-11-29 at 9.38.40 PMSpeaking of United… and lounges, I have two United Club Passes that I want to extend to a reader so that you can experience a United Club lounge during your next trip to the airport. All you have to do to enter to win is leave a comment – share how you spent your Thanksgiving (or Black Friday if deals excite you as well) and why you could use the passes. I’ll choose a winner at random on Monday morning.

Safe and Happy Holidays to all!


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  1. Kerry says

    Sounds like you had a good Thanksgiving, Angelina. I had Thanksgiving last weekend with my kids in Maine, so yesterday I baked a pie, and then got to work cleaning up all the emails that had piled up during all the family (travel)time over the last 3 weeks. If I won the United coupons, I’d give them to 2 of my musicians I’ll be bringing in for the Montana Early Music Festival in March. If I ever get around to finding frequent flyers tix for them all. (Next project!)

  2. Joey says

    I was at Short Hills mall today as well at 8am and will admit in the past 2 years or so Black Friday there has been manageable. I’ve always found parking and it was nothing like it was back 5 years ago. I went to the Chase United lounge as well and it was a nice perk. After all the eating I did yesterday, though, I could only eat one cupcake.

  3. Anthony says

    I was on a p.s. United flight that was delayed about 6 hours from LAX to JFK due to weather, then mechanical issues…United repaid my subdued patience with a $250 gift certificate. Next year, I will make sure to leave earlier than Thanksgiving eve & shop with you at the Short Hills Mall instead!

  4. KH says

    Great read! I spent both the days working, but got done early on Thanksgiving so my wife and I went to the local festival of lights in the Botanical Gardens on Thanksgiving evening! Then came home and watched the football game together. We will be taking a 28 hour trip to Asia in January with a stopover in Europe, so the United Club passes will be very helpful. Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. Lyn says

    Enjoyed Thanksgiving with 12 family members at my house. Then, on Black Friday, (after cleaning), I received my new Club Carlson Visa so I spent time online setting up my account and adding to my spreadsheets. Now I’ll have it for holiday shopping!

  6. mary e. says

    Went to starbucks to work on our family’s finances (Black Friday) – super-exciting, haha. Thankful my husband could watch our daughter and SB ended up giving me a free frappucino, which I gladly gave to him. :-)

  7. Jim F. says

    I scored the free $50 in Extra Care Bucks @ CVS on Wednesday and then promptly returned on Thursday morning to take advantage of their “buy 1, get 2 free” offers, free (with coupon) batteries and crazy ECB back offers on Rice Chex, etc. I brought home $83 worth of stuff we would have purchased anyway for just $11. Talk about a rush!

  8. Larry D says

    A wonderful thanksgiving home with extended family. Black Friday included a quick trip to the shopping center which included an Office Depot run (gift cards) and next door i went to Best Buy (Amex Sync offer) and Lowes. Then, off to work by 9:00.

  9. Larry D says

    A wonderful thanksgiving home with extended family. Black Friday included a quick trip to the shopping center which included an Office Depot run (gift cards) and next door i went to Best Buy (Amex Sync offer) and Lowes. Then, off to work by 9:00. And I would use the united passes on my Snowmass ski trip coming up over Christmas.

  10. amelie says

    I spent some time at the gym on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. I have trips to Munich and LA coming up so a pas would be wonderful. Thanks and Happy Holidays!

  11. misty says

    I spent Thanksgiving with family that came in from out of town. Nice traditional meal with Football on the screen in between activities.
    Shopping today with A/E Small Business and then Cyber Monday.
    Great weekend all around!

  12. Sarah C says

    I spent Thanksgiving in Beijing where a few expats and I had a belated celebration on Friday with turkey, veggies, and mashed potatoes! I would love the passes as I have lots of travel coming up and will be heading home to the US in a few weeks!

  13. Vagablond says

    Did a little on line shopping. While relaxing with the family! Grand babies kept me at home, and Gymboree on line sales, free shipping and $10 Jammie’s were too good to pass up!

  14. Trevor says

    Hi Angelina! I spent my Black Friday running around to a bunch of Office Max stores, trying to score the $200 Visa gift cards that we’re being offered with an instant $20 off! Wanted to rack up some UR points!

  15. Nancy C says

    Love the purse! Due to work, this year Thanksgiving was spent with friends instead of family on the opposite coast. Still had a great time!

  16. Emma W says

    Worked until 2 on Thanksgiving then spend the rest of the day with family and friends. I would love the passes as I am surprising my husband with a trip to Spain for Christmas and having lounge access would really make the trip even better.

  17. Janine says

    Hi Angelina! Went out to dinner with a group of friends where we changed the venue at the last minute to a place that served no pumpkin pie. :( I would use the United lounge passes on the Europe trip I need to book before the points go up in February. Again, :(

  18. Kevin B says

    I went to the Short Hills Chase VIP lounge around 11:15 and the guy guarding the cupcakes was basically yelling and scolding everyone in line. When all the people confronted him he said he doesn’t need to serve anyone and one more comment and nobody would be served. I understand this is stressful on everyone but given it is a VIP lounge, a little courtesy is in order. There are many great people needing a job and this jerk should have been replaced with one of them

  19. Anita says

    I wish I went to check out sales but I worked all day. I picked up iTunes gift cards on my lunch break at Office Depot for 15% off that sums it up

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