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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saving Big on Attractions with the GO Card - A review of our newest sponsor

We'd like to introduce (and review) our newest sponsor on this blog: The GO Card.

The GO Card an all-inclusive pass allowing unlimited entry to a variety of attractions in cities across the USA and Canada. The concept here is simplicity, and through that, saving money. Being able to skip the lines, and not worrying about pricing at every attraction creates a more enjoyable vacation (in theory). With these cards, you pay per-day, and you're free to visit whatever attractions you wish, without paying a single penny more. One day cards cost more per day than seven day cards, understandably, and the longer duration card you buy, the cheaper the cost per day.

I wanted to try one of these out on my recent visit to Hawaii, and share my review with you so you can make an informed decision before buying one of these. If you plan on trying one out, feel free to support our website and the work that we do by purchasing the pass through our links.

Pricing Structure

I'll use the GO Oahu Card as the example here. Most of the cards use similar pricing structures:

One Day Adult/Child: $44.99 / $34.99
Two Day Adult/Child: $74.99 / $64.99

Passes of three days or higher include a free "Premium" attraction. For Oahu, these included Germaine's Luau (reg. $75 or so), the Polynesian Cultural Center (reg. $55 or so), a one day diving lesson, or a one day car rental. This can be a real value if you use it right. Those prices are:

Three Day Adult/Child: $129.99 / $109.99
Five Day Adult/Child: $179.99 / $149.99
Seven Day Adult/Child: $219.99 / $179.99

The prices of the 3, 5, and 7 day cards are admittedly high - you'd have to make sure you'll get your money's worth. These prices are usually 15% off every two weeks or so, through unadvertised sales on their websites.

Like I said before, the other cities prices fluctuate, but are generally in the same proportion.

Buying the Go Oahu Card (Hawaii)

A few hours before departing for Hawaii, I visited Go Card's website and chose to purchase a one-day pass. I wasn't really wanting to purchase a multi-day pass, because I couldn't see myself filling two days with the attractions listed. I used a coupon code I had (see below) and recieved 10% off of the retail price of $44.99. There was a $2.00 fee for picking up the pass in-town, so my total cost was $42.49 after pickup fee, tax, and discount. There were options to have the pass mailed, which were a few dollars more than the in-town pick up fee, but I chose to minimize costs (and didn't have any time to wait for it to arrive by mail).

Printing the Voucher

After paying with my credit card, I was sent a link to print out my voucher. I'd have to bring the voucher to one of the three pickup locations listed on the voucher. These included major shops and hotels central Honolulu and Waikiki. Pickup in Honolulu was a breeze - the pass was handed to me within seconds and I was on my way out the door in under a minute.

How Does it Work?

The Go Card works like a credit card. At the ticket counter of your attraction, the ticket agent swipes your card, and it prints out a reciept. All vendors were very familiar with the card and knew what to do - there was no confusion at all. Easy as pie.

Included Attractions

My Go Oahu Card included 33 different attractions, ranging from museums to snorkel tours, to kayak and beach rentals, to guided tours of the islands and rides on catamarans. It is literally impossible to fit all attractions into a one-day card - but I did end up achieving a significant savings for the 4 attractions I did end up using.

Attractions I Visited

I visited 4 attractions. I'll list them here, along with the current admission prices that I would have paid if I didn't have the GO Oahu Card:

Waikiki Trolley Hop-on-Hop-off One Day Pass - $25.00
Sea Life Park Hawaii - $31.20
Audio Tour of Iolani Palace - $15.00
Hanauma Bay Snorkelling Excursion - $23.00

Total Retail Value: $94.20
Total Paid: $42.49 (via Go Card)

Total Amount Saved on Oahu Attractions: $51.71

The GO Card is available in plenty of cities across the USA and Canada. These include:

San Francisco
San Diego
Los Angeles
Blue Ridge (North Carolina)
Go Card USA (all of the above regions)

Pretty well every attraction you can think of are included for the above cities, including several costly day tours, some of which exceed $59 per person! Most cities include at least 30 attractions to choose from, almost half of which are "big name". Amusement parks like Universal Studios and Six Flags are common - the only thing that isn't included are the Disney parks (but that would be a miracle for them to be included).

The GO Card also offers "Explorer Passes", where you choose three attractions, and that's it. These can be a good value for those who don't want to try to fit more than few things in to their day. The Explorer passes are available for:

New York
Las Vegas
San Francisco
California's Wine Country

The price for an Explorer pass for Chicago, for example, is $39.59 for 3 attractions. It's $59.99 for an unlimited one-day pass, so if you don't plan on visiting many attractions, the Explorer Pass is the way to go.

Final Thoughts

All things considered, I thought the GO Card was an excellent value. I ended up spending around 50% of what I would have without the card. The only thing is, I probably wouldn't have spent the full $94 without the card - but the card allowed me to see things I probably wouldn't have purchased otherwise. The only thing negative I felt was in my own personality - I felt I needed to rush to maximize the value, which might not be a problem for you. Still, I managed to fight off that urge to rush, and spent a good day using the pass. My schedule was basically, 7 AM - 10 AM at Hanauma Bay snorkelling, 11 AM - 1230 PM tour of Iolani Palace, and 2 PM - 5 PM at Sea Life Park, with the Waikiki Trolley Pass to get around (which was valid through the evening).

I'd suggest this pass to families who want to simplify their vacations and want to avoid any "surprises" when it comes to the bill at the end of the day. A 3 day pass is probably the best value, including special "premium" attractions, and having a cost-per-day that is roughly 25% off of the one-day price per day. With a 3 day pass, you'll easily have time to fill your days with a number of the included 30+ attractions on each card.

If you're interested, visit Go Card USA today through this link:

If you want to save a few bucks on your next order, use the code ZIPCAR to get 10% off of your order. And remember, ordering through our link helps to keep us online to bring you BRGs day in and day out - we'll recieve a small 10% commission on each order. Thanks for your support in advance. The link provided above brings you to a page with the current discounts and promotions - some of which are deeply discounted.

Try out the GO Card on your next holiday - if you use it right, there are amazing savings to be had.

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