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points travel

Rewards Points Travel

3 Free Hotel Nights for Your Next Trip

August 6, 2016

Many of our recent “how to get free travel” posts have been focused on earning free flights.   The reason being is that we’re currently in love with our newly acquired Southwest Airlines Companion Pass.  We booked over $4k in free flights in 3 months!  Anyways, that’s a previous story.  While free flights are a huge piece to the free travel puzzle, let’s make it complete by adding some free hotel stays.  I am going to give you really quick tip that will result in you booking 3 free hotel nights while choosing from over 7,200 locations and properties.

Before I tell you the sweet, sweet magic that will get you around $1,000 in free hotel stays I want to remind you that we do not get any sort of compensation for what I’m about to recommend.  The coolest part about our travel tips are that you can trust they’re genuine.  We aren’t trying to push a sale on you or anything like what some of the other point guy(s) 😉 often do.  All of our free travel posts are simply a reflection of what my lovely wife and I are doing to try and see the world.

That being said, Lacey and I recently booked a trip to Orlando, Aruba, Curacao, and Miami for January 2017.  Our flights were taken care of by our Southwest Companion Pass, but we still needed some free hotel stays  to make this trip doable.  We already had 4 free nights with Hyatt Hotels to use in Aruba, which is awesome, but we still didn’t want to pay out of pocket for all of the remaining nights of our trip.  After a few hours of researching I discovered…drum roll…the Wyndham rewards Visa card.

Before stumbling on Wyndham’s site via Google, I had literally never heard of their rewards program.  I usually only see updates on the same 4 hotel rewards programs over and over;  Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, and IHG.  At first glance, Wyndham’s bonus offer of 45k points didn’t seem very impressive.  In my experience, 45k points with any of the previously mentioned hotel chains would likely get you 1-2 nights at a shit hotel in a sketchy part of town.  This is not the case with Wyndham.  Every single one of Wyndham’s properties is a flat rate of 15k points per night.  Yes, this includes their most expensive properties.  No matter where you’re wanting to go, you’ll be able to book 3 nights with your 45k points.  Depending on where you book, you could save over $1,000 in free rooms with this reward.

This is how it works:

  1. Sign up for the card (here) – there is a $69 annual fee that will post on your 1st statement
  2. Use the card once and earn 30k points (posted to your account after 1 billing cycle)
  3. Spend $1,000 with this card in 90 days and earn another 15k points
  4. When your points post to your account, go shop for your hotel room at Wyndham.com3 Free Hotel Nights with Wyndham

Easy enough right?  Thanks Wyndham! 😉

Do yourself a favor and look at this list of the top Wyndham properties before booking your stay.  That’s where Lacey and I found this $330 per night resort we’ll be staying at on South Beach in Miami for free.  Spoiler alert, we’re going to put the extra money saved towards margaritas on the beach.  Sounds like a good investment to me!

Let us know if you have any questions!  Now go book a beautiful and expensive stay at a Wyndham property for free!

Huntington Beach Sunset

Rewards Points Travel

Points Planning for Maui Part 2

February 21, 2016

It’s time to follow up on our initial Points Planning for Maui post! To recap our progress so far, both Lacey and I signed up for the Chase Hyatt card and received the “2 free nights” reward.  So right now, we have 4 free nights ready to use for Maui (hopefully to be used at the Hyatt Andaz resort).  So while we’re still going to work on getting a couple more nights for free in Maui, we’re going to shift  our focus toward earning our free flights for this trip. Here’s why…

I’ll start off by sharing a very valuable tip that I’ve learned with credit card rewards programs. …they have targeted offers.  This means that the rewards program might randomly email you or snail mail you a reward offer that is more valuable than any other offer that is available to the general public.  Sometimes these targeted offers will literally pop-up when you login to your online account.  My advice for you is to create an online account for every reward program you may ever use.  Even if you aren’t planning on signing up for the program’s card right away, you’re putting yourself in a good position to be possibly targeted for a bad ass offer down the road.

So the next time you’re browsing your favorite points travel sites/blogs, keep in mind that the offers you see on these sites MAY NOT be the best available offer.  You might find a public offer of 35k bonus miles and think that’s the only option, but if you create an online account for that card, you just might be targeted for a higher bonus offer.

Why am I telling all of you this? Well, this very thing just happened to me.  On January 29th, I created an online account for United Airlines “Mileage Plus Explorer” program.  The current public offer for their credit card is only 30k bonus miles.  Ain’t nobody got time fo dat!  Just yesterday, not even a month after creating my Mileage Plus account, I received a snail mail targeted offer for 50k miles. Yay!

Points Planning for Maui offer

You can see that I initially tore this in half and almost threw it away.

Right away, I had a hunch that 50k bonus miles would get us from Boise to Maui.  When I double checked, I found the below flights on United’s website. Looks like if Lacey and I both sign up and receive this reward, we can get to Maui for 45k miles and $11.20 each.  So if all goes well, this is how we’ll get our flights.  Dropping a $20 spot, instead of the $1400+ it would cost if we were to pay in full, seems like a pretty fair swap 🙂

Points Planning for Maui Flights

Right now you might be saying, “well that’s cool for you guys, but what am I gonna do?  I didn’t receive the 50k targeted United offer.”  My response to that is for you to hop on United’s site right when you finish reading this post and create an account.  It took less than a month for me to receive the targeted offer and I’ve heard and read stories of people getting the targeted 50k mile offer right after creating an account.

Another great option right now is the American Airlines 50k bonus offer at this link.  Make sure to go to aa.com first and look up flights from your airport to Maui (or wherever you want to go) and make sure 50k miles will cover your trip.  I did a quick browse and saw that the 50k AA bonus would get me to Maui as easily as United.  Lacey and I already received that bonus in the past (which we’re using for this trip) so we can’t sign up for it again.

So hopefully you now have a couple of solid options to get your free flights.  Keep in mind that the American Airlines offer is a limited time offer.  It could expire at any time.  If you think this is the card for you…jump on it now.  Also, the United Mileage card is sponsored by Chase Bank.  Chase Bank is implementing a new rule starting in April that will prevent anyone who has signed up for 5+ credit cards in the past 24 months from being approved for any more Chase cards.  This is a huge deal to all the points travelers of the world.  You can read more on this topic from one of our favorite travel blogs here.

I’ll post another update in a couple months to let you know how we’re progressing with the Maui trip.  Like I said earlier, we’re still shooting for another 1-2 free hotel nights for this trip so I’ll keep you posted when we figure out how we’re going to make that happen.

You all should have a good plan by now for how you’re going to do this trip, but please reach out to us if you have any questions.

Good Luck!

 

Below are a couple pics from our last trip to Hawaii about 7 years ago…just a couple of crazy kids fallin’ in love 🙂

Lacey in the ocean

Ice cream in Kona

Falling in Love in Hawaii

Sick hat bro! …in my defense, Jason Mraz was really popular back then.

Rewards Points Travel

San Diego for Rihanna. Rewards Flight in 12 Days

January 31, 2016

A few weeks ago, Lacey told me that she really wanted to go to San Diego to see an upcoming Rihanna concert.  Being that we just used all of our flight and hotel rewards points to book our Final Four and Malta trips, I didn’t think this would be possible on such short notice.  My initial response to Lacey was “I’m sorry, we just can’t afford it right now.”  A day or two later I realized what an asshole response that was since I hadn’t even investigated our potential rewards options yet.

Rather than spending time on my acceptance speech for the shittiest husband of the year award, I decided to hop on the computer and see if there was any way to make this trip happen.  After all, Lacey was amazing enough to let us use some of our rewards points and cash on our upcoming trip to Houston for the Final Four, so I needed to do my absolute best to return the favor.  I began searching for any rewards programs that might help us get to San Diego for free or at a discount.  Not kidding, it took me less than 10 minutes to find an option that would get us round trip flights from Boise to San Diego for $87 ($75 sign up fee and $12 taxes and fees while booking the flights).  More importantly, this option was doable on short notice.

Below is the process I used to help us save over $400 on flights which ultimately made this trip possible for us…

…oh and spoiler alert, at the end of this post is a video of Lacey dancing to Rihanna on Halloween last year.

As usual, I started with Google.  I typed in “Boise to San Diego Flights”.  The returning results let me know which airlines we could use (Alaska, American Airlines, United, and Delta).  I noticed that Alaska Airlines offers a non-stop flight, so I immediately Googled “Alaska Airlines Rewards Program”.  I was looking for the current Alaska Airlines credit card offer and for the booking section on Alaska’s site that would show me if there were available flights on the dates we needed, and if so, how many rewards miles we’d need to book ’em.

I found that the current rewards offer for this card is 25k miles “upon approval”.  That’s amazing! More often than not, rewards cards like this have spending requirements that can takes 2-3 months to achieve.  This card gives you the points “in 2-3 weeks” following your application approval.  Perfect for a short notice trip!

Alaska Airlines Rewards Card

While snooping in the booking section on Alaska’s site, I found that there were round trip flights Boise-San Diego on the dates we needed that cost exactly 25k bonus miles.  Heyo!  I immediately submitted our applications for this rewards card.

Alaska Airlines Boise to San Diego Rewards Options

We received the bonus points in 12 days and were able to book our highly discounted flights for $12.  Again, the sign up fee for this card is $75, so our total cost is $87 for these flights.  Still a lot better than the $500-ish we would have paid for full price tickets.  We used the extra money saved on these flights to get some pretty decent seats for the Rihanna concert.

To keep the rest of the trip budget friendly, we’ll be staying at the Hampton Inn near the Gaslamp district.  Why this hotel? I know it doesn’t sound super luxurious, but it has an airport shuttle, free hot breakfast, and is super close to the public transport station that we’ll be taking to the concert.  This hotel is also within walking distance of all the restaurants and bars we’re hoping to check out. All of these perks combined will likely save us another $200-$300 on our trip.

So it looks like we’ll “shine bright like a diamond” with Rihanna in a few weeks down in San Diego.  Hopefully the weather is beautiful and we won’t need to take an umbrella-ella-ella-ay-ay.  …I’m such a dork sometimes I make myself want to hide under a table.

Hopefully you found this useful and can use the process outlined above to book your own vacay on short notice.  For more tips and options, check our previous post relating to this subject here.

We’ll see you soon San Diego!

As promised, an awesome video of Lacey Killing it to Rihanna on Halloween last year.  …dressed as a Day of the Dead.

Rewards Points Travel

How to Book a Free Vacation on Short Notice

January 21, 2016

Most of our “traveling for free with credit card rewards points” posts so far have focused on getting BIG trips for free.  Trips that take months of planning and spending with various cards to achieve.  Well what if you can’t wait that long? What if you want to get a free vacation on short notice? Spoiler alert…you can.

I’ve spent the last few weeks researching this topic as Lacey and I are trying to squeeze in another quick vacay before our upcoming trip in April to see the Final Four.  The weather in Boise can be pretty gnarley in February, so it would be perfect timing to go somewhere warmer for a couple days.  That being said, we don’t have a lot of extra cash laying around right now.  The only way we’ll be able to book a trip for February is if it is either free or at least highly discounted.

Here are some options I came up with during my snooping around that I wanted to share with you guys.  Hopefully this helps you guys get an idea of how you could book a trip of your own in just a few weeks!

Get a super cheap flight in about 2 weeks:

Apply for the Alaska Airlines credit card (25k miles for signing up and paying the $75 sign up fee)

  • You can book your rewards flight about 2 weeks after you get approved for the card.
  • Alaska partners with a bunch of different airlines which results in a ton of travel options within the U.S
  • In just a couple weeks, you could be flying to sunny Florida (for example) for about $100 (sign up fee and taxes).  …which would cost us about $450 normally from Boise

Alaska Airlines Free Vacation

Get a couple nights free at a hotel in 4-5 weeks:

Apply for the Chase Hyatt Credit Card and you’ll be ready to redeem your 2 free rewards nights in about 4-5 weeks (if you hit the $1000) spending requirement.

  • The Hyatt has a ton of beautiful properties around the world where you can redeem this reward.
  • The super lower spending requirement makes it easy to get the reward bonus quickly
  • $0 sign up fee for the first year.  It’s $75 per year after that but they give you a free night every year on your sign-up anniversary.
Hyatt Park City

The beautifulPark City Hyatt. Image from expedia.com

Cover Additional Vacation Expenses with Points

Apply for the Capital One Venture Card and take it with you on your trip.  You will be able to use the reward points you earn from this card to pay for many of your additional expenses on your trip.  You can wipe out up to $400 dollars of expenses with the 40k bonus points you’ll receive after hitting the spending requirement.

Capital One Venture Card Info

Details on how you can redeem you Capital One Venture rewards

 

While I know there are numerous other ways to book a free/discounted trip on short notice, hopefully the info I shared above will at least get your wheels turning.  You CAN book a trip with points on relatively short notice.  The next time you get that “I gotta get outta here for a few days” feeling, remember that you can do it…soon…with points!

Lacey and I will keep  you posted on where we end up going in February.  It’ll likely be somewhere sunny!

Please share any additional questions or tips you may have!

Lacey Grand Solmar Cabo