Tag Archives: points

Spain, Here We Come!

In less than a month, M and I embark for Spain. This is our first international trip together and M’s first business class experience. We’re both very excited to see all the traditional sights, but I’m also over-the-top excited about the hotels I booked.

Madrid

I booked our Madrid hotel first. I knew I wanted lodging close to the Prado art museum in the center of the city. With its five nights for the price of four policy and central location, SPG was an obvious choice. It came down to choosing between the Westin Palace (category 5) and the The Principle Madrid (category 5). The Westin was 12,000 points a night while the The Principle was 16,000 (despite both being category 5 hotels) and M preferred the Westin’s traditional decor. I booked six nights at the Westin for 60,000 SPG points.

westing

westin-room

Granada

Next, I booked our single night in Granada. There is a dearth of points hotels in Granada so it came down to a choice between the Marriott’s AC Palacio De Santa Paula, Autograph Collection and non-points options. For 35,000 points, I splurged on the AC Palacio even though it’s a bit removed from the center of town. I’m even more excited about this decision now that I’ve achieved gold status with Marriott after completing a status challenge this fall. Turns out, there are some benefits to living out of three star hotels in suburban Pennsylvania. With gold status, we’ll get free breakfast and hopefully, a sweet upgrade.

ac-suite

I’d love to get upgraded to this gorgeous suite.

Barcelona

Barcelona was my biggest dilemma. I was sitting on a nice pile of Hilton points, but the Hilton of my choice – the Alexandra Barcelona DoubleTree cost 50,000 points a night vs. 113 euros. That is not a great points per dollar value. In contrast, there are several good value Hiltons for 30,000 points a night, but they are farther from the center of town. Thus began the great debate of 2016:  Stay father away and save some of my points, fork over $600 for four nights at the DoubleTree, or bite the bullet and hand over 200,000 Hilton points. After much agonizing, I decided on the latter option. I love the idea of staying in the center of Barcelona and decided to save our money for other trip expenses. Plus, as a diamond Hilton member, hopefully we will score a nice upgrade. The DoubleTree boasts a couple of spacious suites that will make my day.

double-tree

doubletree-exterior

Seville

Seville has no points hotels in the old quarter where we want to stay. Since we’re not traveling in peak season, there are many afforadable options. My major priority after location was space. While we’re not planning to spend a lot of time in our hotel, I hate walking into European hotel rooms that are essentially a box. Is it too much to ask for some space on either side of my bed? In the end, I settled on an apartment-style lodging that is affiliated with a nearby hotel. Apartamentos Murillo gives us 300+ square feet for two nights, and it’s a short stroll to the Royal Alcazar.
seville

Cordoba

Cordoba was the least stressful decision. We will only be there for one night, and there are only a handful of decent options in our price range within the city walls. For $70, I booked Eurostars Conquistador, a four star hotel next door to Mezquita.

cordoba

Tagged , , , , ,

The Crazy Things We Do For Points

As you know, points make it possible for me to travel the world. I’m also one of those weird people who love the points game (aka “the obsession”) – the organizing, the tracking, the credit cards, the absurd opportunities that allow people like me to rake in thousands of points.

creditcard

There aren’t as many opportunities to do that as there used to be, but IHG (the umbrella company for Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, and Holiday Inn) offered the points obsessed an opportunity this winter. Many other blogs have reported on the details (here, here, and here), so I’ll spare you the technical requirements.

Here’s the short story: IHG’s Priceless Surprises promotion allows participants to earn points without hotel stays. All you have to do is fill out a 3×5 piece of paper with your name, address, phone number, and other required information – all handwritten. You are allowed 94 entries, and each entry must be in a separate envelope. Prizes range from 500 IHG points to free nights to much bigger (and less likely) prizes.

Bloggers figured out that participants are statistically very likely to win something with every entry. The costs of stamps alone will cost $46.06, but even if you only win 500 points per entry, that will be enough for one night at a  five star hotel in Europe.

I started small earlier this month with 16 entries. Warning: My arm hurt like hell. And I grew despondent when I heard nothing in return. Then, this week I received 16 emails inviting me to play the Priceless Surprises game online – an easy process of picking one out of six floors on a make-believe elevator. My 16 entries earned a total of 13,500 IHG points. This pretty much made my night – not exaggerating.

himym

I quickly filled out another 62 entries, and have another 16 to go. My right arm for a free night? Sign me up!

 

 

Tagged , ,

Scotland #18: Where to Stay in Scotland

Scotland #1: Welcome to Edinburgh!
Scotland #2: The View from Arthur’s Seat
Scotland #3: The View from Scott Monument
Scotland #4: Going Forth to Forth
Scotland #5: The Beauty of Fife
Scotland #6: Whisky Fail
Scotland #7: Defeat at Culloden
Scotland #8: Cawdor’s Not-So-Secret Garden
Scotland #9: The Loch Ness Loop
Scotland #10: The Road to Skye
Scotland #11: Old Man of Storr
Scotland #12: Pieces of Skye
Scotland #13: Rubha Hunish AKA The Hike from Hell
Scotland #14: Losing my Phone in Scotland and Other Adventures
Scotland #15: The Road to Glasgow
Scotland #16: Welcome to Glasgow!
Scotland #17: Street Art Scavenger Hunt in Glasgow

The goal of picking hotels for our Scotland trip was to spend as little money as possible while maintaining a basic standard of quality. I wasn’t expecting anything grand – I just wanted to stretch my points as far as they would go.

This is not the most interesting post, but in case anyone is planning a trip to Scotland and wants to see some options, I’m happy to be of service.

Edinburgh: Radisson Blu Hotel Edinburgh

I booked this hotel back when Club Carlson offered an insane deal to anyone who held the Club Carlson credit card: Last night free when you book a hotel with points. Our three nights in Edinburgh, in the heart of Old Town, was only 80,000 points (40,000 points per night).

Dundee: Double Tree by Hilton Dundee

For a mere, 20,000 points, we got a free stay at the Double Tree en route to the Highlands. The room was nice, but on the small side.

*HIMG_1393

*HIMG_1394

Inverness: Holiday Inn Express Inverness

There was only one points option here: The Holiday Inn, and probably not the best points value, but better than paying $200 a night. We stayed three nights here. Nothing to write home about, but it got the job done.

IMG_3253

Isle of Skye: The Bosville Hotel

This was the nicest hotel we stayed in, and the only one we paid for. There are no points options on the Isle of Skye, and the hotels can get pricey here. We chose a mid-level boutique hotel at about $250 a night, and it was quite lovely with a very large space and complimentary breakfast.

*HIMG_4337

*HIMG_4336

Glasgow: Radisson Blu Hotel Glasgow

We barely spent any time in the hotel. We just wanted a place centrally located, so I unloaded another 40,000 Club Carlson points and booked a room at the Radisson Blu Glasgow.

H - Rad Blue - Glasgow1

2015-08-12 21.32.08

Tagged , , , , , , ,

RESEARCH ON CHASE POINTS

There’s been a lot of discussion on the blogs about the legality of transferring Chase points to another person’s account (see here, here and here). There are horror stories of Chase shutting down people’s accounts who have transferred points to a friend or relative. This concerned me because I have been planning on transferring The Boyfriend’s Chase points to my account. He has a Chase Freedom card and can take advantage of the Chase Freedom bonuses, but does not have a Sapphire Preferred card, and thus, no ability to transfer his points to airline and hotel programs.

Instead of risking it, I called Chase to find out what my options are. Since we are neither married nor domestic partners (living in the same apartment according to Chase), Chase informed me that transferring The Boyfriend’s points to my account technically violates Chase rules. I then asked if making him an authorized user on my account would remedy the problem. The representative put me on hold for less than a minute, and then informed me that this would, in fact, work. All I had to do was give Chase The Boyfriend’s name, confirm my address and we were done.

A card will come in a couple of days and I’ll probably stick it in a sock drawer with the rest of the credit cards I don’t use. Finally, this does not preclude The Boyfriend from applying for the Chase Sapphire Preferred himself and getting the 40,000 bonus miles (I’m working on him).

So that’s my Chase experience, and I’ve very pleased with it. This tactic might not work for most folks, but it allows me to transfer points without running into any of the horror stories populating the web.

Tagged , ,

Waiting for Gedot… And Points

How many times can I refresh AwardWallet.com a day without going clinically insane? I’m on the verge of finding out.

Waiting for points to post is the hardest part of the miles/points game. I want to book two business class tickets to Europe in December for myself and The Boyfriend. I used the recent U.S. Airways 100% bonus on sharing miles to transfer some miles to The Boyfriend’s account and then his miles back to mine. While this wasn’t the most economical use of the promotion, I managed to top off my Dividend Miles account and reach the 100,000 miles I need to purchase one business class ticket. Now, I’m waiting for the 50,000 bonus miles to post on my latest churn – my United MileagePlus Explorer credit card. This will bring me up to 80,000 miles and I’ll use some Chase Ultimate Rewards points to cross the finish line. My last batch of United miles posted on October 12 so I’m assuming the next batch will post on November 12 and I’ll be good to go. Since I’ve had some luck expediting Amex points, I called and emailed Chase to see if they would generously do the same, but no luck. They are sticklers for the rules, it seems.

So now, I sit and wait, and watch award availability appear and disappear while I pull my hair out. Good times.

Waiting

Tagged , ,
%d bloggers like this: