Archive | February 2015

Best Sign up Bonus ending soon :-(

Probably the best credit card bonus out there right now is the Amex Starwood Preferred Guest Card.

Just a great card period.

I did a post on this in late January and the bonus will end March 31/15. That is about a 9 week window to grab this bonus. (20,000 Starpoints)

Rewards Canada (the authority on this in Canada) ranks this card as THE BEST for hotel credit cards. He has been doing this for well over 10 years and I have been researching this for over 3 years and agree.

Other cards let you get the bonus for longer periods of time, or offer it more often, but this will be it for this card for awhile. Probably for a year – I waited very patiently for this bonus to come back and it was close to a year.

I’ll keep this post simple – the link to my previous post will give you links to other posts about this card. In a nutshell those Starpoints can be valued at anywhere from 3 to 5+ cents each with a $120 annual fee.

I have gotten about 4 cents on my hotel redemptions which would be $800 in hotel stays for this card for $120.

Refer you spouse/friend/partner grab another 10,000 points, they get 20,000 points and BOOM you have 51,000 points between you after you both spend $500.

At the very worst that is over $1000 in hotel stays for $240, but more like $2000 when used wisely!

Here is the link to apply.

karen1

Last Minute from $700 total.

So many deals, just check Karen’s page.

You can get away for $700 total this week.

Call her! 519-542-1009. email her karen@traveldiscounters.ca. Visit her at Sarnia’s Kenwick building.

All Inclusive Varadero 4 star for under $800 TOTAL!!!

Karen has done it again. Check out this deal from Signature Vacations. Save over $1000 per couple! Look at this place. Amazing deal. Call her at 519-542-1009, email karen@traveldiscounters.ca or visit her in Sarnia at the Kenwick Building. 48 hour sale – book soon. karen1

She also recommends the Amex Gold Card for travel insurance – see her page for all the benefits!

More free Stuff!

I did a post last week on the “free stuff” I was getting by booking my friends and I on a trip South for a weekend. Turns out when I finished the booking it was way better than previously reported!

I concluded that I was getting about $100 in travel back and spending $583 which is great anyway. I hadn’t booked hotels yet and that is where I really scored on points!

I racked my brain for ways to score points/discounts/etc. There are many websites right now offering airline points to use their site to book the hotel including Rocketmiles, Kaligo, Pointshound to name a few.

But when I checked back with Expedia it turns out I was going to get 10x the points if I ended up booking the rest of my trip through them! As these points as previously reported are worth .7 cents each that is $7.00 back for every $100 booked!

karen1

So… 1.  I took them up on that offer and booked 4 of the 6 nights with them, spending $1000 (4 nights x $250/night) I received 10,000 Expedia points worth another $70 in travel. I used my Amex Gold Card for double points and picked up 2000 Amex points worth $40 in travel (if used wisely)

2. I booked one of the nights using my Rocketmiles sign-up bonus of 5000 miles plus 3000 miles for booking one night. Here is previous article on that.

I received 8000 Avios for that one night booking worth about $160 if used for flights.

Side FYI – 9000 Avios gets you a free flight from Detroit – NYC. I received another 500 Amex points for purchase worth $10 in travel..

karen2

3. I used up 1 free night from my own inventory of points and didn’t spend anything.

End Result. I spent $3000 total on trip. My portion of cost is $835 (dividing certain costs)

Total Expedia points earned – $95

Total Amex MR points earned – $120

Total Avios earned 8000 worth about $160

Total travel earned in different forms = $375 Return? 45%!!!

Now that is awesome. Even if you value some of those points less you are getting a great return.

How do you do this? Sign up for those websites, book travel on the Amex Gold Card!

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Cuba All Inclusives – Call Karen!

Well Big Rick and I are hitting Windsor this weekend with the Grey Ghost so this is our weekend post.

Our agent Karen has amazing deals – this is for less than $800 total for a week at an all inclusive.

She is at 519-542-1009 or karen@traveldiscounters.ca

karen1

Book the trip – get the points!

I had to book a trip recently for my friends and I to a Southern destination for a few nights of drinks and a couple days of golf.

First, I want to say that I could have used my Avios to fly by myself but I chose to go with my friends and fly the same flights and pay for the hotels and car rental.

They wanted it that way – “just pay cash” even they aren’t convinced of all the benefits of this hobby!

So, that is my point. If you do all the booking, how can you get “points” from this to make it worth your while.

Well, no matter what use the Amex Gold Rewards Card – it is double MR points on all travel bookings.

Since many bloggers value MR points at 2 cents each, that is 4 cents per dollar spent.

That is great.

Expedia has a program where you collect points when you book through them as well – I did that.

I booked our flights and car rental through them to get “double points”

Basically when you get 3500 Expedia points it is worth a $25 travel voucher.

So, about 0.7 cents each.

There are a whole bunch of promos on their site, but I will leave it at that.

On the car rentals, you can get points as well through Aeroplan, etc and if you collect airline points you will still collect those as well – in this case Delta points.

I’ll just do the math here.

Spent about $1750 CDN on flights/car rental (3 people)

Got double Expedia points 1750 x 2 = 3500 Expedia points = $25 travel voucher.

Used Gold Rewards Amex – 1750 x 2 (travel expenditure) = 3500 MR points = about $70 in travel.

So, my share of the cost is 1750/3  = $583.00.

But because I booked it I am almost getting $100 in travel back.

It really is worth looking into – Book the trip – get the points.

She Is Back! How about Half off Puerto Vallarta?

Our travel agent Karen is back with a couple deals on her page to get you in the mood to go South.

Here is the link to her page.

This one she wanted me to highlight – Puerto Vallarta almost HALF OFF!

The Riu Jalisco sounds pretty nice! At 4+ stars I’m sure it is nice.

$745 plus taxes for a week at at 4+ star? Awesome.

Check it out – she can be reached at 519-542-1009, karen@traveldiscounters.ca or go see her in the Kenwick Building in Sarnia.

karen3

Florida Hotels for March Break

We have a whole page devoted to getting to Florida for free and it’s easy to do and quite enjoyable when you travel on someone else’s dime.

This post is on Starwood Hotels that you can stay a week in for a $120 fee.

Many readers are skeptical of this and it does seem unrealistic, but it is true – one sign up bonus on one card can get you a week in Florida. I have said this many times and every time another co-worker asks me how to do this and where to sign up.

I’ll keep it simple. Get the card. Spend about $500 on the card within the next month ($2000 makes it easier). 6 nights in a Florida hotel paid for. Done. Book it at SPG.com.

Friday March 13 – Thur March 19 – 22,000 Starpoints needed. Other combos may be 23,000 points.

Here are the hotels.

Sheraton Suites Ft. Lauderdale.

Four Points Sheraton Ft. Myers.

Sheraton Orlando North.

Four Points Orlando Studio City.

Sheraton Suites Tampa East.

Sheraton Suites Tampa Airport.

There are a few others – here is the list of all of them.

Here is the card. We love this card – such a great sign up bonus and pick up 10,000 more points when you refer a friend.

spg card

Amex Hotel Sale is Really Good!

Amex recently sent me an email that they were having a hotel sale up to 40% off select hotels.

amexsale

This sale is going on until Feb. 26 and you book it through Amex Travel.

If you don’t already have an Amex card, they offer many benefits like this and I have been very pleased with their customer service and many offers they make.

As reported by Patrick at Rewards Canada, if you used your Gold Rewards Card you would earn 3x points on hotel purchases when you book through Amex Travel – that is a great return on your purchase.

I am generally wary of hotel “sales” as there are enough websites out there that can find me a deal – Expedia, Trivago, Hotels.com, the list goes on.

So I decided to check a weekend I am planning to be in Ft. Lauderdale in April.

ft laud

Now, I am the first person to tell you to get a Hotel Branded credit card like the Starwood Amex so your stays can be free, but I thought I would check prices offered by this Amex Sale compared to the discount sites.

It was impressive.

I will list just 4 hotels and their prices using the Amex Sale and the best price possible using Trivago/Expedia/etc.

This is for a 3 night weekend in April – Thur/Fri/Sat.

Best Western Plus Deerfield – Amex sale price $311 CDN, best price offered Trivago $411 CDN

The Westin, Fort Lauderdale (not beach)  – Amex sale price $473 CDN, best price Trivago $522 CDN

Courtyard Ft. Laud., Cypress Creek – Amex sale price $508 CDN, best price Trivago $702 CDN

Crowne Plaza Ft. Laud. Air/Cruise – Amex sale price $618 CDN, best price Trivago $812 CDN.

There were many more, I just thought I would list some from different chains at reasonable prices.

So, just with these 4 examples of many you can easily save $200 or more on a long weekend in an average hotel, and plenty more on nicer hotels!

Great Sale Amex! Check it out on their website.

Check our Amex page for more – great cards with great bonuses.

What exactly is a “free” vacation?

I had a friend ask me on the weekend if all our vacations are “free.”

Well, yes and no.

We have a separate page showing you how to get “free flights” and a “free week in Florida”

Both of these pages are factual and for flights you usually pay the taxes ($13 or so) and for hotels they usually are free!

Yes, it’s a credit card sign up or two, but we are talking about free vacations, not $40 in free groceries.

See our Amex page on those cards.

The way I usually do it is make some of the vacation free and pay for some of it so as to keep my points for when I can use them more efficiently.

Example – next month for March break we are flying to Florida and staying in a condo for a week and then a hotel for 2 extra days.

By collecting hotel points that gets us an extra 2 days in Florida right off the hop worth $200 x 2 = $400.00

By collecting “Avios” that pays for our round trip flights worth $400 x 4 flights = $1600.00 (72,000 Avios or MR points)

We rent a condo when we are down there which can usually run about $2000 or so.

I have a choice there – I can use my Amex MR points to pay for that rental – but that would be 200,000 Amex points.

That would be a poor use of my points – you should try to convert those points to airline points where you get better value out of the points – but the option is there. We choose to pay cash for the condo (actually Amex Gold which gives you double points on travel so 4000 more Amex points. Remember a flight is 18,000 points so that is great)

So, in the end this vacation costs us $2000 + 4 free flights + 2 extra days in Florida free.

I have used a simple strategy for a few years by banking Amex points and referring a friend to their card. That’s it. That gets you free vacations.

It is a process and takes awhile, but it can be done – easily.