Archive | October 2015

$2000 in Hotel stays for $240

I did a post a few weeks back on renting vs. using hotel points for a vacation.

I picked Starwood specifically because, quite simply they are awesome.

The Starwood Preferred Guest Amex card is continually ranked the #1 hotel credit card in Canada.

I have had all the Canadian hotel credit cards and this one is easily the best – but people won’t get it because of the $120 annual fee that is never waived.

So I’m going to show you what that $120 (x2) will get you.

I’m going to use the hotel from last weeks post.

Here is the first screen shot you will need.


So…starting at $305 US a night…or 10,000 Starpoints.

As I have explained before you get the card, spend $500 on it,(20,000 points) refer your travel partner (10,000 points) and they do the same spend (20,000 points) you end up with over 50,000 Starpoints between you which will get you 6 nights at this place when you combine your accounts into a family account.

Now, bear in mind this is for a standard room with 2 Double beds with a private balcony – you may need to negotiate with them to see what a 1bd. or 2 bd. suite goes for.

Here are your options.


So, as you can see it is 8333 Starpoints a night or 50,000 total.

Or if you pay cash…


Over $2100 US!!!

That is why you pay the measly $120 annual fee per person – you are up well over $2000 CDN in hotel stays.

Here is the link to this hotel – but there are MANY all over you can get this kind of value out of Starpoints.

If you got this far and would like this great card – here is our referral link and thanks!

Great Best Western APP Bonus!

So Best Western has a great bonus when using their NEW Best Western to go App as reported by Rewards Canada.

It’s 5000 Best Western points when you book your first hotel using the app – now you may not know what that gets you, but I’ll tell you!
Generally, 12,000 points can get you a decent hotel with a pool and perhaps a free breakfast with a standard hotel room.
Not their top hotels, but decent enough for sure.
So when you use this app you are almost getting half the points needed for some of their hotel nights.
I am very aware of Best Western as I love the Canadian Mastercard they offer and have stayed many nights for free using my BW points.
I looked up some hotels that were 12,000 points and they ranged in price from $80 – $120 US a night.
So, if you valued 12,000 points at roughly $120.00 CDN you wouldn’t be far off.
That being said 5000 points for using their app to book a hotel gets you about $50 CDN in hotel stays!
That is pretty great just to use an app to book a room. Try it!
Here is the link for the MBNA Best Western Mastercard for Canadians. 40,000 point bonus!

Starpoints becoming VERY valuable to Canadians

I was chatting with a co-worker this week about hotel stays and how they can significantly add a cost to your vacation when you weren’t even planning on staying in a hotel.

Case in point – flying into an airport late at night and not wanting to drive anywhere when you arrive. “Let’s just get a hotel and drive tomorrow” type of idea.
Now, you can get a shuttle to many airport hotels which does come in handy when you are exhausted and have kids with you, but these hotels typically aren’t your cheap ones.
So we did some looking for Miami hotels near the airport and found most decent ones were going for about $200 US a night that included shuttle.

If you have a travel budget which most people do, this doesn’t help matters.
Our lower CDN dollar also isn’t helping matters making this about a $270 hotel.

I have done a couple posts the last couple years on Starpoints and one in particular on how our lower dollar is making hotel “points” more valuable.
It really is simple math.
We have talked about the Amex Starwood Preferred Guest Card and how it is ranked the #1 hotel card in Canada so I will leave that point alone.
With our dollar being low, the value of the Starpoints go up.
So, I know I can get 20,000 Starpoints for a $120 annual fee on that card.
I also know I am now getting about 5 cents per point on different hotel bookings through them. (Atlantic City Convention Centre 7000 points/night or $300 US or Miami Airport Sheraton 7000 points/nights or $275 US to name a couple of many)
But there is another way which seems to be making more and more sense.
Converting Amex MR points to Starwood points.


So…1000 Amex MR points = 500 Starwood points (In Canada/ US is only 333 Starwood points).
Generally Amex points are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for travel (hotel/car rental/etc) but can be worth around 2 cents each when converted to Airline programs.

So my co-worker that recently got the Amex Gold Rewards Card received a 25,000 Amex MR point sign up bonus – worth $250 when redeemed for travel – which many people do even though it is the worst redemption rate.
So the choice here would be…
1. $250 worth of travel or…
2. 12500 Starpoints
3. Perhaps $500 in airfare depending on how you use it

In many cases those 12,500 Starpoints could get you about 12,500 x 5 cents each = $625 in hotel stays.
Convert ALL your Amex points?
No…but certainly not a huge mistake if you did.
Where you can find value in using Starpoints for hotel stays is the key…and our lower dollar certainly makes this option more desirable.

All Inclusive Sales – Transat Tuesday

Karen, our Sarnia based travel agent posted more deals to her page.

Remember if any of these aren’t what you are looking for – get a hold of her! 519-542-1009/ visit her in the Kenwick bdg., Sarnia


Why do people fear credit cards?

I read another article this week on credit cards and why they are so bad for us and all the other negative spins you could think of when it comes to credit.

While the author of this article brings up valid points and is a professional writer for the Globe and Mail, I very much disagree with her view of credit. She also has her own blog, and is a “personal finance and consumer expert.”
I am OK with all of that – just not her view on credit.
Basically the article goes on about how people mess up credit and are terrible with money.
I am also OK with all of that – perhaps you are one of them?
She concludes with “let the offers come in – I’ll never be drawn in”
Fine. This may be true for many of you – it certainly is true for some of my co-workers!
Yes. I know it seems impossible after everything you hear and read about, but WHAT IF YOU ARE GOOD WITH MONEY???
That means…WHAT IF…
1. You can pay all your credit cards bills on time without paying any interest?
2. You put any big ticket purchases on low interest loans or lines of credit?
3. Paying credit card fees and interest has NEVER been an issue for you?
4. You are sick of getting nothing in return for being with a certain credit card issuer for years?
This is a skill people. Not everyone can do it, but maybe you can.
Perhaps you “just know” when to pay off your cards and don’t need email or monthly statement reminders.
Perhaps you keep a spreadsheet and like to be very organized with your expenses.
Perhaps you pay them off online immediately like me.
Perhaps you wait for the statements and pay them off on time.
Whatever way works for you, you should not be “fearing credit cards” at all.
Yep, I said it and I stand by it.
The offers out there right now are extremely generous and for many cards there are no annual fees first year.
I have been following the Canadian “credit card game” for 4 years now and I can tell you 2 things with certainty.
1. I have had thousands of dollars of free flights and hotel rooms since I started through multiple credit card issuers.
2. My credit score is HIGHER than it was when this started.
I know those 2 facts are hard to believe but they are true.
Thing is…those 4 WHAT If’s above are all true for me. When number 4 kicked in I started to do something about it.
We devote one page to “how to get started” with the process – read it if you are interested in getting the perks you deserve.
Think of it as a hobby. That lets you travel free!

5 STAR Save $1740 per couple!

$695 plus taxes for this place. Wow.

Check out her page for more deals or just get a hold of her. 519-542-1009/ visit her in the Kenwick Building, Sarnia.

She is a licensed travel agent – she finds us many deals.


Transat Tuesday Sale!

Karen is a great travel agent – call or email this lady!

Besides all the deals she posts weekly, she has hundreds more in her office – anywhere!!! 519-542-1009/ visit her in the Kenwick Building, Sarnia.


Renting a Condo vs. Hotel nights

I have had to make this choice many times and usually renting a condo wins.

The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village - Two Bedroom Suite

Starwood’s Westin Cape Coral.

When you travel with a young family you like to have extra rooms so the kids can have their own bedroom, watch TV separately, have a kitchen, etc.

The problem with “free” hotel nights – and all of them are free just see my previous posts – is that usually they are a standard room. 2 Queen beds or 2 Doubles and a bathroom.

If you are staying somewhere for a week, this can get kind of cramped.

That is why we like renting a condo – 2 bathrooms, 2 Tv’s, 2 bedrooms, a kitchen and a living area.

But the prices have been going up lately – specifically condos located on the Gulf of Mexico in Florida.

5 years ago a 2 bedroom condo would go for about $1500-$1700 a week US which would be under $2000 CDN back then.

Now, same condos you are lucky to get for $2000 US which is about $2700 CDN right now.

Obviously our dollar being low is not helping matters either but that is significant “inflation”

So…at what point do you use up your hotel nights and save yourself a large amount of money?

Well, I did use points this summer for a “condo” type of hotel room at a Best Western in Myrtle Beach.

It had 3 rooms – a front room with 2 Queen beds, middle room was a kitchen and bathroom and back room had a sofa and Murphy bed with a balcony overlooking the ocean.

For us, this seems to be the way to go -finding hotel rooms that have suites and still being able to use your hotel points to pay for the nights.

You save money as well as you can cook many of your meals. We had free breakfasts at this Best Western, cooked 1 meal and ate out for the other meal. So instead of going out for every meal, every day and spending $100 a day on restaurants, we spent maybe $30-$50 on eating out. It adds up!

So lately I have been looking up suites with kitchens that are offered by the SPG/Best Western/ Marriott brands and have had some luck.

The problem is for what we want – on the beach with a suite – it is very slim pickings.

SPG has some on the beach  – Sheraton Sand Key to name one – no suites and a few others but no suites.

The closest I could find is the Westin Cape Coral that has suites with kitchens – but not quite on the beach.

The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village - Aerial view

It looks very nice, but not on the actual beach.

So, there is some give and take to find what you want and it is nice to save $2700 to use hotel points, but sometimes you just gotta be on the beach!!!

If anyone knows of a good hotel with suites/kitchens on the beach that you can use points for, please comment!

Now is a good time to get a Hotel Credit Card.

With the recent MBNA Best Western Mastercard sign up bonus increased to 40,000 points it seems all the big Canadian hotel credit cards have their better sign up bonuses out there NOW..

I have never seen this in 4 years of watching this that all of them have a good sign up bonus at once – this is good!

So firstly I’ll give you a link where they are ranked by Rewards Canada – THE authority on this subject.

The IHG Mastercard has been discontinued unfortunately but the rest are good.

The Amex Starwood Preferred Guest Card is easily the best of the 3 left and that sign up bonus of 20,000 Starpoints can be worth anywhere from $600 to over $1000 in hotel stays – then you refer a friend and pick up 10,000 more Starpoints!

You can apply for that here – it is a referral link for us.

The Chase Marriott Rewards Visa is a great card as well and 50,000 Marriott points plus a free night is a great bonus.

You can apply for that here – no referral for us.

The MBNA Best Western Mastercard is a card I have been getting for the longest and a 40,000 point sign up bonus is pretty good.

You can apply for that here – no referral for us.

They are all good cards – I have had them all a couple times now.