Archive | February 2016

Don’t like Credit Card bonuses? Just buy your points for a cheaper vacation.

So I was chatting with a co-worker about buying some Starwood points to top up an account – it was a prudent move. The Disney Dolphin/Swan Resort is moving up a category on March 1 but you can still book it for 10,000 points/night.

You can still get the fifth night free as well when you book 4 in a row – so 40,000 points to get 5 nights at a Disney resort. He has 36,000 points. 4000 points would cost him $140 US or $200 CDN.

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Worth it? I should say so in his case! That $200 CDN just got him 5 nights in Disney (if booked before March 1)

After March 1 his 36,000 points wouldn’t get him 3 nights!

Now this is a very specific example, but for many cases buying points ahead of time can be wise if you do’t like getting the hotel credit cards.

Here is just one example of a Category 2 hotel in Ft. Lauderdale.

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5 nights for $179 US a night. Nope add their fees.

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Let’s be conservative and call this an even $200 US a night.

With Cat. 2 you don’t get 5th night free but since you can only buy 20,000 points a year I’m keeping this example under 20,000 points.

5 nights if you paid cash = 5 x $200 = $1000 US. Seems reasonable.

5 nights using Starpoints  = 5 x 3666 = 18,330 points.

So you buy 18,500 Starpoints = $647.50 US.

This way, you are paying less than 2/3 of the actual cost of the booking!

Why Starwood points?

Good question – other programs have deals to buy points – IHG, Marriott etc.

Because when they sell them for 3.5 cents per point it can be great value.

A better example would be a married couple both buying 20,000 points each for $1400 US.

You have 40,000 Starpoints – combine for a family account – 5th nights free at Cat. 3 or better. I just did a new page on using Starpoints on beach hotels.

I can guarantee you those 3 hotels I mention will be at least $2000 US for 5 nights.

You just bought a $2000+ hotel stay for $1400.

Kind of like Groupon, etc. but the best part is you can shop around where you use the points.

It’s also like paying 2/3 of your hotel room bill on a nice vacation.

Again, we don’t gain from this post, it’s just smart budgeting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spirit has Florida for March Break

Ok here are the outbound flights out of Detroit.

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Our CDN March break goes from Friday March 11 to Sunday March 20.

As you can see there are great deals to Fort Myers and Tampa over the break.

Some good flight prices back as well!

Here is one such example.

You need to be in the $9 club for this, but the price is still great without it!

Just an FYI for those looking for a cheap flight over the break.

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Great price!

 

Get to Florida this March Break

Ok, I have heard a few conversations lately about people complaining about our dollar and how they wish they could get to Florida but just can’t manage it.

Yes I have a done a post or two on this, but it is simply not true for most of us.

2 things you can do to make this trip both affordable and possible.

  1. Drive. the cost of gas is extremely cheap right now. just try it – it’s not that bad and you’ll get a nice road trip in.
  2. Use Marriott Rewards nights. If it’s just you getting the card you’ll have enough points (50,000) plus one free nights for 6 nights in a more basic Marriott Hotel – but with free breakfasts and a pool.

Here is one such example.

Here is the website link.

Look for hotels that are category 2 – 10,000 points per night.

Ya sure, not on the beach and the pool area is decent. BUT IT’S FREE FOR 6 NIGHTS.

What if you and your travel partner get the card? That’s 100,000 points between you plus 2 free nights at a cat. 4 or less.

You can check their website but it would be a nicer hotel because you have more points to spend.

We get nothing from promoting this card – it just makes sense to get it.

Of all the cards we have seen, this is the true “no brainer” to get – make one purchase and you pick up the bonus points – unbelievable!

Here is the link for the card for Canadians.

chase visa

 

 

 

 

 

“The Low dollar is Killing us!”

Well, yes it is for many things, but not for staying in hotels in the US.

I see all these posts over Facebook and Twitter about how no-one can travel to the US over the March break because our dollar is so low and it’s just not worth the money.

The latest promo was a good one and probably will work on many Canadians.

Myrtle beach is offering some deep discounts to stay there until April 30 of this year when booking certain hotels.

Great. Except isn’t staying for free a little better?

I have done numerous posts on this and at least some people I know are starting to get wise on the Hotel branded credit cards we have available in Canada.

The 3 we have listed from best to worst are:

  1. Amex Starwood Preferred Guest Card
  2.  Chase Marriott Visa
  3. MBNA Best Western Mastercard

I’ll put the link up for my latest post that goes into more detail about these cards.

I have a bunch of friends that have picked up all 3 for themselves and their spouses and are loving the free travel!

“All 3!!!” Yes, all 3. Why not? “Well your credit score will…”

My credit score has actually gone up slightly since I started this process over 4 years ago.

Do we have anything to gain from saying this? Yes, if you get the Amex card through our link on our Amex page we pick up bonus points, that’s it.

It’s just smarter travel.

I know some people out there are very loyal to their card and that’s just great.

Why not try one? Once you stay in a hotel free…

And yes, there are hotels in Myrtle Beach that are free on these cards too!

 

 

 

 

 

UNDER $100 CDN for a car for a week in FLA!!!

PLEASE RETWEET OR SHARE IF YOU CAN – AMAZING DEAL!

 

New Note*** It seems these deals are isolated to only Miami now, no other airport in Florida is close to these prices now.

Ok, so ya I’ve been going on about Expedia and how low the prices are for rental cars right now and I really can’t believe this.

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This is for 8 days out of Miami. This is Canadian. This is total. This is for our March Break.

This is crazy.

These aren’t the “no-name” rental places either.

If you can cancel your current rental car booking do it – I don’t know how long this can possibly last!

 

Expedia has even lower prices for cars now

As I’m checking rental car prices in Florida for our Canadian March break I’m noticing the price is still trending down!

The SUV I booked last week has gone down $10 to $233 CDN through Thrifty – this is an incredible price for an SUV for 8 days out of Miami.

 

As it stands right now you can get a compact or larger through Thrifty for $155 CDN for 8 days of March break!

I’d look and book now before these deals are gone.

Rental Cars great price in Florida now

This is one of those posts that is just a timely post for those looking for rental cars in Miami (and other parts of Florida it turns out) right now for March break.

 

I am talking Expedia because if you go right to the car rental’s website you probably won’t find these deals.

I originally booked a car (midsize) for March 12-20 in Miami for $415 CDN and felt that was a fair price. (last month)

That is probably the average of what we have spent the last few years on a car in that time period.

So yesterday I check back with Expedia and it turns out a bigger car (mid size SUV) is now down to $310 CDN!!! This is with Thrifty and not some of those questionable places.

I have a friend that found the exact same thing for a Tampa rental car as well on Expedia.

So I checked a few other locations and found the same for Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando.

So I’m pretty happy with myself to have saved about $100 and I check again today to see what going on with the car price and I get this.

karen1

 

$243 CDN!!! Midsize SUV

So, in 2 days I have saved $172 CDN.

I’m not saying you will get the same savings but it is definitely worth looking right now.

 

 

 

What to do with 50,000 Amex MR points?

So I know many people in this scenario it turns out.

They got the Amex Gold Rewards Card and so did their spouse/partner/travel partner.

If you want the 25,000 point bonus for free just go to our Amex page and get Gold rewards Card.

They each got 25,000 points for signing up but no more referral bonus any more.

“So” they ask, “now what?”

Well, there are a few options I myself am mulling over right now.

  1. You can just straight up use them for travel using Amex tripflex worth $500 in travel total – not the best idea.
  2. You can convert them to certain airline points. You would get 50,000 total Aeroplan and with the current 25% to Avios bonus you would have 62,500 Avios between you. (better) To keep it simple with both those options you are looking at a free flight each at least – with Avios you can actually book 4 free flights with those points. See our Avios page.
  3. You can convert them to hotel points – 50,000 Hilton or 25,000 Starwood.

 

Bearing in mind that is all free travel, it’s all pretty good!

I have done a few posts lately about how our lower CDN dollar is hurting us for travelling to the US, but keeping hotel points is helping us. Why? Because 1 Starpoint is 1 Starpoint CDN OR US!

This is good information to have.

Now, 62,500 family Avios will fly you and 3 other people(15,000 Avios each) about 2300 miles or 3700 KMs round trip. (see Avios page)

One example of that for my family is Cleveland to Miami. 2218 miles round trip.

4 free flights. boom.done. Worth? about $1600.

Can’t beat that, right?

Well…..

Believe it or not you can get more value out of Starpoints in certain circumstances.

I’ll give you one such example.

So you have 25,000 Starpoints between you – let’s say you spend a little extra and you convert 56,000 Amex MR points to 28,000 Starpoints. (might take an extra month to spend that- well worth it as you will see)

OK. Firstly that will get you 4 nights at a Category 3 Starwood hotel (7000/night)

Wait. There is a bonus where if you book 4 nights consecutively you get the fifth free. nice.

Using Hotel Hustle I’ll save a bunch of time looking for Starwood properties in locations I want to go.

Remember, using them in the US rather than Canada pays best.

All of these hotels below would cost you 28,000 Starpoints.

Ft. Lauderdale/Miami?

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That equals (today) $1542 CDN

 

Orlando?

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That equals $1348 CDN

 

Tampa?

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That equals $1750 CDN

 

…and so on…

So, there is something to be said for converting them to Starpoints – especially when the CDN dollar is low!

Much better option than just using them as Trip Flex points worth $500 anyways.