Archive | September 2016

Best Western 40,000 point bonus is back!!!

Well, my favourite hotel credit card bonus is back again.

Thanks to MBNA for this card.

It’s not as nice as it was in the summer at 60,000 points, but you only have to use it ONCE!!!

karen1

Most people I know started with this one, so if you are new to all of this, get the card, use it once if you want and receive 40,000 Best Western points that will give you on average 2-3 free hotel nights.

I know a few people that have actually gotten this card 4 times over the past few years and received the bonus every time.

Here is the application link for the card, courtesy of Rewards Canada who are always on the ball.

Seriously, if you are new to this, this one is easy and you will get your points within a month.

The only glitch I have seen is if you don’t have a Best Western Rewards number sometimes those points get lost until you clear things up with them.

Image result for best western

 

 

 

 

 

Getting the most of Best Western points!

So with the news last week that you can now transfer points between SPG and Marriott at a 1 SPG gets you 3 Marriott points rate I had been looking up many Marriott properties.

Marriott has many properties that are good for my family like 1 and 2 bedroom suites and many more options than SPG so I was pretty pumped about this.

I was forgetting that we have many Best Western points and they can be great value.

I noticed my link to the Best Western MBNA card is down, but I’m sure they will be offering some sign up bonus soon.

The thing important about Best Western points is that they change the amount of points needed during the year based on the actual price of the room – they are not a “fixed” amount per room.

Generally when you look, if the price of the room is say under $120, you need 12,000 points or more to book that room.

It’s basically less than a cent per point (cpp) when valuing points.

1 cent per point would be a $240 room going for 24,000 points, a $120 room for 12,000 points.

Now, as Canadians we actually benefit from this because our points can be CDN, US or whatever. Where it comes in handy is when we book US hotel rooms.

In this example, I’ll use a hotel my family and I have stayed at in Myrtle Beach.

Here is an example of paying cash on a weekday night in October (slow season)

karen1

So $70 – $110 for a suite! great price for a suite by the way – we had one.

Book using points? 12,000 per night.

karen2

So you could use 12,000 points to book that 2 Queen beds with kitchen and balcony or pay $89.95 plus taxes and fees comes to $109 US.

What is $109 US worth today? $144 CDN.

You are actually getting more than 1 cent per point. You are getting 1.2 cpp.

These points are valued at about 0.6 – 0.8 cents each by seasoned bloggers.

So by using our points at US hotels we gain an advantage there.

 

But what about this place in the summer? Check this out…

karen3

Same room as before? $239.95 plus fees gets you to $283.49 (taxes high eh?)

Let’s check points…

karen4

So you could use those 32,000 points or spend $283.49 US = $374 CDN.

You are getting 1.16 cpp almost as good as the other example.

So, use your BW points wisely – we try to get 1 cpp for each booking we do.

There are actually places where you can get close to 1.5 cpp! Double what they are “worth”

Key West is one such destination…

BIG NEWS on Marriott/SPG acquisition

As reported first on Rewards Canada, this is huge news.

You can also sign into both/either accounts and see the news for yourself.

The merger won’t be totally complete for about 2ish years, but the ratio of points was released and Marriott:SPG is 3:1 which is seen as fair.

You can also freely transfer points between your accounts, link your accounts and your highest status level is matched across all of your accounts.

I had been worried myself as I collect way more SPG points that the ratio would be 2:1 or worse but this is good.

Read the article – it is very informative.

I myself have already started mulling over spend strategies and which beach hotels to book – post to come next week on 2 hotels across street from eachother – 1 SPG and 1 Marriott – both on beach – which one to book?

karen1

Like Rewards Canada says, great time to pick up the Amex SPG card and Chase Marriott cards to load up on  hotel nights!

Our page, “How do you do this” has them both!

They are the 3rd and 4th listed there.

 

 

Why not FT. Lauderdale?

So I have been noticing many discounted prices on Spirit Air going from Detroit to Ft.Lauderdale.

You may not like Spirit, but almost inevitably you can find a flight for about $100.

It may not be the days of the week you like or the right weekend, but they are there.

The same holds true for the other destinations they fly to like Myrtle Beach, New Orleans, etc.

But Ft. Lauderdale is a 3 hour flight and it is in Southern Florida – which is a decent place to vacation!

Yes, our $ isn’t the greatest right now, and yes there are confirmed cases of Zika, but this can be a CHEAP VACATION! (or 3 day weekend).

The example I’m posting you actually only stay 2 nights, but get 3 full days in Lauderdale.

Make it cheaper and use hotel points and it just ends up being spending money.

Some nice meals out, maybe some golf, hang around the pool or beach.

My friends and I have done it and it is worth visiting!

See our page on “How do you do this?” on how to get hotel points.

See our page on “Fun Vacations Part 2” and a place we have stayed there.

Here is the example flight. Hmm, just happens to be Thanksgiving weekend.

karen1

 

 

 

Karen is back and has Punta Cana!

Karen Ryan, our travel agent here has posted a deal but she has many more.

If you need an agent give her a call 519-542-1009, visit her in the Kenwick BDG., Sarnia or email her at karen@traveldiscounters.ca

$545 plus taxes for a 4+…nice!

karen1

Florida flights $100 round over Christmas!!!

I have never seen this in the 5-6 years I have been following flight prices to Florida over the Christmas break.

If you haven’t checked yet, Christmas falls on the 1st Sunday the kids are off school.

They are done Friday December 23, Christmas is Sunday December 25.

That is almost 2 full weeks of time off with the kids (if you’re counting) after Christmas is over.

You’re probably going to be looking for places to go.

As usual, I like Florida and there are some pretty good deals.

As usual it is on Spirit, but these are great deals!

A shout out to Andy MacLean for finding this deal.

I will put up one such example but go to Spirit.com and see there are still many days to choose from.

Also note that it seems to be only Detroit – Ft. Lauderdale for now, but that could change.

You need to be in the $9 club to get the $99 flights, it is a little more if you’re not in club.

As I mentioned earlier, the cheapest I have ever seen flights over Christmas break (in 6 years) to Florida is about $250 – so even after exchange this is about half of that!

So that takes care of CHEAP FLIGHTS, but what about CHEAP HOTELS.

Well you could stay in dive hotels or you could start collecting hotel points like many people I know and stay free for this trip – see our page on “How do you do this?”

Grab the Starwood card or the Marriott card – both will get you 5 days free hotel in Florida.

Seriously, either one will – hotel paid for.

Flights – really cheap.

Check it out…

karen1

 

 

 

 

Disney on a Budget #2

So I wrote a piece about a year and a half ago about going to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida on a budget.

https://borderfreetravel.com/2015/04/03/half-price-disney/

I hadn’t been there since 1985 so it was all based on research from the Disney app and website.

 

Image result for disney world

 

Now I have been there on a 5 day trip with my wife and 2 kids and I must say the earlier article was pretty much bang-on.

So rather than me repeat all those points again I will sum it up.

  1. You can do a Disney trip for about half price using hotel points and Amex points.
  2. It is not necessary to save and save for years to do this trip.
  3. Your 5 day trip(family of 4) should realistically cost you $2200-$2800 CDN if you use points and start the process soon.

If you google things like “disney on a budget” and “how to go to disney cheaply” you can find hundreds of blog posts like mine – but I am telling you it can be done and isn’t that hard.

 

Image result for disney world swan

Yep, that’s the hotel.

As I re-read the original post…

  1. I see I actually did use google flights and found 4 round trip flights for $115 CDN return Cleveland-Orlando late August. That is actually less than the original post.
  2. I did book the Starwood Dolphin/Swan hotel using points which only costed me admin. fee of $20 a day for 5 days.
  3. We ended up getting park tickets for 2 days instead of 3 and saved about $500 CDN there. The kids loved the pools so that went over fine.
  4. Food ended up being about $1000 CDN so no difference there. If you have a fridge in your room you will save a few bucks for sure. ie. leftovers from eating out, bagels, etc.

In that example the total cost to you is about $3000 CDN.

In our example since hotel was free except for hotel admin fee and yearly fee for credit card the cost there was $360 CDN. (2 Amex Starwood cards.)

Flights were $460 CDN which was covered by (2 Gold Amex cards) no charge.

Park tickets for 2 days for 4 people was $1100 CDN.

Food around $1000 CDN.

Actual cost $360 + 1100 + 1000 = about $2500 CDN.

It can be done!