Mommy Points Story Today

I was reading my morning blogs today and came across one that I wanted to share with you.  It was on Mommy Points, one of my favorite blogs as it talks about how to traveling inexpensively as a family.  She titled the blog post as Not Everyone is an “Expert” Flyer.  I would have titled it something like You Never Know What Others Are Going Through.  It’s a nice reminder to us all to be kind to others while we travel and every day.  It would have been so easy for her to judge the other passenger by thinking, “Who doesn’t bring a credit card when they are traveling?”  I think you’ll agree that not judging was a far better path.

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Is American Airlines Limiting Award Availability?

I am in the process of planning our 2013 Spring vacation.  My husband’s first choice is Belize.  I was thinking of using our American Airlines miles since a round-trip award ticket is only 30,000 miles.  As with other vacations, I made sure that I was on aa.com exactly when the day opened up for booking.  However, unlike other times, the MileSAAver award availability just wasn’t there.  So instead of 30,000 miles round-trip, it would have cost us 60,000 miles round-trip.  That’s just not viable when we’re trying to fly 4 people.  I even search availability from several airports that are within driving distance from our house and still did not find any availiabity.

I wondered if it was just me or if there was some larger award availability issue.  I went to Flyertalk and found an entire thread on how booking award tickets has been more difficult this year (the thread goes back to 2009, but if you read the more recent posts, you’ll see comments about how it’s been difficult this year).  There is speculation around the cause from the bankruptcy to the glut of people who have miles from the 75k sign-up bonus.  My gut tells me that it’s a result of the bankruptcy and trying to get more revenue out of each flight.  I never had an issue booking an award flight until this year.  And I was on aa.com, refreshing every second, so I know there is no way someone booked all the flights that quickly.

I wanted to alert people that this is happening in case you run into the same situation.  It may be easier this year to use another airline’s miles or book a flight on one of American’s partner airlines instead.

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Sign up for the Radisson Big Night Giveaway

I don’t have any Radisson brand hotels near me or I would probably sign up for this promotion.  You can get a bunch extra of Radisson points for staying at one of their hotels.  Mommy Points has a great summary of the promotion.  And she posted that the Country Inn & Suites sign up is already open.  You must register separately for each of the brands and you can earn up to 138,000 bonus points.

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Southwest Sale Today – 35% off some flights

Southwest is running a 35% off Wanna Get Away sale today on select flights. 

  • 35% discount valid for one-time use at southwest.com or SWABIZ.com off the total amount of a roundtrip Wanna Get Away Fare® purchase before taxes and fees.
  • Purchase must be made on 5/15/12 for travel on one of the following dates: May 22, May 30-31, June 5-6, July 4-5, 2012.
  • There are no Blackout dates.
  • Discount is only valid to/from any scheduled Southwest Airlines markets.
  • The discount is only valid with the provided Promotion Code and is not combinable with other Promotion Codes or fares available exclusively through the web tool DING!.
  • This promotion includes only Wanna Get Away Fares.
  • 7-day or more advance purchase may be required.
  • Discount is not valid on reservations made using Rapid Rewards points.
  • Changes made to the itinerary after purchase may eliminate qualifications for this promotion.
  • Discount is not valid for travel between the following market pairs
    • Austin—San Diego
    • Baltimore/Washington—Ft. Myers
    • Baltimore/Washington—San Diego
    • New York LaGuardia—Chicago Midway
    • Kansas City—San Diego
    • Chicago Midway—Oakland
    • Chicago Midway—San Diego
    • Chicago Midway—San Antonio
    • Chicago Midway—Seattle
    • Chicago Midway—San Francisco
    • Chicago Midway—Tucson
    • Minneapolis/St. Paul—Phoenix
    • St. Louis—Tampa Bay
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Hotel Points

This post is dedicated to my sister who has recently joined the travel hacking family.  As the Frugal Travel Guy talked about today, networking is one of the best things you can do in this game.  And I’m so happy to have another family member joining this game.  One thing that she said she wished she knew more about was how to earn and maximize use of hotel points.  I do not profess to be an expert in this arena, but it did get me thinking.

I love the Starwood Amex credit card.  I’m sure you’ve heard many travel blogger touting this card and there’s a reason why.  You get a point for every dollar you spend.  When you transfer 20,000 points to an airline program, you get an extra 5,000 points transfer, essentially making your earn rate 1.25 per dollar spent.  But the feature I like best with Starwood points is the cash and points option for hotel redemption.  For example, if you wanted to stay at one of their category 5 hotels, it would cost 12,000 – 16,000 points OR 4,800 points and $90.  The cash and points option allows you to stretch your points further which is important for those of us who don’t have as many points.

You could also get one of the other hotel credit cards if you don’t want to stay at a Starwood hotel.  The one that I like the most right now is the Chase Hyatt Visa.  It comes with 2 free nights at ANY Hyatt (you get the first one after your first purchase and the second one after you spend $1,000 on the card within 3 months).

Another option is to get a non-hotel credit card that allows you to transfer points to hotel programs.  There are many credit cards that fall into this category.  My favorite all around use card that allows this is the Chase Sapphire Visa.  It is now my go to card.  However, there is a great offer out there for the Bank of American Virgin Atlantic American Express card.  You get 20,000 miles after first purchase and another 25,000 miles after you spend $2,500 on the card within the first 3 months.  (You can also get another 5,000 miles if you add 2 authorized users to the account.)  Virgin Atlantic miles transfer to Hilton at a 1:2 rate.  So this deal will yield you nearly 100,000 Hilton points!

Now 100,000 points means very different things in different programs.  So how do you know if 100,000 points is any good?  My suggestion would be to check out the Million Mile Secrets web site.  One of the top tabs on the site is called Miles & Points Resources.  This gives you a drop down Airline Award Charts, Airline Frequent Flyer Program Sign-up, Hotel Reward Night Charts, and Hotel Reward Program Sign-up.  It’s a quick and easy way to navigate to each program’s chart (so you don’t have to hunt and peck around each site).  In Hilton’s case, 100,000 points will get you 4 nights at a category 3 hotel, about 3 nights at a category 4 – 5 hotel or 2 nights at a category 6 – 7 hotel (you could get quite a bit more at a category 1 – 2 hotel, but personally I wouldn’t stay at a category 1 – 2 hotel).  Hilton also has a cash and money option, so you could stretch your points even further.

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