There are lots of limited time increased credit card sign-up bonuses right now, and it looks like the time is winding down very, very quickly for the temporarily increased offer of 70,000 Marriott Reward points after $2,000 on the card in the first three months.  This is clearly better than the common public offer we usually see of 50,000 points after hitting the spending requirement.

Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card: 70,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first three months + free night at a Category 1-4 property after account approval

It is also better than the not-as-public offer with the lower spending threshold of just $1,000 for those who are repeat card members since the terms state that offer is only for those first-time Marriott Rewards Credit Card Cardmembers with new accounts.  You can find more about that offer here.  The terms for the public 70,000 point offer with the $2,000 spending requirement state that it is not open to previous cardmembers of this consumer credit card who received a new cardmember bonus for this consumer credit card within the last 24 months.  That means it is open to cardmembers who received the sign-up bonus more than 24 months ago.

If you are newer to Marriott, the Marriott Rewards chart goes from 7,500 – 45,000 points per free night (with point savers available for a lower points price) and the fifth night is free on point redemptions.  If you want to use this for Ritz Carlton stays, be ready to spend 30,000 – 70,000 points per night.  I have a post dedicated to tips on stretching your Marriott Rewards points here.

The introductory annual fee for this offer is $0 the first year and $85 thereafter.  You also get one additional free night at a Category 1-5 location every year after your anniversary date.  The card earns 5x at Marriott charges, 2x on airline tickets booked directly with airlines, on rental cars, and restaurants, and 1x elsewhere.

If you care about elite status, it also gives you 15 credits toward your next elite membership level at account opening and each year following.  There are no foreign transaction fees and chip + signature technology – in other words, it is a travel-related credit card you can actually travel with.

As an example of what you can do with 70,000 points, it can get you two nights at 35,000 points each at Category 7 Marriott hotels such as:

Vienna Marriott Hotel
Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino
London Marriott Hotel Regents Park
Courtyard New York Manhattan/Central Park
Courtyard Anchorage Airport
Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa (on the Big Island)
Waikoloa Marriott
Of course you don’t have to use the 70,000 points for two nights at those hotels, you can use them however best suits your needs and travel plans.  Good luck if you decide to pull the trigger on this offer – and again, I recommend doing it very, very soon if you want in on the public 70,000 point limited time offer.

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The sun is setting on summer 2014 as many kids are already back in school, with the rest to follow in the coming weeks.  As we squeeze the last days out of our final summer 2014 trip, my mind immediately jumps to planning out getaways for next summer.  For us, it makes it more tolerable to end our current vacation knowing more are on the horizon, but for a family it is also imperative to plan in advance in order to secure the award flights and award rooms that are scarce during peak travel times like summer break.


The sun setting on summer 2014, means time to plan summer 2015 travel

Many airlines United, Delta, American, Alaska, and more have their schedules open through about mid-July 2015 right now, which means that your early summer award flights can potentially be booked immediately.  Many hotels have their schedules open at least through mid-August 2015, with some (like Starwood and Club Carlson) open even further out than that for award bookings.

I recommend doing some summer 2015 planning as soon as possible and locking something in if you find award flights that will work.  Remember that airlines don’t release all of their award seats exactly when the schedules open roughly 11 months out.  If their computers and calculations tell them later on that some seats are likely to go unsold on that particular route then they will release more award seats.  If the reverse happens and seats are selling better than expected on that flight then they may pull back some award seats that were previously available.  When an award seat disappears it doesn’t necessarily mean someone else booked it first.

Many of the hotel programs, including my most commonly used programs Starwood and Hyatt, allow you to book a standard room on points if it is available for sale with cash.  That means the sooner the better for securing hotel award rooms as standard rooms can sell out during popular times, or get swept up all at once by large events or companies selling packages that include stays at the particular hotel you are interested in.  With hotels you can usually cancel award nights without penalty until pretty close to the check-in date, so it doesn’t hurt to lock something in “just in case”.


Book award nights at Grand Hyatt Kauai for summer 2015

Just as a brief example, let’s say my family wanted to come back to Kauai in summer 2015.  Availability right now on United isn’t fantastic out of Houston to Lihue (somewhat better to Honolulu then adding a flight to Lihue), but there is one day in July that is currently available at the saver level on miles via a one-stop flight to Kauai.  Assuming I have date flexibility and July 5th works for us, I could snag that award and not worry that every other day in July wasn’t available.  It doesn’t matter because I got what I wanted and can start planning another trip to paradise.

Summer 2015 Planning

On the other hand, if I don’t grab that one available date, it could easily disappear on us and we would be left waiting for something else to hopefully open up later on, or potentially not get here via United operated flights.  My parents are planning a trip to Alaska and award availability for June changed dramatically last week before they could lock something in so now they will likely be traveling out of a different city to get there.

Regardless of where you want to go next summer consider this your official reminder to get planning!

Have you already locked in some summer 2015 trips for your family?






Posted by Mommy Points | 7 Comments

To celebrate their 200th location, Hyatt Place is giving away “200 nights in 200 hours” via contest on social media.  I know, I know, I roll my eyes at some contests too, but I actually entered this one since it was quick and painless.  From August 18th – August 26th if you share a photo of or at a Hyatt Place via Twitter, Instagram, or Foursquare/Swarm then you can win a free Hyatt Place night if you are one of the selected daily or grand prize winners.  It sounds like 24 winners are selected each day for eight days and there are also eight grand prize winners, all of which receive a free Hyatt Place night.

Hyatt Place Contest

This isn’t a random contest, but instead winners are selected based on: creativity of photo (50%) & extent to which photo captures Hyatt Place brand (50%). Limit 1 use of same photo per contest.  You need to tag your photos with #HyattPlace” and “#HPEntry”.

I have much better photos at all Hyatt brands other than Hyatt Place, but I used what I had since you can’t win if you don’t play.  If you happen to have a stay at a Hyatt Place in the next week or so then maybe you can snap a picture and try to win a free night.  I actually have won a free night via a similar photo contest once already this year, so I have a little renewed faith in throwing my hat into the contest ring every now and then.

I like free hotel nights, and would be thrilled to get a night at a Hyatt Place somewhere like Honolulu, Austin, Washington DC, South Bend, or New York City.


Here are some of the official rules, but head here for full details.

(1) Take a Photograph.   First, take a Photograph.  Any Photograph you submit in this Promotion must be taken by you. Your Photograph should emphasize the Hyatt Place brand.  This could be accomplished by including images of buildings or articles bearing the HYATT PLACE trademark, images capturing distinctive Hyatt Place trade dress, or images taken in an identifiable location within a Hyatt Place hotel. How you elect to capture the Hyatt Place brand is up to you.  However, if you enter your Photograph into a Contest, your Photograph will be judged, in part, by the extent to which you capture the Hyatt Place brand, as detailed below in the “Winner Selection” section.

(2) Post your Photograph as part of an Entry Post on Twitter or Instagram or as part of an Entry Check-In on Foursquare.  You may enter each Contest in any or all of three ways: through Twitter, through Instagram, or through Foursquare.

(a) Twitter & Instagram. To enter any Contest using Instagram or Twitter, during the applicable Contest Period, post a tweet from your Twitter account or a post from your Instagram account that includes (i) your Photograph and (ii) the Required Hashtags “#HyattPlace” and “#HPEntry” (in either case, an “Entry Post”). Your Entry Post will appear on your Twitter or Instagram feed, as applicable.

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The good news is that there are some Hyatt Gold Passport fall promotions out today, but the bad news is that they are targeted.  I don’t know for sure how many different versions of the promos are out there, but the ones I have read about thus far. Earn up to 50,000 bonus points for 20 eligible nights between September 1 through November 30, 2014.  Mlife stays do not count… Read the Rest.

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JetBlue is offering 25% off TrueBlue award redemptions when you book today or tomorrow (August 18th and 19th) for an award flight that takes places between September 2 – November 20, 2014.  This is not valid for award redemptions on Fridays and Sundays. This timing stacks perfectly with the current Membership Rewards transfer bonus to JetBlue that also offers a 25% bonus on top of the regular transfer rate.  The… Read the Rest.

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We travel for lots of different reasons. To see different places and different cultures, to try somewhere new, to getaway, to find ourselves, to lose ourselves, to just have fun. I believe the benefits of family travel are virtually infinite, but on our current trip I noticed a benefit that I hadn’t in a while.  Getting away from home and out of our routine allowed me to see how grown… Read the Rest.

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This is a very popular time of the year for shopping thanks to back to school needs, as well as stocking up on summer clearance items for next year. Or at least that is what I like to buy in August… Anyway, if you have some online shopping to do then you might as well earn bonus miles for it.  I recently did a post that listed lots of different… Read the Rest.

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As those who visit here frequently likely already know, my parents are on a quest to visit an always growing “Bucket List” of destinations and experiences.  Most of their items are here in the US of A.  They love National Parks, outdoor beauty, good musicals, cheap flights, cold Coca Cola, Las Vegas, and darn near anything patriotic.  My dad in particular is Mr. Patriotic, and as such being in Washington… Read the Rest.

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Once upon a time there were only a handful of Hyatt Hotels in NYC.  Then in a flurry the last couple of years, we are up to eight Hyatt Hotels open in New York City (by my last count), with numbers nine and ten soon to open (woohoo Park Hyatt NYC)!  I had already stayed at the Grand Hyatt New York, Hyatt 48 Lex, and the Andaz Fifth Avenue, but… Read the Rest.

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One of my very favorite features of the American Express Membership Rewards program is that they offer periodic transfer bonuses when you move points from the Membership Rewards program to their hotel or airline partners. The pattern of transfer bonuses in the last year or two hasn’t been quite as regular or frequent as in the few years before that, but transfer bonuses do still happen and when they do… Read the Rest.

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Some places we travel to carve out a place in my heart and make all the work and effort to get there instantly melt away.  I already (mostly) don’t remember the twelve hours we traveled today to get here.  I remember this moment.  This moment that struck us with awe of the natural beauty surrounding us in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I find things that I love in… Read the Rest.

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