Yesterday was one of those days where I spent a chunk of the day playing the role of “family (money saving) travel agent”. It’s a role I love as it helps lots of my family members travel further and save more than they otherwise would. None of the trips I helped with yesterday were first class or far flung adventures, but they all resulted in very real world savings on travel that I think many families can benefit from. While none of these examples are super exciting or overly complex, they are all very practical ways to integrate miles, points, and deals into your travel arsenal. Here are some glimpses into how my family does what it does without going broke.
Save $150+ Booking Hotels via Travel Pony Sale:
The first thing I noticed yesterday was the 10% off FLASHPONY sale that I wrote about. I have had very good luck solid hotel prices with Travel Pony, so I immediately starting pricing upcoming trips that I had, as well as some upcoming hotel stays I knew my parents had. They don’t care at all about hotel elite status and such, so missing out on earning hotel points/stay credits for stays by booking via a third party site is inconsequential for them. They care about staying in a decent place at a good price. They have a couple nights booked soon at the Grand Hyatt Washington DC, and while they had a decent price of around $160/night, via Travel Pony they were able to knock about $45 off their two night stay.
This doesn’t change their hotel plans at all, but it keeps more money in their pockets. Easy win. I then found them a night they needed in Virginia at the hotel they were after there for about $40 less for the one night stay than other sites via Travel Pony and the 10% discount. Another easy win. I re-booked a few hotel stays for myself with the 10% code and then had breakfast. All in a couple hundred dollars in hotel costs saved, and all the reservations were booked at the exact hotels we needed/wanted for our trips anyway. Took about 30 minutes in the morning, so well worth it. If I had waited until the afternoon all the 10% Travel Pony codes would have been gone. Gotta move quickly sometimes with these deals.
Save $200+ on Hotels Via IHG Rewards PointBreaks:
The next deal to break yesterday was the IHG Rewards PointBreaks list around mid-morning. We knew this one was coming, so I had a head start searching for hotels that we might be able to book for just 5,000 IHG Rewards points per night. This is a huge deal if the hotels on the list line up with some of your travel plans. In this case, my in-laws are heading to Montreal for a night this summer as part of a larger trip. There were two hotels in the Montreal area on the 5,000 points per night list, so I quickly got in touch with Josh’s mom and verified one of the hotels in Montreal would work for them. As luck would have it, there was PointBreaks availability for the night. Montreal can get quite pricey, and the going rates for the night they are there are $200-ish all in, so being able to secure a night for just 5,000 points was great.
They had never booked with IHG before, so I walked my mother in law through the process of transferring 5,000 points from her Ink Plus® Business Credit Card Ultimate Rewards account to her newly created IHG Rewards account. Normally this isn’t a great use of Ultimate Rewards, but since she was starting from zero, and needed the points quickly, it was a solid option that wouldn’t cost her anything out of pocket. The only hitch was that availability on PointBreaks can dry up quickly, and almost 24 hours later the points still haven’t transferred into her IHG account.
I’m not sure if this is normal, if there is a glitch, or if there was some sort of user error that we haven’t identified. In the meantime, I booked the night for them out of my stash of IHG points as a back-up. With IHG you can’t book using your points in someone else’s name directly, but they can be added on as a registered guest on your reservation. This allows them to check-in and it is standard operating procedure for handling that issue with IHG. I made the reservation over the phone with IHG to ensure she was properly listed as a registered guest on the reservation. If the availability is still there whenever her transferred points finally post then I will rebook the night purely in her name and cancel the one I booked from my account.
This was a very good win as the $200 savings is easily worth way more than 5,000 points.
Rebook a round trip flight for $110 + 9,000 Avios:
My husband has a guys weekend camping trip to Colorado this summer and he botched the date. We had him all booked on my United miles for the trip in July, only to find out yesterday the dates were a month off, and it is actually in June. Oh these
boys men and their attention to details! Luckily based on prior experience with this group of nice but detailed challenged guys, I booked using United miles out of my elite account that can be redeposited with no penalty. This meant that undoing what we had already booked was simple and painless enough. However, there was no United award availability at the saver level for their correct dates, so I had to get more creative.
I was able to find routing on the outbound using British Airways Avios on American Airlines operated flights. Since Avios are distance based, and Colorado is pretty close to Houston, it was just 9,000 Avios for the outbound. This is better than the 12,500 miles it would be if I had booked using American Airlines miles. British Airways also doesn’t charge a “close in” booking fee the way that American Airlines would have, so that also resulted in a savings. There was no saver award availability for the return, so I used a $50 American Airlines gift certificate I had received “for free” via the $100 American Airlines fee credit bonus we got from our Amex Platinum as a courtesy when we lost access to the American Airlines lounges in March. This knocked the one-way ticket price down from about $160 to $110 out of pocket.
This meant we were able to book a flight just a few weeks out for 9,000 Avios + $110 cash and refund the incorrectly booked flights at no penalty thanks to booking for an account that wouldn’t have fees if our plans changed. He now has to connect through Dallas instead of having a nonstop, but that’s a small price to pay to undo a date mix-up (and he will get lunch at the Centurion Lounge in DFW thanks to the Amex Platinum Card). I also get my 25,000 United miles back, which I value higher than 9,000 Avios + $110 anyway! Another victory. Now I just have to plan what C and I will do while daddy is camping!
This was just a normal day of deal hunting and travel planning around here where not everything is “free”, but sometimes getting a good deal is good enough. I’d love to hear about any recent bookings and deals your family has taken advantage of!
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