Birthday Surprise on Points

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Someone in my household who will remain nameless is quickly approaching a BIG birthday.  The actual big date isn’t until next year, but we are warming up to it by stepping up the birthday celebrations a notch this year.  Though he did dub our small family celebration at a local Hyatt The Best. Birthday. Ever. last year, so I guess the bar was already set kinda high.

Anyway, last week when I saw a chance to get luxury box suites with food and beverage included for two for 7,500 SPG points at a Cubs game, I saw the perfect chance to top last year.  My husband drives a truck, often wears jeans and boots, likes to work outside, but also likes to be spoiled.  In fact, that is the hook to get him in the miles and points world – luxury experiences that we don’t get at home.  So, a luxury way to see a sport on points is kind of perfect (well, perfect would be if it was his favorite NFL team, but this is close enough).

Of course, we don’t live in Chicago, so getting to Wrigley became part of the surprise and the points challenge.  I don’t want the stress of spending too much to overtake the fun of the birthday celebration, so on this trip we needed to use some points and keep costs down, so here is how we did it.

Luxury Box Suites to a Cubs Game for Two – 7,500 SPG points:

You can read all about this deal here, and it is still available for many games throughout the baseball season.  This is the main attraction of the birthday getaway and it was a heck of a deal for just 7,500 SPG points.  I like to use most of my SPG points for SPG hotel stays, but this was a case where an alternate redemption actually made sense.  On Star MegaDo 3 I was able to see a Rockies game from a luxury box and it really was a great time.  It would also be a great way to see a game with kids since they don’t have to just stay in their seat the whole time!

Points are there to be used, and that’s what we are doing.

One Night at the Park Hyatt Chicago – 22,000 Hyatt or Ultimate Reward points:

We have stayed here before and had a great stay overall, so we are excited to return.  We will again be staying on points as rates for the night we are there are in the $400+ range, so it makes sense to spend 22K Hyatt points and keep the cash.  Since we are Hyatt Diamonds this will also come with a very nice room service breakfast and we will likely opt for the Diamond amenity to have some drinks and a snack to celebrate his birthday.  Thanks to Points, Miles, and Martinis for showing us how delicious the amenities looked!  So in our case, 22,000 points gets us a $400 room at a five star hotel, a bottle of wine, a snack, and a full room service breakfast.  Not bad.

United Flights – $120 each out of pocket:

Flights from Houston to Chicago on United were very affordable for the date we are going, so it just did not make sense to spend points or miles as the return would have been less than one cent per point, which is just not worth it.  Instead I used a $100 United voucher we had and brought the $170 price for each round trip down to basically $120 each out of pocket.  We will earn elite qualifying miles on this trip and be upgrade eligible (though that is quite an elite-heavy route between two hubs).


Our evening snack will be provided by the hotel, our breakfast will be provided by the hotel, and we will eat lunch in the luxury box as part of our package.  Our only real out-of-pocket meal will be dinner, so even if we decided to have something a bit “fancy”, our meal costs are kept pretty reasonable since there is only one meal to purchase.

If all goes well, we will then be back home in Texas that evening in time to have a piece of cake with our kiddo before we all head to bed.  This is why I love points – they make things possible that otherwise just sound insanely crazy.  Flying to Chicago for a night to celebrate a birthday, stay at the Park Hyatt Chicago, and see a Cub’s game in a luxury box sounds like a bizarre thing that only the rich and famous would do, but folks with a few points can do it, too.

I’ll report back on how it all went after it’s done, but I wanted to share now as I thought it was a fun way to use points to make someone in the family feel the sting of another birthday a little less.  Now just wait until we get plans for the real BIG celebration finalized for next year… 😉

Anyone else have a fun story on how they use points to surprise their loved ones?

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  1. I leave today, first-class to Naples, for a one-month trip across Europe for my 30th birthday, using mostly points. Only took about 6-months worth of points planning, which is not too shabby.

  2. Hotels. Here is a quick sampling: Park Hyatt Vendome in Paris, Rome Cavalieri, Westin Europa & Regina in Venice, and Renaissance Naples Hotel Mediterraneo. I Pricelined a few when I ran out of points.

    • @Andrew – How many points did you end up using? I’d love a 30day trip but my wife can’t get the time off work unless she gets hired at a public school. Her school is year round with no breaks.

  3. @Ken — My wife is a registered nurse, which is a vacation planner’s dream, especially since she makes the schedules at work. I’m guessing I redeemed to close half a million points, maybe more.

    • @Andrew – I work from home and I’m only really busy Sep-Jan so the rest of the year is usually wide open for me. We’re going on our belated Honeymoon this weekend and a week was all she could get off work so I took it! Did you use the Carlson CC for the free 2nd night? If we ever get to spend an extended amount of time in EU I’ll be moving hotels every 2 nights and taking full advantage of the free 2nd night.

  4. Mommy Points-great idea!

    Hey, I bought two Cubs packages as well and the email says that Starwood will call me in 48 hours to confirm. I bought them last Friday but no call yet. Have you been contacted? Or does anyone have a toll-free number for Starwood auctions?


  5. Andrew, awesome – enjoy! You should send me the details when you get back and I will share your story since it seems to be one others are interested in!
    Patrick, ha ha. I’m actually pretty neutral on the teams, but am excited about visiting Wrigley…might as well root, root, root for the home team.
    baxterboy, they emailed me a few days after I bought it. If they don’t send you one soon shoot me an email and I will give you the contact info, but I bet you will be contacted soon.

  6. Jane/Ken, it is the second night free on award redemptions if you have the Club Carlson card. Great benefit!

  7. @Ken — My trip was more or less planned when that deal came out, but I’ll hop on that eventually. Have fun on your belated honeymoon. Oh, and I work from home too, so I can leave on a moment’s notice.

  8. Sorry for hijacking the thread MommyPoints. When I do return, I will definitely contact you — that sounds like fun. I mean, this trip probably wouldn’t be possible without you and some of my other favorite bloggers.

  9. Never knew your husband drove truck, thanks for sharing. I always imagined him to be a computer consultant or an it guy for some strage reason. So he got his spg plat by overnighting in hotels to sleep opposed to the back of his cabin then?

    • Troy, no sorry for the confusion, I mean he is the kind of guy that enjoys driving his 5 year old pick-up truck around (as opposed to a convertible or BMW or something). He is a nerdy IT guy by profession – but in his blood I think he wishes he was a farmer.

  10. So exciting! I just did something similar. I saw the idea of the luxury box on your site (thank you very much)! Hubby is a HUGE Cubs fan (I know, I know…). It’s our 10th anniversary this year, and thought this would be the perfet gift!

    Flying to Chicago for the weekend and staying at the Tremont on spg points! Very excited and I know hubby will be too. Still debating bringing the two little ones!

    Like a previous poster I haven’t heard from spg but finally emailed them today. I it a reply that they’ve been bogged down w so many closing bids but will contact everyone shorty!

  11. How are you getting such low fees on BA? Every place in Europe I try on BA brings up big fees. For example I just tested DUB-LON rt a month out and it was 9K Avios plus over $155 in fees (or 4500 Avios and $225 in fees).

  12. I was thinking of doing this for my wife too! She is from Illinois and a HUGE Cubs fan. We always make it to the Dodgers vs. Cubs series out here in California but she would love this. You’ll enjoy Wrigley… it truly is an experience and a great little park.

  13. I am officially inspired! Time to get to work making plans for my husband’s upcoming (well, in a few months) birthday. We usually do something more along the lines of, “hey, it’s your birthday tomorrow…uh….should we go out for dinner?”

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