With as much time as I spend on planes and in hotels, you'd think that I was attempting to avoid something like police or the IRS (shh, they may be reading!) In actuality, I do this for my job and all the travel does have some good benifits. I've earned well over half a million American Airline miles and close to three quarters of a million Marriott points. My recent redemption of these points was one of the best 'savings' I've accomplised using points. My recent post about using my Amex points was for gift cards at the standard value of a penny a point. The redemtion I'm talking about now was a much more lucritive valuation at over double that valuation.
Two roundtrip tickets on a direct flight from Chicago to Paris, France on an Amerian Airlines 767, departing on Valentine's day 2009 for 8 days 7 nights with Lodging in what will be at that time one of the top 15 Marriot Hotels in the world, the Paris Rennaisance Vendome.
The Dollar Cost
The actual cost for the flight in US dollars was $1,935.00.
The actual cost for the hotel $3,390.00
Total actual cost $ 5,325
The Point Cost
Total American Airlines points needed 80,000.
Total Marriot Points needed 150,000
Total points needed 230,000
Amerian Airlines point valuation 2.24 pennies per point*
Marriott point valuation 2.26 pennies per point
Total point valuation 2.25 pennies per point*
These are not the best valuations I've attained, but the same tricks I used can be used by anyone in securing a good point valuation for airline or hotel rewards:
- Book insanely early, for hotel points especially. They usually (check to make sure) don't charge anything for cancelling if it's a hotel reservation. Come January 15th, for example, i'm booking a couple nights for new years eve 2009 at the Marriot Marquis at Times Squre on the chance that I end up going, knowing that I may cancel.
- Travel during off-peak seasons. Paris isn't at it's peak in February, but you really can't beat a trip to Paris for Valentine's day.
- Be open to travel destinations and alternate airports. I two hour drive may save you 50,000 points by flying to a different city.
- Be flexible with hotel choices. For July 4th this year, I had a 3.2 pennies per point valuation by staying at a hotel a few blocks away from where I wanted in DC (JW on Pennsylvania Avenue). The hotel was not quite as good obviously, but it was half the 'cost'.
- Know the system. Marriott, for example, 'rewards' you by booking in seven night incriments. If you book 1,2,3,4,5,6,8,9,10,11,12, or 13 nights, you are paying more points per night than 7 or 14. American Airlines, for example, will open up more award travel to the top tier of their frequent flyer program, allowing you to book at 'shorter notice'.
*International Airline taxes of approximatly $140 charged in addition to point redemption taken out of valuation calculation
**Starting January 15th at 12:01 Zulu time, it will cost the same amount of points per night for stays in length of 1,2,3, or 4 nights. You get the 5th night free, and the points per night increases all the way up to and including 9 nights. Once you do the 10th night, it's free as well.