Will The Points Programs Work For You?
Never let it be said that there is not a lot to shout about when it comes to points programs. Abi and I have been working the points programs for years (and years). And I talk about Hilton so much that maybe one day the company’s powers-to-be will pay me to stay with them! Ha!
Did you know that Hampton Inn has a 100% guarantee that you’re either completely pleased with your stay, or they guarantee your money back? Now, this is not to say you should walk up to the front desk and declare, “I don’t like your shampoo, I want my money back.” Really, that’s quite the stretch don’t you think? Abi and I have asked for a refund on maybe 3 stays – out of way too many stays to count – but they were justified and our money was refunded.
One of Our Refunded Nights
I remember 1 of those rare nights several years ago in Idaho. We were checked in to a room that obviously had not been occupied in months. It was a nice large room but it reeked of dust and the chair leg was broken, which I had the misfortune of discovering the hard way. We asked to change rooms, which was accommodated.
Getting ready for bed I happened to look up at the ceiling, above the bedside table lamp, to discover a nest of gnats on the ceiling – you know, where the ring of light shadow was – and discovered it was the case on both sides of the bed. We called the front desk and they sent someone to sweep them away. But you know, sweeping away a nest of gnats over the bed kinda makes one not want to crawl between the sheets, but when you’re tired and it’s super late… The next morning Abi quietly had a conversation with the manager and after she recovered from embarrassment, she apologized profusely and refunded our stay.
Points Programs & Retirement
Using points programs is a super way to subsidize travel, especially if you’re on a fixed retirement income. Our American Express card is affiliated with Hilton Hotels and we charge as much as we possibly can on our Amex card in order to earn points.
We also have a VISA card that is affiliated with United Airlines. Not every company accepts Amex, so in those cases we use our VISA card. We stay in hotels far more often than we fly, so hotel points are our priority. And, just recently, I received an offer to sign up with Amex/Hilton (just in my name). After charging $750 on my new card, I earned 60,000 Hilton points. Yay!
Points & Road Trips
On a road trip to the deep south, our points were a huge help. The rate for a room at Hampton Inn, using just points, can average between 20,000 – 30,000 points per night, depending on room and location of the property. Abi is a super sleuth at finding the best deals. Deals such as $40 plus 8,000 points per night, which is what he found in north Charleston.
Usually, we book a room with 2 double beds because they can be less expensive. When we check in we ask for an upgrade and if available we’ll be upgraded to a king bed and many times we’ve been upgraded to a larger end room or a suite. In full disclosure I should mention that we’ve been with Hilton for so many years we have reached Diamond status and there can be better upgrades offered to Diamond status members. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask. Always ask. What’s the worst that can happen? We’ve been told no many times. Who cares?
Staying Just Outside of the City Core
What we’ve also learned in the past few years is to stay just outside of the city limits. Yes, it’s super fun and convenient to stay right in the heart of the city core, but it’s also usually super expensive to do so. We set our boundary at 15 miles from where we want to be and the saving is considerable.
It’s what we did in Charleston for 4 nights and it’s what we did in Savannah for 3 nights. In Savannah, we checked in to a beautiful Embassy Suites – our other favorite Hilton brand – but it tends to be more pricey. Granted, it was in January and off season and we were about 13 miles from the historic city core, but we paid just $113 per night. Add in a full cooked-to-order breakfast included each morning, and cocktail happy hour in the lobby each evening, and we had ourselves a great deal! And, you guessed it, we paid for our stay with our Amex card and earned points for the stay. It was a win-win!
The Best of Both Worlds
Here’s the thing. I’m
fairly very particular about where we stay and where I’ll sleep. I’ve never been someone who can just plop down anywhere and fall asleep. Shudder the thought. And Abi doesn’t enjoy being cramped into a small space, he likes to get up and move around. Using our points programs gives us the best of the both worlds. We have to pay for groceries, gas, clothing, etc., and while traveling we have to pay for restaurants, train tickets, attraction tickets and doughnut stops (because every good road trip must have a doughnut stop). There’s no reason not to pay for all of it on our credit card and earn points. We stay in quality hotels for a minimum price. What’s not to love?!
I’m a great points fan –
I have a credit card linked to my Qantas Frequent Flier membership so I gain all my flying points by simply paying for my groceries with a card!
As I’m not otherwise a “shopper” it does take a year or two to build up enough points – but over the years I’ve been able to fly for free to Europe (from Australia) and last year finally flew business class back from the UK via Vancouver (2 weeks in Whistler!) to Australia all on my points 😀
So I’m a convert!!
Linda Fairbairn recently posted…Plan for the Future & Review your Year at a Glance
Yes! Great use of your points, Linda, and business class too, that’s an accomplishment! And, really, you don’t have to be a “shopper” because we all have to buy groceries and gas for our cars, etc. Every $ counts!
Well done! I’m sure there’s much more I could be doing with points and you’ve encouraged me to to that. My priority has been getting airline miles (especially for United) and have the credit cards to show for it! Hyatt points that I had forgotten about and which were about to expire came in very handy for a recent San Diego jaunt.
Catherine recently posted…A Week in Tuscany: Instagram Highlights
Thanks, Catherine. It has become a mindset with us, buy something – charge it. Even a cup of coffee or an ice cream stop. If you have to pay for something, charge it! We also used to go for the airline miles but after several years of banking airline points, we realized we stay in hotels far more often so we switched over and it’s really paid off for us because we take so many road trips. But that’s what’s so great about the points programs, you can make it work to meet your needs.
I think you should definitely contact Hilton. With this kind of post they should make you a deal. My points are cash, which recently paid my VISA bill.
Gaelyn recently posted…Living nomadically & connecting to nature documentary
Ha! Ha! Ha! Gaelyn, that’s too funny but very realistic… cash for points. 🙂
We use our points as much as possible. I’m a Marriott fan. In fact we just stayed in the heart of SF at the Marriott Marquis using points and had a wonderful room with a beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge on the 34 floor. Love those points!!
Thanks, Julie! I’m glad the Marriott program works for you. We used to stay with Marriott but at some point we switched to Hilton, not sure why, although I’m guessing it had to do with the American Express connection. 🙂