Watch Out for Extra Charges on Award Redemptions

I’ve written a post before on how important it is to  keep track of your credit cards. In it, I’ve suggested you register them all on Mint and take a look at the charges from time to time. Once you get into this hobby and start collecting credit cards, it’s easy to lose track of what’s happening.

Equally important is to check you credit card statement after you stay in a hotel. I’ve read numerous posts on how people have found charges for movies that they have never watched, drinks they never drank etc.  You may even have an unexpected bill when staying in a hotel on points.

That’s exactly what happened to me a few months ago. I’ve booked an award stay for my cousin-in-law in Tampa when they were looking for an apartment to rent. While making a reservation, I have put in my husband’s IHG card info. The stay was supposed to be completely covered with points and the credit card requirement was just a technicality.

Well, several weeks later I was checking on my multitude of cards and noticed that IHG card bill was a bit high. Sure enough, there was a charge of $25 from Holiday Inn in Tampa. Not earth-shattering, but still. My cousin-in-law surely would have told me about extra charges. Turns out, she had no clue what they were.

So I called   the hotel and the clerk said they automatically charge the credit card on file a  $25 deposit on award stays. It’s supposed to  be taken off once the stay is completed, but wasn’t this time. He said he would take care of it, except, instead of crediting my card $25, he charged that amount instead. So now I had an extra $50 that I didn’t owe. So I called again and spoke to a manager who finally took care of this whole mess. It only required three phone calls and about 40 minutes of my time.

So the lesson is: Always check your hotel charges, whether it’s a paid or award reservation. The hotel will not go out of their way to make sure everything is correct, especially if the mistake is in their favor.

When participating in this hobby, you have to have  certain  attention to detail, or at least try to. I’ll be the first to admit, it doesn’t come naturally to me, as I am very disorganized.

This is partially why I don’t focus on any advanced point earning techniques. Sure, I’ll happily mention a deal in Staples where you can practically get paid for buying gift cards. But anything beyond that just seems too complicated to justify the effort. It’s also easy to mess up when you are juggling too many deals at once.

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