As the Miles and Points World Turns


Hi, friends! It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? I suppose, I should have said that my previous rant was my last regular post. It was incredible to receive so many words of support via comments and emails. I can’t thank you enough and please, know that I meant every word when I said I want you to keep in touch. A few readers have reached out to me for help and I was thrilled to bestow my nuggets of wisdom upon them. Hey, I never said I wasn’t a narcissist!

So, you may or may not wonder what I’ve been up to lately.  I’ll tell you anyway!

Burning woman

That’s me, I’m the “burning” woman. No, not as in “hot’ in appearance or anything of that sort. I’m talking about going on a major burning spree when it comes to miles and points. And it feels good! I highly recommend it. As it says in Bob Dylan’s song “Like a rolling stone” : When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose.

So, I’ve booked tickets for my parents using miles from United and AAdvantage programs. I also ended up getting several nights in Radisson Oceanfront Melbourne hotel (Florida) using BOGO benefit. BTW, it’s due to expire soon, what are you waiting for? Get rid of your Club Carlson points now, ALL of them. You can always cancel your reservation later if things don’t work out.

I also decided to fly my parents to Puerto Rico for three nights using Rapid Rewards points. It will cost a small fortune for 6 roundtrip non-stop tickets from Orlando, but I don’t care. My parents are flying across the world, I’m doing something special, darn it. Thankfully, the out-of-pocket cost shouldn’t be terrible since I plan to utilize my  Wyndham cards’ bonus for hotel stays (more on that later).

We also already booked our cruise to Alaska for next year. Unfortunately, I’ll have to use actual dollars for that trip. Norwegian line had  a special and my sister-in-law couldn’t pass it up. Reluctantly, I agreed to reserve a cabin before we  could secure airfare. In a  month or so, I play to redeem a ton of AAdvantage miles for, wait for it… business class tickets to Seattle. Yes, 200K miles for 4 domestic seats because that’s where availability is plentiful and flight times are decent. I am a burning woman indeed.

One of the reasons I wanted to write this post was due to fantastic experience we just had redeeming IHG certificate from Into the Nights promo. Normally, I’m quite a planner (shocker!), but on a whim decided to stay at the beach for a Memorial day weekend. Not surprisingly, hotel rates were astronomical, but I was able to redeem the certificate at Holiday Inn Lido beach. The  rate on its website was $369 for a parking lot view room.

As it was, we were upgraded to an oceanview suite (due to Platinum status)  and didn’t have to pay a penny. Even my husband was impressed. We had  a fabulous time  at the beach. The hotel was very simple, but was recently renovated. It was clean, comfortable and had a certain charm to it. We saw the most beautiful sunset while relaxing in the ocean and watching our kids play in the sand.

It’s in times like these when I really appreciate miles and points  hobby and the doors it opens for regular families on a budget. There is no way we could just drop close to $400 on a room in a spur of the moment. But we didn’t have to! Hotel points afforded us this incredible time together as a family, time we will cherish forever…

To Wyndham or not to Wyndham?

I’ve mentioned that we plan to use bonus nights from Wyndham cards for our stay in Puerto Rico. In case you haven’t heard, Wyndham just completely overhauled its program where all properties cost 15,000 points per night. Yes, a dumpy Days Inn by the highway now costs as much as a 2-bedroom suite in an oceanfront resort in Kauai.

It sounds good in theory, except if you check availability for that Kauai property I’ve mentioned, you are unlikely to find any open dates. Wow, that was fast! So much for “no blackout dates” policy. Many other decent properties are still bookable on points, though, including the ones in New York, Miami and other expensive places.

So, should you get this card? It honestly depends. As always, when it comes to hotel points redemptions, have several properties in mind. Don’t get your heart set on one specific hotel because things may not work out. Overall, I don’t regret getting the card for me and my husband. We picked the one with an annual fee of $69. Why? The sign-up bonus is bigger (45,000 points), plus, you get 15,000 points upon renewal. I plan to redeem them at beachfront Florida Wyndham hotels during peak season or holidays (if available). Here is a post on Doctor of Credit with more info on this card.

If the program gets to be too frustrating to deal with, I will cancel  the cards and move on. I don’t think it’s worth putting everyday spending on it. You are essentially giving up $150 compared to 2% card in order to acquire 15,000 points. That’s a lot to pay speculatively for any hotel night, let alone one that may not be available on the dates you need.

Random drivel

I was researching a Club Carlson hotel in Kaunas, Lithuania and came across this Park Inn property. It actually looks like a great redemption since it only costs 9,000 points per night. Yes, there is still value left in that program no matter what anyone says. You just have to look harder, go off-the-beaten path etc. Anyway, I was looking at some photos and here is one advertising the spa. I just had to share it:

spa

Doesn’t look right, does it? As I told some friends on Twitter, it’s “Scandinavia meets ex-Soviet quirkiness. Instead of a scantily clad attractive female spa attendant, they have an old guy dressed in a bag.” Enough said.

Controversy time, y’all!

Actually, I’m not going there. Sorry! To be honest, I haven’t been following that many blogs lately and I’m not interested in going down that path again. There are much bigger problems in the world to worry about. As always, you are your own best advocate. Well-informed, thinking reader is a sleazy blogger’s worst nightmare.

OK, it’s your turn now! How are you, guys? Where are you heading to? Have you been a burning man/woman lately?

17 thoughts on “As the Miles and Points World Turns

  1. i’m so happy to see you back – if only on occasion. i’ve missed your sense of humor. the soviet spa comment was too funny.

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    • @Jerri Thanks, I really appreciate it! You’ve stuck with my crazy blog from the very beginning. Yeah, the spa photo is something else, right? When the ranting mood strikes, I just can’t resist.

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  2. I don’t know if it’s just us but we have had terrible luck with the Wyndham program. The hotels that are available are only dumps. We did try one that had fairly decent reviews last summer and it was horrible. I keep checking different locations, off peak times, (nothing resort like) and still have had no luck.

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    • @Michelle I hear you about Wyndham program. I hope they are working out the kinks, but the skeptic in me says that the best properties WILL drop out of the program completely. It appears, Kauai property did just that. I would not hold on to Wyndham points long-term or even short-term, for that matter.

      I’ve noticed something disturbing too. There will be no availability on Wyndham site, but plenty through 3rd party sites. Just do a search on Trip Advisor. Maybe that’s how they can still claim “no blackout dates” policy and get away with it.

      I’m hoping to reserve rooms at Wyndham Grand Rio Grande in Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, availability for next year (paid or points redemption) isn’t loaded on Wyndham site yet. It’s wide open for the rest of the year, though. I hope it opens up when Southwest flights are loaded in the system. This program may end up being “bait and switch” kind. Sounds like it already is for you! I would call Wyndham and see what’s going on. If they have basic rooms for sale, award redemption should be available too.

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  3. Yay, a post! The blogging world has quite frankly been very boring without you. Good for you for burning all those miles! We booked an impromptu trip to NYC with our kids for October!

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  4. Yay you are back! Looks like you are having a good time burning points. I had planned to get the Wyndham card too for the Kauai property, but after more research had decided against it since that place seems to be under renovation forever. Plus, like you said, there may not even been availability by the time I get the points. I agree that hotel points/certs are tricky! I got 2 hilton free weekend night certs and planned to use it in Maui, only to find out they have no availability for the month that I wanted. Now I will probably need to use it in Barcelona, where I could have booked cheap Airbnb instead.
    For my next Kauai/Big Island vacation, I am now waiting for 30k starpoints promotion, Starwood points just seem much more flexable than Wyndham points.

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    • @Katye Glad to “see” you too! I do miss interaction with readers. It was truly my favorite part of blogging, commission paled in comparison! 🙂 I don’t know if it’s the last rant or more will be born eventually. Who knows?
      I’m sorry the Hilton certs didn’t work out for your Maui trip. It’s true, there is always a risk with those. I would say, keep checking, you just never know. People often cancel last-minute to avoid penalty.
      As far as Kauai Wyndham property goes, I hope it’s just a glitch. The availability was wide open when they first introduced flat rate redemption. But now, there is literally nothing. I really doubt the property owners are eager to give away their $300 rooms for 15,000 points.
      I hope they increase the offer on SPG card. But even if they don’t, look into vacation rentals and hotels on VRBO. My cousin-in-law just went to Kauai and they stayed in a simple hotel for 2 nights where the rate was $120. She said it was very nice and they liked it almost a much as Hyatt Kauai. It didn’t have bathrobes and extras, but hey, look at the price! Plus, it was also located by the beach. Maybe you’ll be better off saving SPG points for something else. Either way, do whatever you want wit your miles and points. There is no wrong way to do this hobby!

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    • @Katye No problem! My cousin-in-law is pretty picky. So if she liked it, it must be alright. The room for 4 has 2 double beds, not ideal for a family. But for a couple, you get a king size.

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  5. so very happy you are back- hooray! Funny that just this afternoon I went to your website in search of some info you previously posted and two hours later this post came! Please keep the posts coming! We just came back from the trip to Southwest- Utah, AZ and Vegas. We stayed there with the help of IHG points. Venetian was on sale for 25K/night and then I got it for 15K points plus cash. Used Southwest airline- all three tickets were less than $35! Plan to apply for another IHG card in my husband’s name.

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    • @Elina Thank you for your kind words! Don’t know if this will become a regular thing, but I really wanted to reach out to readers. Plus, I’m a bored housewife, he he. 🙂
      I tried to change the format to have the posts grouped together and easier to find. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to be able to install “search” plugin. If you can’t locate a specific post, just email me. I would love to help.
      Your trip sounds amazing. I really want to tour that part of US. Hopefully, one of these days… It’s pretty cool to pay so little out-of-pocket for travel, isn’t it?
      Agree on IHG card. I promoted it long before it started paying me a dime. It truly is a no-brainer for everyone. Even if someone lives in a middle of nowhere, they can usually drive a few hours and find a decent Holiday Inn to burn the certs (last resort, of course).
      Living in Florida, we are in a great spot to use them at one of many beachfront hotels. That’s what I usually save the certs for. Otherwise, it’s 35K points per night, a bit steep. I’ve tried to get all of my husband’s relatives to get the card, but only few actually did. Still, that’s better than nothing!
      That’s the thing, you don’t have to jump through hoops and 10-step strategies if you don’t want to. There is a lot of low-hanging fruit in this hobby ready for picking.

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  6. I, too, am glad to see your post again. Keep them coming occasionally. What was the name of the hotel your in law’s used at Kauai?

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    • @Hilde Thanks for your comment and words of support! I guess, I’ll just wait till the ranting mood strikes again. Maybe it will, who knows.
      I emailed my cousin-in-law about the name of that hotel in Kauai. When she responds, I’ll reach out to you via email or just comment here. There are many options, and I encourage you to look into them. Don’t limit yourself to this hobby and points only. I highly recommend “Kauai revealed” book. They have a lot of advice on lodging and the island in general.
      I do hope you visit Kauai, it’s spectacular. They don’t call it “poor man’s Tahiti” for nothing. Keep in touch and safe travels!

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    • @Hilde About that Kauai hotel, here is a website http://www.kauaibeachresorthawaii.com/?utm_source=tripadvisor&utm_medium=bl-link&utm_campaign=ta-website
      My cousin-in-law got it on http://www.Hotwire.com You would have to put in Wailua in search. They don’t disclose the name of hotel, but it’s the very first one listed for around $103 per night ( plus $20 resort fee) and has 3,5 stars rating. Of course, no guarantees that they won’t substitute for another property, but it’s unlikely. It gets 95% positive reviews.
      There are quite a few affordable choices via Hotwire, and all of them let you fit 4 in one room, unlike Priceline. This particular property normally goes for $160 per night through its website. It looked like they also had some special rates that included car rental, so you may want to check into it.
      In general, I think unless you are burning certificates that come with Hyatt credit card sign-up, it makes sense to consider paid options and save the points when it comes to Kauai lodging. At least, that’s what I would do. Paying $123 (plus tax) for a beachfront hotel, sure beats burning 25,000 Hyatt points converted from Ultimate Rewards. Of course, if you are using certs, it’s a whole different story. Anyway, just my 2 cents/points.

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      • I was going to ask you about the Kauai resort you cousin uses too before I see this comment. It looks like a really nice resort, beachfront with nice pools. Thanks for sharing!

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