Cheap, Wanderer

How I Saved Over $1,000 In Hotel Costs

Back in October of 2021 my partner and I visited my family for only the second time since March 2020. It was to be the only time I would visit with my then-pregnant sister and the visit was significant in that it was important for me to be a small part of her pregnancy, even though the pandemic had robbed our family of the opportunity to get together more frequently. She had opted to not have a baby shower due to the extenuating circumstances, so this was my one opportunity to see her in person before she gave birth and touch the baby belly – with permission, of course.

My partner and I rented a car and drove through some beautiful foliage of the northeast for a long weekend. We had also visited in October of 2020 and enjoyed a number of outdoor activities with my family. 2021’s visit was a bit more difficult in that the weather itself was colder, plus we visited a couple of weeks later in the year than the last time. This, coupled with the fact that my father had recently had eye surgery and my sister was seven months pregnant, precluded us from enjoying most of the same outdoor activities as last year. We still got in a good amount of outside time, but resorted to using the portable heater in my parents’ three-season porch while we ate outside since we didn’t merge bubbles with any of my family.

For lodging we booked a room in the same hotel in which we had stayed in 2020, as the room came equipped with a full kitchen. While we typically opt for Airbnbs when we travel, given where my sister lives it’s a bit harder to find Airbnb options that are close to where she lives and not too pricey. In retrospect we wound up cooking some of our meals at my family’s homes and eating the hotel’s continental breakfast, so we likely will not be booking a hotel with a full kitchen going forward, especially since we’re paying a premium for that access.

In order to pay for the trip’s lodging we used credit card points to cover 100% of the cost. This was especially useful as rental car prices don’t seem to be decreasing any time soon, so the free hotel was able to offset the expensive car. If we hadn’t used points, this five-night hotel stay would have cost us about $1,200, including taxes.

The hotel we booked was a Marriott property, and I had 8,210 points left over from our 2020 visit as well as from some spending on my Marriott Bonvoy Bold credit card. Around the time we were looking to book the hotel Chase and Marriott were running a joint promotion where each Chase Ultimate Rewards point could be transferred to Marriott for 1.5 Marriott points. If one were to transfer 1,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points, one would then receive 1,500 Marriott points. As I had 8,210 points and needed 75,000 Marriott points for the first four nights of stay, I had some points transferring to do! I was able to transfer 46,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott; I had accumulated these points with my Chase Sapphire Preferred Sign-Up bonus years ago and usage of the card itself over the past few years. A few days later I saw the 69,000 points show up in my Marriott account. At that point (pun intended) I had sufficient points to make our booking. The extra icing on the cake was that we were able to take advantage of Marriott’s benefit where, if you book with points instead of cash, you get a fifth night free. This worked out wonderfully because we had planned to stay for five nights anyway.

All told we paid $0 for what would have amounted to about $1,200 in lodging costs; not too shabby if I do say so myself! While the trip certainly was a bit, er, chillier than pre-pandemic trips we’ve made to visit my family, I’m so glad we made it.

What’s your most recent travel points win?

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