My parents (Little C’s grandparents) are about to embark on a two week road trip adventure through Yosemite, Sequoia National Forest, the Pacific Coast, and Las Vegas. It was another one of their “Bucket List” trips. Planning for this trip started at least a year ago, and I posted some about booking their flights on points here. Now that we are closer to their departure date, I asked my dad to remind me at which chain hotels they are staying so that we could ensure they are registered for any relevant promos. About half of their trip is at small non-chain “eclectic” places, but they do have some Best Western, Priority Club, and Choice Hotels mixed in along the way. I already helped them maximize their two-night stay at the Venetian (aka an Intercontinental Hotel), but when I learned they had three nights at a Choice hotel, it was time to work on maximizing that stay.
They had booked three consecutive nights at the same Choice hotel in California …..a Comfort Inn to be exact. This is their only Choice hotel stop of the trip. I immediately thought, “That’s no good.” They have three consecutive nights, but the current promotion awards 8,000 points after two separate stays (advertized as a $50 gift card that can be obtained for 8,000 points) between May 17th – August 15th, and they only had one stay. You can read all the details about that promotion here. Many of you can probably guess what my suggestion was – make new reservations with the first night in my dad’s name, the second night in my mom’s name, and the third night in my dad’s name again. Technically you are checking in and out three times, and will end up with three stays between the two of them. You need to break my dad’s stays up with a stay from my mom in the middle, otherwise it would likely still count as one consecutive stay. My parents very briefly thought I was speaking in tongues, but quickly caught on and said go for it.
As I told them, it is very unlikely that they will actually have to change rooms since it is in everyone’s best interest for them to just stay in one room for the three nights. However, there is always that slight chance that they would have to switch rooms, so just keep that in mind. My mom didn’t previously have a Choice Privileges account, so my dad was able to refer her via a “Refer a Friend” promo, and they will both earn an extra 500 points when she completes her first stay. Additionally, the rates had dropped by $30 for their stay, so re-booking saved them some money. Also, when I re-booked their stays I went through the Ultimate Rewards portal so that they will earn 3x bonus points (though be aware the reservation was still made on the Choice Hotels website). For their approximately $400 three night stay – that will be 1,200 valuable Ultimate Reward bonus points. I am also instructing them to pay for their stay using the Sapphire Preferred card so they get 2x points for not only their hotel stay, but on many of their “travel related” expenses on the trip.
So, here is a quick recap on what a few changes did to a three night hotel stay.
$430 x 10 points per dollar = 4,300 Choice points
Paid with a 1x earning card = 430 points
Grand total = 4730 points (combination of UR and Choice points)
The two nights in my dad’s name = $300 x 10 points per dollar = 3,000 points
The one night in my mom’s name = $100 x 10 points per dollar = 1,000 points
Stay 2 Nights Bonus = + 5000 Choice points to get you to the 8,000 point/$50 gift card level
“Refer a Friend Bonus” = 1,000 Choice points
Booking through Ultimate Rewards portal = $400 x 3x = 1,200 UR points
Paying with 2x earning Chase Sapphire Preferred Card= 800 UR points
Grand total = 12,000 points (combination of UR and Choice points)
Remember, they also saved an extra $30 since the rates had gone down since their original booking. They are in the same hotel, in the same room type, with the same type of rate that they originally had. They are just earning more than twice the number of points that they otherwise would have and are keeping some extra cash in their wallets. My mom is also now just one stay away from earning the 8,000 bonus points herself. I’m not sure that she will have another Choice stay before 8/15, but it certainly is possible. The additional points they are now earning from some slight modifications will make it easier for them to get to their next bucket list destination just a little bit faster. (Personally, I am hoping for the next trip to be to Alaska to see the Northern Lights – if so, I am so in!)
I really want them to work in a Club Carlson stay so that they could take advantage of the Big Night Giveaway, but unfortunately it doesn’t look like that will be part of their plans on this trip. Regardless, I am excited for them to be earning many additional points while checking another adventure off their “Bucket List”. That’s really my goal with my friends and family in the “real world”, as well as my friends in the “internet world” – be strategic about things that you are going to do anyway, and earn points that can help you experience trips that you have wanted to take your whole life.
Disclosure: I do earn a commission if you are approved for a credit card using one of my links, and I really did tell my mom she better use her Sapphire Preferred card on this trip.