Here is How to Save 20% at Every Marriott & Ritz Carlton Hotel

There haven’t been many great Daily Getaways deals this year (I promise this is my last post about them for 2015) but today’s deal will appeal to most people as you can save 20% on all Marriott and Ritz Carlton stays by purchasing discounted Marriott eGiftcards at 20% off. Unlike the past Hyatt or Hertz deals which had limited quantities, there are several packages available with much more availability. That said, these will still go quick today as 20% any Marriott/Ritz Carlton hotel is a good deal. Here is what will be available tomorrow at 1pm EST:

  • $100 Marriott eGiftCard for $80 (410 eGiftCards available)
  • $500 Marriott eGiftCard for $400 (308 eGiftCards available)
  • $1,000 Marriott eGiftCard for $800 (75 eGiftCards available)

MarriottGiftCard

This deal is much more straightforward than buying points and having to figure out the different cost per points depending on the package. This is simply a way to guarantee a 20% savings on all hotels within the Marriott chain (JW Marriott, EDITION, Autograph Collection, Renaissance, Courtyard are just a few of the chains) and also on participating Ritz Carlton hotels.

If you have an upcoming stay at a Marriott family hotel or even a Ritz Carlton, I would strongly consider buying a card to lock in a 20% discount. These eGiftcards do not expire and even if you are on an award stay, you can use these cards to pay for incidentals on your final checkout bill. I’m not a Marriott guy so I’ll be passing on this offer – good luck to everyone going for one!

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Travel Hacking Year End Checklist: Here is What You Need to Do Before January 1st

Year end is here and as such, there are several calendar year opportunities that you want to make sure you’ve taken advantage of before Thursday. Additionally, there are some limited time opportunities that may not be around much longer, so I’ve included those items below as well.

The clock is ticking...

The clock is ticking…

Here is a list of items you want to make sure you’ve taken care of before the clock strikes midnight on December 31st.

1. Spend the $200 American Express Platinum Airline Credit – Each calendar year, Amex Platinum cardholders (both personal and business) get a $200 airline credit to spend toward fees on a specified airline. You must first select the airline here and if you made a selection last year, it is automatically carried forward for 2014 (you can change this selection once a year in January). Even though the official language regarding this credit is meant to cover baggage fees, lounge passes etc., I always buy gift cards to make sure I fulfill this $200 credit, since I wouldn’t complete it on fees alone. Buying $50 Delta e-gift cards or $100 American Airlines gift cards does the trick. 

2. Spend the $300 Ritz Carlton Credit Card Travel Credit – Similar to the Amex Platinum above, the Ritz Carlton credit card offers $300 annually in travel credit for baggage fees, lounge passes, seat upgrades and other fees, but with two key differences: 1) The $300 credit can cover multiple charges from different airlines and 2) You have to call in to request reimbursement. This second part makes it a little trickier to use this credit for gift cards since they aren’t technically eligible for reimbursement and by having a person manually review every charge (as compared to the Amex Platinum where the credit is automatically generated) it is harder to get reimbursed for gift cards. There are two good threads that have some reports on people getting reimbursed for gift cards here and here. It seems buying gift cards in denominations of stated fees, such as pet fees and checked baggage fees have been working if you are willing to fudge the truth on what the charge is actually for if the agent asks. This is a YMMV scenario.

3. Book Hyatt My Elite Rate & Book via Hyatt Mobile App- I’ve covered this before but Hyatt is ending the My Elite Rate in 2015. If you have any known paid stays upcoming in 2015, you might want to lock in the My Elite Rate now and if you see it go cheaper or your plans change, you could always cancel as most My Elite Rates are cancelable up until a few days before the stay. In addition, the ability to earn 1,000 bonus points if you book a stay via the Hyatt mobile app is ending on 12/31.

4. Maximize Chase Freedom 4th Quarter 5% Bonus – The Chase Freedom Q4 5% Bonus is Amazon.com, Zappos.com and select Department stores. In these categories you will earn 5% cash back up to $1,500 in spend in these categories.  I’m a big Amazon shopper so I will always stock up on Amazon gift cards when the 5% bonus is active on the Freedom card to make sure I hit the $1,500 in spend. You could take a similar approach for department stores or Zappos by buying gift cards for future purchases.

5. Apply for the US Airways MasterCard  – I’m technically cheating on this one since I believe this offer will be around after 12/31 but now is a great time to apply for the US Airways MasterCard. This card is going away at some point in early 2015 (maybe January 18th?) and this is the final call to earn a signup bonus on this card. The current offers are 50,000 miles after first purchase that is valid for everyone and an offer targeted for Preferred Members that offers the same 50,000 miles + 10,000 miles upon renewal. I’ve heard several reports that if you apply for the offer meant for Preferred members but you aren’t a Preferred member and you do not get automatically approved, Barclays will no longer approve you for this offer if you call the reconsideration line. In that case, I recommend going for the standard 50,000 offer and remember there is a refer a friend offer ongoing.

6. Earn 500 Free Points from Virgin America – This is a pretty easy 500 points for a minute of work but this offer expires on 12/31. Here is the link to the offer as well as my write-up on the offer.

7. Check Your American Express Offers – Many good deals expire on 12/31/14 including $10 off Uber, $15 off Toys R Us, and others. If you didn’t register for some of these offers earlier, they may not appear in your account now and others were more targeted. However, for the ones you do have, check to see if any expiring 12/31 offers are worth taking advantage of.

8. Try to Earn 1,000 Free Hilton HHonors Points – Hilton HHonors is running a targeted promotion that gives users 1,000 free HHonors points for updating your email address. I wasn’t targeted as I got a message indicating they had my email address on file. This offer expires on 12/31 so I think its worth a minute of your time to see if your account is eligible for a free 1,000 points.

9. Take 10% off Hyatt Stays with Hyatt Gift Cards – I’ve discussed this deal previously and while the expiration date for this promotion isn’t known, it is widely assumed to be 12/31/14.

I’m sure I missed something here. What else are you doing before year end? Thanks to PointChaser for inspiration of this post.

The 140,000 Point Offer on Ritz Carlton Credit Card Is Back!

Earlier this year the 140,000 point offer was available though it was meant to be targeted and you needed a certain code from a mailer to apply (or you could just find the code on Flyertalk). I was able to get the card earlier this year but now the offer is available publicly at this link here. This is the highest ever offer I am aware on the card and even with an annual fee of $395, I will argue it is worth it in the first year even if you never plan to stay at a Ritz-Carlton hotel.

Ritz140k

Here are the key details:

  • 140,000 Ritz Carlton Points after spending $3,000 in 3 months. Remember these points can be used freely at Marriott hotels and with the highest Marriott tier only costing 45,000 points a night this signup bonus is worth at least 3 nights at any high end Marriott and anywhere from 4 to 7 nights at mid-tier Marriotts (category 4 to 7). And this is worth even more at low end Marriott properties.
  • $300 Travel Credit Annually. This is based on a calendar year basis so in your first year of card membership, you could take advantage of this offer twice for a total of $600, which more than offsets the $395 annual fee. Now the actual language of what is covered is “airline lounge day pass, or towards a yearly lounge membership of your choice; airline seat upgrades; airline baggage fees; in-flight internet/entertainment; in-flight meals; Global Entry fees.” However, per Flyertalk and a Saverocity thread, people have been able to redeem this credit for airline gift cards just like the Amex Platinum card (though it requires you to call in and request the credit, unlike Amex which is automatic) though it is advisable to not tell them it was a gift card purchase.
  • Ritz Carlton Gold Status. This basically gets you free internet, bonus points and a chance at room upgrades.
  • 3 Club Level Upgrades – If you are on a paid stay at a Ritz Carlton, you can use one of these upgrades to get club floor access which includes lounge access, complimentary food and drinks etc..
  • $100 Hotel Credit – Stay 2+ nights and pay with your Ritz Carlton credit card and you will receive a $100 hotel credit.

I only care about this offer for two things: the 140k points and the $300 annual travel credit. The other benefits are nice but hold no value for me since I don’t plan on having any Ritz Carlton stays (paid or award stays). As I mentioned above, even excluding the points (which is the main draw in this offer), I come out ahead financially with the airline gift cards which I know I will use in the future as there are no expiration dates on these. The 140,000 points are worth at least $.007 cents a point (a little less than the standard 1 point is equal to 1 penny) to me so that equates to a value of $980 for just the points. So the value of the points, $980, + $600 in airline gift cards – $395 annual fee equals a signup value of $1,185 for me. It could be worth more if you value the Gold status and club upgrades at all.

Additionally, an under-reported value here is the flight and hotel package that Marriott offers. Let’s say both you and your significant other signup for this card and earn 280,000 points combined. You can redeem those points for a 7 night stay at a Marriott resort and receive 50,000 to 120,000 miles transferred into the program of your choice (United, American etc) based on the chart below. Or you could have the miles transferred to Southwest and you would only be 10,000 points away from the Southwest Companion Pass!

One option for Flight & Hotel Package

One option for Flight & Hotel Package

A category 6 hotel costs 30,000 points a night so a 7 night stay will would cost 180,000 points (one night is free when you redeem points for at least 4 nights). With this package however, the hotel comes to the same cost as before but the major perk is you can transfer Marriott points into United (with 10% bonus) or American miles at a 1:1 ratio. This is a great value as Marriott hotels are worth about half that of airline miles. In fact, if you normally wanted to convert Marriott points to miles, the ratio is 4:1 so to get the same 100,000 miles, you would need 280,000 Marriott points. But with this package, it is like getting a 7 night stay free! Of course, I wouldn’t recommend ever converting your Marriott points to airline miles at that 4:1 ratio but you see my point.

Ugly Transfer Ratios

Ugly Transfer Ratios

I could go on about this flight and hotel package option but the Miles Professor did an excellent job summarizing this option, along with some great hotel finds including hotels in Aruba, Hawaii etc. I would give her post a read if you are interested in this option.