In the last few weeks, I kept you posted on the annual Daily Getaway promotion, offering hotel, car rental and amusement park promotions. This week’s Deal Dispatch documents what promotions I was able to buy and what I want to get out of them, as well as which ones I missed and why! See, how to make the most out of points, miles and promotions!
The Daily Getaway is a promotional event held by the US Travel Association every year, offering points for hotel stays, car rentals or amusement park tickets at a discount. They are getting more popular every year, with travel bloggers dissecting the different offers. I gave my take on the offers each week and tips how to evaluate them for your travel needs!
This week, I want to show what troubles I ran into, what I ended up buying and why and what I’m planning to do with them!
In week 1, I recommended to buy Choice points, consider IHG Rewards points and probably take a pass on Best Western and the other available offers, as you will need very specific travel to get value out of them.
Choice points were sold out so quickly, I missed them and I initially took a pass on IHG, because I have a lot of points and free-night certificates already. I ended up buying them weeks later to meet the minimum spend requirement on my new American Express Hilton Surpass card. With an all-time high upgrade offer of 100,000 miles and a recent status match to Diamond, Hilton HHonors highest level, I couldn’t resist and signed up. But because the card charges a foreign-exchange fee, and most of my travel is international, I used the IHG points promotion to get US-Dollar spend and “store” the money in what is essentially another currency – hotel points! If you ever are at risk of missing the minimum spend for a sign-up bonus on a new travel rewards card, buying gift certificates or hotel points can be a good way to meet the spend hurdle without spending money for stuff you don’t really need. The IHG Reward Points are still available, so you have a last chance to score them! While I did pass on Best Western points initially, I did decide later to take a deeper look at the three budget chains in the US, Best Western, Choice and Wyndham and bought Best Western points as an experiment – you will find out more in future posts!
In week 2, I recommended the Expedia offer as the best value and suggested caution for all the other deals. Because the purchase minimum and my current travel plans, I passed on the Expedia offer myself. With my planned budget hotel experiment, I ended up purchasing Wyndham points despite my advice against it. My initial research in trying to utilize the points shows that, together with may other travel bloggers, I underestimated the potential value of Wyndham points – I made some great value reservations already and will tell you later, how it turns out!
In week 3, I recommended the Hilton HHonors rewards points as the best value of the week – and to pass on everything else. I did follow my own advice that week, with a twist: While I did not buy the HHonors points from the Daily Getaway, Hilton launched a points sale at the same price point through their own website. I was able to buy 160,000 points at 0.5 cpp with my new AmEx HHilton Surpass card. This deal is still available through June 3rd at Hilton’s website!
Week 4 & 5 brought two of the most anticipated and most highly reviewed offers: Hyatt Reward points and Marriott gift cards. Both deals offered tremendous value and were recommended unanimously by travel bloggers, his truly included. Despite the deal going live at 1am my time, I got myself out of bed to try for some Hyatt Reward points, but no luck. I tried for 30 minutes repeatedly, but was not able to purchase a single pack! Not sure if it’s pure luck or some buyers used automated scripts to be faster, I was disappointed to miss out on that. I didn’t bother to spend another sleepless night for the Marriott gift cards and missed those as well. Did you have more luck?
So, lessons learned?
1. The early bird catches the worm – you have to be quick to score the best deals at Daily Getaways. The most popular promotions were sold out so quickly that even when you were waiting with an open internet browser when they started, you still might not be able to score a deal!
2. Take the path less traveled – if you don’t get lucky with the most popular deals, you have to go against the stream and try to get value out of some of the less popular reward programs. I will provide more insight into the budget chain programs from Choice, Wyndham and Best Western and will let you know, if you should give them a try at next year’s Daily Getaway!
3. Points are a currency, not a sign of loyalty – the time when airline and hotel rewards programs were about loyalty are long gone. The points and miles have become a travel currency. And as with real currency, you have to be careful how to utilize them or you can quickly loose money in the process. While I generally recommend not to buy points for speculative purposes, it can make sense when you travel a lot (like me) and can use them quickly, or to met spend requirements for bonus points on new rewards credit cards!
I hope this helps you to get the most out of points, miles and promotions – and for next year’s Daily Getaway.
If you’d like to get more deals like this, please follow me on Twitter – I’m posting great deals daily and many will sell out quickly, so stay ahead with my Twitter updated!