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Old 11-10-2014, 10:13 AM
 
4 posts, read 5,081 times
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Hi all...this is not specifically an Austin question...but I know there are savvy travelers in all cities that may have suggestions for me.

I book hotel rooms, rental cars, and flights, for my husband, on a regular basis; often 3 times a month. I have always used Priceline and Expedia for these services...but his travel has increased and I want to reap some benefits for all of it.

Can anyone tell me of a great "All-In-One" type of website to join? I have accounts with various hotels chains outside of Priceline etc. But I know there must be a better way. How do others go about this...we use a corporate credit card..so I can't do the mileage credit card thing. But I know I am missing the boat here.

Please help
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Old 11-10-2014, 02:56 PM
 
2,283 posts, read 3,123,784 times
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This thread may be better off getting moved to the Travel forum, but I'll give you my perspective:

I travel 36 weeks out of the year. 24 M-W or Tu-Th, 10 M-Th or Tu-F and 2 that are M-F (really dislike those!) - and have done so for the past 10 years or so. Real bummer that you can't go the mileage card route, I've been double dipping for a while with that...

Personally, I detest the online travel agency/aggregator sites. Expedia, Priceline, Hotwire, Kayak - tried them all and it's always a cluster when you need to change a flight, etc. I spent the first couple years figuring out which companies were the best to do business with, provided the best value and the best rewards program. Once you've figured this out, the real value to maximizing loyalty rewards programs comes down to frequency - get on the "good" tiers with everyone and rack up points faster.

Currently, I use SWA, Hyatt and Avis as my go-to's, although Hyatt may be getting chucked, since they don't seem to have as many "bonus" programs the past couple years.

It will also depend on what you would like to use the points for. Most of our personal vacation stuff is domestic, so the companion pass with SWA is awesome, wife can fly with me anywhere I go for less than $20. Planning to use points for international travel? Look at United or Delta.

So, tl;dr - Get the hubs the TripIt Pro app and book everything directly, once you've figured out which airline, hotel chain and car rental you'll be using. It's pretty sweet, you just forward the confirmation emails and it consolidates your trips on the app - even gives directions and calendar reminders.

I currently tally around 125-140K points on SWA per year - nets a companion pass, double points on every flight, dedicated customer service line, TSAPrecheck on 90% of flights/FlyBy on the others.

Hyatt racks up about 70,000 - down from prior years. They uses to offer a 10K point bonus every 5 stays about 4 times a year and I'd play the check-in/check-out game to turn a 3 night stay into 3 stays. 2010 I used that to net a ton of points, we stayed at the Andaz in downtown San Diego for free for 4 nights.

Avis isn't the best rewards program, I think Hertz is, I just refuse to give them any of my business. Avoid Enterprise like the plague. Avis does give one-class upgrades once you hit Avis First and a free weekend every 5th? rental.
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Old 11-10-2014, 03:02 PM
 
347 posts, read 512,368 times
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You need to check out Flyertalk.com. It's basically the clearinghouse of frequent flyer and hotel points tips. I'm no expert, but if you are booking through expedia or priceline you most likely aren't receiving points or stay credit. You typically need to book with the chain directly to get the points.
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Old 11-10-2014, 03:08 PM
 
Location: central Austin
7,168 posts, read 13,123,708 times
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Yes, the rewards don't seem to be as good as they were 10-2 years ago. My spouse travels 50% of the time for work, for many years Hilton worshipped the ground he walked on! He could hit the top level for Hilton in a single quarter! They have revamped their program and he doesn't travel as much . . . for us Hilton was best because we use the points for domestic travel often in out of the way places and there is almost always a Hilton property. If we wanted to use the rewards for resorts, then Hyatt or Marriott would have been better.

all depends on what you want.
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Old 11-10-2014, 03:10 PM
 
2,283 posts, read 3,123,784 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AMJ27 View Post
You need to check out Flyertalk.com. It's basically the clearinghouse of frequent flyer and hotel points tips. I'm no expert, but if you are booking through expedia or priceline you most likely aren't receiving points or stay credit. You typically need to book with the chain directly to get the points.
Oh crap - another forum to fill time! Thanks for the tip - learn something new every day!

The aggregators and online travel agencies generally allow you to earn points/miles though, but you'll lose some double-dip and bonus programs.
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Old 11-10-2014, 03:42 PM
 
Location: Greater NYC
2,915 posts, read 4,939,921 times
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Flyertalk is pretty incredible. Even if you DON'T travel for work it'll pull you in.

And man, some of those posters really know their sh*t.
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Old 11-10-2014, 05:33 PM
 
Location: City of Angels
2,935 posts, read 4,779,847 times
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Yeah I lurk on flyertalk for promo codes and such, it is the most useful site i have seen for travel.

as far as booking hotels goes, i always just use name your own price or express deals on priceline, overall seem to get better rates than any of the loyalty programs would offer. mostly use enterprise for rental car, but not part of the loyalty program (prolly should be, i rent w them 6 months per year lol).
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Old 11-13-2014, 05:06 AM
 
Location: Whidbey Island, WA
12,298 posts, read 11,361,224 times
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Gosh for Hotels it's a no brainer. Marriott by far. I have earned a Nikon D70 camera kit and stayed either for free on a government rate for many years. Also earned enough points to fly to London as well. You can choose miles or points, 50 nights a year earns Gold status and 25% more points. 75 nights Platinum. Service worldwide is exceptional and they stand behind their hotels when things rarely don't work out.
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Old 11-13-2014, 05:10 PM
 
Location: City of Angels
2,935 posts, read 4,779,847 times
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What sort of perks do you get with platinum status? Unless it's a bunch of free nights I don't get the appeal.
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Old 11-13-2014, 06:37 PM
 
Location: Niceville, FL
7,700 posts, read 16,157,910 times
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I know you said 'no credit cards' but you can buy platinum status with IHG's branded credit card, and platinum status comes with a 50% point multiplier no matter how you end up paying for the room in the end. 80,000 points for a fairly minimum spending requirement as a sign up bonus is nice. And the $49 annual fee also comes with a certificate for one free night that is almost always going to get you a room that cost more than the $49 unless you're using it in SE Asia.

And if you've got the flexibility and access to transportation for some occasionally odd destinations, it's hard to beat IHG's Point Break specials- 5K a night for a seemingly random temporary list of occasionally interesting hotels around the world. I've seen some nice hotels in Tahiti, Costa Rica, etc. show up on the Point Break list. (just note that room quantity is limited for those specials, and the reduced redemption rate rooms will commonly book out on the first day available)
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