I get asked this question every week so I thought I’d spend a few minutes answering the question.
As you all know my favorite credit card is a hotel card with Starwood so that answer becomes obvious with their program. I only redeem full points awards with Starwood for Category 1, 2 and maybe occasionally Category 3 hotels which costs 7000 points. That is an entire US Mint order all by itself. Anything over Category 3 Starwood becomes a cash and points redemption which in my mind is one of the best bargains around.
All my Hilton points come from converting AA miles which came from SPG points. It was a lousy transfer ratio, but necessary to get me over the two million mark with American for lifetime Platinum. I just didn’t need all those AA miles at the time. I still have 500K AA miles and about 300K Hilton Honors points after booking our spring trip to Europe. I’m covered for sometime with them now.
My Marriott balance is zero at present. I spent my last batch in Grand Rapids when staying for my buddy Jeff, and I really do not accumulate them very easily. I do have several friends that collect Marriott points and they seem glad to give me 7 night stays in nice resorts. And if my friends happen to need something I have, well then, I’m glad to help them out.
This is the key to my success. I have developed a relationship with those that have lots of miles and points that I don’t have. I think the buzz word is networking. To be truly successful in frugal travel you need to be thinking ahead about two years and what you may need.
Katy loves this Kauai Marriott and I’m sure will want to come back in December again. I can email about three buddies right now and find somebody to give me the Marriott points I need for next December. That should be your goal. Relationships with others that collect what you don’t have.
Priority Club points just seem to happen for me. They seem to transfer into my account easily and I have no idea how I maintain status with them as I can’t remember ever paying for a room with their program. I do know that they transfer into my account through varies means and I like having that flexibility of actually having them in my account when I need them. My guess is others that know that program well, know how to make those transfers happen. I love their PointsBreak redemption’s. You should have some Priority Club points just in case one shows up for you. My five nights in Prague would have busted my wallet had it not been for the PointsBreak redemption option at the Crowne Plaza.
Hyatt, well I’m the newbie there. I don’t understand it all, hate paying for rooms to get award nights and actually missed my first FFN deadline (they gave me 5000 points instead). As much as I like their hotels, I just don’t see how I can stay there for free unless I find somebody that has more Hyatt points than they can use.
And I am not against paying for a room, but only as a last resort and it almost always involves a successful Priceline bid. Seattle was on Priceline at $40 per night all in at the Doubletree. That is about as much as I like to spend. I’m choking as I say that “like to spend”
I hope all this beating around the bush makes it clear for you, it is the relationships that you establish with others that makes the game so much fun and successful.
Look at your program areas of weakness. Know your areas of program strength. Now go find somebody that is just the opposite and get to know and trust them.
Maybe we should have a meet and greet in the middle of the USA some weekend so you all can get to know one another and build those relationships.