|Photography by Anne Cabo San Lucas|
We made it to Kos, Greece without a hitch. Room is very nice and overlooks the ocean in the distance. Our stay is on points and my Gold status gets us free Internet and I think breakfast is included. I tried to tip the front desk for a better room but they didn’t understand since they said they had already upgraded us. Oh well, I tried to help the economy. Tomorrow’s post will give first impressions of the island and resort.
How I Book Hotel Rooms
Remember from yesterday’s post that I do not have the luxury of a business expense account. I pay for every room night out of my own pocket. The techniques for business travelers would be controlled by different factors:
1. Company contracts with hotel chains.
2. Price limits for employee-done bookings
3. The best promos at the time that result in free nights and other benefits that pass on to the traveling businessman.
For us “Pay from your pocket travelers”:
This is a reprint of a post I did earlier this year. Try the technique yourself for an upcoming real or phantom stay.
All seasoned “travel hackers” have their own method for getting the best deals we can with hotel room bookings. I’ll describe mine step by step as I try a phantom booking in Indianapolis, Indiana.
- Indianapolis Airport Official Website
- TripAdvisor.com (for unbiased reviews of hotels)
- SPG.com (Starwood Preferred Guest’s hotel offers and loyalty program)
So I head over to Kayak (www.kayak.com/hotels) where I can compare hundreds of travel sites at once. Kayak shows me that the least expensive, well-known, three-star chain hotel in downtown Indianapolis is the Sheraton at $129 per night. The airport search shows rates of $89, $87, $110, and $119 for hotels with shuttles.
Now I have more work to do. I’d better do a TripAdvisor search on those three hotels to see if any of them are lemons. Since I’m a month out, I have plenty of time to bid on Priceline in the range of accepted bids, but I’d better have a back-up plan.
What if I hadn’t found the Points Break hotel? I could have gone with the Expedia Best Price match guarantee to take $50 off the retail rate of another hotel. The lowest retail rate was $87 for an airport hotel, so I could have gotten in for $87 minus $50 or $37. Or I could have bid in the high $30s to low $40s for a room downtown or at the airport on Priceline. And if those ideas hadn’t found results, I would have checked SPG.com (Starwood Preferred Guest) for cash-and-points or all-points redemption with Starwood. It’s tough to beat that Points Break deal, though, when you can find it.
I posted information on the blog about Expedia Best Price Guarantee and Priceline / BiddingForTravel.com. Good luck with great deals!
After reviewing our credit reports and credit scores, we are delaying our application date until June 20, 2011. My misguided attempt to get the Citi 75K card and Capital One card a month after a successful six-card application in February leads me to this decision. Based on my on stupidity, greed, and Cap One’s triple inquiry, I have 12 inquiries between February 18 and March 17th. My inquiry total at present with Experian is 16 with one to fall off today. Katy has 15 inquiries on Experian with one to fall off on June 19th. Hence our new date.
The biggest mistake I see rookies make (and I made it myself this last time around) is trying to “get it all now.” There are indeed great offers out there for new credit card sign-ups but your credit is your most important asset. People are surprised by denials. You never should be surprised. You should receive all approvals if you play the game correctly. They want instant approvals, and that is just not always going to happen with every application.
By waiting an extra month to apply for cards again, I gain three things:
- My mass of February and March inquiries will all be 90+ days old. There will be no discussion of “too many recent inquiries” when I apply for cards again.
- I will realign myself with Katy’s schedule for applications and give her file a chance to shed that extra Experian inquiry.
- It will line us both up for another batch of application again in early October just after our September 2009 inquiries fall off our report.
Be patient. Protect that credit file. Accept the fact that you won’t get every big offer. Some just won’t fit in your application cycle. Have a plan. Work your plan and, lastly, Don’t be Greedy. There are so many good offers. If you miss a nice one, there will be another right around the corner.
Citi Prestige® Card
- Annual Fee: $450 fee
- Foreign Fees: No
- Card Type: Bank
The increase to 50,000 ThankYou points for the Citi Prestige card may be a signal that Citi wants back in the game, big time. The sign-up bonus has just been increased to 50K points from the previous 30K offer. An added benefit is a $250 annual air travel credit each calendar year -- so, if you sign up in April, you'll receive the credit this year, and again in January of next year -- which more than covers the $450 first year fee. When you add in lounge access for you and up to two of your guests, you’ve added another $400+ in value. One more benefit worth mentioning is the fourth night free for any four-night hotel stay booked through Wagonlit Travel. And lastly is the $100 statement credit when you sign up for Global Entry and pay for it using the Prestige card. Don’t forget the ever-growing number of airline transfer partners that work with the ThankYou points program.
- $250 Air Travel Credit each year
- Complimentary 4th Night for any hotel stay
- Earn 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.
- Points are redeemable for an $800 flight on American Airlines or US Airways®, a $665 flight on any other airline or $500 in gift cards.
- Transfer points to a variety of travel loyalty programs from airlines to hotels.
- Earn 3x points on Air Travel and Hotels
- Earn 2x points on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment
- 1 ThankYou® Point per $1 spent on other purchases