After our vacation and Christmas weekend, I’m back at my old reliable Sheraton for my final (business) trip of 2011. My last day up in the air will be on the 29th when we head up to New York for New Year’s. I’ll finish the year up with 310,328 MQMs (Member Qualifying Miles) on Delta, needing only 64,672 MQM by December 31, 2013, to re-qualify for Diamond through February 28, 2015. Perhaps it is time to share my business with another airline. I dunno.
Starwood properties took care of me with 71 stays and 146 nights.Thank God for those comfortable beds. Add a few nights at other properties and I’ve spent over 40% of my time in hotels, away from home, working. I think predicting a travel schedule is probably like trying to predict the stock market. You plan for one thing, everything points in a certain direction, and the next thing you know your plans are all up in the air — literally!
Don’t forget to register for the SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) promo running through the first quarter: SPG Better by the Night. With every stay from January 9 through April 8, 2012, at over 750 participating hotels and resorts in North and Latin America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East (Asia is NOT included), you’ll earn:
- Double Starpoints on two-night stays
- Triple Starpoints on stays of three nights or longer
This is a great way for SPG to stop people from hotel hopping. Because we never know what travel lies ahead, we business travelers usually want to re-qualify for our status as soon as possible. Mileage runs and mattress runs aren’t something to look forward to. My plan for January / February was to hop every night until I hit 25 stays and to then go back to the normal routine of checking in and out once per trip. That said, with this promo I’ve got to rethink my strategy. My normal Sheraton also participates in Make a Green Choice, which allows me to forgo a daily visit from housekeeping in exchange for a $5 food and beverage voucher or 500 points. Yeah, I take the points.
My 2012 Resolutions are pretty straightforward, and I’ve got three of them:
- Diversify, diversify, diversify. I need to find a way to diversify my travel so I can achieve top tier status within two airline alliances, and two hotel loyalty programs.
- Complete at least three successful batches of credit card applications. If I can’t complete resolution number one, this is a way I can at least travel in style with my leisure travel on almost any airline. You can bet I’ll be asking Rick for some advice and will carefully plan out a way to rack up at least 1,000,000 miles and points this year.
- Spend more time helping my family and friends enjoying this amazing world through travel like all of us do.
I’d love to hear what your travel resolutions are. For everyone who posts a comment by next week’s “Not On My Dime” post, I’ll pick one random person to receive a $10 Starbucks gift card that I have leftover. It isn’t much, but a free coffee for you and someone else ain’t that bad. Let me know!
Travel Tip: Carry Cash
I go back and forth on cash. I don’t earn any points with it, and if I lose it I’m toast. That said, when I need a few bucks to tip someone, or if I’m at a local market, cash is king. I always have a few singles for the shuttle bus driver at my hotel when I’m at the office. On vacation, I’ve found $100 is my threshold for being able to be flexible with currency — even with USD, which is what I did this past week.
Packing Tip: If it fits, it ships
Last week I mentioned that you should pack a bag when you travel to carry necessities while out for your day trips. But what about for everything you buy?
Our trip to Hawai’i included purchasing several pounds of coffee that just wasn’t going to make it in our bags. Thankfully the USPS has flat rate shipping for boxes that coffee fits into quite well. $14.95 later, I’ve got 10 pounds of java on its way to me and out of our carry-on.
50,000 American Airline Miles!
IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card
- Annual Fee: $49 fee waived for the first year
- Foreign Fees: No
- Card Type: Hotel
The IHG Rewards Club Visa is often cited as one of the most underrated hotel credit cards, with good reason. The official offer is for 70,000 points after $1,000 spent within three months, with the first year’s fee waived. The card comes with an annual free night certificate that can be used at any IHG property, including Intercontinental hotels - making this certificate worth upwards of 50,000 points. This is far more generous than some other hotel cards, which limit the categories in which free night certificates can be redeemed.
Cardholders earn 5 points per dollar at IHG hotels; 2 points per dollar at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants; 1 point per dollar everywhere else. Moreover, you’ll get a 10% rebate on award redemptions, up to 100,000 points per year. The card also comes with Platinum status, though that doesn’t get you much with IHG. Still, this is a fantastic card to have in your wallet, with benefits that far outweigh the already low $49 annual fee.
- Earn 70,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of account opening
- Enjoy a free night of card membership at over 4,700 hotels worldwide
- Earn 5 points for each $1 spent at our hotels
- Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants
- Bonus points redeemable at hotels such as Intercontinental® Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts and Holiday Inn®
- Automatic platinum elite status, as long as you remain a cardmember
- $0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $49