By Basil K.
Those of us in the mileage and points game have noticed that as the economy starts to strengthen, there are fewer and fewer “category killer” bonuses being offered by the airlines and hotel chains. Gone are the days that you could earn umpteen free SPG nights every three stays or tens of thousands of bonus miles from the Grand Slam (USAir) or Mileathon (Continental, RIP). So, as the game changes, we need to change our tactics. So, dear reader, embrace the power of numbers. What I mean by this is that hotel programs in particular offer one time bonuses that you have the opportunity to capture multiple times if you are able to manage the frequent stay programs of family members and essentially “clone yourself” like the Michael Keaton character in the movie “Multiplicity.” I’ve never met Michael Keaton, but I once met his co-star Harris Yulin checking into a hotel in London – as a character actor he was basically shocked that someone knew his name – he was very cordial, by the way.
Let me give you two concrete examples of how Multiplicity can work for you:
- Priority Club – this program is notorious for letting you stack its bonuses, but often these are “one time” affairs good for 1,000 to 5,000 points. However, you can book a room with a family member as the “point earner” and add yourself as “Additional Guest”. Just make sure to reserve the room for two guests in order that the “Additional Guest” fields come up when you book. I have booked rooms in the name of my wife, father, mother, mother in law, etc. and it has worked every time. Usually, that nets me 15-20K points in each of their accounts with only 1 or 2 stays. And PC lets you book reward hotel stays for people other than yourself with points, so the flip side of this benefit is there as well. PC is a great program (in my view) for two reasons. One, they have properties almost everywhere (unlike SPG, for example) and two, they offer cash and points. That allows you to combine cash and points for reasonably priced stays in such expensive markets as Sydney (Potts Point Holiday Inn) and New York (Staybridge Suites). Thirdly, once in a blue moon, there is a decent Point Break hotel offer for 5,000 points a night.
- Club Carlson – this is turning into one of my favorite programs of the last 2-3 years. Their -45,000 to 50,000 point bonus last year was great, and you could replicate it three times with each of their hotel “families”. I did one better by booking a room at a Country Inn in Houston and when I was there, asked if I could book one for my father, wife and mother in law. The very friendly front desk attendant was more than happy to oblige. So, for about $80, I got just under 50,000 points – 4 times. Combine this with the benefits of the Club Carlson credit cards and you have a winner that even Charlie Sheen would be proud of.
What else have you seen?