October 24 2015

New PointBreaks List Goes Live on Monday

Every few months, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) releases a new PointBreaks list. I consider PointBreaks one of the best deals in hotel loyalty programs, with award nights offered at the deeply discounted rate of 5,000 points per night.

IHG brands consist of the following:

IHG brands

A new set of PointBreaks properties will be released for booking on Monday (October 26). The list of properties can be found on IHG’s blog (here), and I have also pasted it below.

I value an IHG point at 0.7 cents, so being able to book a room for 5,000 points is like spending $35. Having the co-branded credit card gives you a 10% rebate on redemptions, effectively lowering the cost to 4,500 points per night.

$35 a night is a good deal at just about any decent hotel anywhere. But among the 100+ properties on each PointBreaks list, there is usually a handful of extraordinary deals – InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, and Hotel Indigo properties that normally require up to 50,000 points for an award night (or several hundred dollars for a paid night).

A few potential gems in this round:

There are also a few properties within a short drive or flight of my home that I’ll consider for weekend getaways

 

Ways to acquire IHG points

If you’re short on points, I previously suggested ways to earn IHG Rewards points. Among the methods described is a way to indirectly buy points for $0.007 each.

 

Booking strategy

These properties are offered at the PointBreaks rate from October 26, 2015 to January 31, 2016, but award nights are capacity controlled and desirable properties only last a few hours (if that). So if you’re interested I’d be poised to book as soon as the booking window opens.

The PointBreaks rate usually loads sometime between 8 to 10 AM Eastern on the day booking opens. However, the official PointBreaks page usually doesn’t display the new properties until the afternoon – by which time many desirable properties are gone. (If you go to that page before the new round is loaded, you’ll just see properties from the prior round still there.)

So here’s my strategy in advance of each new round:

  • Check out the preview list now and identify properties I’m interested in.
  • On the Eastern Time morning of the day booking opens (Monday, October 26 for this round), go to the webpage of each desired property (accessible from the links below) and navigate to the booking page.
  • Find the 5,000­ points-­per-­night ­rate and book it! Again, the exact time the PointBreaks rate loads is unknown, but it’s usually between 8-­10 AM EST. I just periodically refresh the page until it appears (while working on other things in another window).
IC Cairo
The InterContinental Cairo on the banks of the Nile – a steal at $35/night (photo: IHG)

 

Preview list

Below is the full list as of this writing. Once a property sells out of PointBreaks nights it drops off the PointBreaks page and the 5,000-­point rate no longer displays.

Remember each member may make up to two PointBreaks reservations per property. A reservation can be of any duration (availability permitting).

 

ASIA / AFRICA / MIDDLE EAST

 

EUROPE

Belgium

Czech Republic

Finland

France

Germany

Italy

Lithuania

Poland

Russia

Slovakia

Spain

Turkey

United Kingdom

 

THE AMERICAS

Brazil

Canada

Columbia

Costa Rica

Guatemala

Mexico

Nicaragua

Panama

 

THE USA

Alabama

Arkansas

Arizona

California

Colorado

Connecticut

Delaware

Florida

Georgia

Iowa

Idaho

Illinois

Indiana

Kansas

Kentucky

Louisiana

Massachusetts

Maryland

Michigan

Minnesota

Missouri

Mississippi

Montana

North Carolina

North Dakota

Nebraska

New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

Nevada

New York

Ohio

Oklahoma

Oregon

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

South Carolina

South Dakota

Tennessee

Texas

Utah

Virginia

Vermont

Washington

Wisconsin

West Virginia

 

September 18 2015

Great Orbitz Deal: $100 off $100+

Update: Deal is gone. Hope everyone managed to book what they needed before the music stopped!

____________

Happy weekend, everyone! Apologies for the rushed post, but this is too good a deal to ignore. 🙂

Orbitz is offering $100 off a hotel booking of $100 or more with code MASTERPASS.

MasterPass

There’s a short fuse as travel must occur by September 30, but if that works with your plans then it’s hard to beat $100 off $100!

Most major chains are excluded, but I was able to find many good options that do qualify. To save yourself some frustration, input the promo code (again, it’s MASTERPASS) in the search box on the main search page before commencing your search. That way, qualifying hotels will be tagged “Promo Code Eligible.”

Input the promo code in the box that looks like this:

Search Box

Then look for the “Promo Code Eligible” as shown here:

Search Results

Also note you must pay via MasterPass (a digital payment service) and the code doesn’t cover taxes.

Safe travels!

July 25 2015

Bonefish Grill, Chipotle, Shutterfly, and Choice Hotels Promos

Hope everyone is having a great weekend! Here are a few deals…

 

Bonefish Grill

Obtain a Bonefish Grill $10 off coupon here and enjoy a free(ish) dinner on the house.

Although I haven’t been to Bonefish Grill in a while, I recall some entrees priced in the low teens (or maybe even single digits?), so $10 off is a great deal since there is no minimum required for the coupon.

The lobster tails pictured above don’t look too bad.

Terms do say “one coupon per table” so…everyone sit separately at the bar? 😉

The coupon expires August 3.

 

Chipotle buy one get one free

Get a Chipotle BOGO free coupon playing their Friend or Faux game.

Just click “play now” to play the game. Took me about a minute, and you don’t have to get the correct answers. At the end you’re asked for a phone number where they’ll text you the BOGO coupon.

It says the coupon comes within 7 days but mine came in under 2 hours.

I didn’t notice an expiration date for the game, but the coupon itself expires August 15.

 

Shutterfly $20 off $20+

Shutterfly $20 off $20

Also free-ish is this Shutterfly $20 off $20+ offer. Use code JOLLYJULY and note the offer expires July 28.

 

Choice Hotels

Choice Hotels GC

Finally, Choice Hotels is offering a $50 gift card after two qualifying trips.

Gift card options include Amazon, Walmart, several gas stations, and a handful of restaurants.

Do note the promotion requires two separate qualifying “trips.” Per the FAQs, consecutive nights at one hotel only count as one trip, regardless of check-ins or check-outs.

Also, a trip is defined as one night or more at some brands (Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Cambria, and Ascend Hotel Collection) while 2 or more consecutive nights at other brands (Econo Lodge, Rodeway Inn, Suburban Extended Stay Hotel, or MainStay Suites).

And note the somewhat-convoluted redemption process. After the two qualifying trips you’re awarded 8,000 points which can then be redeemed until 10/31/15 for one $50 gift card.

If you value 8,000 points more than a $50 gift card to one of the participating retailers, then don’t redeem them for the gift card. To help you decide, I previously wrote a long analysis when they ran this offer last year.

Registration is required (register here) and check-in must occur by August 19.

 

Have a great rest of the weekend.

July 20 2015

$68 Transcontinental Flights, Discounts on 76 Gas & Hyatt Gift Cards

Evening, everyone. Here are a few quick notes on some good deals.

eBay gift card sale

The eBay gift card sales are back!

Pick up a $100 76 gift card for $90:

76 GC

Or a $200 Hyatt gift card for $175:

Hyatt GC

Here are some other offers:

These are from reputable corporate sellers (not a random person selling on eBay) and the good ones tend to sell out quickly.

To double dip, pay with eBay gift cards acquired at a discount. For example, Kroger grocery stores currently have a digital coupon for $10 off when you purchase $50+ of eBay gift cards. (Download the store’s app to your phone, log in to load the coupon to your account, then go to the store and buy the gift card.)

To triple dip, earn 2% back by via eBay Bucks (enrollment is free).

 

Spirit airfare sale

Spirit Airlines is having a nice sale, with routes priced at $68 roundtrip including taxes.

Many routes are included; here are just a few examples:

From Los Angeles:

LAX Flights

From Boston:

Boston Flights

Book by 11:59pm on July 21, 2015 for travel on select dates from August to November.

Spirit is a low-cost carrier so do factor in extra costs (such as carry-on bag fees, although a personal item is still free) and set your expectations for a no-frills experience.

But $68 for a long-haul flight across the country is a bargain (albeit only a mediocre deal for the shorter routes)!

July 3 2015

Free Drink, Two Amazon Offers, Triple Hilton HHonors Points, and Complimentary Museum Admission

Finally! Friday is here! Happy Independence Day weekend, everyone.

If you’re flying Southwest tomorrow, enjoy a free cocktail on board.

Southwest Free Drink

The airline extends this offer on various holidays but doesn’t advertise it much, so you’ll likely have to speak up and ask for your free drink.

But at least you can’t complain about the price. 🙂

Triple Hilton HHonors points

Hilton is offering triple HHonors points at participating properties in the Americas through January 30, 2016.

Be sure to read the terms. Also note you must book the triple points rate (see example below) and the stay must be at least two nights.

Hilton 3x Rate

$15 off $50+ on Amazon when paying with American Express Membership Rewards points

This is a nice offer, but it’s targeted and requires having an American Express card that earns Membership Rewards points.

Receive $15 off a $50+ purchase when you use Membership Rewards points to pay.

Amazon MR promo

If targeted, you’ll see a banner at checkout. Click on the “learn more” button then find the box to link your Amex card. It looks like this:

Amazon MR instructions

After following the prompts to link your card, you’ll see the option to pay for your order by redeeming Membership Rewards points.

Here’s the catch: the redemption rate is 1.43 points to 1 cent. That’s a terrible conversion rate.

I value a Membership Rewards point at 1.7 cents, yet this offer only yields about 0.7 cents of value.

So the trick is to redeem just one point on your order (which is all it takes to qualify for the $15 off). The remaining balance is billed to your Amex card.

Payment screen redacted

Don’t forget to use promo code SWP07AXP15.

Note there are also offers for Chase and Discover cardholders. I wasn’t targeted for those, but if interested keep an eye out when logged in to your Amazon account.

Bonus Amazon tip

If you’re a Prime member but have yet to use the Subscribe & Save service, Amazon is offering $10 Subscribe & Save credit with promo code TRYSNS10.

Offer ends July 31, 2015.

Free museum admission

Finally, don’t forget this weekend Bank of America and Merrill Lynch cardholders receive free admission to over 150 museums, science centers, and botanical gardens.

Enjoy the long weekend.

July 1 2015

Lots of Free Travel Books

Happy alllllllmost Independence Day! Is it just me, or do these “short” work weeks seem to drag on forever?

As I normally do this time of year, I re-stocked on poolside reading material. Thought I’d share some travel-related finds.

At this writing, the Kindle version of the following books is free. (However, Amazon prices can change any time so double-check the price before ordering!)

Without a Kindle device, you can still read e-books with a free Kindle reading app.

Machu Picchu: Appreciating the Lost City of the Inca

Machu Picchu

Secret Europe: 50 Truly Unforgettable Experiences to Inspire Your Next Trip

Secret Europe

101 Tips to Reduce Luggage Weight

Luggage

London, England Travel Guide Book – A Comprehensive 5-Day Travel Guide…

London

Cruising the Inside Passage Alaska

Inside Passage

Spanish Tapas Recipes: Authentic Tapas Recipes from the Tapas Bars of Spain

Spanish Tapas

Ireland: For Travelers!: The Tourist Guide To Make The Most Out Of Your Trip To Ireland – Discover Where To Go, Eat, Sleep & Party

Ireland

USA’s Best Trips: 7 Amazing Road Trips

USA's Best Trips

A Naturalist Guide to the Galápagos Islands – 2nd Edition

Galapagos

Onboard French: Learn a language before you land

Onboard French

Rome: The Best Of Rome For Short Stay Travel

Rome

Getting High: The Annapurna Circuit in Nepal

Annapurna

Top 14 Places to Visit in Norway

Norway

Italian Travel Phrases for English Speakers: the most useful 1.000 phrases to get around when travelling in Italy

Italy

The Happy Camper: How I Quit My Corporate Job and Sold Everything to Travel Full-Time

Happy Camper

Ladakh in Pictures  

Ladakh

Havana Tips and Tricks: Interesting Facts and Tips On Havana And Cuba

Havana

June 27 2015

100 Free Prints from Shutterfly

Not being a big “stuff” person, I buy very few non-consumable things while traveling. My trip souvenirs are mostly photos.

Stored electronically, they take no physical space. And when I want prints, there’s often a way to get them inexpensively. 🙂

Wouldn’t you know it, Shutterfly is offering 100 free prints through June 30th. Just use code 100FREEPRINTS at checkout.

You still have to pay shipping, but here’s a tip: shipping costs are tiered. If you order 100 prints, shipping is $7.99. Lower the order to 99 prints and the shipping drops to $5.99.

Shutterfly Cart

Have a great rest of the weekend!

June 18 2015

Nice Hilton HHonors Promotion (But Short Fuse) – 5,000 Bonus Points for Any Stay

Evening, everyone.

This will be a short post but I thought it might be useful for those still making travel plans for 4th of July.

Hilton is offering 5,000 bonus points per stay at any hotel through July 6th. You must register prior to checkout (register here).

Though a short-lived offer, it’s a nice bonus rate – free nights start at 5,000 points so just from this promotion you’d earn enough for a free night.

Of course, those 5,000 point properties aren’t exactly the finest, but to evaluate this another way, I value a Hilton point at .4 cents so this works out to $20 in bonus points – not bad for a few seconds of your time to register.

Furthermore, the promotion stacks with Hilton’s current summer promotion, Double Your HHonors, so don’t neglect to register for that one as well.

 

Bonus deal

I previously wrote about one of the benefits of traveling with an external battery. If you could use one, Amazon currently has this 3000mAh external power bank for $5.99.

Power Bank

Note Amazon prices can change any time so double-check your cart before paying.

Have a great rest of the week. It’s almost Friday!

May 25 2015

Gift Card Sale – Save on Chevron/Texaco, Hyatt Hotels, and More

Just a quick post to share a good deal for your summer road trips.

But first, happy Memorial Day! I hope you’re having a wonderful day, but don’t forget the significance of the holiday and take a moment to remember the sacrifice of those who fought for our freedom.

eBay has nice discounts on a selection of gift cards. Here’s the full list:

eBay GC Event

There’s a $100 Chevron/Texaco gift card for $90. Shipping is free and there is a limit of 3 per buyer.

There’s also a $200 Hyatt Hotels gift card for $175. Shipping is also free and the limit is 2 per buyer.

Other participating cards are Sears, Cold Stone Creamery, Cabela’s, TGI Fridays, and GILT. The iTunes cards appear sold out at the moment, but if interested I would check again later in case they restock.

The seller, SVM, is a reputable eBay seller so it’s not as if you are buying from a random person on eBay.

For additional savings, enroll in the eBay Bucks loyalty program to earn 2% back. And if you previously managed to acquire discounted eBay gift cards, pay with those for further savings.

Finally, since gift cards are just a form of payment, they’re almost always combinable with store promotions as well.

Enjoy the remaining holiday weekend.

May 23 2015

1,500 Free Spirit Miles, New PointBreaks Round About to Open, and More Deals

Happy Memorial Day weekend – the unofficial start of summer!

I hope everyone is having a great weekend whether traveling or relaxing at home, but please don’t forget the significance of the holiday and take a moment to remember those who served.

 

Random deals

For fun, here are a few random deals:

  • Free smoothie at White Castle tomorrow.
  • Get a coupon code for $10 off an in-store purchase of $10 or more at JCPenney by texting “FB” to 527365. That signs you up for JCP text alerts, so if you don’t want the ongoing spam then text “STOP” after you’ve used the coupon.
  • Get a $20 rebate when you buy $300+ of Visa Gift Cards at Staples May 24-30. The gift cards have a purchase fee ($6.95 per $200 card) so the deal only nets $6.10 in profit (when buying two $200 cards). However, I pay with a Chase Ink card that earns 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar, netting 2,069 points. I value Ultimate Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, so the points are worth $35.

Staples VGC

 

1,500 Free Spirit miles

For loyalists of Spirit Airlines, here’s an easy way to earn up to 1,500 Free Spirit miles by taking three quizzes for 500 miles each.

Answers are very intuitive – just remember Spirit is a discount airline – but you do have to get them correct to earn the points. You can always re-take the quiz if necessary 🙂

(If you are not a Spirit loyalist, I wouldn’t bother since Spirit miles expire after three months of inactivity.)

 

New set of PointBreaks hotels bookable on Monday

Just a heads-up, booking for the next round of IHG PointBreaks hotels will go live on Tuesday, May 26 for stays through July 31, 2015.

I consider PointBreaks one of the best deals in hotel loyalty programs, with hotel rooms available at the deeply discounted rate of 5,000 points per night.

I value an IHG point at 0.7 cents, so it’s like paying $35 a night. If you’re unfamiliar, I’ve described the program at length in prior posts (such as this one).

IC Nha Trang
The InterContinental Nha Trang – on the new PointBreaks list – is a steal at 5,000 points per night

Every time a new round is released, the desirable properties go quickly – in a matter of hours, if not sooner.

The discounted rate usually loads sometime between 8 to 10 AM Eastern on the day booking opens. However, the official PointBreaks page usually doesn’t display the new properties until the afternoon – by which time many desirable properties are gone. (If you go to that page before the new round is loaded, you’ll just see properties from the prior round still there.)

So here’s my strategy in advance of each new round:

  • Check out the preview list now and identify properties I’m interested in.
  • On the Eastern Time morning of the day booking opens (Tuesday, May 26 for this round), go to the webpage of each desired property (accessible from the preview list) and navigate to the booking page.
  • Find the 5,000-points-per-night-rate and book it! Again, the exact time the PointBreaks rate loads is unknown, but it’s usually between 8-10 AM EST. I just periodically refresh the page until it appears (I don’t sit there and stare at the page the whole time; I work on other things in another window).

Happy hunting!