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).






Czech Republic











United Kingdom






Costa Rica






























North Carolina

North Dakota


New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico


New York





Rhode Island

South Carolina

South Dakota








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.


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 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.

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.

January 19 2015

NYC to Milan for $400/Person Round Trip, Up to 50% off Las Vegas Hotels, and More

Fly round trip New York to Milan for $400/person

Emirates is offering round-trip tickets from New York to Milan for about $400 per person. You must book for two passengers to get this rate.

Emirates Milan banner

These fares can be booked on Priceline. Here’s a sample itinerary for a Valentine’s Day getaway:

Emirates Itin

Purchase by January 22, 2015 for travel to be completed by May 31, 2015.


Up to 50% off at Las Vegas hotels

Vegas.com has a bunch of hotel offers for up to 50% off. Some even include a food & beverage credit, like this one:

Circus Circus

I’m not actually suggesting staying at Circus Circus; just pointing out that there are some potential deals here. $2/night (after the f&b credit but before the resort fee) is not bad!

But I would like to stay at the new, upscale SLS Hotel. (I previously wrote about how one could have stayed there for negative $14/night, exclusive of resort fees.)

Some good rates for that property can be found with this offer, such as this $55 rate:

SLS $50

Do note a few “quirks” of traveling to Las Vegas:

  • Vegas is very much a weekend destination, so hotel prices skyrocket on weekends and holidays. The lowest rates are usually for midweek stays.
  • Almost all hotels assess a “resort fee” that is payable at the property (not at the time of your online booking) and therefore not included in the quoted rate (although clearly disclosed, ideally). These fees are pesky but unfortunately common to the Las Vegas hotel market.


Free drink on Alaska Airlines today

Finally, for my Trojan friends…

Congratulations to Pete Carroll’s USC-hawks.

If you are flying Alaska Airlines out of Seattle today, enjoy a complimentary cocktail for the occasion.

Alaska free drinkCheers!

January 18 2015

US Airways 2,000-Mile Dining Bonus, Expedia $25 off $100, and More

Good evening! I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday weekend.

Don’t forget tomorrow, in honor of Martin Luther King Day, the National Park Service is offering free entrance to all US national parks.

For your travel-deal fix, here are a bunch of other offers.


2,000 US Airways miles for dining

You can earn 2,000 US Airways miles as a signup bonus with the US Airways dining program.

US Air dining signup bonus

To earn the bonus:

  • Join by February 1, 2015,
  • Spend $30 or more at a participating restaurant within 30 days of joining, and
  • Write a review (which is quick and painless to do).

The $30 must be spent in one transaction, but if you wouldn’t normally spend that much at one meal then just buy a gift card to use over time.

If you’re unfamiliar with travel-provider-affiliated dining programs, I explain here.

Even if you do not collect US Airways miles, this promotion is still valuable if you collect American Airlines miles.

As you may know, the two airlines merged in 2013. At this time their respective frequent flyer programs still operate separately. However, when they merge later this year, mileage balances will be combined.

So this promotion is also an indirect way to earn 2,000 American miles.


$25 off $100+ at Expedia

Expedia is offering coupons for $25 off a hotel booking of $100 or more made through the mobile app.

To obtain a coupon, enter your mobile number here. They will text you back a unique discount code.

The nice thing about this deal is that you can request up to three coupons per account (but must wait 24 hours between requests).

Coupons must be redeemed by March 31, 2015 for travel through the same date.


Travelocity savings

Travelocity also has a couple of mobile offers, but note they expire at 11:59 PM tonight (January 18):

Travelocity app coupons

For $30 off $100+ use code MOBILE30JAN. For $40 off $150+ use code MOBILE40JAN.

The terms limit these to one’s first hotel booking via app, so if you’ve previously used another Travelocity app coupon on the same account this one may not “take.”

Many national brands are excluded, but these are still nice discounts if you find a boutique hotel that works with your travel plans.


Other deals

Finally, a few random non-travel deals while I’m at it:

Enjoy the remaining weekend.

December 30 2014

1,000 Bonus Hilton HHonors Points, $50 off $100+ at Bon-Ton, and More

Bon-Ton currently has several good discount codes. Even though I’m writing about luggage, these are site-wide discounts so they should work on other items (with some exclusions, as always).

  • Code ZDEC1229SAV takes $50 off a purchase of $100 or more. It was to expire yesterday (December 29) but is still working at the time I write this.
  • Alternatively, code AFTERXMAS14 takes 25% off sale items and expires January 1.

For free shipping and free returns, use ShopRunner. If you don’t have ShopRunner, use code FREESHIP for free shipping on $75+.

I was shopping for luggage, so here is my luggage find: 🙂

The Samsonite Fiero 20″ Spinner, originally $260, is $80 with the discount. That’s almost 70% off!

Samsonite Fiero

In other news…

I have a couple other deals to add to the permanent Deals Page but since I am writing I thought I’d mention them here as well.

Hilton HHonors is offering 1,000 bonus points for updating your email address by tomorrow (December 31). This is a targeted offer, but it doesn’t hurt to try (only takes a few seconds). I was not targeted and only got a nicely worded message saying they already had a valid email for me. Oh well.

Finally, Neiman Marcus Last Call is offering $25 off a $50+ purchase when you pay through Visa Checkout. (Any credit card can be used with Visa Checkout.) Again, use ShopRunner for free shipping and free returns, or use code FREESHIP for free shipping on $75+.


December 18 2014

Free Geek Squad Services, Marriott Spring Promo, and Amex to British Airways Transfer Bonus

My near-perfect track record of poor timing remains untarnished – I am staying with family for the holidays and, through no fault of theirs, the Internet here is out all week. (AT&T’s customer service is a disaster, by the way.)

Many thanks to the local Panera for letting me camp out endlessly at their shop. Their customer service is excellent and the Wi-Fi is surprisingly fast (for a coffee shop). Hit me up if you want to know how to get around their 30-minute cap on Wi-Fi during peak hours. 😉


Free Geek Squad services at Chicago O’Hare

Best Buy Geek Squad

If you are traveling through Chicago O’Hare Airport between now and December 23, and need help with an electronic device, the Best Buy Geek Squad is offering free service and advice from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM CST daily in Terminal 3, Concourse H.

[Thanks to Johnny Jet for the tip.]


American Express Membership Rewards transfer bonus to British Airways

Amex BA

I love British Airways’ frequent flyer miles (called Avios) because their award chart is distance-based, meaning award flights of short distances are super cheap – just 4,500 miles each way for a flight of 650 miles or less.

I must use Avios at least a dozen times a year, such as for this short hop to Reno, Nevada. However, I have never earned a single Avios mile from actually flying British Airways. Instead, I obtain them by transferring points from American Express Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards.

They normally transfer at a 1:1 ratio, but the current promotion awards a 40% bonus on transfers from Amex. You’ll receive 1,400 Avios for every 1,000 Membership Rewards points transferred.

So if you have upcoming travel plans involving Avios, and Amex points burning a hole, here’s your opportunity to spend them.

The offer expires January 31, 2015.


Marriott Rewards Spring MegaBonus

Marriott MegaBonus

Registration for Marriott’s Spring MegaBonus Promotion opened yesterday, so don’t forget to take care of it. I always just register right away for these things even if I don’t have immediate plans to participate since it only takes a moment.

The registration deadline is March 31 and earning dates are February 1 to April 31, 2015.

Offers are targeted, but the most common is 2,500 bonus points for every paid stay starting with your second stay.

I value a Marriott Rewards point at $0.006 (6 tenths of a cent) so I would value 2,500 bonus points at $15.

As always, wishing you safe travels – especially if you’re traveling through a mall parking lot this week.

December 12 2014

IHG Bonus Points Offer – To Buy or Not To Buy?

[If you came here just for the free donuts, the information is at the bottom of this post. 😉 ]

IHG Rewards Club, the loyalty program of InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), is currently offering a bonus when you buy points in the program.

IHG Bonus Pts Offer

A few people have asked me if it’s worth it. My answer – as it is to most questions in life – is “it depends.”

The offer

IHG normally sells points for as low as 1.15 cents each. Here’s the price chart:

IHG Bonus Pts Rates

That is not a good deal considering they can be acquired for 0.7 cents by other means (discussed here).

However, this promotion gives you a certain bonus when buying points.

But not everyone is offered the same bonus. The various offers are 0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100%. You can find out which you received here.

This is the effective cost per point with each offer:

IHG Bonus Pts CPP


If you received a 50% offer or below, it does not make sense to buy points this way (since you can acquire them for cheaper, at 0.7 cents each, as mentioned above).

If you got a 75% or 100% offer, then I could see it making sense if both of the following are true:

  • You think IHG points are worth more than these sale prices. I personally value an IHG point at about 0.7 cents, so I think prices are favorable if you received the 75% or the 100% offer.
  • You have a specific, near-term use for them. I would not buy points just to hoard them as (1) loyalty points can be – and often are – devalued at whim by the company, and (2) I think it unwise to convert a liquid asset (cash) to an illiquid one (hotel points with little value outside their loyalty program) without good reason.

Here’s an example where it does make sense to buy points. Below is the price of a room at the InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam on a random date this summer.

IC Amstel 2

As you see, for one night the cash rate is €1,460 (about $1,800 at today’s exchange rate).

Instead of paying cash, you can book a night for 40,000 points – which can be purchased for $230 with the 100% bonus offer (40,000 x $0.00575) or $263 with the 75% offer.

I’ve used this example before, and it’s a fairly extreme example, but it’s good for illustration.

But be sure to check award availability at your desired hotel before purchasing points!

Bonus tip

Treat yourself to a free dozen Krispy Kreme donuts (with purchase).

Krispy Kreme Dozen

Coupon is available here and offer is valid only today (December 12). Enjoy!