Sometimes I want luxury, and sometimes I want quantity.

Last week I talked about the Three Best Credit Cards for Free Nights in Luxury Hotels.

But what about going to the other end of the award chart? A lot of times when I am traveling I just need a pillow and a roof, since I plan to be out exploring the city all day. What credit card sign up would net me the most free hotel nights? (20 in all!)

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There are several posts on yesterday’s new PointBreaks list. Even if you’ve read those, read this. I’ve honed my strategy for getting $35 per night rooms quite a bit, and I want to share it, so everyone can have access to the best practices.

This post will tell you how to book any hotel on the list of Priority Club’s PointBreaks hotels for only $35 per night, even the ones that ordinarily cost $400 or more per night. And I’ll explain how to give yourself maximum flexibility to pick the exact dates you want as the trip approaches.

Priority Club PointBreaks

Priority Club is the loyalty program for InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Candlewood Suites, and Staybridge Suites. As we covered here, Priority Club recently devalued its award chart, so it now takes 10,000 to 50,000 points for a free night depending on the property. But every few months, Priority Club releases a list of a select few hotels where you can stay for 5,000 points per night. That’s a 90% discount on some hotels!

The new list of PointBreaks hotels is good for stays now through 6/30/13.

We can stay at any hotel on the PointBreaks list for $35 just by exploiting one loophole!

The basic premise is that Priority Club lets you buy 10,000 points for $70, which is 0.7 cents per point.

In this post, I’ll give my full strategy for taking advantage of the PointBreaks list. This strategy ensures I get all the $35 per night hotel stays I want with maximum availability of nights and maximum flexibility to change my plans. My strategy solves a number of problems.

Problem #1: Not every hotel is on the PointBreaks list.

Solution: There is no solution for this problem.

When a new list comes out, I check its end date then look at my Meet Up page to figure out where I’ll be between now and then that I might want a hotel. I also consider trips I haven’t planned, but have been mulling. And finally I look for the incredible properties that normally cost 50,000 miles to see if I want to take an impromptu trip.

I note all the hotels that I might want to stay at.

Problem #2: Not every night is available at hotels that are on the list–and what availability there is can disappear quickly.

Solution: Book award space now.

This leads to Problem #3.

Problem #3: I may want to change my plans later, but I may have to cancel the entire award to do that, costing me the chance at 5,000 point ($35) nights.

Solution: Book awards as a series of one-night stays.

If you think you want to stay at the InterContinental Fiji for five nights before March 31 during a two week period, but you’re not sure which five nights, book 14 one-night stays.

Booking 14 stays will take under 20 minutes, and you’ll have the flexibility later to cancel the nine you don’t want one at a time, leaving you the five consecutive nights you want. Then you can call the hotel to ask them to merge the five reservations or just show up and note to the front desk that all five are yours, and you don’t want to move rooms. They don’t want to move you either, since it increases their costs.

To book the 14 stays in this example, you would need 70,000 points, which leads to problem #5.

Problem #5: I don’t have any Priority Club points.

Solution: We can transfer in 5,000 Ultimate Rewards to have 5,000 Priority Club points. Or we can buy 5,000 points for $67.50. Once we have 5,000 Priority Club points, we can buy unlimited quantities for 0.7 cents each.

The first step if you don’t have 5,000 Priority Club points is to get them. Ultimate Rewards points transfer in at 1:1 ratio in about 14 hours in my experience. You can make the transfer at ultimaterewards.com by clicking the Priority Club Rewards link under the transfer points tab.

Then give your Priority Club account info and select the points to transfer in increments on 1,000.

You want to have 5,000 points after making the transfer. I feel bad moving Ultimate Rewards to Priority Club because Ultimate Rewards are worth almost three times as much as Priority Club points, but to be able to buy more Priority Club points for 0.7 cents, we need to have at least 5,000 Priority Club points.

Another way to get 5,000 Priority Club points that doesn’t burn Ultimate Rewards is to buy 5,000 for $67.50. That is like buying 5,000 Ultimate Rewards for $67.50, which I would definitely do.

The way to buy Priority Club points for 0.7 cents is to make a cash and points award booking then cancel it. Once you have a Priority Club account with 5,000 points, the next step is to book a 15,000 point award. Why? When booking a 15,000 point award, you are given the option to purchase the 10,000 point shortfall for $70, which is 0.7 cents per point. Here is such an award:

As you can see, this award costs 15,000 points or 5,000 and $70. Select 5,000 points and $70 and pay for the award. The confirmation screen makes it very clear that the $70 is going towards buying 10,000 points that would be immediately used to book the award.

After booking, immediately cancel the reservation online by following a link from the booking confirmation page. That brings you to this screen:

As you can see, my reservation has been cancelled. As you can also see in the top right, the points immediately credit back to my account. My account now has 15,000 points, 5,000 that I transferred from Ultimate Rewards and 10,000 that I just bought for $70 while making a dummy booking.

If you need more points–say you want to make 14 speculative one-night bookings–then you repeat this step. For instance, I recently increased my account balance from 5,000 to 45,000 in two dummy bookings. I just showed the first. In the second, I selected the same hotel on a three-night cash and points booking. That booking cost 15,000 points (my new balance) plus $210 to buy the other 30,000 points needed. Then I cancelled that booking, and I had 45,000 points from a 5,000 Ultimate Rewards transfer and $280 in cash.

If $280 sounds like a lot of cash, don’t forget that my 45,000 points is enough for nine nights in a hotel.

Caveats

You have to have 5,000 points in your account to buy points for 0.7 cents each. Buying points is a much better deal than transferring in your Ultimate Rewards that are worth way more than 0.7 cents each, but you may have to transfer in 5,000 Ultimate Rewards to start the point-buying madness.

Not all hotels are on the PointBreaks list. Not all nights are available as 5,000 point award nights at the hotels that are on the list. Check availability before buying points.

Make sure your account has 5,000 more points than you need for your speculative bookings. You always want a balance of 5,000 points at the end for your next round of buying points. It would be a shame to have to make another Ultimate Rewards transfer.

Example from Summer 2012

I scoured that summer’s PointBreaks list to see if any of my travel plans coincided with any of the hotels, and they did in one case: I would be in Krakow, Poland and the Holiday Inn Krakow City Centre was on the list.

I was in Krakow June 6 – 9, and I didn’t have a hotel booked. While the Krakow Holiday Inn was hardly the nicest property on the PointBreaks list, its cheapest room June 6 was 531 Polish Zloty, which was $153.

The first thing I did was search availability, and I found space June 6 and 8, but not June 7. I decided to book June 6 and 8, so I needed 10,000 Priority Club points.

I had zero Priority Club points in my account, so I transferred in 5,000 points from Ultimate Rewards. I bought 10,000 more points for $70 exactly how I outlined above leaving me with 15,000 points after I cancelled my dummy booking.

With my new points, I made two one-night bookings on June 6 and 8.

I noted the cancellation policy, which varies by hotel, in case I had to cancel. At the Holiday Inn Krakow, I just had to cancel by 4 PM the day of arrival.

I ended up very much enjoying the stay at the Holiday Inn Krakow, and I wrote about it in my Krakow, Poland Hotel Guide.

Booking two nights left me with 5,000 points in my Priority Club account, which set me up perfectly for the current list. I have just made five one-night bookings on this list after buying new points for 0.7 cents each because several of the hotels line up with my travel plans.

Recap

The new PointBreaks list is out from Priority Club. This is a list of hotels you can book for 5,000 points or $35 per night. The best way to take advantage of the list is to be active right now.

  1. Scour the list for hotels you may want to stay at. The list is organized by continent.
  2. Search for availability at those hotels for every possible night you might want to stay.
  3. Book now a series of one-night stays that cover the time periods when you may want to stay.
  4. Get the points you need for this by transferring in 5,000 Ultimate Rewards, then buying the rest for 0.7 cents.
  5. Note the cancellation deadline at each hotel. This varies.
  6. As your plans firm up, cancel the nights you don’t want before the deadline for a full refund of the points.
  7. Leave at least 5,000 points in your account to repeat this cycle on the next list.

I have booked a $153 hotel room for $35 using the techniques in this post. And there are much nicer, more expensive hotels on the list of PointBreaks hotels. There are Intercontinentals that go for over $400 per night that you can get for $35 per night using the technique outlined in this post. And with my advanced techniques for holding availability that you can later fit your needs, you can be a master at staying in great hotels around the world for $35.

Which hotel will you stay at for $35?

Follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

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There are several posts on yesterday’s new PointBreaks list. Even if you’ve read those, read this. I’ve honed my strategy for getting $35 per night rooms quite a bit, and I want to share it, so everyone can have access to the best practices.

This post will tell you how to book any hotel on the list of Priority Club’s PointBreaks hotels for only $35 per night, even the ones that ordinarily cost $400 or more per night. And I’ll explain how to give yourself maximum flexibility to pick the exact dates you want as the trip approaches.

Priority Club PointBreaks

Priority Club is the loyalty program for InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Candlewood Suites, and Staybridge Suites. As we covered here, Priority Club recently devalued its award chart, so it now takes 10,000 to 50,000 points for a free night depending on the property. But every few months, Priority Club releases a list of a select few hotels where you can stay for 5,000 points per night. That’s a 90% discount on some hotels!

The new list of PointBreaks hotels is good for stays now through 3/31/13.

We can stay at any hotel on the PointBreaks list for $35 just by exploiting one loophole!

The basic premise is that Priority Club lets you buy 10,000 points for $70, which is 0.7 cents per point.

In this post, I’ll give my full strategy for taking advantage of the PointBreaks list. This strategy ensures I get all the $35 per night hotel stays I want with maximum availability of nights and maximum flexibility to change my plans. My strategy solves a number of problems.

Problem #1: Not every hotel is on the PointBreaks list.

Solution: There is no solution for this problem.

When a new list comes out, I check its end date then look at my Meet Up page to figure out where I’ll be between now and then that I might want a hotel. I also consider trips I haven’t planned, but have been mulling. And finally I look for the incredible properties that normally cost 50,000 miles to see if I want to take an impromptu trip.

I note all the hotels that I might want to stay at.

Problem #2: Not every night is available at hotels that are on the list–and what availability there is can disappear quickly.

Solution: Book award space now.

This leads to Problem #3.

Problem #3: I may want to change my plans later, but I may have to cancel the entire award to do that, costing me the chance at 5,000 point ($35) nights.

Solution: Book awards as a series of one-night stays.

If you think you want to stay at the InterContinental Fiji for five nights before March 31 during a two week period, but you’re not sure which five nights, book 14 one-night stays.

Booking 14 stays will take under 20 minutes, and you’ll have the flexibility later to cancel the nine you don’t want one at a time, leaving you the five consecutive nights you want. Then you can call the hotel to ask them to merge the five reservations or just show up and note to the front desk that all five are yours, and you don’t want to move rooms. They don’t want to move you either, since it increases their costs.

To book the 14 stays in this example, you would need 70,000 points, which leads to problem #5.

Problem #5: I don’t have any Priority Club points.

Solution: We can transfer in 5,000 Ultimate Rewards to have 5,000 Priority Club points. Once we have 5,000 Priority Club points, we can buy unlimited quantities for 0.7 cents each.

The first step if you don’t have 5,000 Priority Club points is to get them. Ultimate Rewards points transfer in at 1:1 ratio in about 14 hours in my experience. You can make the transfer at ultimaterewards.com by clicking the Priority Club Rewards link under the transfer points tab.

Then give your Priority Club account info and select the points to transfer in increments on 1,000.

You want to have 5,000 points after making the transfer. I feel bad moving Ultimate Rewards to Priority Club because Ultimate Rewards are worth almost three times as much as Priority Club points, but to be able to buy more Priority Club points for 0.7 cents, we need to have at least 5,000 Priority Club points.

The way to buy Priority Club points for 0.7 cents is to make a cash and points award booking then cancel it. Once you have a Priority Club account with 5,000 points, the next step is to book a 15,000 point award. Why? When booking a 15,000 point award, you are given the option to purchase the 10,000 point shortfall for $70, which is 0.7 cents per point. Here is such an award:

As you can see, this award costs 15,000 points or 5,000 and $70. Select 5,000 points and $70 and pay for the award. The confirmation screen makes it very clear that the $70 is going towards buying 10,000 points that would be immediately used to book the award.

After booking, immediately cancel the reservation online by following a link from the booking confirmation page. That brings you to this screen:

As you can see, my reservation has been cancelled. As you can also see in the top right, the points immediately credit back to my account. My account now has 15,000 points, 5,000 that I transferred from Ultimate Rewards and 10,000 that I just bought for $70 while making a dummy booking.

If you need more points–say you want to make 14 speculative one-night bookings–then you repeat this step. For instance, I recently increased my account balance from 5,000 to 45,000 in two dummy bookings. I just showed the first. In the second, I selected the same hotel on a three-night cash and points booking. That booking cost 15,000 points (my new balance) plus $210 to buy the other 30,000 points needed. Then I cancelled that booking, and I had 45,000 points from a 5,000 Ultimate Rewards transfer and $280 in cash.

If $280 sounds like a lot of cash, don’t forget that my 45,000 points is enough for nine nights in a hotel.

Caveats

You have to have 5,000 points in your account to buy points for 0.7 cents each. Buying points is a much better deal than transferring in your Ultimate Rewards that are worth way more than 0.7 cents each, but you may have to transfer in 5,000 Ultimate Rewards to start the point-buying madness.

Not all hotels are on the PointBreaks list. Not all nights are available as 5,000 point award nights at the hotels that are on the list. Check availability before buying points.

Make sure your account has 5,000 more points than you need for your speculative bookings. You always want a balance of 5,000 points at the end for your next round of buying points. It would be a shame to have to make another Ultimate Rewards transfer.

Example from Summer 2012

I scoured that summer’s PointBreaks list to see if any of my travel plans coincided with any of the hotels, and they did in one case: I would be in Krakow, Poland and the Holiday Inn Krakow City Centre was on the list.

I was in Krakow June 6 – 9, and I didn’t have a hotel booked. While the Krakow Holiday Inn was hardly the nicest property on the PointBreaks list, its cheapest room June 6 was 531 Polish Zloty, which was $153.

The first thing I did was search availability, and I found space June 6 and 8, but not June 7. I decided to book June 6 and 8, so I needed 10,000 Priority Club points.

I had zero Priority Club points in my account, so I transferred in 5,000 points from Ultimate Rewards. I bought 10,000 more points for $70 exactly how I outlined above leaving me with 15,000 points after I cancelled my dummy booking.

With my new points, I made two one-night bookings on June 6 and 8.

I noted the cancellation policy, which varies by hotel, in case I had to cancel. At the Holiday Inn Krakow, I just had to cancel by 4 PM the day of arrival.

I ended up very much enjoying the stay at the Holiday Inn Krakow, and I wrote about it in my Krakow, Poland Hotel Guide.

Booking two nights left me with 5,000 points in my Priority Club account, which set me up perfectly for the current list. I have just made five one-night bookings on this list after buying new points for 0.7 cents each because several of the hotels line up with my travel plans.

Recap

The new PointBreaks list is out from Priority Club. This is a list of hotels you can book for 5,000 points or $35 per night. The best way to take advantage of the list is to be active right now.

  1. Scour the list for hotels you may want to stay at. The list is organized by continent.
  2. Search for availability at those hotels for every possible night you might want to stay.
  3. Book now a series of one-night stays that cover the time periods when you may want to stay.
  4. Get the points you need for this by transferring in 5,000 Ultimate Rewards, then buying the rest for 0.7 cents.
  5. Note the cancellation deadline at each hotel. This varies.
  6. As your plans firm up, cancel the nights you don’t want before the deadline for a full refund of the points.
  7. Leave at least 5,000 points in your account to repeat this cycle on the next list.

I have booked a $153 hotel room for $35 using the techniques in this post. And there are much nicer, more expensive hotels on the list of PointBreaks hotels. There are Intercontinentals that go for over $400 per night that you can get for $35 per night using the technique outlined in this post. And with my advanced techniques for holding availability that you can later fit your needs, you can be a master at staying in great hotels around the world for $35.

Which hotel will you stay at for $35?

Follow me on Twitter or Facebook. Grab dinner with me in Tampa or Baltimore. (The LA dinner last weekend was a blast–thanks to everyone who came out.)

9 32

According to this thread on FlyerTalk, the Priority Club hotel group will be changing their award chart to mirror other hotel loyalty programs. Read on to see why this change isn’t good news for frequent guests.

What does the new chart look like?

I have attached a screen shot of the new award chart below.

Priority Club has decided to split their hotels into nine categories. In comparison, Hyatt has six hotel categories. Starwood and Hilton have seven. Marriott was the previous high with eight tiers, but Priority Club now holds that ignominious crown.

When do these changes go into affect?

According to Priority Club’s website, the new award chart will go into effect starting January 18. They are offering a grace period, though. If the number of points it would take to book your award night increases, you can call Priority Club directly through March 18 and ask for the original point price. Note that that this can’t be done online. You will have to call their customer service line to receive the old price.

What did the old award chart look like?

Priority Club differed from other hotel programs in that each chain had a specific redemption price. For example, Candlewood Suites, no matter the city or room rate, could be booked for either 25,000 or 35,000 points. The “old” chart can be seen below:

Loyalty programs like Starwood Preferred Guest adjust their award charts based on demand and prevailing room rates. For example, a Sheraton award night would cost more points in a city like London that is notorious for high room rates. The Sheraton brand doesn’t have a fixed point price like Priority Club’s old chart.

How can I see which hotels will be increasing or decreasing in price?

You can’t, unfortunately. You will have to check property by property to see whether a hotel was negatively or positively affected starting on January 18.

What does Priority Club’s change mean for travelers?

An end to sweet spot hotel redemptions, to a certain extent. Under the old award chart, you could book a room at the Holiday Inn Express-Times Square or Staybridge Suites in New York for 25,000 points. Room rates in New York are sky-high, especially during the holidays, but those properties represented a great value in terms of points per dollar and location in the city.

I have a sinking feeling that properties such as this (and even the Hotel Indigo in Chelsea) will now require more points for an award night. After January 18, I will report back and see if my suspicions were confirmed.

When the news broke of this change, my first thought was actually to Miami. One of my favorite hotels is the Z Ocean Hotel in South Beach. The property has a loose association as a Crowne Plaza, but I love it for its location, spacious suite-like rooms, and atmosphere.

I had booked the hotel several times in the past for 35,000 points/night because it was labeled as a Crowne Plaza by Priority Club. Now I fear that it will become a 45,000-50,000/night hotel, especially because I routinely see room rates at the Z Ocean fluctuate between $400-$600 during peak travel times. Again, I will wait and see, but I’m certainly not expecting it to remain at the current redemption level.

With nine award categories to play with, Priority Club can now meticulously tweak each property to match with demand and prevailing room rates in the area.

Has Priority Club made any other negative changes to the program recently?

Actually, yes! This new award chart is actually one year removed from another award chart adjustment. Like I discussed above, Priority Club assigned a point value to each brand in its portfolio, though it was fixed.

Last January Priority Club announced point redemptions would vary within each brand. For example, Hotel Indigo properties were always 25,000 points. Under the 2012 change, they could be 25k-35k depending on the day or city.

For a complete discussion of Priority Club’s 2012 award chart devaluation, check out the FlyerTalk discussion here.

Are PointBreaks still intact?

Yes, but the lists of participating hotels appear to be shortening each year.

PointBreaks hotels can be booked for 5,000 points, which can represent a huge savings. Some Intercontinental properties normally cost 50,000 points per night, so 5,000 is a 90% discount.

Priority Club typically announces new lists after their old lists expire and gives a booking deadline. If you are flexible with your dates or a hotel on the list coincides with your travel plans, there are some great deals to be had.

Make sure to check out Scott’s great post on How to Book Any PointsBreak Hotel for $35/night.

Can Scott’s method be applied to normal award night bookings?

Yes. This little workaround has been discussed quite a bit throughout the points-collecting community, so I won’t rehash too much. If you use this trick for a standard award night with the new chart, you will pay the following amounts:

  • Category 1          $70
  • Category 2          $105
  • Category 3          $140
  • Category 4          $175
  • Category 5          $210
  • Category 6          $245
  • Category 7          $280
  • Category 8          $315
  • Category 9          $350
I had a weekend stay at the Intercontinental-Times Square in December. I used 50,000 points for one night and the other was my award night certificate for paying the $49 annual fee on my Chase Priority Club Visa. When I booked my stay, room rates in the city were all $500+. Paying $350 for a night certainly isn’t palatable, but in certain situations, it could make sense.

Recap

Priority Club has made a drastic change to their award chart. The chart is no longer sorted by brand. Each individual property will be sorted into one of nine categories.

This change brings Priority Club’s chart in line with the other major hotel chains, but it’s probably not good news for travelers. The old chart allowed for sweet spots in certain cities with traditionally high room rates.

Hotel point valuations are still in the works, but Priority Club points have an easy ceiling with Scott’s trick highlighted above. They can be freely bought at .7 cents and should be valued no higher than that rate.

0 59

Priority Club PointBreaks List Announced

According to this thread on FlyerTalk, Priority Club has announced their new PointBreaks list of hotels that can be booked through January 31st. This is huge news because PointBreaks hotels can be booked for $35: How to Book Any PointBreaks Hotel for $35/night.

PointBreaks hotels can be booked for 5,000 points, which can represent a huge savings. Some Intercontinental properties normally cost 50,000 points per night, so 5,000 is a 90% discount. If you are flexible with your dates or a hotel on the list coincides with your travel plans, there are some great deals to be had.

The list, found here, usually contains some hidden gems, but seems a bit sparse this time around. There are no African properties, no Australian properties, and only a few in Central and South America as of the time of this writing. Still, the opportunity to book a hotel room for a mere 5,000 points represents a great value.

Scott wrote up a great tutorial on PointBreaks hotels and how to book them cheaply. For more information, check out his post, How to Book Any PointBreaks Hotel for $35/night.

Delta Selling Discount One Day Sky Club Passes

According to this thread on FlyerTalk, Delta is now offering 4 SkyClub passes for $99. Purchases can be made through December 31st, but they must be made in person. The normal purchase price for four SkyClub passes is $200, so this deal represents over 50% savings.

Why is Sky Club access so valuable?

As I’ve written before, airline clubs in general can be a haven for frequent flyers. They typically offer snacks throughout the day as well as complimentary beer, wine, and mixed drinks. Delta Sky Clubs also provide complimentary wi-fi which is typically faster (and more secure) than internet access in the main terminal.

Also, membership can pay for itself when you are stuck at an airport in bad weather or your flight experiences delays or cancellations. While most people rush the ticket counter and inundate the gate agents, you have the ability to get personalized assistance from the agents inside Sky Clubs instead. Lines are usually shorter, and they might be able to reroute you on options you didn’t consider.

Can I buy the four passes for $99 online?

No. This appears to be an in-person promotion by Delta. You will have to visit a SkyClub location to purchase the passes. If the SkyClub is located airside, you will need to clear security before being allowed to enter. Keep this in mind if you don’t have travel plans at the airport you plan to make the purchase.

Are these passes eligible for one visit or one day?

A blog post on FlyerTalk points out that these are one day passes, not to be confused with one visit passes. If you are traveling Los Angeles to New Orleans connecting in Memphis, you will be able to use a pass to visit the Sky Club in both Los Angeles and Memphis, provided all travel takes place on the same day.

Delta has sold one visit passes via Groupon before. In the case of the sample itinerary above, you would need two one-visit passes to visit both the Sky Club in Los Angeles and Memphis. One visit passes have much less value to travelers, especially those with a lengthy itinerary or multiple stops in Delta hubs.

Has Delta promoted this offer in the past?

They have, but the deal was better. Last year, Delta actually sold five one-day passes for $99, so this year’s promotion is actually a bit worse.

Besides this deal, what are the best ways to gain access to Delta SkyClubs?

American Express Delta Gold and Platinum card members actually receive access to Sky Clubs for $25. Per the terms and conditions listed here, card members must pay with their Delta credit card. The $25 charge is for one visit and not one day. If you flew to another city with a Sky Club, you would need to pay an additional $25 to gain access.

Scott and I have written extensively about the American Express Platinum card, which provides lounge access with Delta, American Airlines, and US Airways. Note that to gain access to Delta or American lounges, you must be flying those airlines the same day. US Airways lounges can be entered regardless of which airline you are holding a ticket. The Platinum card comes with a host of other benefits, including $200 credit on your preferred airline and a reimbursement for the $100 Global Entry fee, which drastically cuts down on immigration queues when returning to the United States. For more reading, make sure to check out our posts below on the Platinum Card:

Best Credit Card Offers by Absolute Value

Master Thread of Which Airline Gift Cards American Express Platinum Reimbursement

Elite Status Offers: for Delta Club Memberships

You can also sign up for an American Express Delta Reserve credit card which allows access to most Sky Clubs, even if you are flying another airline. The card has a steep $450 annual fee, but comes with 10,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQM). These MQM can be a huge boost towards qualifying for coveted elite status, so the card could make sense for frequent Delta travelers.

Recap

The Priority Club PointBreaks list is out for bookings through January 31st. The best (nicer properties and those in more traveled cities) hotels are usually booked quickly, so act fast if you see a hotel on the list that matches your travel needs.

If you have flexible travel plans, PointBreaks hotels can represent a great value, especially if you take advantage of Scott’s trick on booking them.

Holiday travel is picking up steam which means more travelers and the higher likelihood of poor weather, mechanical issues, and cancelled flights. Delta’s end of the year special on Sky Club passes could be a boon, especially if you are traveling with family. The ability to escape the crowded terminals can be a real plus, especially if you need to rebook an itinerary after unexpected delays.

7 20

Priority Club is running a promotion during which they are giving a 50% bonus on purchased points (AKA a 33% reduction in the price of points.) Right now you can buy 4,000 Priority Club points for the normal price of $54 and receive 2,000 points free for a total of 6,000 points.

This sale is noteworthy for planning purposes. Priority Club interests me for exactly one reason. Every two months they release a PointBreaks list of hotels that are available for 5,000 points per night. As I’ve discussed, any hotel on that list can be had for $35 per night. See How to Book Any PointBreaks Hotel for $35 Per Night.

The current list–valid through December 10–features tons of Holiday Inns like the one I stayed at for 5,000 points in Krakow, Poland as well as Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites, and even a few Intercontinentals.

Perhaps the only thing better than the 5,000 point price is that points can be purchased from Priority Club for 0.7 cents each, meaning you can turn $35 cash into a hotel night on any continent. It’s all there with screen shots in How to Book Any PointBreaks Hotel for $35 Per Night.

But there’s one catch. To be able to purchase points for 0.7 cents each, you need to have 5,000+ points in your Priority Club account. Conveniently Priority Club is a transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards, so you can transfer 5,000 Ultimate Rewards into Priority Club.

The problem is that Ultimate Rewards are very valuable, since they transfer 1:1 to United and Hyatt instantly among many others. So burning 5,000 Ultimate Rewards was annoying, but I did it because it unlocked $35 hotel nights.

Now there’s a better way to seed your Priority Club account with the 5,000 points you need to be able to purchase more points for 0.7 cents.

Click here to go to the current sale page for Priority Club points. The prices are the normal prices and depend on how many you purchase.

The cheapest price band for the current sale–even with the 50% bonus–works out to 0.77, so I’m only interested in buying 5,000 points to seed my account, so I can buy future points for 0.7 cents.

Buying 5,000+ points is easy. Type in your Priority Club info, select the 4,000 + 2,000 bonus options for $54, and enter your credit card info.

The Math

This is a much better deal than transferring 5,000 Ultimate Rewards to seed your account. In this scenario, you spend $54 and get 6,000 Priority Club points. In the Ultimate Rewards scenario, you spend 5,000 Ultimate Rewards and get 5,000 Priority Club points.

If we value 1,000 Priority Club points at $7, you are basically spending $47 extra ($54 cash – $7 in extra points) to save 5,000 Ultimate Rewards.

I think almost anyone would purchase 5,000 Ultimate Rewards for $47! If you could do such a thing, you could purchase roundtrip business class tickets to Europe for $940 or a night at the top tier Park Hyatts for around $200–no-brainers.

Should you buy the points now?

The bonus on points runs through November 22. I would set up a Priority Club account and purchase the points now. That way the next time you want to make a PointBreaks booking you are ready. If you wait, you’ll have to purchase points at full price or make an Ultimate Rewards transfer when you want to make a PointBreaks booking.

Recap

Priority Club is giving a 50% bonus on purchased points at the moment. This represents a cheap way to seed your Priority Club account with 5,000+ points. Having 5,000 points in your account is the threshold at which you can buy more points for 0.7 cents each.

Once you start buying points for 0.7 cents, you can stay at any PointBreaks hotel for $35 per night as I outlined here: How to Book Any PointBreaks Hotel for $35 Per Night.

I would take advantage of this promotion, so you don’t have to transfer Ultimate Rewards later to seed your account.

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Whenever Priority Club announces its new list of PointBreaks hotels, the miles’ world pays attention. The hotels on the list that may ordinarily cost hundreds of dollars a night go for 5,000 Priority Club points for a limited time. The new list is valid for stays from October 16 – December 10.

As loyal readers know, I’m not big on hotel rewards programs; I usually get a better deal pricelining as I explained here. But PointBreaks are a great deal since Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to Priority Club (not instantly, in about 14-19 hours.)

I value 5,000 Ultimate Rewards at around $100. Those are pretty low prices for some of the PointBreaks hotels, but we can do better. We can stay at any hotel on the PointBreaks list for $35 just by exploiting one loophole!

The basic premise is that Priority Club lets you buy its points for 0.7 cents each when booking an award night with cash and points. Then you can immediately cancel the award night you purchased with cash and points. Instead of refunding your points purchase, Priority Club will let you keep the points you just purchased for 0.7 cents.

Hopefully this example will show you how you can book any PointBreaks hotel for $35/night:

Several months ago, I scoured an older PointBreaks list to see if any of my travel plans coincided with any of the hotels, and they did in one case: I was in Krakow, Poland and the Holiday Inn Krakow City Centre was on the list.

I was in Krakow June 6 – 9, and I didn’t have a hotel booked. While the Krakow Holiday Inn is hardly the nicest property on the PointBreaks list, its cheapest room June 6 was 531 Polish Zloty, which was $153.

As a PointBreaks hotel, the same room that night was 5,000 Priority Club points. Having no Priority Club points, I could transfer in 5,000 Ultimate Rewards, book the hotel room, and be satisfied by saving a few bucks. But I did even better than booking this property for 5,000 Ultimate Rewards; I booked it for $35!

To do that, I needed to buy Priority Club points for 0.7 cents, which you cannot do through ordinary point buying. The way to buy Priority Club points for 0.7 cents is to make a cash-and-points award booking, then cancel it. To make a cash-and-points booking, you need to have some Priority Club points, so I transferred 5,000 Ultimate Rewards into my new Priority Club account. The transfer took about 14 hours to post.

Once I had a Priority Club account with 5,000 points, the next step was to book a 15,000 point award. Why? When booking a 15,000 point award, you are given the option to purchase the 10,000 point shortfall for $70, which is 0.7 cents per point. Here is such an award:

As you can see, this award costs 15,000 points or 5,000 and $70. Having only 5,000 points in my account, I selected 5,000 points and $70 and paid for the award. The confirmation screen made it very clear that the $70 was going towards buying 10,000 points that would be immediately used to book the award.

After booking, I immediately cancelled the reservation online by following a link from the booking confirmation page. That brought me to this screen:

As you can see, my reservation has been cancelled. As you can also see in the top right, the points immediately credit back to my account. My account now has 15,000 points, 5,000 that I transferred from Ultimate Rewards and 10,000 that I just bought for $70 while making a dummy booking.

The 10,000 points I just bought for $70 are enough points for two free nights at any PointBreaks hotel, meaning that you can stay at PointBreaks hotels for $35/night using this trick!

Now that I had some extra points, I went to book the night at the Holiday Inn Krakow. I would have been willing to book all three nights in Krakow there, but while there was award availability June 6 and June 8, there was none June 7. In the end, I just booked two nights June 6 and 8.

As you can see, June 6 cost me 5,000 points, which I had just bought for $35, and my account balance was back down to 10,000 points. June 8 also cost me 5,000 points leaving me just the 5,000 I transferred in from Ultimate Rewards. I left those points there, so next time I need to buy points for 0.7 cents, I will have the 5,000 seed points I need to be offered the chance.

Caveats

You have to have points in your account to “buy” points for 0.7 cents each. Buying points is a much better deal than transferring in your Ultimate Rewards that are worth way more than 0.7 cents each, but you may have to transfer in 5,000 to start the point-buying madness.

Not all hotels are on the PointBreaks list. Not all nights are available as 5,000 point award nights at the hotels that are on the list. Check availability before buying points.

What are the best hotels on this list?

There are several Intercontinentals, which can cost 50k points, on the PointBreaks list available for $35. Check them out in Tangshan, China; a resort in Danang, Vietnam; a golf resort in Murcia, Spain; Bahrain; Aqaba, Jordan; Doha, Qatar; Mexico City; and Maracaibo, Venezuela.

Do check out the whole list. I would consider any hotel on the list a good deal for $35/night. If any hotels coincide with your plans–or if there’s one in your city for a staycation–go for it!

Which hotel will you stay at for $35/night?

Let’s meet up at the Chicago Seminars. For more great posts like this, sign up for the MileValue RSS feed, like the MileValue facebook page, or follow me on Twitter @milevalue. Get your friends involved too, so you can have more companions for your Free First Class Next Month.

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Every three months, Priority Club releases its list of PointBreaks hotels. That’s huge news because you can stay at any hotel–any Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Staybridge Suites–on the list for $35 a night between now and October 15, if the hotel has award availability.

Priority Club releases a PointBreaks hotels list every quarter as a loss leader. Instead of a normal 15,000 or 25,000 points per night at their hotels, for a select list of Priority Club hotels around the world, you can stay for 5,000 points.

5,000 points can be purchased for $35 if you already have 5,000 points in your account, which you can get in a 1:1 transfer from Ultimate Rewards. Read this post for a full explanation of how to get into any hotel on the list for $35.

Last list, I took advantage of a PointBreaks Holiday Inn in Krakow, Poland. I spent two nights there for $70.

$35: 75% off

This list, I checked my upcoming schedule, and I saw that I need a place to stay in Chicago and Pittsburgh. There were three Chicagoland hotels on the list, but none were near enough to the Chicago Seminars, so I skipped them. There were no hotels in Pittsburgh on the list.

So I’m sitting this list out. Is anyone getting a hotel for $35/night using the trick mentioned above?

Hey there, you’re reading an outdated post! The updated series from March 2013 can be found here.

This is the second post in a monthlong series. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flier miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go.

In just a few days, you’ll be earning hundreds of thousands of frequent-flier miles and hotel points, and you need a place to put them. Below are the bare minimum programs you need to be a member of as a US-based traveler, and as you get more involved with the miles game, you’ll probably sign up for more.

By signing up for these programs, you’ll be able to take advantage of every major miles promotion, and you’ll be able to fly domestically and internationally for free and stay for free once you get there.

Each one should just take a moment to sign up for. Don’t skip any even if you’ve never flown the airline or don’t want to go where it flies. We often use one airline’s miles to fly its partners. For instance, I just used my British Airways miles to fly from LA to Honolulu on American Airlines.

If you already have an account, then instead of signing up, just activate your account online. Write down your username or number and passwords all in one place, we’ll need them again very soon.

Airlines

AirTran (recently bought by Southwest, so joining unlocks a trick with Southwest points)

American Airlines

British Airways

Delta Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines

Southwest Airlines

United Airlines (if you had a Continental Onepass account, United automatically rolled that into a Mileage Plus account)

US Airways

Hotels

Club Carlson

Hilton

Priority Club

Starwood

If you fly any other carriers like Virgin America or JetBlue, you should also sign up for their programs, but if you don’t fly them, you can stick to the eight listed airlines. If you’re an avid couchsurfer, you can skip signing up for the hotels.

Continue to Post 3.

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Recently I spent three nights in Krakow, Poland at two hotels. I’ll be reviewing four hotels in Krakow, based on my stays and their location relative to where you want to spend time in the city.

Before I get to that, let me say that I highly recommend a trip to Krakow. First of all, it’s in Poland which I found to be inexpensive, full of delicious food, and brimming with attractive people who spoke some English.

Of course, the English is not as strong as in western or northern Europe. Also, the younger the person, the better his English will be generally as the older folks are more likely to have learned Russian. But the English was passable, and being a native English speaker makes you someone people want to talk to and help in Poland.

The specific highlights of Krakow are a beautiful Old Town, an amazing urban river with walking and biking trails, and its proximity to Auschwitz, which can be seen on a day trip. Auschwitz is one of the most moving places I’ve been, and I recommend a trip there for anyone interested in history or psychology.

Here’s a map of Krakow with my annotations.

Pink Circle = Krakow Old Town

I spent most of my time in Krakow inside the pink circle–the Old Town. That isn’t the only cool bit of Krakow–I also spent time in Kazimierz and along the Vistula–but it is the most beautiful area and the area with the best restaurants, bars, and architecture.

The hotels I’ll discuss are the X’s. The Holiday Inn is red, the Radisson Blu is blue, the Sheraton is green, and the Park Inn is black.

Holiday Inn: Krakow City Centre, red X

Note: There is also a “Holiday Inn Express: Krakow,” which is inferior and farther away from the center.

I spent two non-consecutive nights at this hotel, and I very much enjoyed its location and welcome package. It’s amenities were adequate.

Upon arriving in Krakow, I walked the 500 meters from the train station (pictured on the map as the blue train icon) to the Holiday Inn. The hotel is also three blocks from the central plaza, near the river, and close to the Kazimierz district, so the location is impeccable.

Upon check-in I was given a card for one free drink at the bar, so this hotel starts strong. When I entered the room, more surprises awaited, a complimentary box of chocolates and a thank-you letter.

free drink card, free chocolate, free thank-you note

The room itself had two twin beds. I’m sure a better room was available, but I spent less than one waking hour in the room.

two small beds, table, desk, and TV

The bathroom was big and clean, again what you would expect, but nothing impressive.

My main complaint at the hotel was the internet. There was no wireless internet in the rooms. The wired internet was free, but only if you chose the slower speed. The slower speed was fine for browsing, but not suitable for downloading videos or uploading photos, and the high-speed internet cost $10 per day.

The Holiday Inn did have a small fitness center with free access.

In August, a night at the Holiday Inn is going for $160 or 20,000 Priority Club points or 10,000 Priority Club points and $70. Of course, Priority Club points can be purchased for 0.7 cents each, so if you want to minimize the cash outlay, purchase all 20,000 points for $140.

Park Inn, black X

The Park Inn’s location is much worse than the other three I’ll be talking about. It’s a full kilometer from the Old Town and across the river. It’s nice to be near the river, but it’s not that much closer than several of the other hotels.

One kilometer is obviously not too far of a walk, but it makes it tough to pop back and forth between the hotel and the sights multiple times in a day.

one bag, two beds, a table, and a TV

The interior of my Park Inn room was almost identical to my Holiday Inn room: two tiny beds, a TV, a desk, and a chair. I did prefer the Park Inn bathroom, which featured a shower instead of the tub-plus-shower-head that the Holiday Inn had.

The Park Inn did have free, wireless, high-speed internet.

A night at the Park Inn in August is going for $138 or 28,000 Gold Points or 5,000 Gold Points and $81. Gold Points aren’t as valuable as many currencies, so the cash and points option which gets over one cent per point is the best option among the three.

Sheraton, green X

The Sheraton is at a very interesting spot, at a bend in the Vistula, facing the river such that it looks like the river is coming right at the hotel. It’s an incredible view. The hotel is also right next to the Wawel Castle, which is one of the coolest sites in Krakow. The Sheraton is a few steps farther away from the Old Town than the Radisson Blu and Holiday Inn, so I would rate its location as slightly worse than theirs.

I didn’t stay here, so I don’t have any inside info. I’m sure the services are commensurate with what you expect from a Sheraton, and it has a heated indoor pool and a gym.

The Sheraton has free, high-speed, wireless internet.

A night at the Sheraton in August goes for $165 or 7,000 Starpoints or 2,800 Starpoints and $45. The cash and points option gets over 4 cents per point.

Radisson Blu, blue X

The Radisson Blu is at a great location, definitely my favorite of all the hotels in Krakow. It’s right across from a park that connects to the Old Town.

The Radisson Blu has a fitness center with free access. And it has free, wireless internet in all rooms.

Overall Club Carlson considers the Radisson Blu to be a much nicer property than the Park Inn, and who am I to disagree. Considering its awesome location, this is probably the top place to stay in Krakow.

A night at the Radisson Blu in August goes for $146 or 44,000 Gold Points, with no cash-and-points option. That’s only about 0.3 cents per Gold Point, so I would not make a points redemption at this low cash price.

Overall:

The best view is the Sheraton, but the best property and location belong to the Radisson Blu. At these cash prices, I would definitely stay at the Radisson Blu. For redemptions, the cash-and-points redemption at the Sheraton is a great value.

I stayed at the Holiday Inn mainly because I got it for $35 per night because it was on the PointBreaks list. Under no foreseeable circumstances would I stay at the Park Inn again. The location is bad, and it is only $8 cheaper than the superior Radisson Blu. The only reason I did stay at the Park Inn was that the Radisson Blu was much more expensive while I was in town, and I wanted to collect the huge 44,000 point bonus for a one night stay at the Park Inn.

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows I am a couch-surfing, hostel-staying vagabond, and none of these hotels changed that about me.

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€35 for one of the twelve beds in this room and a shared bathroom down the hall (St. Christopher’s Inn, Paris):

$35 for this room, bathroom, welcome chocolates, and drink voucher (Holiday Inn, Krakow):

How did I get a room for $35? I bought the points from Priority Club for 0.7 cents each and exploited their PointBreaks List of steeply discounted award nights.

Points and know-how are getting me a three-day reprieve from hostels at hostel prices. Now if only the Holiday Inn had as fun of a bar as St. Christopher’s hostel.

And by the way: I don’t know what accommodations £35 will get you, but I do know if you want to gain 35 pounds, eat like this:

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This post will tell you how to book any hotel on the list of Priority Club’s PointBreaks for only $35 per night.

Whenever Priority Club announces its new list of PointBreaks hotels, the miles’ world pays attention. The hotels on the list that may ordinarily cost hundreds of dollars a night go for 5,000 Priority Club points for a limited time. The new list is valid for stays through July 31.

As loyal readers know, I’m not big on hotel rewards programs; I usually get a better deal pricelining as I explained here. But PointBreaks are a great deal since Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to Priority Club (not instantly, in about 14-19 hours). And you can also transfer Amex Membership Rewards at a 1:1 ratio until June 30 when the relationship ends.

I value 5,000 MR at $127.50 until the 50% Avios transfer bonus ends on May 31 and 5,000 UR at around $100. Those are pretty low prices for some of the PointBreaks hotels, but we can do better. We can stay at any hotel on the PointBreaks list for $35 just by exploiting one loophole!

The basic premise is that Priority Club lets you buy its points for 0.7 cents each when booking an award night with cash and points. Then you can immediately cancel the award night you purchased with cash and points. Instead of refunding your cash, Priority Club will let you keep the points you just purchased for 0.7 cents.

Hopefully this example will show you how you can book any PointBreaks hotel for $35/night:

I scoured the new PointBreaks list to see if any of my travel plans coincide with any of the hotels, and they did in one case: I will be in Krakow, Poland and the Holiday Inn Krakow City Centre is on the list.

I’ll be in Krakow June 6 – 9, and I didn’t have a hotel booked. While the Krakow Holiday Inn is hardly the nicest property on the PointBreaks list, its cheapest room June 6 is 531 Polish Zloty, which is $153.

As a PointBreaks hotel, the same room that night is 5,000 Priority Club points. Having no Priority Club points, I could transfer in 5,000 Ultimate Rewards, book the hotel room, and be satisfied by saving a few bucks. But we can do even better than booking this property for 5,000 Ultimate Rewards; we can book it for $35!

To do that, we need to buy Priority Club points for 0.7 cents, which you cannot do through ordinary point buying. The way to buy Priority Club points for 0.7 cents is to make a cash and points award booking then cancel it. To make a cash and points booking, you need to have some Priority Club Points, so I transferred 5,000 Ultimate Rewards into my new Priority Club account. The transfer took about 14 hours to post.

Once I had a Priority Club account with 5,000 points, the next step was to book a 15,000 point award. Why? When booking a 15,000 point award, you are given the option to purchase the 10,000 point shortfall for $70, which is 0.7 cents per point. Here is such an award:

As you can see, this award costs 15,000 points or 5,000 and $70. Having only 5,000 points in my account, I selected 5,000 points and $70 and paid for the award. The confirmation screen made it very clear that the $70 was going towards buying 10,000 points that would be immediately used to book the award.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After booking, I immediately cancelled the reservation online by following a link from the booking confirmation page. That brought me to this screen:

As you can see, my reservation has been cancelled. As you can also see in the top right, the points immediately credit back to my account. My account now has 15,000 points, 5,000 that I transferred from Ultimate Rewards and 10,000 that I just bought for $70 while making a dummy booking.

The 10,000 points I just bought for $70 are enough points for two free nights at any PointBreaks hotel, meaning that you can stay at PointBreaks hotels for $35/night using this trick!

Now that I had some extra points, I went to book the night at the Holiday Inn Krakow. I would have been willing to book two nights, but while there was award availability June 6 and June 8, there was none June 7. In the end, I just booked one night June 6.

As you can see, the night cost me 5,000 points, which I had just bought for $35, and my account balance was back down to 10,000 points. I’ll be sure to use those 10,000 points if future PointBreaks lists coincide with my future travel plans!

Caveats:

You have to have points in your account to “buy” points for 0.7 cents each. Buying points is a much better deal than transferring in your UR or MR that are worth way more than 0.7 cents each, but you may have to transfer in 5,000 to start the point-buying madness.

Not all hotels are on the PointBreaks list. Not all nights are available as 5,000 point award nights at the hotels that are on the list. Check availability before buying points.

Bottom line:

I just booked a $153 hotel room for $35. And there are much nicer, more expensive hotels on the list of PointBreaks hotels. There are Intercontinentals that go for over $400/night that you can get for $35/night using the technique outlined in this post.

Which hotel will you stay at for $35/night?

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