Last Thursday afternoon, I approached the registration desk at a Radisson hotel near the airport in Portland, Oregon.
“Checking in, sir?” the clerk asked.
“Yes,” I said. “And checking out.”
I was there to take advantage of a new miles-and-points adventure: in this case, staying for one night (or at least checking in) in order to receive another night free. Why do that? Because my paid night cost $74, and I’ll use the free night for a property that runs $300 or more.
The promotion required a one-night stay in any Radisson hotel, thus presenting an arbitrage opportunity: make the paid stay somewhere cheap, then use the points for an expensive property. I spent $74 for a room I didn’t use and now have 50,000 points, which I can apply to a high-end room in Asia, London, or New York. Base rates for those rooms are at least $250 or so, and often creep up to $400 during busy times.
Welcome back to the art of travel hacking—how to see the world on a budget, using Frequent Flyer Miles and all kinds of promotions. Check out previous installments of these adventures here, here, and here, and here.
Grand Slam Promo
I dropped by my mail service the other day and got quite the surprise: dozens of packages were awaiting my arrival. I get around Portland on my bike, so it was quite the effort to bring even some of the stuff home. What are all these packages? I wondered. Oh, right… the Grand Slam Promo from U.S. Airways is winding down.
The way this promotion works is you earn “hits” for various activities. You can earn hits from anywhere in the world and don’t need a U.S. credit card, but some hits require a U.S. address to buy something small from online merchants such as 1-800-Flowers or OfficeMax. International members of the Travel Hacking Cartel can use my office address to send anything that requires a U.S. address., so that’s why I had so much unexpected mail.
I gave some cookies and a can of Biscoff spread to the mail people. I gave a basket of M&Ms to a solicitor in front of the grocery store next door. I took the flowers home to Jolie and told her they were courtesy of U.S. Airways.
It’s hard for me to keep up with so many reports of miles coming in, but so far our group is well over the ten million mark of earned miles—just through this one promotion. In my own case, I’ve been busy with other things, but I’ve still earned 35,000 miles through the Grand Slam without spending much time on it.
This promotion comes around every year, and as mentioned, anyone can take advantage of it regardless of geography or income. If you missed it this time, be ready next year.
Other Miscellaneous Deals
You can stay at Starwood hotels through November 21 and get free breakfast or an upgraded room, in addition to 1,111 bonus points.
You can earn a 30% transfer bonus on points transferred from American Express to Delta.
You’ll also get 1,000 bonus American Airlines miles when shopping through their online portal.
Thanks to “Small Business Saturday,” if you’re in the U.S. and have an American Express card, you can earn a $25 statement credit per card for shopping at a small business next weekend. Register your AmEx cards here.
Oh, and while you have your cards out, fill out this form and get 5,000 Membership Rewards points worth at least $150. The points will post up in a few weeks. You’re welcome.
The list goes on and on. At any given time, there are dozens of these promotions available.
Wrap-Up: 1 Million Miles in 2011
It looks like I’ll end the year with well over one million miles earned. About 200,000 of these are from actual travel, mostly on American and other OneWorld carriers, but with plenty of other flights on ten other airlines.
Another 500,000 are from credit card bonuses, as this has been a good year for those with the banks continuing to increase the incentives for new signups.
Not everyone can travel as much as I do, and some people aren’t eligible for credit cards, but the remaining 300,000+ miles are all from various promotions like the ones mentioned above. Most of these offers are available for people no matter where they live and no matter what their income.
These days, I’m super busy with book preparation, building a new business project, and traveling to my final twenty countries. I have very little time to spend on my own travel hacking, so mostly I just read the alerts that go out and take action whenever I can. I miss a lot of opportunities just from falling behind.
Nevertheless, one million miles in 2011 is the equivalent of 40 domestic plane tickets. I prefer to use my miles for international trips in First or Business Class, but even so I’m looking at at least ten major trips from these miles.
If you’d like to learn more about travel hacking, you can join the Cartel (where we do much of the work for you), or you can also study on your own through various free blogs and forums.
Question: have you earned any points or miles in 2011? Where will you be using them?
The quest to visit every country in the world is now down to only twenty countries! Check out the plan of attack to complete the remaining places.