When I last left you, we had been hearing from Mark from 365 Travel Dates, who has graciously agreed to educate us all on travel hacking strategies. Part 1 focused on strategies for saving on flights. In part 2, we’ll explore strategies for travel hacking to save on hotels. Thanks again for teaching us all, Mark!
The travel hacking game for hotels is quite similar but even easier to achieve given the lower minimum spending requirement. The hotel credit cards are branded cards that are tied to specific hotel chains like the Marriott hotel group or IHG (Intercontinental Hotel Group).
For example, the steps for getting the IHG credit card and points are outlined below:
- Apply for the credit card
- Spend $1,000 within the first 3 months.
- Get 60,000 IHG points
- Check for additional benefits- Usually I would use the points then cancel the card right away. However, with the IHG card you get a free night stay after the first year. You’ll have to pay for the annual fee of $49 but can use your free night at any Intercontinental hotel around the world. A night in any hotel in Paris is definitely worth $49 let alone a night in the Intercontinental.
Planning your first hotel hack
Decide where you want to go and how many nights you’ll need. If you are a long-term backpacker you may want to get more nights in lower category hotel rooms. For example, with the IHG card and 60,000 points I can potentially get 12 nights free if I can find the right hotel that offers redemption at 5,000 points a night.
If you are planning a travel date with a loved one you may want something in a higher category hotel room level. The Hilton credit cards usually give 2 free nights so this might be a good place to start.
Regardless of how you travel there is always a way to use your points.
On most hotel brand websites you can do a quick search of different locations and find out how many points it’s going to cost you to stay. From there you’ll get a pretty good sense of how much those bonus points are really worth.
The biggest benefit from having a hotel brand credit card is the automatic increase in membership level which can give you free Wi-Fi, include breakfast, or even upgrades.
Many hotel points can also be transferred to different partners (including some airlines).
The Starwood American Express Card gives you a free Boingo Global Membership for a year which is great for international travelers and saves you $60 a month (or $720 annually). Marriott gives you a free night stay in a category 5 room each year. If you are a Marriott member, you get a 5th night for free if you stay for 4 consecutive nights. IHG does so as well after your first year anniversary (though you have to pay $49 for the annual fee).
There are always life hacks to be found. Most of us just don’t take the time to make our lives a bit more efficient. If we took the time to check out some of these hacks we could save ourselves tons of money. The travel hack game is just one specific instance of doing so!
Hopefully you enjoyed reading Mark’s tips as much as I did! You can check out his site and read more about his adventures at 365 Travel Dates.
Missed part 1? Check it out here: https://arttraveleatrepeat.com/2016/09/26/travel-hacking-101-part-1-flights/