A Look Back At Our Hotel Stays Of 2018

Here we are, at the end of 2018. When looking back at our hotel stays from the past year, I get a sense of how we traveled and how it compared to previous years. I make travel decisions based on how I think we travel but if those trends are changing, I’ll need to adapt the methods I use when looking at the best way to maximize our points usage and out of pocket spending. When I look back at 2018, I’m really happy how everything turned out. Going into the year, due to some work changes, I knew that saving cash on hotel stays would be a priority. I never really focused on earning hotel points before but I’m a quick study and I set a goal to not pay for a hotel room if I could help it.

I did really good in achieving my goal. We stayed in hotels for 37 nights and only paid $1000. When I paid cash for a room there was a specific reason I did so. The rest of our hotel stays were paid for by points or free nights earned by having certain hotel credit cards. Here’s a breakdown of our stays for the year:

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Have You Used Your Credit Card Travel Credits? When Do They Reset?

January 1st is a day that most frequent travelers hate to see. It’s when all the airline miles flew and hotel nights stayed over the past year reset to zero and they have to start all over again to try to reach status for the next year. Since I don’t worry about status, the start of the new year means that my travel credits have reset and I have some money to spend. Or do I?

If you have a premium travel credit card (or five of them), hopefully, you’re aware of the travel credits offered by these cards. Travel credits, ranging anywhere from $100 to $325, help to offset the lofty annual fees these cards charge. The trick is that you have to use the credits or they expire. To make things more difficult, the charges that are eligible for reimbursement and the procedures to get the credits are different for every card. Another difference between these cards is if the credits go by your membership year or the calendar year.

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Different Approaches of Credit Card Spending to Earn Miles & Points

If you collect miles and points by using your credit cards, knowing what cards to use for each purchase will maximize the points you’ll earn. However, making sure you have the right card with you at all times and staying up to date on the current bonus categories is a lot of work. If you’re the type of person who, like me, wants to maximize earnings on every purchase, you need to carry at least 3-4 cards with at all times. If you’re someone who just wants to have one card for all of your purchases, like Sharon, you need to carry a card that’s good for the majority of the things you buy. Looking at the cards that I have in my wallet compared to what cards Sharon carries can give you a glimpse into two different strategies for earning points and miles.

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This Change To The Citi Prestige Would Have Cost Me $150 On A Single Hotel Booking

I received an email today from Citi detailing the changes coming to the Citi Prestige card. These changes weren’t a secret as it was less than three weeks ago when I wrote about the five reasons I was happy I kept my Citi Prestige Card when I first heard about the changes. If the changes I knew about were going to be the only ones, I was OK with that. However, thanks to some sleuthing from One Mile At A Time, there was one more change to the Fourth Night Free benefit that wasn’t announced, and it makes a huge difference.

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History of the Fourth Night Free

Originally with the Prestige card, to make a fourth night booking you needed to contact the Citi Concierge. They would take your information, look up the hotel and book the room. You were able to take advantage of all your benefits, like earning hotel loyalty points, complimentary upgrades and all the amenities that status with a hotel provides. You were also able to book AAA rates and special rates (as long as you didn’t have to log into an account to see them, so no member-only rates allowed). While hotels don’t allow you to get any perks when staying on a rate booked through a third party site, the Citi Concierge wasn’t considered a third party site but more like a corporate booking agent.

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Beware the Amazon Trap Designed To Drain Membership Rewards And Citi ThankYou Points Accounts

Amazon.com has “enhanced” their website making it easier for you to pay for your Amazon purchases with the flexible points from your credit cards. If you’re not careful, the points you were saving for a trip to Hawaii might end up paying for that 18 foot inflatable Frosty the Snowman you’ve been wanting to buy. I mean, it’s awesome but not a great use of your Membership Rewards points.

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Flexible Points

Flexible Point currencies like American Express Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou Points are useful because of the various ways you can redeem your points. Some redemptions are great values, like when you’re able to transfer points to travel partners and make once in a lifetime trips. Other redemptions are average, such as using the points to book travel through the designated booking portal where you’re typically get 1 to 1.5 cents of value per point. These bookings are good when you need a reservation where transferring points is undesirable or unavailable, Still other redemptions are terrible, like redeeming for merchandise, magazines or even TSA Precheck memberships. You’ll often get less than 1 cent of value per point (and the merchandise is also overpriced to begin with).

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