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Best Programs & Deals to Save Money on Coaster Trips


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If you are renting a car, always check off-airport locations. You are paying a premium using the airport location since they have 24/7 overhead costs. But make sure the location is open when you are traveling and see if they offer airport passenger pick-up and drop-off. If not consider using Uber/Lyft before regular car/taxi service. Last year I could not get a rental from O'Hare for less than $500 a week, an off-site Hertz, allowed me to rent for $210. Uber from airport to Hertz was $30 each way. Flat fee, a cab wanted $65 one way from the airport.

 

In you have to fly in and out of two different airports to save $100-$200 per ticket do it, but if your rental car company wants to charge an exorbitant fee for dropping off at a different airport, drop off at the original airport and Uber between airports.

 

Florida does not have rental cars drop off fees between locations in Florida. Provides flexibility in seeking the best airfare.

 

Airport parking - never park for more than 7 days if you can get a combination of rides from friends/Uber to the airport.

 

For my next trip to California I decided to try Airbnb. I'll be spending less than $40 per night, versus an average of $65 per night that I could have saved after perusing all discount sites.

 

If you gamble at Harrah's properties and have a players card, they are very liberal about offering free nights when you try to book online the first time. If you continue to try booking, but did not gamble on a prior visit they will only offer a discounted rate the next time. The casinos are not always perfect hubs for multiple night stays but may be along your route between two parks.

 

For smaller non-chain parks (always search "park name" "discounts") as local retailers may have discounts not on the park website, also search for "customer appreciation days" many small parks have them towards the end of summer with discounted tickets, but the offer is not easily found on the park websites.

Edited by larrygator
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For those of you that are rewards members, does CHOICE or any other hotel chain have anything going on right now?

 

Going to Kings Island and Cedar Point at the end of July and it will be one of those 3 hotels in 3 nights kind of trips.... Looking at the Cincinnati area for Thur. July 26, Findlay, OH, Friday July 27th and then Breakers on July 28th. Just trying to milk what I can out of the 1st two nights since the 3rd night costs $TEXAS

 

Ugh, sorry... you JUST missed “Stay Twice Get a Free Night” which is their best promotion of the year. Wyndham is running a similar but infinitely sh*ttier promotion but it ends before your trip also (its sh*ttier because with Choice you can do it an unlimited amount of times as opposed to just once).

 

If you don’t want to pay for a hotel room, the best thing to do is to get this. If you can hit the minimum spend in one month, those points will post to your account well in advance of your trip. 32,000 points is enough for up to 5 free nights (it says 4 but it can actually be more than that in the Midwest as rooms commonly go for 6000 points. You’ll also have at least 34,000 points, not 32,000 since you’ll get the points from hitting that spend.

 

I know some people freak out when you mention credit cards, but this one is one of my daily spenders. Plus, it had no annual fee so I mean... why not? No annual fee and you get 5 free hotel rooms.

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  • 2 weeks later...
For those of you that are rewards members, does CHOICE or any other hotel chain have anything going on right now?

 

Ugh, sorry... you JUST missed “Stay Twice Get a Free Night” which is their best promotion of the year. Wyndham is running a similar but infinitely sh*ttier promotion but it ends before your trip also (its sh*ttier because with Choice you can do it an unlimited amount of times as opposed to just once).

For what it's worth, that program has JUST restarted, but in a slightly misleading manner. The way they're advertising it is "Stay 2 nights, get a $50 gift card". What it REALLY is after reading the fine print is "Stay 2 nights, get 8,000 bonus points, which you can then redeem for a gift card of your choice OR NOT and just stockpile those bonus points in your account". It's running as of today through August 17th, and registration is required at https://www.choicehotels.com/deals/gift-card for Choice Privileges members.

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Yeah, I just saw that and found it odd (though awesome).

 

So yeah... it can't help you on this particular trip but if you pay for 2 separate hotels those first 2 nights you'll get enough points for a free room in the future. Make sure you register for the promotion and then stay with them again before the points expire (or get the no-annual fee credit card which keeps them from expiring forever as long as you occasionally spend on it).

 

Note that you actually get the best return on this by staying in atrocious hotels, so weigh your affinity for saving money against your tolerance for crappy rooms. Whether you stay at 2 $40 a night rooms or 2 $150 a night rooms, you still get 8,000 points. The only difference would be a % bonus due to your status which would be on top of your 8,000 points.

 

But yeah, we love Choice. We just got back from a trip to Texas and stayed 5 nights, all at different Comfort Suites locations and didn't pay a dime thanks to milking the stay twice, get a free night promo.

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If you're planning a trip to Kennywood and staying at Econo Lodge in Jefferson Hills, they sell Kennywood day tickets for $29.50.

 

(I didn't discover that until after I had already paid regular price.)

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For those loyal to Wyndham, then have recently acquired LaQuinta and are offering a 1:1 match on points and status between the two rewards programs until they merge them next year. A lot of LQ properties are nicer than typical Wyndham fare and redeem free nights for much less points than the 15000 for Wyndham. There are 3 LQ properties in the area, 6k, 8k, 11k free nights at them. This might be useful info to some of you

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  • 2 months later...
  • 2 months later...

Capital One Venture and Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard are currently engaged in a dick waving contest that's pretty great for economy travelers (if you stick to legacy carriers, have status or want business or first class then you should probably stick to something like Chase Ultimate Rewards so ignore this unless you just want the bonus).

 

I signed up for the Barclaycard yesterday and they have a welcome bonus that's worth $700 (plus your spend so you'll be at $800 once you hit it and you get 5% back. Capital One has basically the same thing. Capital One's bonus is $50 more and they have a partnership with Hotels.com so if you book with them it's a no brainer as you'll earn 10x points (personally I don't care because I book through Choice).

 

The Barclaycard is also chip and pin which is why I went with that. The annual fee is also $6 less but both are very reasonable. It's also essentially 2.1% when redeemed for travel as opposed to 2% (hotels.com aside).

 

I've sort of gradated partially from the Choice card. My new travel strategy (aside from obviously hitting these signup bonuses) involves 4 cards

 

- Brit uses the Choice Privileges Visa card almost exclusively when we're not together. I never use it unless I'm paying for a Choice hotel.

- I use a Chase Sapphire card for travel and dining

- I use the Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard for everything else (except Chase Freedom 5% categories)

So basically we never pay for hotels unless it's stay twice, get a free night or the redemption value is trash. The Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite will get us all of our sh*tty Frontier flights for free and can sometimes be used for hotels too and the Chase Sapphire (and Freedom because we're about that life) just stockpile points for splurge trips.

 

I think we've finally hit the sweet spot of what works for us. The Barclaycard being a cash back on travel type of card that earns 2.1% on travel is awesome since (other than their own crap program) very few people let you transfer to Frontier. To be fair Citi Double Cash earns 2% with no annual fee but I wanted the signup bonus and chip and pin capability plus I have a good relationship with Barclays. Your mileage may vary.

 

PS: If you don't put 5k on a card in 3 months then obviously ignore this. Remember that you can always add an authorized user though.

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  • 2 months later...

Triple post but it's over the course of a few months so I guess it's okay (hopefully). I keep toying with the idea of letting this thread die of natural causes but then I always see random "wasn't there a thread about saving money on trips??" comment so I guess people actually read this sh*t.

 

I have a few hotel updates:

 

Wyndham

 

Wyndham is fixing it's rewards program. Here are the highlights:

 

- The issue that I always had with it was that every single redemption was 15,000 points per night. It should not cost the same amount of points to stay at Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek or TRYP Times Square as a Super 8 in bumblef*cktucky, Iowa but it does. It obviously makes for some great value redemption but the earning rate on the credit card sucks and your points are basically unusable at most of their brands because redeeming for anything less than a great hotel is totally asinine. They've realized this and they're now going to start redemptions at 7,500 points for their lower end brands.

 

- La Quinta hotels will officially become a part of Wyndham Rewards on April 3. Free night redemptions will start as low as 7,500 points

 

Choice

 

- The best hotel promotion ever is back from 2/26 to 4/26. I've done a write-up about "Stay Twice Get a Free Night" before but the highlights are that you get enough points for a free night at many of their brands every 2 nights and you can do this an infinite number of times during this time period (so I guess it's technically not infinite but you know what I mean... smartasses). If you stay at a Choice Hotel for more than one night from 2/26 to 4/26 then you're insane. Hotel hop! Check ins and check outs of the same hotel on consecutive nights do not count. You need to switch hotels but doing this takes very little effort. I've never waited more than 2 minutes to check in at a Choice hotel.

 

Obviously you shouldn't use Choice points during this promotion. Personally we're putting the rooms on the Barclaycard that I mentioned in the last post (that offer is still alive by the way) and wiping the charge if it's over the $100 per night threshold or just putting it on the Choice Visa if it's not and taking the 5x bonus points. Either way, you paid for the room as far as Choice is concerned so you'll earn points.

 

Marriot / SPG

 

- SPG is gone and Marriot's rewards program has a new, hilariously asinine name... "Bonvoy". They basically devalued everything but they also upped the signup bonuses on their new credit cards. If you want to apply for the Amex Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant, the Amex Marriott Bonvoy Business or the Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless you should probably do it now as they upped the bonuses when they launched the program. I got the old SPG card to lock in the old annual fee for a few years but they're not terrible deals if you just want to collect the bonus and cancel in a year or two. Alternately you could actually keep a few of them as the value of the credits outweigh the annual fees if you can use them. I don't recommend spending on them once you his the bonus though except if you're making purchases at Marriot hotels, the earn rate isn't that great.

 

I'm not going to try too hard to sell anyone on these but they're a thing if you care and the bonuses are admittedly huge.

 

Anyway... that's all I've got for now. I'll send this thread back into hibernation. So are you "Bonvoy Brilliant" or "Bonvoy Boundless"???

Edited by coasterbill
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I got the email about Marriott changing their rewards program to "Bonvoy". . I just tossed it in my virtual trash.

 

I too, thought the name was idiotic. . maybe if Marriott was a Cruise Line?

 

I'm a rewards member, but really only use it when I go visit my Dad to stay in the Springhill Suites near his house (as that one uses so few rewards points, it's always a "free" room - and we don't have to actually stay with him.

 

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  • 1 month later...

Just a quick note for anyone with pretty much any Amex card (it doesn't have to be a Marriot card):

 

There's an Amex offer going around that seems to be showing up for the vast majority of people where you get $40 back after spending $200 at Marriot. If you have a Marriot Amex I believe that this is in addition to the Marriot points that you would already be earning so for spending $200 you would get $40 back and then another $24(ish) dollars worth of points.

 

If you're going to be staying at a Marriot hotel (they own TONS of hotel brands) check for this offer and add it.

 

This is how you check your Amex offers if you're wondering.

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I just want to say I finally started going through Choice Rewards rather than Hotels.com and you sure do rack up points quickly!

 

Hotels.com still has its spot for non-brand hotels and Motel 6 (like they have a rewards program ).

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I just want to say I finally started going through Choice Rewards rather than Hotels.com and you sure do rack up points quickly!

 

Hotels.com still has its spot for non-brand hotels and Motel 6 (like they have a rewards program ).

 

If you have a Capital One Venture card, Hotels.com gets you 10x points.

 

Signed up for the 50,000 point bonus to make my flight to Japan either free or real cheap if I splurge on Economy+

 

The 10x points from hotels.com is basically 10% back with how capital one values points for travel purchases.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Aaaaaand bump.

 

I’ve been watching Frontier airlines for deals routinely for years and have never seen this before. Right now there’s a deal with BOGO airfare on tons of routes. This isn’t BOGO airfare but tons of taxes and fees like I expected, this is straight up BOGO airfare.

 

There are restrictions but not as many as I’ve come to expect. In short:

 

- You have to fly between May 5th and June 12th or between August 12th and November 13th (a few days around Memorial day and Labor Day are excluded). Basically any time between now and November that’s not a holiday weekend or peak summer.

 

- It’s available every day except Fridays and Sundays.

 

- You need Discount Den but you should have it anyway. It’s 60 bucks but it gets you discounted fares for a year and easily pays for itself. We already had it and we’ve had it for years.

 

There are some excluded routes but not a ton. I’ve been finding fares for $10-$20 each way per person all over the place without really trying. We just impulsively booked a flight to Denver in August thanks to this.

 

More Info

 

PS: Remember to enter the promo code.

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Stay Twice Get a Free Night is back with Choice Hotels but they're branding it as a gift card promotion. If anyone redeems 8,000 points for a gift card I will reach through the computer screen and smack you.

 

In other news, Southwest Airlines is continuing to offer aggressive deals (probably since they're in Boeing hell right now). All of their personal credit cards are offering inflated signup bonuses of 60,000 points which is valued at about $900. If you're into flying Southwest you might want to hop on that gravy train.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey! So the Promotion with Frontier for a Free Second Person to fly is back.

 

1. You do need to purchase Discount Den or be a member already

 

2. 5/19 is the last date to book by and the dates are a little restrictive. But there might be deal in there somewhere for ya'll!

 

https://www.flyfrontier.com/friendsflyfree

Edited by BlahBlahson
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The Points Guy is reporting that this is going to be a recurring thing now. It's restrictive but awesome when you can make it work.

 

On an unrelated note this isn't going to make anyone rich but for people that use rideshare services you can now link your Lyft account to your Delta SkyMiles account, your JetBlue TrueBlue account and your Hilton Honors account and you can earn points on all of them plus your regular rewards card (if you use one) at the same time. You should also sign up for Hilton Honors dining if you like earning Hilton points for doing basically nothing. You won't earn a ton with these methods but they keep points from expiring and every little bit helps. Plus it's a "set it and forget it" hassle-free thing to do.

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  • 2 months later...

Choice Hotels just temporarily upped their sign-on bonus for their Choice Privileges Rewards Credit Card from 32,000 points to 50,000. If you don't already have this card, I highly recommend signing up. I signed up last year when the bonus was 40,000 points, and those points covered all but 2 nights of my week-long coaster trip last year. Rooms typically range from 8,000 - 25,000 points per night, depending on which hotel you stay at, what time of year, etc.

This card has no annual fee, so if you really wanted to, you could cash in the bonus points and then never use the card again. The card offers 2 points/dollar on all purchases, plus 15 points/dollar on Choice Hotels reservations, so if anything, keep it and use it to book your hotels. Their hotels aren't luxurious by any means, but the half-dozen or so that I've stayed at have all been clean and had comfortable beds - which is all I need.

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