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Best Programs & Deals to Save Money on Coaster Trips


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The only suggestion that I would have is to see if they have more flights throughout the day as a backup or check the flight schedule on flight aware to see how insane it is before it gets to you (like 9 straight flights with a 45 minute turnaround each time or something). If it’s the only flight for like 3 days then I’d maybe fly American, otherwise I’d fly Spirit because American is terrible and at least Spirit embraces their terribleness and doesn’t pretend they’re good like American does.

Also if you don’t mind spending the extra money you can just buy both and then abuse the covid waiver to cancel one of them last minute (we do that sometimes now). The only problem is the refund is in flight credit and then you have to fly American...

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  • 2 weeks later...

If you are flying Allegiant or Spirit and can buy at the airport, you'll save money. 

I bought 4 round trip tickets to Orlando on Allegiant today for middle of April.  Was going to be $358.  Decided to drive the 10 minutes over to the airport and try that.   Got the same flights for $214.

Their hours are usually short and sporadic, but it'll save save you some cash.  Chops off the airline fees.

 

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  • 3 months later...

As time has gone on I've started to feel more hesitant to recommend credit cards because obviously they're great for some people and not great for other people and in-general people overspend on them and pay interest which is the entire reason that they exist. I like them though, they work for us and if you like playing the card game too then keep reading, otherwise stop reading right now and pretend this was never posted.

Anyway... right now people are paying down their balances and credit card companies are freaking out (lol let me break out the world's smallest violin) but that's kind of good news since it means the sign-up offers are getting crazy because they want to suck more people in and get them into debt. If you're on top of things though and know you won't over-spend, it's great news.

I expect more crazy offers from other card issuers to follow along so keep an eye on those issuer websites and even your snail mail, the best example right now of a crazy offer is the Chase Sapphire Preferred: 100k points ($1,250 on their Expedia portal) for spending 4k in 3 months offer (or if you want to go nuts they have tons of transfer partners but anyone that wants to deal with that already knew about this anyway, I'm just posting this disclaimer since I know those people are coming to correct me). There is a $95 annual fee, the benefits might make it worth it for you but you have to look into that. If not, cancel after the first year.

I already have this card and have for years and I'm salty as hell because I didn't get 100k points but I got Brit to apply for this today so now I can use Brit's points.

I also expect more crazy offers so you don't have to jump at this one. Chase has no-annual-fee business cards with $750 signup bonuses which is also nuts and you know that Amex, Barclays and Capital One will respond. Just keep an eye on card issuer sites and snail mail card offers, they're getting insane.

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God Dammit.

I picked up the Sapphire in the beginning of May since I was going to purchase new furniture and had the cash on hand to cover it along with some other upcoming travel expenses that would easily cover the $4,000.

 

I got 80K points.    >=(

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  • 2 months later...

The Amtrak Rewards card bonus offer is now 50,000 points if you spend  2,500 in the first 90 days. I couldn't find the Choice Hotels transfer as an option anymore, but I went for it because I take the train quite a bit and can use points for tickets for friends. I signed up for the card today because I am booking a train trip and wanted to start earning points right away. When I clicked through to checkout, there was an additional $100 bonus if I signed up for the card from that screen. Damnit! Shoulda waited, lol.

At the moment it appears to be best for people who take the train regularly. Points are worth 2.5 cents for train travel. I checked a few rates for booking hotels through Amtrak and they were all around 1 cent per point.

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People who never took the train used to get that card all the time for the Choice transfer loophole. It's a shame if they closed that. 🤣

PS: Choice has quietly devalued their points. There's no rhyme or reason to cash vs points rates and amazing finds still exists but from experience, 90% of the time there's been a huge devaluation in the last year-or-so.

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  • 2 months later...

Just got an email from Carowinds that says I am entitled to an upgrade on my Choice Hotels status. The link isn't currently loading for me, but I should be upgraded from Platinum to Diamond if and when it works.

Choice Hotels website has listed reduced prices at Cedar Fair parks on their website under 'Deals'. I never noticed that before.

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Interestingly enough, I also noticed offers from Capital One for SeaWorld parks. I never use my Capital One card anymore but randonly logged in and noticed the other day (I got the Savor when it had an insane sign-up bonus but downgraded after they stopped waiving the annual fee).

On an unrelated note, a Marriot devaluation may be coming per tons of usually-reliable sources. Consider booking now if you have future trips planned and you're using your Bonvoy points.

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

Choice Stay Twice Get a Free Night is back for the first time in way too long. It’s masquerading as a $50 gas card promotion but it’s not. It’s just giving you enough points to redeem for a gas card.

Choice has quietly devalued their points, but this is still lucrative. All you have to do is Register here.

Remember that this will trigger on EVERY second night between now and March 12th. If you have a trip planned and you have a rental car so this isn’t especially annoying you can hotel hop every night to trigger new stays. You cannot check in and out of the same hotel on consecutive nights though.

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Just found out my Choice Rewards points expired. Apparently I had 9910 points but I hadn't stayed at a Choice Hotel since Dec 2019. None of my other hotel rewards points expired doing COVID and I'm a member of Wyndham, IHG, Marriott Bonvoy, Hilton Honors, and Best Western as well as Hotels.com. I also got Gold Elite status with IHG somehow last year and also have Gold status with Wyndham. I don't get why Choice Hotels expired rewards points during COVID and never warned me with an email or anything that my points were near expiration. They status matched my IHG status but didn't reinstate my rewards points. I probably won't be staying at a Choice Hotel again if my points don't get reinstated. 

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I just noticed that I can book a room near RDU with a Park & Fly package with free shuttle that is really close to the price of long term parking at the airport. I'm only an hour from the airport, but WTH, why not start earning those freebies, right? I saw 3,7, and 10 day parking options, most with $5 or $6 per day additional parking if you need longer.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Anyone have a hotel recommendation near Busch Gardens Williamsburg?

I am also debating if I should drive there (from central Florida) or fly. A few weeks ago I saw direct Frontier flights from MCO to Norfolk, VA for under $100 but checking now, they have tripled or quadrupled in price. I'm going in mid-April. If I fly it would probably be an extended-weekend thing, if I drive I would probably make close to a week out of it. Just wondering if anyone else has thoughts or recommendations for staying in the area. Whether I drive or fly, I will either have my car or a rental car so I'm mainly looking for affordability/quality rather than immediate location near the park.

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^ we always stay here.

Close to the park, and as a branded Courtyard Marriott?  you know what you're gonna get, and it's a clean, comfortable hotel.

it's also close to Colonial Williamsburg if you wanted to do that too.

https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/phfwb-courtyard-williamsburg-busch-gardens-area/?scid=bb1a189a-fec3-4d19-a255-54ba596febe2&y_source=1_NjUwMzE1LTcxNS1sb2NhdGlvbi5nb29nbGVfd2Vic2l0ZV9vdmVycmlkZQ%3D%3D

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14 hours ago, thrillseeker4552 said:

Anyone have a hotel recommendation near Busch Gardens Williamsburg?

When my group went last summer, we stayed at the cabins (No, I didn't camp on my coaster desert escape I'm not that desperate...) at the American Heritage RV Park. Booked them through Expedia I think and got a little better price, although you could also call them if Expedia doesn't have any.

http://americanheritagervpark.com/cabin/

https://www.expedia.com/Williamsburg-Hotels-American-Heritage-RV-Park.h17237392.Hotel-Information?chkin=2022-02-28&chkout=2022-03-01&x_pwa=1&rfrr=HSR&pwa_ts=1643646264569&referrerUrl=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZXhwZWRpYS5jb20vSG90ZWwtU2VhcmNo&useRewards=false&rm1=a2&regionId=6296&destination=Williamsburg%2C+Virginia%2C+United+States+of+America&destType=MARKET&selected=17237392&sort=RECOMMENDED&top_dp=85&top_cur=USD&MDPCID=US.META.HPA.HOTEL-CORESEARCH-desktop.HOTEL&MDPDTL=HTL.17237392.20220228.20220301.DDT.28.CID.9984771066.AUDID.&mctc=10&gclid=Cj0KCQiArt6PBhCoARIsAMF5wajWixNzVPDmTJgxxbOL3V9uOZOy7sNMzWOj8PCUV_KQCdcLeuSo2bIaAvmREALw_wcB&semdtl=&userIntent=&selectedRoomType=201815745&selectedRatePlan=209224784 (Wow that's a really long link...whoops...sorry about that...)

The RV park itself was well kept, clean, safe, and quiet though it's just an RV park/campground with the cabins so not too much in the way of amenities (arcade, pool, and laundromat was about it). Staff was friendly and helpful. The cabins were self-contained and had kitchenettes in them so if you wanted to do some of your own cooking you could. If your by yourself they might be a little big, but I thought they were cozy and comfortable. Easy access to BGW/Colonial Triangle (Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown) and Richmond via the freeway or back roads, depending on where you want to end up. Unless you really want a hotel it probably will be a little less expensive depending on when you go, as I think they charge the same rate for the cabins year-round. I'd stay there again, and recommend it!

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Obviously doesn't warrant it's own thread but curious to see how this ends up going with 2 of the cheapest airlines to fly if you don't have any bags or expectations merging, Spirit and Frontier... 

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/02/07/frontier-and-spirit-to-merge-creating-5th-largest-airline-in-us.html

"Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines, the two largest discount carriers in the U.S., have agreed to merge in a deal valued at $6.6 billion, creating what would become the fifth-largest airline in the country." 

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I want to be optimistic, and there are obvious pros to this but I’m definitely worried about a lack of competition driving prices way up.

If all they need to do is be cheaper than larger carriers, they could double their prices and still pull that off.

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possibly the best description of Frontier that I've seen (posted on a news site, in response to a Frontier flight from NY to Orlando having to emergency land in Raleigh due to unruly passenger/fight yesterday)

"Frontier is always an adventure. They make flying Spirit and AirTran look like a private Gulfstream. Plastic seats. $3.00 for a soda. And... of course, the sort of fellow passengers that make you wish you didn't try and save a few bucks. In the end, you don't really save much and it's a huge crapshoot that you even get there."



it's like a comedy bit. .

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If I were on that flight I'd be pissed too, and it's funny but in reality I've never in my life understood the complaints about Frontier. I break it down into two categories (aside from crazy circumstances like this):

1) People with unrealistic expectations. These are the people who go to Applebees and complain that their $8 burger is medium and not medium well. I grade them on a curve because they're Frontier. If I flew from New York to Orlando for less than it costs me to take a train into New York City from my house an hour away am I really supposed to get mad when my plane lands 40 minutes late or when the seat isn't very comfortable on my very-short flight (but is still better than United)? Am I really going to get mad when they want to charge me $2 for chips on a $25 flight and say that I would have free chips if I would have just flown on the $120 flight instead? Also, if they are 45 minutes late they'll give you a voucher that usually makes the flight basically free.

2) People who don't read, even when the text is huge and in giant red boxes and then show up at the airport claiming that there are hidden fees even though they agreed to them 3 times during the booking process. If you need checked bags and a huge carry-on, this airline isn't for you but you knew the size limits when you bought your ticket, I check that on every airline.

The only fees that are really tough to find are the fee to print a paper boarding pass and to make a reservation over the phone and not on the website but honestly, what year is it?

You should not book a connection a budget airline ever, but that should be common sense. I also prefer to fly from airports with multiple flights per day so I have options rather than a very small one with like 2 flights per week, but that's just me.

The only gripe with them that I feel is legitimate is that they always change flight times a few weeks / months out. I absolutely hate that. One positive is that their customer service is excellent. If you call American, they call you back in 9 hours. If you call Frontier you'll be talking to a human within 5-15 minutes every time.

Frontier isn't for everyone but even all things being equal, I don't think they're the worst airline that I've flown. JetBlue makes Frontier look punctual. I love their in-flight experience once you actually manage to get on the plane but they always screw us. American is a train wreck. Their website sucks, their customer service sucks and can't even use their crappy website properly and their hold times are often 8-9 hours. They also put us on a plane at Newark once and then told us that the pilot was stuck in traffic on the George Washington Bridge and would be there in an hour. Even Frontier would laugh at that...

Also, the most unruly passenger I've ever seen (once on the plane) was also on American Airlines. lol

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If this does go through I really hope it results in lower fares. I'm not sure where everyone finds these stupid low fares, I can't seem to fly anywhere for less than $150/head on any airline to any airport at any time...

I agree with coasterbill though, if you know what your getting (and know that your getting what your paying for) then the Spirit/Frontier/Allegiant's of the world will get the job done at a low price. Plus a lot of people seem to complain about everything anyways so...there's that too...

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I've got the Southwest card and I'm pretty happy with it.

My biggest thing is to always try and hit more than one park per trip.  Flights are typically the biggest expense, so I maximize what I do with only one round trip flight.  HOWEVER... renting a car post Covid is a different ball game , and depending where you're going, extra days can cost more than a plane ticket.

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22 hours ago, swfan1988 said:

If this does go through I really hope it results in lower fares. I'm not sure where everyone finds these stupid low fares, I can't seem to fly anywhere for less than $150/head on any airline to any airport at any time...

It's really just a matter of being close to one of the "hubs," like Denver, Cleveland, Trenton, etc. for Frontier.

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