Ever wonder how you can score a completely free trip? Well, I pulled it off (sorta)! Here’s how I got most of our expenses for our long weekend to Portland, Oregon for nothin’, practically nothin’, or at a discount!
As I’ve written before, I’m not particularly good at the points and miles game, but from time to time I manage to rack up enough points for airfare, checked luggage, hotels and even airport parking (no,really). Here’s how I did it!
It took me a little bit of time, but I accumulated enough points between airline frequent flyer miles and my credit card to pay for most of our airfare for two people from Newark, New Jersey to Portland, Oregon. I needed 96,300 American Express points and I only had 93,832 points for the two tickets, so I paid $24.68 for the 2,468 points I was shy. Cost if I had paid for the tickets: $963; instead my cost was $24.68.
Sure, it’s only a four-day weekend, but we each checked a bag. Certain American Express cards offer a $100 annual airline credit, which can be put towards baggage fees. Unbelievably, we hadn’t yet used our credit for 2017, so we used it for this. You pay for the bags and then you get credited the cost back on your card statement. $25 each way per person or $100, which gets credited back to my account. Total cost: $0.
I belong to the Parking Spot airport parking rewards club. You accumulate points each time you park at their airport parking which can be put towards future parking. Also, if you’re a member of their parking club, your reservation fee is waived. You’ll also find coupons on its website from time to time. You may also see coupons in the AAA magazine. Occasionally, I even get deals for the Parking Spot on my credit card. The Parking Spot has numerous locations across the country, and you’re not limited to parking at one airport. For example, I’m within driving distance of airports in Philadelphia, New York, Newark and Baltimore, all of which have a Parking Spot. While I wasn’t able to pay for my entire parking stay with points, I was able to pay for about half. Number of Parking Spot points used: 768. Total cost with taxes: $26.57. Savings: $21.90.
I generally like to stay at Hilton brand hotels, mainly because they’re consistent. For me, it’s really important to have a comfortable bed and Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton, all have good quality mattresses. And, as I’ve written before, I’m a bit of a germ freak, and Hilton changes all their linens after every guest stay. I guess you can say my germophobia helps me accumulate points! For a three night stay, it was 175,000 points or the equivalent of roughly $ 774. That help offset the $35/day parking fee which I didn't include in the tally - OUCH!
We got about a 10% discount on our rental car with our Avis membership. It’s not much, but I’ll take it. Total cost of the car rental with the discount: $154.
Food and Fuel
I didn't write about food and fuel deals, since they can be a bit trickier to pull off, but here are some ideas:
For food, search flyers and pamphlets at your accommodations. We also checked out the Local Flavor website (it offers location specific discounts for a number of cities - I even score deals in my hometown with it!). Also check Groupon or Living Social
For fuel, you might consider using credit card points to get a gas card. I had a $10 Visa gift card from a rebate for a recent purchase. So, I used that to offset costs. Yeah, $10 isn’t a lot, but ten bucks is ten bucks…
So, What Did It Really Cost?
While I didn't account for every cost we had (I excluded hotel parking, food and fuel), here's a fair estimate of what it would have cost and what it did cost:
Total costs if I had paid for the above: $2,039.47
Total actual costs: $334.93
Total savings: $1,704.54 or (83.5%)
Have you scored free vacations, airfare, hotels, or other freebies? Let me know about it on Facebook or in Traveleidoscope's comment section and stay tuned for next week’s post when I tell you all about what we did in Portland, Oregon! Hint: Here's a pic of one of the places on our "to do" list!