I recently got a new job that has me travel quite a bit. I go to New York City once a month, and I travel to California twice a year. Sometimes I go to Vegas, and sometimes some other states. Until recently I have not been taking advantage of miles, points, or any rewards programs at all. I was flying to California on Virgin Airlines, returning on Jet-Blue, staying in Best Westerns, Hiltons, and Marriots. Even the programs I did join, like True Blue (Jet Blue), my miles expired before I reused them.
Finally I smartened up and decided to try to take advantage of rewards program. I started staying in Marriots and quickly got to 50,000 points. I even got couple of free night stay certificates. I used one this summer with my family.
My question is this:
Since I decided on Marriot as my reward program of choice is there a particular airline that I should be using as often as possible? I usually try to use JetBlue first as they are my favorites, I do not enjoy flying and the little TV's keep me occupied (especially on the 6 hour cross country flights). Are there ay tricks or tips I should be following to maximize the benefits of flying and staying at Marriot? I also rent a lot of cars from Hertz, is there any way to use this to increase rewards?
Also, does anyone have an example of a great vacation they got on their rewards points? I wouldn't mind saving up for a long period of time if I knew that I could get a free week in the Bahamas or somewhere tropical. has anyone ever saved up for an al inclusive vacation? Is that even possible?
Sorry for all the questions, it is just a little overwhelming for a beginner, and I constantly feel that I am shortchanging myself.
Hi doniboy! Let me be the first to say "Welcome!" to the Insiders community! We're so glad to have you join us and I hope you've had a chance to browse around a bit.
And, no question is a stupid question I'm sure your fellow Insiders will have a lot of great advice to share here. Any takers?
Welcome to the world of too much travel and not enough time....
Marriott is an excellent choice for Hotels. You should also have a backup chain for those instances where no Marriott exists. I use IHG (Holiday Inn) because they seem to have hotels in odd places. Hilton's okay, but where there's a Marriott property, there's a Hilton property.
You can max your points with Marriott in many ways besides your nights. The Chase credit cards work great. The 3 or 4 times per year bonus periods are also great point accumulators (or free nights as you already know). Quite often, hotels will offer extra bonus points on their own. You can check the Marriott Rewards offer page and check for these bonus' where you're staying.
The family of brands is mainly broken down into two for earning points. All brands, except TownePlace Suites and Residence Inns, offer 10 points per dollar spent. Those two, TPS and RI, only offer 5 points per dollar. The extended stay apartments are even less.
As far as airlines.....I'll let our flying experts get that topic started.
Welcome to the world of travel!
Which airline you choose to focus on will vary - what's important to you & what do you want to accomplish? Free bags, free upgrades, international awards or domestic only? Where are you based? That also will make a difference.
Folk on Insiders can help you with Marriott questions, but I'd also recommend going over to www.flyertalk.com. There's a Marriott forum, there's a forum for all the main airlines & alliances, there's a forum for Hertz & you should get additional info there.
One thing I would say if you want to increase your Marriott points is to get a Marriott Visa if you don't already have one (you can get up to 70,000 bonus points depending on which one you get), you also get a free Cat 1-5 cert each year you have it I think, sign up for the Unexpected Bonus that happens 3x/year, and if you haven't already signed up for the Gold challenge then do that as well (assuming that you'll be able to hit 50 nights/year at Marriott in future). You'll get 10pts/$ spend at all brands except for TPS & RI. However, be aware that only at JW Marriott, Rennaissance, Marriott and Autograph Collections do you get points for incidental spend (ie, room service, restaurant, etc). The other brands don't provide points for incidental spend.
Re: which property/vacation is great - again, that's really individual specific. Some people take domestic vacations, some international. Some prefer hanging out at the beach; others want to explore culture. One thing to remember that when redeeming points, you can get 5 nights for the price of 4. Book 4 nights on award; the 5th night is free. My one rule is earn low, redeem high. I redeem points for properties that would cost several hundred $$/I couldn't afford otherwise.
Thanks everyone. I will definitely look into the Marriot credit card, and I will visit flyertalk to check it out. I also was unaware of the breakdown, I will definitely make sure that I am staying at properties that maximize my points. I would love to get a free week somewhere tropical next year or so.
If anyone ever needs any advice on where to stay in Brooklyn, L.A. or New England I can probably help out.
Beware the value of the Marriott points over the years (year to year) have significantly depreciated, thus saving your points for a “big vacation” may not be as rewarding as it appears or may not be the best approach.
welcome doniboy. Marriott properties are still imo great hotels to stay in for the most part over other brands. Pained added a very good remark about a backup hotel chain where Marriotts do not exist. The Marriott visa is indeed a great help in adding to your points as well as free nights. The fee to continue the cc is minimal to what you can get in return, even though it has gone up this last year. Regarding airlines, there is no airline that will make you Marriott points if that is what you are asking. When you sign up for Marriott rewards, you can choose points or airline miles to your favorite program, but nothing in reverse. When you make gold with Marriott, you are automatically joined into Hertz#1 rent a car program and you can make Marriott points there or with your favorite airline, whichever you choose. If you are strictly wanting Marriott points, Hertz is a good choice, but be aware there are other rental agencies out there that are much more economical than Hertz so again all to your preference.
When I started the program back in 1998, after one year of staying at Marriott hotels, I had enough points accumulated to take an Hawaiian vacation called Island Hopper for 250,000 points. This was Flight from Maui to Oahu as well as hotel nights. You had the option for any hotel at both locations, 3 nights at one and 4 in the other. That was quite the bang for the buck as one would say. However, those type of rewards offers are no longer and the only option you have now is just to book your rewards nights wherever or choose a package which can sometimes be better deal and sometimes not. You have to be careful there is not another promo running at the same time that is a better deal. If you cannot afford the entire cost of a cruise and you want to use some points for dollars off, that is available through Cruisesonly (you can find this on the Marriott website). I used rewards points to get $2000 off my cost of the cruise. It was a good deal for me at the time because I had plenty of points and not alot of cash, but it may not be the way for you.
Hopefully you will earn enough points soon to pick the wonderful vacation you are looking for. Good luck and keep working the site. You can find many interesting ways to earn and redeem points. mm
Sounds like your getting some good advice here. I also recommend getting the Chase Marriott Premier Visa Card. I've now have gotten in the habit of using the card for everyday purchases and paying the balance off in full each month. Those extra reward points and elite night credits add up quickly.
I also agree with having a backup hotel chain for those areas that do not have Marriott. I use Hilton as my backup because it seems like there is at least a Hampton Inn somewhere nearby. I've actually haven't had to stay in a Hilton property in the last two years. Hilton Honors requires some type of point activity each year to maintain the points you have earned and will send you an email in advance of your points expiring. So each year I have no activity at Hilton I'll purchase 1,000 points at the rate of $12.50 to maintain my points there.
Since your a Jet Blue fan like myself you will be happy to know that JetBlue has changed their policy so that the True Blue Points you earned no longer expire after a year. Since JetBlue has a somewhat limited route map you may want to pick another major airline to use. Most of the airlines also have credit cards that will earn you extra miles and elite perks with the airlines. When I'm not able to travel by JetBlue I usually go for Delta. Like Jetblue, Delta is one of the few airlines where your miles/points will not expire. I have a Delta Amex and I receive priority boarding, free checked bags (1 per passenger), and access to the Delta lounge for a small fee.
If you make platinum status with Marriott you may also consider United Airlines. You will then be eligible to receive the perks United's Silver Premium which includes priority boarding, priority checked bags(checked bags are first to arrive on belt in baggage claim) and first checked bag is free for each passenger.
Hope this helps....Happy Travels!
Thank you all so much. This is great advice so far...plus a little relief that it seems that I am taking the right steps to maximize the potential payoffs.
I have already begun looking at the cruises as was suggested, because I was planning one for November 2014 anyway...
Also, I am already a Gold member at Hertz as I used to rent a car monthly to drive down to New York.