Sure, sure, this isn’t a travel blog, it’s a relationship/marriage/humor/pet hijinks blog. However, one of the things Lance and I love to do is travel; it’s a core element of our relationship. We’re also extreme-coupon’ers-in-training, so when it comes to travel, I will search high and low for the best deal, the biggest bonus points offer, etcetera, etcetera.
Since Lance and I have a few trips planned on the horizon, I’d been looking for good deals on hotels for Hawaii and Southern California, our next two destinations. The goal of this game I play is to get the nicest product for the cheapest price. At this point in my life, I’m not looking at Days Inns or Holiday Inn Expresses if I can avoid it; my target hotels are Hyatt, Hilton, and, sometimes, Marriott (which tend to be a little older fashioned, decor-wise, than what I like, but they have nice amenities).
Marriott has a pretty solid Best Rate Guarantee, which will match any lower price you find from a third-party website plus an additional 25% off. I had successful matches at the Courtyard Marriott Kauai at Coconut Beach (bringing a nightly rate of $179 down to $86 a night) and the Anaheim Marriott down the street from Disneyland (original rate: $139/night; updated rate: $72.15/night).
Four nights in Hawaii for under $400 after taxes and four nights in Anaheim for under $350 after taxes, both at pretty decent hotels, are some good deals, right?
Wait; it gets better (™, Dan Savage).
Marriott is currently running three different promotions (one with United Airlines, one with Amtrak, and one with Southwest Airlines, though I’ve only utilized the latter two). on their own gift cards. You know how these things work: around the holidays, Ruby Tuesday will offer to give you a $10 coupon if you buy $50 worth of Ruby Bucks (or whatever they’re called). This is something similar.
Marriott’s promotion with Amtrak will get you a 10% bonus on any gift card purchase over $25 using promotion code AMT (more detailed information about this promotion can be found at LoyaltyLobby). I purchased $310 worth of Marriott gift cards for our trip to Anaheim, and got a $31 bonus, which covers the cost of our stay. This bring our effective out-of-pocket cost for four nights from $340 down (again, for a room that originally cost $556 before taxes) to $310.
LoyaltyLobby also featured another Marriott gift card deal: with gift card amount over a certain dollar amount, you’d get bonus Southwest Airlines points, called “Rapid Rewards.” As I’m pretty close to the amount I need to redeem for a flight to Orlando on Southwest, I took advantage of this deal to pay for our hotel in Hawaii. I already had some Marriott gift cards from another promotion, so I only needed $250 worth, and was able to get 3000 bonus Southwest Rapid Rewards. Granted, I could’ve opted to use the above promotion to save myself about $25, but I figured since the 3000 Rapid Rewards will get my Southwest account up to where I can redeem for an airline ticket (which would probably cost $125+ out of pocket otherwise), I figured it was worth it.
I hope y’all who like to travel out there can take advantage of these deals. The gift cards don’t expire, so if you see yourself staying at a Marriott family hotel (Courtyards, Fairfield Inns, Residence Inn, etc.), it might be worth stocking up on some of these if you’ve got the cash lying around.
Then you just need to be careful not to lose them!