Feb 03 2017

Tagging along on a business trip and points update

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Legoland Discovery Center Michigan

Legoland Discovery Center Michigan

Last week, my kids and I joined my husband on a work trip. We’ve never done that before, largely because the cost didn’t make sense. This time, everything worked out in our favor and we were thrilled to join him. We drove to the Detroit metro (300ish miles one-way). My sister happens to live there and we got to spend time with her. In addition to the getaway mostly paid for by the client, we racked up some more rewards points.

We went to the Legoland Discovery Center. Fun, but definitely track down a “buy adult ticket/get kid ticket free” promo. I found a valid code on Retail Me Not. I’ve also seen coupons at Lego stores and in the free Lego magazine on occasion. We also went to The Henry Ford museum and used our AAA membership for a 10% off admission. Great museum and I would like to visit again!

Here are some points we’ve racked up:

  • Springhill Suites (Marriott owned). Total cost $457. We stayed 3 nights and the client paid for 2, since we added that extra night for our own use. The room rate was the same for 5 people as it was for 1 person. Thanks to a 2x Marriott MegaBonus promotion and my husband’s Silver status gaining another 20% on base points, our stay earned 9,196 Marriott points. You have to opt-in to the promo by March 15, so be sure you do! The points will go toward the 120,000 total we’ll need for our stay in D.C.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve spend: We’re earning 3x points on travel and restaurant, plus working on getting to the minimum spend required to get the 100,000 bonus points. We earned 1,373 Ultimate Rewards points for the hotel stay (which is $13.73 if I redeemed for cash or 1.5x that in value in their portal, so about $20.59). I could transfer the points 1:1 to various travel partners.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve travel credit: Their $300 annual travel credit is a great perk to offset the annual fee. It applied as soon as the hotel stay posted to the account, effectively erasing $300 of the $457. The client will still reimburse for their share of the stay. Woo hoo!

The mileage will be reimbursed, as will a few of my husband’s meals.

During the trip, we finished the minimum spend on my Chase Freedom card and my Starwood American Express. My 30,000 Starwood bonus points posted as soon as I hit the threshold. My Chase Freedom points have not, but they’re showing up as pending and will hit my account at the close of this statement.

Exhibit at The Henry Ford museum

Exhibit at the Henry Ford museum

I transferred 26,000 Starwood points to my husband’s account (you can do this if you live in the same household as another SPG member). From there, we took 27,000 SPG points and combine them all on his Marriott account. Annoyingly, you can only transfer points across SPG and Marriott accounts in increments of 1,000. Once the rewards programs are fully combined in 2018, I’m hoping there won’t be the issue of orphan points left to languish. It took 3-4 days for the transfer between SPG accounts to complete. The transfer to Marriott points was within minutes.

I then ordered the e-certificate required to pay for our Marriott stay in D.C. I love that you can book a Marriott hotel on speculative points and then accumulate them before your stay.

So, after all that, here are my current balances:

  • My SPG account: 7,106 Starpoints, with 430 more pending for my next AmEx statement
  • My husband’s SPG: 438 Starpoints
  • Marriott points (after spending the 120,000 on the D.C. e-certificate): 686
  • My Chase Freedom points (which I can combine with my husband’s CSR later): 17,878 balance as of next statement, which includes the 15,000 bonus.
  • My husband’s Chase Sapphire Reserve points: 3,770 posting on next statement
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards: 136k points on husband’s account and 900-1,800 each on the rest of ours. I wish we could combine into a family account like JetBlue or British Airways. I am keeping our smaller accounts active by using the Rapid Rewards shopping portal (I bought a $2 Restaurant.com e-certificate and got some points, resetting the expiration date by another 24m). I can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest in increments of 1,000 if I need to at some point. (These Southwest points came from some Chase Southwest Visa spending and a bunch of Southwest work trips in 2015-2016)
  • PNC cash back Visa: $204. It earns 1.75% on all purchases.

So for this month, we’ll just be working on finishing the minimum spend for the Chase Sapphire Reserve. At $4k in 3 months, this is tricky for me to hit without a lot of work-related reimburseable expenses or other one-off high-ticket expenses. I prefer the lower thresholds like the $500 in 3 months for the Chase Freedom.

I don’t yet have plans for our remaining SPG points. We have enough for 1-2 nights at lower category properties. I plan to keep on using my AmEx and earning more points there, and we’ll just see what plays out.

As to my next card application? To be determined . . .


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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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