Aug 10 2017

Why we went for Marriott Gold status

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I am nuts.

A few months ago, my husband’s Marriott account was targeted for their “Taste of Gold” challenge. If he completed 6 stays in a little more than 3 months, he’d have Marriott Gold status through early 2019. We decided to go for it.

Lately, we’ve been sticking to Marriott/Starwood hotels for our family’s vacation and my husband’s work trips. We’ve been able to rack up points through stays, my American Express SPG card (these points transfer to Marriott at 1 SPG : 3 Marriott), and if I needed to top of points for a redemption, I could transfer some of our Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Despite all of our stays, the best we’ve been able to get up until now has been Marriott Silver status (15-49 nights in a year, though some nights can carry over to the next year. Oh, and somehow my Amex SPG card gave me Marriott Silver on my own account). Without the Marriott Visa giving us a 15-stay status boost, there just wasn’t much help in the way of leveling up faster. So I thought.

Benefits of Marriott Gold status

  • 4 p.m. check-out (we used this once already during our D.C. trip. Very convenient!)
  • 25% points bonus on top of base earnings (this is up from 20% bonus from silver)
  • Discounted rates at Courtyard and Springhill Suites on weekends
  • Room upgrade (this might not even be noticible though, maybe just a more convenient location)
  • Enhanced internet access (you can have free internet access when you book directly through their various channels, but the speed is slower. To upgrade to a faster speed, you’d have to pay extra. In D.C., that would have been $15/day. It was free for Gold members)
  • Lounge access and free breakfast at some properties
  • A few other minor perks. For more, visit the Marriott Gold page

 

On the surface, it didn’t seem like that great of a benefit for our purposes, but with the Marriott/Starwood merger, for now status is reciprocal. Marriott Gold = Starwood Gold. Starwood Gold comes with similar perks, including late checkout, more points earned per dollar spent, room upgrades, a welcome amenity, etc.

And, having Starwood Gold = Delta Crossover Miles, which means for every dollar spent on a Delta flight, he will earn 1 bonus Starpoint. As this is on top of the points he’d earn with Delta, and the x3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points he’d get from the airfare purchase on his Sapphire Reserve, it looks like there’s potential for accruing many more points with this setup. More points = more/better travel accommodations.

We went for it.

How we accumulated 6 stays

Somehow (and I’m pretty sure incorrectly), our Washington, D.C. points-redemption stay counted as the first stay.

With time running out on the status challenge, I made a case for why my husband should have 1-night stays during a recent business trip. He bounced back and forth between a Fairfield Inn and a Courtyard near his client’s headquarters. I’m sure it was inconvenient for him, but he was a sport about it. It had the added bonus of more points thanks to the Megabonus Marriott is running right now. (Each stay, starting with the 2nd stay during the promo period, earns an extra 2,000 points on top of base+bonus, and an additional 2,000 points for new brands starting with the 2nd brand).

As a benefit to the client, it worked out that the overall cost was reduced by his back-and-forth hopping.

Our final stay was one night in Champaign, Ill., a true “mattress run.” We had been wanting to do a day trip or overnight to Illinois this summer just for kicks, and the room rate at the Courtyard there was fairly inexpensive. This was the only stay that we paid for out of pocket (the others were points redemptions or reimbursed work travel).

What will our final value be?

I’m going to keep track of the extra points earned for having Gold status. I can’t predict the final value or perks realized yet, but hopefully it will be worthwhile. I think mainly, if we can score upgraded rooms, fast internet (mainly useful for work travel), and late check-out, that will be a nice benefit.

With uncertainty coming to what the new Marriott/SPG loyalty program in 2018-2019 and beyond, I think locking in an upgraded status now will potentially be worth it.


Posted under Points | Comments Off on Why we went for Marriott Gold status
Jul 01 2017

Using a jewelery rental/discovery service to expand your wardrobe

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This blog uses affiliate links and maintains financial relationships with various partners.

This year, I’m trying new things when it comes to style. I use and enjoy Stitch Fix, I’ve tried Trunk Club once and had a fantastic experience chatting with my stylist back and forth about what I’m seeking and sharing photos with her (I kept 3 pieces from my first trunk), and I’m using Rocksbox as a jewelry discovery and rental service.

Let me tell you more about Rocksbox.

How it works

Rocksbox has a monthly membership of $21 (get your first month free here with my affiliate link! Go to rocksbox.com and use code kaciebff36 ). Add items to your wishlist, fill out your profile, and leave a note for your stylist for what you’re seeking. You’ll get a box with 3 jewelry items to wear for as long as you’d like. Send it back when you’re ready, and you’ll get another box.

You can use the $21 monthly membership fee as a credit toward purchasing an item in your box. I was pleasantly surprised to see that in my first month, I still received that $21 credit (even though I hadn’t paid for anything yet!). I used it to keep a pair of Kate Spade stud earrings for a great price, I think $18 after applying my free credit. As such, starting your account mid-month will give you more credit to work with, as the $21 credit is posted to your account on the first of the month; not when your membership renews. The $21 credit expires if not used by the end of the month. Referral and birthday credit can carry over.

If you purchase all 3 items in a set, there’s an additional $10 off.

The quality has been nice for the most part. Some pieces I suspect I’m the first wearer. One necklace had a chain that had been repaired, and it had a piece that stuck out and that was disappointing. Another bracelet I received was nice, but looked a little tarnished. It happens. It’s jewelry. This is a rental service. However, the rest have been in fantastic condition.

My sets

I started my membership toward the end of May. I received box #1:

rocksbox 1

Since I wanted a statement necklace ahead of the wedding, I decided on keeping those earrings the same day and drove over to the post office to get my package back in the mail so my next one would arrive quickly. I’m finding the turn-around is fast. Once they see the tracking in the system, it is usually the same or next day that the stylist chooses the next pieces.

For the wedding, I shared a URL of the dress I was planning to wear and I described how I was planning to accessorize it. I had a few necklaces on my wishlist, and she sent two (I was glad to have options) and a coordinating cuff which she selected:

rocksbox 2

I wore the Monica necklace and that cuff, along with the studs I kept from the first box. The purchase price of the necklace was $63 and the cuff $94, and while pretty, there was no way I would get enough value out of keeping them. After the wedding, I packed it up and sent it all back for someone else to wear.

Set #3 was a great one and included some lovely Kendra Scott earrings, a simple silver chain necklace, and a Nakamol wrap bracelet. I used my June credit, a $5 birthday credit they added to my account, and a $25 referral credit to buy the necklace for I think $6 out of pocket. I loved the bracelet, but not the $62 price. So, I took a look at other bracelets they have in the sale section.

rocksbox 3

Sale shop

The sale items are gently used and there’s a disclaimer that items are worn and may have visible signs of wear. All sales are final. So…a bit of risk there. Still, I found a Nakamol bracelet in the sale shop that I liked even better, so I bought that (free shipping) and was happy to see it was in great condition.

The sale shop is only available to members, and I’ve seen some pretty steep mark-downs within.

In my free trial month, I received 5 sets. I typically put them in the mail on Monday (free shipping both ways, do it from your mail box), and I have received my next set by Thursday or Friday the same week. Now to be fair, I think if I wanted to cancel, I would have only been able to do 4 sets with enough time to cancel.

I’ve now received 6 sets. I don’t think I’ll always do a quick turn-around; some people wear their pieces more and spread it out. For me, I think it will depend on the set and if I am in search of something specific.rocksbox 6

I have 64 items on my wish list and they give you an option to prioritize 10 as your top picks. All but 2 pieces from all 6 sets have come from my wish list. The two that didn’t were thoughtful choices by my stylist. For my 2nd – 6th boxes, I’ve had the option to peek at the box and swap one item from a limited selection if I wanted. Check your email in case you have this option. I always peek, but I haven’t swapped an item yet.

Each box comes carefully wrapped and tied with a pretty bow, and all pieces are in individual jewelry bags. Some have a bubble wrap pouch for extra protection. All are inspected and sanitized between users. Included is a note from the stylist (mine have been different each time) sharing ideas for how to wear your pieces and sometimes remarking on past feedback I’ve shared. This is definitely a person curating these sets.

rocksbox 6 note

Returns are so easy. The box has a pre-printed USPS label inside. As soon as I open my package, I attach the label to the mailer, which you reuse to return.

Prices are shown on the item as you add it to your wish list, and my wish list contains pieces in the $30-100 per item range. Most of my sets all-in are in the $150ish or so price point. Less if I have account credit to use.

Note that you have to call a phone number to cancel (why, oh why?!). There’s an option to place your account on hold online (but, you won’t have jewelry on loan during that time period). There’s also a gift option and I’m wondering if I can buy myself a 3-month subscription to save $14.  Hmm.

Is this the cheapest way to wear jewelry? Nah. For that, thrift stores, garage sales, and the clearance rack at Target or TJMaxx would probably be cheaper. Would I find the same quality there? Not so sure. As such, I’m finding Rocksbox to be a good value.

Bottom line

I have been happy with the service and I plan to continue. I’m enjoying trying out various jewelry, and the rental/keep what you love option is great.

If you’ve been wanting to dabble in jewelry, or if you have some dressier events coming up, do your free month and take it from there! (The kaciebff36 code is my referral code; you get a free month and I get $25 in credit. Thanks!)

 

How about you? Have you tried Rocksbox or something similar?

 


Posted under Personal Finance | Comments Off on Using a jewelery rental/discovery service to expand your wardrobe

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.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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