Use Points/Miles to Save Others Money!
One of the coolest things about getting into this hobby is being able to use your miles & points to help friends and family travel along with you. I know of some people who have enough points that they pay for entire international tickets in business class for others. That is fantastic!
With a family of 4 it can be hard for me to splurge quite like that, but I am still able to share some of the wealth when possible. One such example was this past weekend in Salt Lake City. I traveled up to the city with a couple of friends and used a surprisingly small amount of miles/points to make the trip cheaper for them.
Salt Lake City is about a 6 hour drive from Las Vegas. With a fuel efficient car, the gasoline cost is about $60-$80 roundtrip. That is much less than the cost of two plane tickets. Unfortunately, if you only have two days in to visit, that 12 hours of driving really eats up the time and the fun.
One of my friends was flying in from Miami and the other was traveling with me from Vegas. Since I knew driving would be such a time suck, I was determined to figure out a way to fly cheaply. Alaska has launched a new LAS-SLC flight, but it wasn’t available with Avios (would have been 4,500) and the timing wasn’t right. Delta has a lot of flights, but they are a bad redemption value.
Then Southwest came to the rescue. I knew we needed a late Friday evening flight since my friend worked until 6pm. We were able to secure a 9:40pm flight out of Las Vegas that arrived about an hour after our friend’s flight from MIA. This was perfect so we could all meet up at the airport and then get the weekend started.
Since I had just received my freshly minted companion pass, I decided to add my friend as a companion and book the ticket with miles. I can change my companion to one of my children later and this allowed us to save $300 in airfare. My total cost was 8,062 points for both of us. My friend paid the ~$23 in taxes and it worked out perfectly. I also was able to introduce him to the Centurion Lounge!
It can be tough to find a hotel that sleeps three adults in separate beds comfortably without an additional charge. Thankfully Hyatt Place hotels do just that with a nice comfortable sofa sleeper plus two queen beds. It really was the perfect room for our situation.
Since our flights were late arrivals, it made sense to stay out by the airport on Friday night. The Hyatt Place Salt Lake City Airport was $109 for the night we stayed, but of course I booked it as Points + Cash. As a category 1, we were on the hook for $50 plus tax and we split it 3 ways.
Since we didn’t need to be out by the airport on Saturday, we booked at the Hyatt Place in Downtown Salt Lake City which was going for $119. The room was the same setup and as a category 2, it cost us $55 + 4,000 points. Once again we split the cost three ways.
So basically, I spent 6,500 points up front to reduce the cost for everyone. Since I received 500 points back as a welcome amenity at each hotel, a 20% bonus on redeemed points and points for our actual stay, my out of pocket points cost was 3,517. A small price to pay to save some money for friends and as a side benefit I received two stay credits towards re-qualifying for Diamond.
Sometimes it just pays to have a friend who knows how to find a cheap car rental deal. While I didn’t use miles/points to pay down my car rental, I did use my set of tools to get a great car for a great price. One of my go to places is Costco Travel. They aren’t always cheapest, but often can score you a great deal.
For our dates, I was able to get a two day rental for $64 including all taxes/fees. I knew that I didn’t want to drive all of the time, so we utilized Costco’s benefit of a free extra driver on Budget bookings. The best part of it was that we were upgraded to a Cadillac XTS. I have found that Costco has great contracts with car rental companies and you often get small perks. So we ended up with the cheapest rental I could find, a free extra driver and an amazing upgrade!
What Did We Save
Instead of having 1+ days in SLC, my friends and I had two full days. This allowed us to head up to the mountains on Saturday and spend the entire day on Sunday riding roller coasters. Basically, Southwest points not only bought us almost a full extra day, but they saved my friend about $125.
As for hotels, both of my friends saved $46 each off of the going rate and I even got the benefit of two stay credits. Yes we could have found a motel for $50 instead of the Hyatt Place, but then we would have spent the same money and been miserable?!?
When I told my friends that their grand total for hotel/car rental was less than $65 for the weekend, they were sort of shocked. The purpose of this post isn’t to say I am such a good guy for spending a few points (after all I could have spent more to make it “free”), but exactly the opposite. I was able to save my friends a decent amount of money and maximize our time together for very little. That type of “generosity” is prudent.