How To Get Award Nights for the InterContinental Bora Bora Thalasso

In the wake of the Into The Nights promotion, there are a number of “Free Nights” out there. We each got two free nights from the Into The Nights promo, and each have a free night from the IHG credit card annual perk.

One of the nicest InterContinental hotels in the world is the IC Bora Bora Thalasso. What’s particularly incredible for points collectors is that all the rooms are overwater bungalows. Unlike all the other points hotels in French Polynesia, this means that your basic award room is still an overwater bungalow. How awesome is that? Plus, these rooms consistently go for $1,000 a night. So without points, my chances of staying at this hotel are very low.

The problem is that award availability is extremely hard to find because award rooms and basic rooms go so quickly. But I’ll propose two ways that you could find award availability.

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What stopover tickets have we personally booked?

DSC_6070Someone asked on the FAQ about what stopovers we have personally booked and flown. And in all honesty, some of it doesn’t apply anymore, but a lot of it is.

First, I’ll say that back in the day, British Airways allowed unlimited stopovers. In hindsight, I can’t believe that we didn’t book way more flights with this. Why even consider anything else? I guess the fuel surcharges, although we did find it worth it for a Cathay flight with stopovers which were responsible for our first trips to China and Bali.

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Finding American Airlines’ (AA) MPM Limit and Rules

AAEarlier I wrote a post on American Airlines routing rules that did not deal with the Maximum Permitted Mileage (MPM) and instead dealt with the other aspects of their routing rules. But MPM limits are still an integral part of AA’s routing rules, and so I wanted to go over the basics.

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RTW Challenge: 6 Continents with 3 Credit Cards

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 8.04.30 PMSame rules as last time, but different goal. The goal is to start in the US and see the 5 other inhabited continents: South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia. One of the rules is that I have to use current credit card bonuses, and current award prices.

Basically, I want to get everywhere by miles, without paying high fuel surcharges, and without needing more transit. I won’t do open-jaws needing land transit (although you could do that if you want).

This is more of an exercise in redeeming miles well, or at least efficiently.  To see part 1, click here.

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New IHG Promo for 2015: Q&A

IHG has announced a new version of the Big Win or the Into The Nights promotion for Jan 1 to April 30 and this time it’s basically the same thing as the Big Win but it’s called the “Set Your Nights” promotion (register here).

All these promotions are built on the same broken technology, but the good news is that I know what to expect. So I’m going to handle this post as a Q&A style for this promotion, that I’ll refer back to. If you have questions, please let me know.

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Complete List of Airline Award Charts

This post is important to bookmark (not that I’m biased) because of the award charts that are unique to this site. There is no other complete Flying Blue award chart on the internet other than the one I’ve made here. I’ve never seen another Alaska award chart that compares all the airlines side by side. I’ve never seen a side by side Delta award chart. So the first reason reason to bookmark it is because otherwise you can’t get some of these award charts.

Secondly, some of these airlines have multiple award charts and it’s not always clear which one to use. Here, I’ll try to make that clear.

Click on one of the airlines to be taken to the award chart(s):

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“Could I be getting better value out of my miles/points?”

There is nothing wrong with earning free miles/points from the lowest hanging fruits, and only earning with a couple programs. Many people read my articles on how to do 7 stopovers with JAL and then they start to wonder if they are doing something wrong by only earning US Airways miles, or only earning Delta miles or something. No! There is nothing wrong with simplicity, and this post is about how I do 90% of my travel with two airline rewards programs and two hotel rewards programs.

While this blog is half about helping people maximize the points they do have, the right focus in this game, if there is one, is still dependent on earning. Now earning is relative to redemptions. Earning 1 Delta SkyPeso on average will get you half as far as 1 AA mile, so even before earning it’s important to talk about redemptions.

Knowing that earning is relative, I proceed to earn as much as possible. This year our opportunities for earning were very high for four programs: AA, United, IHG and Club Carlson.

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How To Book Your “Free Night” With IHG, Hilton, and Hyatt

The credit cards of IHG, Hilton (the Reserve card) and Hyatt all give free nights, although the details are all very different. First I’ll explain what those differing rules are and then I’ll explain how to go online and actually use your free night.

  • IHG Rewards Card ($49 annual fee is waived the first year)
    • 1 free night at any hotel annual on your anniversary
  • Hyatt Card ($75 annual fee is waived the first year)
    • 2 free nights at any hotel for signing up
    • 1 free night at hotels category 1-4 annually on your anniversary
  • Hilton Reserve Card ($95 annual fee)
    •  2 free weekend nights at any hotel
    • 1 free weekend night every year you spend $10,000 on your anniversary

Note: I’m not including details of spend requirements for sign up bonus. Click to Read More…

Our 9 Favorite Points Hotels of 2014

The end of the year is near and we’ve actually already been to a lot of the hotels we have scheduled from now until the end of the year (IC Warsaw, IC Vienna, IC Budapest, etc…) and so I might as well get this yearly tradition out of the way and share some of my favorite hotels that we visited in 2014. I’ll only do new hotels, so if you’re curious about the last two years see 2013 here, and 2012 here.

Normally I try not to glorify “luxury” as the reason I travel. Yet, I can’t lie, I’ve stayed in many of the nicest hotels in the world (according to T&L’s top 500 hotels in the world). That doesn’t always mean that they’re my favorite, but it is definitely an experience I’d never be able to have without this hobby. Plus, my favorite hotels are almost always about the location or view, and not about how much they pampered me. Anyways…

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