hilton

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Booking Glacier: I Used Points for Free Flights and Hotel Nights – and Still Paid $1,000

Later this week, I’m heading to Kalispell, Montana, to hike in Glacier National Park with my friend Angie. I can’t wait – it’s been 10 years since I’ve been in Montana!

glacier national park

Me in Montana – 2007

Though I’m excited, I found it admittedly difficult to cobble this trip together with points and miles – rural places are not kind to our hobby. So I paid about $1,000 out-of-pocket because I really wanted to go.

Here’s how I minimized costs as much as possible.

Flights to Glacier National Park with US Bank Altitude Reserve points

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Don’t Miss Out: Free Museums, One Month for 5X, Hilton Surpass 100K

Happy Wednesday!

Here are some deals still on the go – snag ’em while you can!

Through May 31st (today!)

Hilton Surpass Amex 100K offer

Last call to earn 100,000 Hilton points with the Amex Hilton Surpass. Here’s why I took the bait with this truly best-ever offer. Not into Hilton points? Think again. I estimate this bonus is worth at least $1,000 if you plan carefully.

June 3rd and 4th

Free museums

Free museums if you have a Bank of America debit or credit card. Only good for the cardholder and doesn’t include special exhibits. That said, there’s a participating museum in nearly every state, so check it out if you want some free culture this weekend.

limited time deals

Check out the Denver Zoo this weekend for F-R-E-E

Through June 30th

Get your 5X!

If you have Chase Freedom, get 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points and drugstores and supermarkets on up to $1,500 in spend. Can activate retroactively and still get bonus points. Easy categories here.

Activate your 5X – you have a month to max it out

With Discover It, get 5% back at home improvement stores and wholesale clubs on up to $1,500 in spend. Must activate BEFORE you shop. New cardmembers get their cashback matched after the 12th billing cycle, so it’s like getting 10% back. Discover is not accepted at Costco, but you can purchase cash cards online and use them in-store for a nice discount. Boom.

The Boxed deal is back

The Boxed deal might be in your Amex account

I wrote about how to save 50% on merchandise at Boxed with an Amex Offer. Instead of $15 back on $50+, it’s now $25 back on $65+. Still a dang good deal. Even better, you can tweet #AmexBoxed to add it to your synced card even if you weren’t targeted.

2X SPG points

Doctor of Credit has the details. You get 10,000 bonus SPG points for spending $10,000 on your Starwood business Amex through the end of June. So, 20,000 SPG points on $10,000 in spend = 2 SPG points per $1 spent. Great deal if you’re targeted – worth checking.

Bottom line

Get ’em while they’re around. Any other good ones to share? Let me know and I’ll add ’em!

Added My Brother as an Authorized User – His Score Went up 100+ Points in a Month!

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When my little brother (he’s 24) told me he wanted to get a place with his girlfriend – their own place – the first thing I asked was, “How’s your credit?” because I knew they’d check.

authorized user

Last month, his score was 586

He didn’t know. When we checked, his score was a dismal 586. It wasn’t because he had bad credit. But because he had no credit at all. Literally, zero accounts ever in his life.

I think I have 30 credit cards by now (?), a paid-off auto loan, and about to have two mortgages. With regard to my brother, hopefully I’ve helped create a path to his own points and miles journey.

But first things first.

Address matters when you add an authorized user

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Last Chance to Get the Hilton Surpass Amex for 100,000 Points (And Why I Got It)

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Through May 31st, 2017 (this Wednesday), the Hilton Surpass Amex has its best-ever sign-up bonus. Yes, it’s offered 100,000 Hilton points before. But this go-around, you also get a free weekend night certificate after your first cardmember year.

I wrote how 120,000 Hilton points can easily be worth over $700. But throw in the free night cert, and you’re approaching $1,000 in value from a single sign-up bonus.

hilton surpass amex 100,000

I used Hilton points to stay in colorful Colorado next week

Plus you get Hilton Gold elite status with the card which means… free breakfast! (My fave perk lol.)

I was low on Hilton points and am becoming intensely interested in a trip to Mexico City this year. There are lots of lower-category hotels there – and you get the 5th night free on any award stay.

In general, Hilton points go further at low-tier hotels. But it’s all about how you like to use them.

The Hilton Surpass Amex is worth it if you’ve never had it

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Hotel Review: The Drake (Hilton), Chicago

This past week, I ventured up to Chicago to see Hamilton and hang out with some old college buddies.

I booked 5 nights at The Drake hotel Chicago, located on the Magnificent Mile/Michigan Avenue, with Hilton points. The 5th night was free on this award booking, so I paid 200,000 Hilton points (50,000 X 4) for the entire stay.

the drake hotel chicago

My eventual room would’ve cost $1,400+ out of pocket

Because I’m Diamond with Hilton, I got an upgrade to a King Bed on the Executive Floor. Similar room rates to when I stayed say this would’ve been ~$1,404 in cash. But I didn’t have to pay taxes on the award booking, which are over 17% per night (!!!).

That means my Hilton points were worth .07 cents each – and more when you count the free breakfast and free food in the evenings. That’s a good rate for Hilton points!

I took a Lyft from Midway after flying on Southwest from Dallas-Love Field. Traffic was backed up, but I made it to The Drake in about 30 minutes.

Arrival and check-in

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Citi Offering Instant Upgrades for Hilton Visa, but No Bonus

This morning, I got an email from Citi with an offer to upgrade my no annual fee Citi Hilton Visa to a Citi Hilton Reserve with a $95 annual fee.

The email subject was, “Upgrading your card means enhanced benefits.” I was excited because I’ve never seen an offer from Citi like this. So I was hoping to score some bonus Hilton points in the process. But, all you get with this offer is “One Weekend Night Certificate Opportunity and Gold Status.”

upgrade citi hilton visa

Ya know, nah

Thanks but no thanks. This isn’t a good deal with no bonus points involved. But I’m glad Citi is trying new things.

I also don’t know if they’re sending out targeted offers with this card or others, so it’s worth checking your email and junk folder to see if anything is in there.

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Honest Review: Citi Hilton Visa 75,000 Point Offer

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It’s no secret I’m a Hilton fanboy. I lurve them because they make earning points a breeze. And they actually give you a healthy amount of points for staying at their hotels, unlike Hyatt and Starwood (!).

Are Hilton points inflated? Hell yeah. But so are the earning rates.

Entrance to the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu

I loved using my Hilton points at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu last month

I’ve found good deals with Hilton points, and not because I looked a long time. They’re out there – as with any type of hotel points.

I love the 5th night free perk on award stays when you have any type of status.

And 75,000 Hilton points can be worth over $1,000, as we’ve seen before.

At a bare minimum, there’s no reason why you can’t get $400+ of value from 75,000 Hilton points. Considering the card has no annual fee (and is therefore free to keep), that’s a great deal – and a decent sign-up bonus.

The short

A handy little card with a decent sign-up bonus, if you have a Hilton stay in mind.

The long

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Hotel Review: Hilton Hawaiian Village, Honolulu

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After months of anticipation, the day finally came to travel to Hawaii. I was a Nervous Nelly because of a line of thunderstorms moving through Dallas (where I was) and onward to Memphis (where the fam was).

Thoughts of missed connections, rebookings, and sitting in an airport instead of in Hawaii came to mind. But thankfully, it all came together without a hitch.

I flew over with my Mom, stepdad, and Jay. And my little brother met us at HNL.

Entrance to the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu

Entrance to the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu

We took an Uber to the Hilton Hawaiian Village, about ~20 minutes away. Really, couldn’t have gone more smoothly.

Arrival and check-in

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Hilton Makes More Award Rooms Available for Diamond Elite Members

I made a glancing comment on my Booking Hawaii: Part 3 post:

There were technically no award nights available, but I love the soft perk of Hilton giving Diamond guests enhanced award availability.

(Yasss, quoted myself!)

Which prompted some discussion in the comments. Drew asked for more detail. And Brandon reported getting more award space at a lower rate.

Aye verily, I was able to book an award stay when no award rooms were “technically” available:

hilton diamond

Boom

Hilton also has the room rate as “confidential.” Fancy!

This is, as far as I know, an unpublished benefit of the Hilton HHonors program.

They go on to say:

asd

How Hilton describes this perk

If you’re Diamond with Hilton, this could come in handy more often than you think.

Is this actually useful?

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Hotel Review: Homewood Suites Albuquerque Uptown

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I was in ABQ this past weekend checking out some potential investment properties.

I’m not sure I found a good mix of price, appreciation, rental demand, and location – but maybe I’m being too picky. It’s a whole other thing I’m thinking through now.

To set the stage for this heady trip, I booked 2 nights at the Homewood Suites by Hilton Albuquerque Uptown (and booked the flights and car rental, all within 10 minutes).

Breakfast area at the Homewood Suites Albuquerque Uptown

Breakfast area at the Homewood Suites Albuquerque Uptown

It was so good to remember the serenity of the high desert. The days were gorgeous. And the skies there are incomparable. I love seeing mountains in the distance. I’ll take mountains over sea any day.

After landing, I immediately drove to the East Mountains to meet the real estate agent. And checked in to the hotel around 8pm that night.

Arrival and check-in

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Booking Hawaii: Part 3 – Hilton Hawaiian Village and Tending Reservations

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I’ll go ahead and tell you the moral of this story: tend to your reservations.

After booking 4 flights to Honolulu, then adding my little brother into the mix, the final piece of the puzzle was to book the hotel rooms.

Step 1: The paid stay

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Just Booked a Trip for Next Weekend in 10 Minutes (Instant Transfers Save the Day!)

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I’ll never forget the thrill and uncertainty of booking my first award ticket. I thought I’d show up to the airport and be turned away for not paying (or something like that). Can a flight really cost ~$11 when you book with… points?

That was a few years ago. But there’s still something so novel about booking award trips. Some of them are planned in advance, like my upcoming trip to Hawaii. And some are aspirational or in the future, like the Brussels Airlines flights I booked with Etihad miles.

Mmm, love the high desert

Love the high desert!

Long story short, I needed to spend a couple of days in New Mexico to get some work done there. Looking at my upcoming weekends:

  • Next one was open
  • After that, Austin for work
  • Labor Day weekend – nothing available with points
  • Hawaii

4 weekends = a month of plans. I started poking around and realized, holy crap, I’m gonna book this trip for next weekend!

Finding flights

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