Booked: How I used points to save $2,000+ on five days at FinCon 2020

Dang, conferences are expensive these days! Especially if you’re paying for it yourself and not getting reimbursed from a job. But FinCon is one I’m happy to self-finance.

I’m genuinely interested in the content, meeting like-minded peeps, and immersing myself in a world of ideas about money. Now that I’m FIRE-ing up my efforts more than ever and missed last year in DC, I simply had to go. But I didn’t want to pay the piper.

So I burned a batch of old Marriott points for a five-night stay only four minutes from the conference hall, plus a few Amex Membership Rewards points. And used Citi ThankYou points and statement credits to fly there and back. The only thing I’ll pay for is food, rideshares to/from the airports, and dog boarding. 💥

fincon 2020 points

There’s yours truly among the revelers at FinCon

All told, I think I paid ~$100 for the flights and hotel. FinCon, here I come!

FinCon 2020 with points

OK so, valuations are based on the rack rate and NOT the conference block rate.

fincon 2020 hotels

Actually not terrible

If you book the block rate, rooms are ~$220ish per night. Assuming you stay all four nights, you can expect to pay:

fincon 2020 points


$1,000! I’d honestly probably pay it for FinCon, but with so many points options in the area, that’s not needed here.

Returning to the list of nearby hotels, there are options with Hilton, Hyatt, and Marriott. I was particularly interested in using Marriott points, because I had 130,000 points due to expire soon and I like, never stay with Marriott nor do I have any interest outside of niche uses like this. (I am Hilton and Hyatt all the way for my personal leisure travel, for the record.)

Well, lo and behold – the same four nights costs just 145,000 Marriott points:

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Yes plz

I sent the remainder of required points over instantly from my Amex Membership Rewards points stash and booked the stay within minutes.

Before booking, I remembered I could get the fifth night free with points. So I added an extra day just for pure fun and relaxation. And because I could.

Out of curiosity, I wanted to see how much the five-night stay would cost at the member rate:

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What the what

$1,935. Holy crap. Each point was worth 1.3 cents, which is a stellar value considering I’d had them hanging around forever and wanted to burn them ASAP.

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Buh bye

And now I have 593 little orphan points I’ll never use as I have zero interest in ever staying at a Marriott hotel ever again. But it was nice to get a valuable redemption as a last hurrah for FinCon 2020!

What about flights?

From Dallas to LAX, flights on AA were around $100 each way. So, negligible at best.

But you know I couldn’t let that go. So I tooled around a bit and found I could from DAL-Love Field to LAX on Alaska in First Class for only $218 each way. So I booked one leg with Citi ThankYou points, and got 10% of my points back right away thanks to my Citi Rewards+ card.

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Considering I earn 5X Citi ThankYou points per $1 spent on airfare and dining AND got 10% of the redeemed points back, I consider this a total steal.

For the other segment, I put it on my Citi Prestige to finish using my the annual $250 travel statement credit. I estimate I paid ~$100 after the credit kicked in. Not bad for convenient flights in First Class on Alaska!

Plus, that’s the only cash outlay I had with booking this entire trip. I’m tellin’ ya, using points for stuff like fun conferences is what it’s all about.

I’ll still be on the hook for food, rides to/from airports, and boarding the pupper but all told, I’m getting travel to this conference for pennies on the dollar.

If that ain’t the spirit of FinCon, I don’t know what is. 😹

FinCon with points 2020 bottom line

This also serves to say I will officially be at Fincon 2020 this year! I hope to meet peeps in person, learn a ton of new tips and tricks, and connect with the awesome personal finance community.

I’ll be there in full force with my handy bag of conference self-care tips. And thanks to points, I even get an extra recovery day for $0 before I fly back home. I’ll prolly sleep, walk along the beach, and nurse my voice back to health during that day. And eat lots of tacos. 🌮

I paid about $100 to travel to FinCon this year. This is the true magic of points and miles. And you know what else? It feels good to get more trips on the books. Even with my aggressive financial goals, I can still definitely afford prices like this. And because of those same goals, I can’t wait to be around like-minded people.

Will you be at FinCon 2020? Are there any other cool financial conferences that should be on my radar?

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Memphis, traveling, and working toward financial independence.

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  1. Can you transfer points from another Citi card to the Rewards+ card to redeem and get the 10% back? How much are points worth when redeeming on the Citi portal?

    • Yes, you can combine all your TY points accounts and take advantage of the best of each card you have. So you can earn 5X on dining with Prestige and stack it with 10% back through Rewards+. The value you get on the TY portal is 1 cpp UNLESS you have the Premier card, in which case it’s 1.25 cents. The ability to combine these features makes the ThankYou program super attractive to me. I’ve gotten tons of great travel with these points over the years.

    • They have a few different tiers/levels. I got my ticket last year, but I think once it opens again for registration here shortly, it’ll be around $200 for basic entry (the same ticket I got).

  2. I heard that the CardCon convention is really good. It’s The Conference for Credit and Credit Card Media, and it’s in Denver, November 17 and 18 this year. Just sayin….

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