Although technically I have accounts with about 8 hotel chain programs, they have all fallen by the wayside as being not worth the effort. I really hate being limited to a chain hotel’s offering in any given location and prefer being able to choose from a wide variety of hotels. For this reason, I have been concentrating on programs like Rocketmiles & Pointshound which earn airline miles and jump on social media games that offer free points in programs such as Expedia & Orbitz. We each gained $100 vouchers in Expedia over a mistake they made with a promo back in March, then more recently we each gained $110 in Orbucks during the August-Sept photo competition in which Orbucks were given out for uploading summer themed photos (I wish they would do this every year)! I’ve put these to good use for next year’s trip to Ecuador, Colombia & the Caribbean.
Club Carlson ditched the bogo free award night so I ditched their program after using up all existing points for next year’s trip. So now it’s down to one program – IHG Rewards. The main attraction here is the benefits from the Chase IHG Rewards credit card. The $49 annual fee gets us a free night at any IHG hotel worldwide and I have gotten some amazing usage out of this at places like Intercontinental JNB Airport, Intercontinental Moorea, and have the Intercontinental San Juan booked for next year. There always seems to be at least one place where I can use the certificate, usually at an airport hotel so the card is excellent value! Knock wood, I hope this benefit never goes away!
There are very few hotel programs useful to people who like to get off the beaten path and out into the bush where the birds are. After a major mass burning of points last year, I was down to 2 useful programs – Club Carlson and IHG. One day remains on the lucrative benefit of the Club Carlson Visa in which you could redeem one free night for one award night. Club Carlson did have a few properties that were well located for eco-tourists such as the Summit in Panama, the Radisson Blu Port Elizabeth and the now defunct Radisson in Tahiti. I also burned quite a few points to visit Tel Aviv and Nice using the free night benefit while we were in Europe attending the World Parrot Conference in Loro Parque.
I still had ample points for the radisson in San Juan where it would have made a nice base for visits to El Yunque Rainforest but that property has since left the Club Carlson chain. I managed to use the last few points I had for 2 free nights in Bogota where we can make a day trip to Chingaza NP and 2 free nights in Minneapolis to visit family next year. The last few points I have will probably get sent to an airline when I need to bump up the miles. I’ll be cancelling my Club Carlson Visa when it next comes due. If they had more properties in places where we will be traveling, I might have kept it but there are just too few Club Carlson hotels in exotic places!
So goodbye Club Carlson, it was nice knowing you for the last few years!
I still have the annual IHG free nights from the Chase card and enough points for some redemptions at airport hotels as required. IHG is larger and has hotels in more locations I can use. Otherwise, I will be booking independent hotels and earning airline miles using Pointshound and Rocketmiles from now on!
Rocketmiles is a hotel booking engine much like Expedia or Travelocity except the big difference is that they give very generous bonuses of airline miles for booking a hotel. There is a limited time offer ending 4 July if you use this link to join Rocketmiles and book a hotel. Rocketmiles has a very generous referral program so if you use this link, I get 1000 miles. You will then get a link of your own to share around! Only one 3000 mile bonus per person.
These are the airlines you can choose from.
T&Cs: Qualifying Activity: To be eligible, the hotel reservation MUST BE BOOKED USING THIS PROMOTIONAL LINK (www.rocketmiles.com/bonus-3k) by 11:59PM CT on 4 July 2014. Strictly limited to first time customers of Rocketmiles. Limit one per customer. Limit one per stay. Promotional offer can not be combined with any other bonuses or offers. Rocketmiles reserves the right to retract a bonus at any time if it detects fraud, stacking of bonuses, technical errors, cancel/rebooking activity (defined by identical search criteria), or any deceptive behavior attempted to circumvent the limits expressed above, including multiple accounts. Rocketmiles reserves the right to change the terms of a promotion, or end a promotion, at any time. Rewards that can not be posted due to incorrect or incomplete information may become ineligible after 12 months of attempts with no customer response. See www.rocketmiles.com/terms for full terms, or call Rocketmiles concierges at 1-855-355-7625 with questions of eligibility or for any other assistance.
One of the easiest ways to earn miles is to use certain hotel booking engines. There are currently 2 programs that give miles for your hotel bookings. Generally speaking, Pointshound has more options but gives fewer miles. Rocketmiles gives you at least 1000 miles per booking but they have a lot fewer options and don’t serve all the places Pointshound does. I’ve been able to book small eco-lodges on Pointshound but so far I can’t find any smaller places in Rocketmiles.
LINKS TO JOIN
If you are not a member of either program, using my links will give you a bonus of 250 miles in Pointshound or 1000 miles in Rocketmiles when you book your first hotel. I will also get the same amount as a bonus. You will get links of your own to share to whomever you wish so you keep collecting miles.
It’s a good idea to check both of them when you need a hotel, then choose the option that is most attractive for your booking. If you are collecting United miles, only Rocketmiles has them as a partner. Both programs have American and US Airways. Neither has Delta but if you want SkyTeam miles they both have Flying Blue.
Example: Belem, Brazil