For those of you that don’t know, I have a corporate job. Traveling is rarely required in my position, but sometimes a project demands that I be on-site as opposed to working remotely. In general, I’m very happy about that because I don’t particularly enjoy traveling for work, despite the obvious points/miles benefits. For the coming few weeks, however, I’ll be travelling from SNA (where I live) to San Francisco, staying three nights a week in the Embarcadero area. I got pretty excited as soon as I looked up my travel options, and I want to explain why so that some beginners can see how I’ve planned my strategy (and maybe the more advanced readers can let me know how I can improve it).
First some background: I work for a very big corporation, so all my travel is reimbursed and I get to keep all the miles/points. The small downside to that is that each employee has a corporate credit card that we must use for all purchases, and it’s an Amex Green card. That means I can’t earn more than one point per purchase on any transaction – slightly annoying, but can’t complain, though I’d ideally like to use my own cards that can earn me much more than that.
Because the company I work for is so big, they have agreements with some airlines on special corporate status matches and challenges, and we also get preferred pricing at all major hotels. I leveraged this last year as a US Airways Gold member (which I earned mostly through work trips to and from Phoenix) when I decided to do a status match to American Airlines Platinum. I didn’t use that status at all last year, but I’m glad I got it because I needed it to match to United. Even with our special corporate status matches, United would not match US Airways status since both are Star Alliance carriers. United would, however, match American Airlines status. So even though my AA Platinum status is expiring in a week, I was matched to United Gold status through next February…and it took literally 47 minutes to get matched via email. Thanks United!
That means I’ll now have the ability to select Economy Plus seats and a slim chance of getting upgrades, plus increased mileage earning. I’ll also get some perks when booking or re-booking award tickets using United miles. All that is a huge win in my book, especially since I’ve grown tired of US Airways. My airline strategy is set.
I’m also an SPG Platinum member thanks primarily to business trips to Phoenix last year, though I had no choice but to stay at the terrible Aloft Tempe every night. This time, however, I have no such restriction, and thankfully there are plenty of SPG hotels in the area to choose from.
SPG is currently running two promotions: the first quarter Power Up promotion and the Le Meridien Unlimited Bonus Points promotion (which you can no longer register for). The Power Up promotion gives you 2,000 SPG points for every four eligible nights you stay (up to 8,000 points and 16 nights), plus an additional 10,000 points when you hit 20 eligible nights. That’s pretty boring, and sucks if you don’t stay lots of nights. The Le Meridien promo, however, is pretty awesome: you’ll earn 1,000 SPG points after your first stay, and then 2,000 more for every subsequent stay. I have the potential to earn a ton of points here.
Again, because I got lucky, the Le Meridien San Francisco happens to be the closest SPG hotel (less than a half mile away) to the office I’ll be working at. There are several other options within a mile as well. I’ll be staying three nights a week for 3-5 weeks, so in order to maximize my points I’ll stay Monday night at the Le Meridien, Tuesday night at another SPG hotel, and Wednesday night at Le Meridien again. Assuming I do this weekly for three weeks, here’s what I’ll earn:
- Nine total nights over 3 weeks = 4,000 SPG points for the Power Up promo (2,000 + 2,000).
- Six stays at Le Meridien = 11,000 SPG points for Le Meridien promo (1,000 first stay, then 5 x 2,000 = 11,000).
- As a Platinum member, I’ll earn 3 SPG points per dollar every night. Assuming a $200 nightly rate, that’s about 5,400 points (3 x 9 x 200).
- Nine nights also means 9 Platinum welcome gifts of 500 points each, so another 4,500 points.
That’s nearly 25,000 SPG points for 9 nights – a great points/night ratio. I’ll be due for another 10,000 points if I can somehow manage to hit the 20 night mark, and I’d be looking at something like 50,000 – 60,000 points if I get that far. Wowzers, that’s a lot of points! And I could have earned more if I was able to use my own SPG credit card!
This plan has drawbacks, of course. I’ll obviously be changing hotels every night, which means three separate check-ins and check-outs. I’ll also have to continually pack and re-pack (or maybe never unpack), which will get extremely annoying. I’m sure I’ll come across several other inconveniences that I haven’t even thought of just yet, but for now I’m trying to stay positive and be thankful for the opportunity to score lots of free points.
Would you plan the same strategy if given the opportunity, or is this too much moving around? I’d love to know if you could help me earn even more points!