Mattress Run: Was it stupid?

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VictoriaF
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Mattress Run: Was it stupid?

Post by VictoriaF » Sun Oct 04, 2015 8:52 am

Yesterday, I have conducted an experiment that in retrospect seems stupid. Now I am curious just how stupid it was.

I am a novice in accumulating miles and points for travel, and so far I was focusing primarily on getting free Economy flights. However, I thought I should try my hand in hotels, too. In December I will be staying at a Marriott for 6 nights at $200/night (plus tax). I went to the Marriott web site and found that they are now offering Megabonus that gives double points starting with the second stay. To make my expensive December stay the second stay, I needed the first stay. I found a Marriott hotel within walking distance where I could stay for $109/night ($123 including tax) and checked in.

After the deed was done, I started getting a gnawing feeling that the point of the points is to have free stays, not to pay for unnecessary stays. I checked some blogs and it appears that Marriott points are valued at about 1 cent/point. By qualifying for the Megabonus, I will get 1,200 additional Marriott points for the December stay, which is equivalent to $12. It appears that I have spent $123 to get $12.

What's done is done. However, I'd like to get feedback if this was as stupid as it now appears to me. I'll use it as a lesson.

Thanks!
Victoria
Last edited by VictoriaF on Sun Oct 04, 2015 6:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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BlueCollarLawyer
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Re: Manufactured spending: Was it stupid?

Post by BlueCollarLawyer » Sun Oct 04, 2015 9:01 am

You should view rewards programs as encouragement to choose a given vendor for purchases you are going to make anyway. Otherwise, it's like the old advertising slogan, "The more you spend, the more you save." Clearly, this is wrong and illogical. But some people respond to it.

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TNL
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Re: Manufactured spending: Was it stupid?

Post by TNL » Sun Oct 04, 2015 9:02 am

Hi Victoria,

I used to have a Chase Marriott Visa card, but canceled it a couple of years ago. In my experience, hotel credit cards and accumulating hotel points is not nearly as lucrative as cash back cards or even airline points. Anecdotally, it appears to me that the major hotel chains have their programs set up to reward their frequent guests, and by frequent guests, I mean people like a friend of mine who is on the road staying in Marriotts 8-12 days per month for work. He is spending $2,000-$3,000 a month staying with Marriott and is a Diamond member and gets double and triple points, plus all kinds of perks every time he shows up at one of their properties. So if you are only staying 10 nights a year at Marriott, like I do, then you are just not going to be able to compete.

I don't stay in hotels often enough to really benefit from any program, so now I am a straight price shopper for hotel nights through Priceline. I save a lot more money that way.

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Re: Manufactured spending: Was it stupid?

Post by Kenkat » Sun Oct 04, 2015 9:19 am

I think you will get 10 points for every dollar spent, so you should get an extra 12,000 points for your stay, not 1,200, so this should push you much closer to break even. If you stay at Marriott frequently, a rewards credit card aligned to Marriott is another way to gain even more points.

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Re: Manufactured spending: Was it stupid?

Post by 2stepsbehind » Sun Oct 04, 2015 9:40 am

Title is inaccurate/misleading--you didn't manufacture the spending; you actually spent money (i.e. you are doing it wrong :happy ). How much research did you do about hotel programs before you decided to do this? Marriott and Hilton in my opinion are among the least valuable hotel currencies and given you don't mind staying in hostels it seems like hotel points in general may not be the best targets for you.
Last edited by 2stepsbehind on Sun Oct 04, 2015 11:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

Gemini
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Re: Manufactured spending: Was it stupid?

Post by Gemini » Sun Oct 04, 2015 9:44 am

Can someone explain what manufactured spending is and its purpose?

OP you did not manufacture - you actually spent

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Re: Manufactured spending: Was it stupid?

Post by hicabob » Sun Oct 04, 2015 9:59 am

Gemini wrote:Can someone explain what manufactured spending is and its purpose?

OP you did not manufacture - you actually spent

I consider it spending to take advantage of credit card offers, etc. For example if a credit card gave you 100,000 airline points if you spend $3k in 3 months but you don't normally spend at that level, so you buy Costco or Amazon giftcards for the $3k and then spend them at your leisure.

I know someone who does this for a hobby and keeps detailed spreadsheets of his exploits. Too much work for me usually but I will jump on the occasional one (like the amex offer for 300 credit if you spend 1000 now that costco is discontinuing the costco/amex hookup)

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Re: Manufactured spending: Was it stupid?

Post by denovo » Sun Oct 04, 2015 10:36 am

I like to keep it simple. 2 percent cash back with citi. No gimmicks.
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Re: Manufactured spending: Was it stupid?

Post by johnubc » Sun Oct 04, 2015 10:41 am

a way to chase the points is to stay at another Marriott property for the first night of your stay and then stay the additional 5 nights at the original marriott.

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Re: Manufactured spending: Was it stupid?

Post by stan1 » Sun Oct 04, 2015 10:46 am

VictoriaF wrote:Yesterday, I have conducted an experiment that in retrospect seems stupid. Now I am curious just how stupid it was.

I am a novice in accumulating miles and points for travel, and so far I was focusing primarily on getting free Economy flights. However, I thought I should try my hand in hotels, too. In December I will be staying at a Marriott for 6 nights at $200/night (plus tax). I went to the Marriott web site and found that they are now offering Megabonus that gives double points starting with the second stay. To make my expensive December stay the second stay, I needed the first stay. I found a Marriott hotel within walking distance where I could stay for $109/night ($123 including tax) and checked in.

After the deed was done, I started getting a gnawing feeling that the point of the points is to have free stays, not to pay for unnecessary stays. I checked some blogs and it appears that Marriott points are valued at about 1 cent/point. By qualifying for the Megabonus, I will get 1,200 additional Marriott points for the December stay, which is equivalent to $12. It appears that I have spent $123 to get $12.

What's done is done. However, I'd like to get feedback if this was as stupid as it now appears to me. I'll use it as a lesson.
Victoria, Marriott gives you 10 base points per dollar spent so your December stay will give you 12,000 base points not 1200 (exception is Residence Inn and TownPlace Suites which are 5 points per dollar spent). So if I understand the terms of your Megabonus offer you would get an extra 12,000 for a total of 24,000 points in December. So probably about a wash because you spent one night to qualify for the double points bonus on your second stay.

Agree another way to do this would be to have stayed in one property in December for one night and then switched to a different property for 5 additional nights to get the double bonus. You have to switch properties -- if you check out and check back in at the same property it won't count as separate stays.

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Re: Manufactured spending: Was it stupid?

Post by PaddyMac » Sun Oct 04, 2015 1:56 pm

I've given up on collecting airline and hotel points - just not worth the hassle. We recently spent our expiring United miles on a sub to WSJ and donated the rest to charities.

I'd rather focus on getting 2 or 3% off with cash back, and am checking out the 5% off Amazon for Amazon Prime customers, since we spend so much with them anyway.

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Re: Manufactured spending: Was it stupid?

Post by Toons » Sun Oct 04, 2015 1:59 pm

PaddyMac wrote:I've given up on collecting airline and hotel points - just not worth the hassle. We recently spent our expiring United miles on a sub to WSJ and donated the rest to charities.

I'd rather focus on getting 2 or 3% off with cash back, and am checking out the 5% off Amazon for Amazon Prime customers, since we spend so much with them anyway.

+5
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Re: Manufactured spending: Was it stupid?

Post by VictoriaF » Sun Oct 04, 2015 3:00 pm

Thank you, All!

It was a learning experience, and learning from my own mistakes is more powerful than learning from general descriptions or from mistakes made by others. I don't make intentional mistakes but sometimes I like to stop analyzing and just do it.
2stepsbehind wrote:Title is inaccurate/misleading--you didn't manufacture the spending; you actually spent money (i.e. you are doing it wrong :happy ). How much research did you do about hotel programs before you decided to do this? Marriott and Hilton in my opinion are among the least valuable hotel currencies and given you don't mind staying in hostels it seems like hotel points in general may not be the best targets for you.
I manufactured my stay in the sense that I spent money artificially for a hotel I did not need. It's not the same as getting gift cards, which I also do, but the goal was similar: to get points. I did not do any research. Normally, when I am traveling for an event, I stay at the event's hotel; when I am traveling independently, I stay in hostels.

In this case, I knew that I will be staying at a Marriott for 6 days for an event and decided to take advantage of Marriott's bonuses. It seemed that otherwise my $1,200 (plus taxes) would be wasted.

stan1 wrote:Victoria, Marriott gives you 10 base points per dollar spent so your December stay will give you 12,000 base points not 1200 (exception is Residence Inn and TownPlace Suites which are 5 points per dollar spent). So if I understand the terms of your Megabonus offer you would get an extra 12,000 for a total of 24,000 points in December. So probably about a wash because you spent one night to qualify for the double points bonus on your second stay.

Agree another way to do this would be to have stayed in one property in December for one night and then switched to a different property for 5 additional nights to get the double bonus. You have to switch properties -- if you check out and check back in at the same property it won't count as separate stays.
Thank you, Stan. Someone also sent me a PM about 10 points per dollar spent. Thus, I will get 12,000 in bonuses, or ~$120 from my December stay. If Marriott counts taxes towards points (and double points), I may actually gain several dollars from my experiment. I can't stay at another property in December, because I will be in a specific Marriott for an event, but it's good to know about this workaround.

Victoria
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Re: Manufactured spending: Was it stupid?

Post by White Coat Investor » Sun Oct 04, 2015 5:04 pm

I also dislike the gimmicky credit cards. I'm only willing to put up with so much hassle for rewards. My favorite card is the PenFed 5% gas card which puts the 5% onto my statement as a credit. It's basically a discount for buying gas. My second favorite is the Fidelity Amex, which puts cash in my fidelity account.

However, if you have lots of time and mental energy, or you can't swap your time for money at a very high rate, then I've read about some serious benefits that people have gotten from playing these games. It seems to me the best return is the sign-up bonuses, especially for airline, and usually when used for upgrades rather than economy class tickets. I even know of a cardiologist who does this as a hobby.
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Re: Manufactured spending: Was it stupid?

Post by Barefootgirl » Sun Oct 04, 2015 5:47 pm

I'd rather focus on getting 2 or 3% off with cash back, and am checking out the 5% off Amazon for Amazon Prime customers, since we spend so much with them anyway.
From now at least until 12/31 and maybe longer, if extended, you can get 10% off Amazon by using one of the Discover IT cards. 5% to be paid as earned and they will double your earnings and pay the remainder out next year. This offer was originally granted to existing Discover members, may now only be available for new accounts (not sure, pays to double check).

I don't mean to quibble over the definition of manufacturing spend, but I think of it as spending money that I will actually get returned to me in the form of money, so the net effect is zero, although there can be nominal fees involved, so it pays to do the math. I don't think of it as a discount against a future benefit - but I guess that could be a quibble....lol
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Re: Manufactured spending: Was it stupid?

Post by DaftInvestor » Sun Oct 04, 2015 5:58 pm

TNL wrote:Hi Victoria,

I used to have a Chase Marriott Visa card, but canceled it a couple of years ago. In my experience, hotel credit cards and accumulating hotel points is not nearly as lucrative as cash back cards or even airline points. Anecdotally, it appears to me that the major hotel chains have their programs set up to reward their frequent guests, and by frequent guests, I mean people like a friend of mine who is on the road staying in Marriotts 8-12 days per month for work. He is spending $2,000-$3,000 a month staying with Marriott and is a Diamond member and gets double and triple points, plus all kinds of perks every time he shows up at one of their properties. So if you are only staying 10 nights a year at Marriott, like I do, then you are just not going to be able to compete.

I don't stay in hotels often enough to really benefit from any program, so now I am a straight price shopper for hotel nights through Priceline. I save a lot more money that way.
What's diamond level at Marriott? I thought their highest level was Platinum. (As I recall 10 nights per year is silver, 50 is gold, 75 is platinum).

I've taken lots of free vacations at marriott's but only because I stay there on business anyway. Points programs are great if you are going to use the airline/hotel/car-rental anyway. Regarding the credit card - The citi double cash card is a better deal at 2% - if you do the math you will find you will actually do better if you take the cash and use it to pay for your hotel. (BTW - math I did on marriott points puts a point at about 1.25 cents - but it all depends on how you use them I suppose). Some people get the marriott card to get thenough 10 night credits a year if they need it to push their status up to the next level (silver to gold, or gold to silver) - with gold and platinum you get access to the concierge lounge and free room upgrades...don't recall what silver might do...maybe lounge access as well

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Re: Manufactured spending: Was it stupid?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Sun Oct 04, 2015 6:00 pm

This was not manufactured spending.

I'll bring the clock back to before May 6th, when we could still load Target-Amex-Redcard prepaid card with credit cards. This was pure manufactured spending and it went like this:

Walk into Target and load your Redcard using your credit card. Your credit card shows a Target purchase, so with the Citi double cash, you're getting 2% back. Target's monthly load limit is $5k, so hitting the limit, you'll get back $100 in cash back.

From the Redcard online page, you can pay bills. When the Citi bill comes, you bill pay it with that $5k in y$400our Redcard.

You've made $100 and bought nothing and spent none of your real money. Note, use of a credit card to load Redcard ended on May 6th.

There are other methods to take advantage of offers to reduce your costs or get credit card money back. The only one I really do these days is the Stop & Shop gas points promo on gift card sales. For example: recently, for Gamestop gift card purchases, you can receive 5X your points. This meant that spending $400 got you $2 off per gallon of gas. I bring extra gas cans and fill my jeep (20 gallons) and cans (15 more) for 35 gallons and $70 discount. My last fill cost under $4 for 35 gallons.

Now, what the heck are you going to go with $400 in Gamestop gift cards. Well....they accept them for other gift card purchases and if there is only $5 left on the card, they hand you a $5 bill. So using $25 Gamestop cards, I buy $20 gift cards for places I frequent. Subway, Shell (where I'm buying this gas anyways), amazon, wendys, burger king, etc. This is called gift card liquidation as cheaply as possible. Not strictly liquidation (like buying visa gift cards with the gas card bonus and loading a redcard with them) but to me, if I can use the card, it works.

For your stay issue, you could have booked a single night when you're actually needing it and then book the rest of the nights as a separate reservation. I've done that for bonuses.
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Re: Manufactured spending: Was it stupid?

Post by VictoriaF » Sun Oct 04, 2015 6:17 pm

In regard to the term "manufactured spending":
I am familiar with MS using REDcard, gift cards, money orders, and alike. It does not mean that the term MS can't be extended to other situations of pursuing points. When people fly for the sake of getting an airline status, it's called a "mileage run." I have not seen a term "hotel run" or anything that would apply to my case.

In regard to getting points via sign-up bonuses:
I want to get CSP and thus I am abstaining from getting any other cards until I get it.

In regard to staying in another Marriott hotel in December:
I am going for a specific event and want to stay in the event hotel. For me, it's an important part of the experience.

In regard to checking out and then back into the hotel:
The Marriott promotion explicitly lists this as ineligible for the bonus.

Thank you for all comments,
Victoria
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Re: Manufactured spending: Was it stupid?

Post by 2stepsbehind » Sun Oct 04, 2015 6:34 pm

VictoriaF wrote:In regard to the term "manufactured spending":
I am familiar with MS using REDcard, gift cards, money orders, and alike. It does not mean that the term MS can't be extended to other situations of pursuing points. When people fly for the sake of getting an airline status, it's called a "mileage run." I have not seen a term "hotel run" or anything that would apply to my case.
It is called a mattress run, which again is distinct from manufactured spending as barefootgirl and others describe above.

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Re: Mattress Run: Was it stupid?

Post by VictoriaF » Sun Oct 04, 2015 6:37 pm

2stepsbehind wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:In regard to the term "manufactured spending":
I am familiar with MS using REDcard, gift cards, money orders, and alike. It does not mean that the term MS can't be extended to other situations of pursuing points. When people fly for the sake of getting an airline status, it's called a "mileage run." I have not seen a term "hotel run" or anything that would apply to my case.
It is called a mattress run, which again is distinct from manufactured spending as barefootgirl and others describe above.
I changed the OP title to Mattress Run.

Thanks,
Victoria
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Re: Mattress Run: Was it stupid?

Post by Barefootgirl » Sun Oct 04, 2015 6:59 pm

What I've seen people do is switch back and forth between hotels in the same general location in order to have them count as separate and distinct stays...as you mentioned, checking back into the same hotel doesn't count....to me, this could be complicated or simple, depending on many factors. I did it once and it was simple - I was travelling light and the hotels were across the street from each other. If I had been carrying a lot of stuff, spread it out in the room and hotels were not conveniently close, I might have considered it to be more hassle than it was worth.

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Re: Mattress Run: Was it stupid?

Post by Dude2 » Sun Oct 04, 2015 7:18 pm

I completely empathize about making snap decisions involving hotels.

One time when selling my house, I had to leave suddenly because of a buyer pre-inspection. I got in my car and drove around, and then got on my preferred hotel chain App and booked a room for one night in Niagara Falls, acting on pure spontaneity and selecting the lowest point-cost room available. Due to super-duper status (from work travel), when I got there, they upgraded me to the fanciest honeymoon suite -- with the heart shaped bed, huge Jacuzzi tub, and fantastic view. I even got free tickets to the Sky Tower and drink coupons. A couple hours before I was at home minding my own business, and then I was in some sort of surreal romantic adventure by myself. What the hell, I ordered room service, went up in the Sky Tower, and had a great time.

Points and higher status can do some amazing things sometimes.

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Re: Manufactured spending: Was it stupid?

Post by ChrisC » Sun Oct 04, 2015 7:24 pm

DaftInvestor wrote:
TNL wrote:Hi Victoria,

I used to have a Chase Marriott Visa card, but canceled it a couple of years ago. In my experience, hotel credit cards and accumulating hotel points is not nearly as lucrative as cash back cards or even airline points. Anecdotally, it appears to me that the major hotel chains have their programs set up to reward their frequent guests, and by frequent guests, I mean people like a friend of mine who is on the road staying in Marriotts 8-12 days per month for work. He is spending $2,000-$3,000 a month staying with Marriott and is a Diamond member and gets double and triple points, plus all kinds of perks every time he shows up at one of their properties. So if you are only staying 10 nights a year at Marriott, like I do, then you are just not going to be able to compete.

I don't stay in hotels often enough to really benefit from any program, so now I am a straight price shopper for hotel nights through Priceline. I save a lot more money that way.
What's diamond level at Marriott? I thought their highest level was Platinum. (As I recall 10 nights per year is silver, 50 is gold, 75 is platinum).

I've taken lots of free vacations at marriott's but only because I stay there on business anyway. Points programs are great if you are going to use the airline/hotel/car-rental anyway. Regarding the credit card - The citi double cash card is a better deal at 2% - if you do the math you will find you will actually do better if you take the cash and use it to pay for your hotel. (BTW - math I did on marriott points puts a point at about 1.25 cents - but it all depends on how you use them I suppose). Some people get the marriott card to get thenough 10 night credits a year if they need it to push their status up to the next level (silver to gold, or gold to silver) - with gold and platinum you get access to the concierge lounge and free room upgrades...don't recall what silver might do...maybe lounge access as well
Full disclosure, I'm a Marriott Reward Points junkie. Actually, the highest Platinum level is Platinum Premier Elite, a level given to members who meet very high nights and points levels during the year -- I don't think the criteria for this level is disclosed by Marriott, as it might fluctuate annually. But Flyertalk has lots of threads on Platinum and Platinum Premier levels.

I've been a Marriott Rewards Points junkie for a long time. I have Marriott timeshares/vacation club points, the Marriott Chase Premier Credit Card, and while employed I was able to stay at Marriott hotels and charge the stays against my Marriott Credit Card. The program has been working for me in retirement as well since I went into retirement with over 1.6 million in MRPs and I'm lifetime Platinum. At virtually any full service Marriott hotel, I have concierge lounge benefits, which for international travel is exceptional with the quality of lounges there. There are varying estimates of the value of Marriott Reward Points, but I think the conventional view is .5 cent per point for hotel stays.

Victoria,

You might be getting "caught" up in points land here. If you can make the Gold or Platinum level consistently and spend a lot of time in Marriott facilities, then it might be worth it. I have spent a lot of time in Marriott facilities both before and after retirement. This year, I've spent 14 out of 16 days at Marriott facilities, using a combination of Marriott Destination Club Points (this is the timeshare program) and MRPs, for my Southwestern trip to Phoenix -- Grand Canyon -- Las Vegas. Next year, I'll probably be spending 5-7 nights at quality Marriott hotels in Vienna and Budapest out of 10 days on land in Eastern Europe and Turkey, using MRPs. Last year, I spent MRPs in hotels in Paris, Barcelona and Destination Club Points in Mallorca. The Euro/hotel rates for these stays are quite high. There are a number of strategies to manufacture spend or enhancing stays or bonuses for Marriott reward points that a good search in the timeshare forum (http://www.tug2.net) and the Marriott-Ritz threads in Flyertalk would probably disclose.

As far as credit cards go, it makes sense for me to have a Marriott Chase Premier Credit Card, which gives me an annual free night in a Category 5 facility, and rack up points by charging 90 percent of my spend on the card. There's an annual fee but the lifetime free night is worth the fee to me. I have a few other credit cards with airline frequent flyer affinities, too. But with Marriott Rewards, I can buy "travel packages" for hotel stays and frequent flyer miles. I hope to use one of these packages along with some frequent flyer miles to book first class/business class tickets from CLT to VIE and IST to CLT, for our trip there next year.

Based on what you've posted here, I'm not sure you have enough going on to take advantage of the Marriott Rewards Program, unless you start buying Marriott Timeshares and have lots of grandkids and are traveling a lot with them.

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Re: Mattress Run: Was it stupid?

Post by VictoriaF » Sun Oct 04, 2015 8:50 pm

A follow up question:

I don't particularly care about Marriott points and want to convert them into United MileagePlus. From my December stay, I will earn 12,000 regular points and 12,000 bonus points, for the total of 24,000 points. Based on the Marriott conversion table, i can convert 24,000 Marriott points to 10,000 United miles.
1. Is this calculation correct?
2. Does it make sense to convert Marriott points to United miles at this rate?
3. Should I wait for a "conversion rate special"?

Thank you,
Victoria
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Re: Manufactured spending: Was it stupid?

Post by TNL » Sun Oct 04, 2015 9:17 pm

ChrisC wrote:
DaftInvestor wrote:
TNL wrote:Hi Victoria,

I used to have a Chase Marriott Visa card, but canceled it a couple of years ago. In my experience, hotel credit cards and accumulating hotel points is not nearly as lucrative as cash back cards or even airline points. Anecdotally, it appears to me that the major hotel chains have their programs set up to reward their frequent guests, and by frequent guests, I mean people like a friend of mine who is on the road staying in Marriotts 8-12 days per month for work. He is spending $2,000-$3,000 a month staying with Marriott and is a Diamond member and gets double and triple points, plus all kinds of perks every time he shows up at one of their properties. So if you are only staying 10 nights a year at Marriott, like I do, then you are just not going to be able to compete.

I don't stay in hotels often enough to really benefit from any program, so now I am a straight price shopper for hotel nights through Priceline. I save a lot more money that way.
What's diamond level at Marriott? I thought their highest level was Platinum. (As I recall 10 nights per year is silver, 50 is gold, 75 is platinum).

I've taken lots of free vacations at marriott's but only because I stay there on business anyway. Points programs are great if you are going to use the airline/hotel/car-rental anyway. Regarding the credit card - The citi double cash card is a better deal at 2% - if you do the math you will find you will actually do better if you take the cash and use it to pay for your hotel. (BTW - math I did on marriott points puts a point at about 1.25 cents - but it all depends on how you use them I suppose). Some people get the marriott card to get thenough 10 night credits a year if they need it to push their status up to the next level (silver to gold, or gold to silver) - with gold and platinum you get access to the concierge lounge and free room upgrades...don't recall what silver might do...maybe lounge access as well
Full disclosure, I'm a Marriott Reward Points junkie. Actually, the highest Platinum level is Platinum Premier Elite, a level given to members who meet very high nights and points levels during the year -- I don't think the criteria for this level is disclosed by Marriott, as it might fluctuate annually. But Flyertalk has lots of threads on Platinum and Platinum Premier levels.

I've been a Marriott Rewards Points junkie for a long time. I have Marriott timeshares/vacation club points, the Marriott Chase Premier Credit Card, and while employed I was able to stay at Marriott hotels and charge the stays against my Marriott Credit Card. The program has been working for me in retirement as well since I went into retirement with over 1.6 million in MRPs and I'm lifetime Platinum. At virtually any full service Marriott hotel, I have concierge lounge benefits, which for international travel is exceptional with the quality of lounges there. There are varying estimates of the value of Marriott Reward Points, but I think the conventional view is .5 cent per point for hotel stays.

Victoria,

You might be getting "caught" up in points land here. If you can make the Gold or Platinum level consistently and spend a lot of time in Marriott facilities, then it might be worth it. I have spent a lot of time in Marriott facilities both before and after retirement. This year, I've spent 14 out of 16 days at Marriott facilities, using a combination of Marriott Destination Club Points (this is the timeshare program) and MRPs, for my Southwestern trip to Phoenix -- Grand Canyon -- Las Vegas. Next year, I'll probably be spending 5-7 nights at quality Marriott hotels in Vienna and Budapest out of 10 days on land in Eastern Europe and Turkey, using MRPs. Last year, I spent MRPs in hotels in Paris, Barcelona and Destination Club Points in Mallorca. The Euro/hotel rates for these stays are quite high. There are a number of strategies to manufacture spend or enhancing stays or bonuses for Marriott reward points that a good search in the timeshare forum (http://www.tug2.net) and the Marriott-Ritz threads in Flyertalk would probably disclose.

As far as credit cards go, it makes sense for me to have a Marriott Chase Premier Credit Card, which gives me an annual free night in a Category 5 facility, and rack up points by charging 90 percent of my spend on the card. There's an annual fee but the lifetime free night is worth the fee to me. I have a few other credit cards with airline frequent flyer affinities, too. But with Marriott Rewards, I can buy "travel packages" for hotel stays and frequent flyer miles. I hope to use one of these packages along with some frequent flyer miles to book first class/business class tickets from CLT to VIE and IST to CLT, for our trip there next year.

Based on what you've posted here, I'm not sure you have enough going on to take advantage of the Marriott Rewards Program, unless you start buying Marriott Timeshares and have lots of grandkids and are traveling a lot with them.
Sorry, I meant Platinum with Marriott. I think it's Hilton that has a Diamond level. Anyway, my friend must be Platinum Elite also with Marriott, as in 2014 I think he said he spent about 124 nights with them. He's on the road about 10 days a month, on average. He gets bonus points on top of points so always has enough points to stay for a week at different Marriotts around the country and world. But you have to be staying in Marriotts 50-75 nights a year (or more) to make it worth it.

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Re: Mattress Run: Was it stupid?

Post by grabiner » Sun Oct 04, 2015 9:39 pm

VictoriaF wrote:A follow up question:

I don't particularly care about Marriott points and want to convert them into United MileagePlus. From my December stay, I will earn 12,000 regular points and 12,000 bonus points, for the total of 24,000 points. Based on the Marriott conversion table, i can convert 24,000 Marriott points to 10,000 United miles.
1. Is this calculation correct?
2. Does it make sense to convert Marriott points to United miles at this rate?
3. Should I wait for a "conversion rate special"?
This really depends on the relative values to you. 20,000 points is good for two nights in a Category 2 hotel, and 30,000 is good for two nights in Category 3; if that is useful for you (rather than two nights at $100-150 per night), it's worth more than the airline miles.

At most hotels, I prefer to earn miles directly, both to keep frequent-flyer accounts active and because it will take a long time to get anything with the points. Marriott is an exception for me; I stay regularly at Marriott hotels on business, so I have made elite level several times and can earn enough points to use on vacation.
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Re: Mattress Run: Was it stupid?

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Oct 05, 2015 6:10 am

^ Thank you, David!

If I will, eventually, use 30,000 Marriott points instead of $300 for a 2-night stay at a Category 3 hotel, it will result in 1 point = 1 cent. By spending $123 for a Mattress Run I am gaining 120,000 points or $120. Essentially, I paid $3 for a learning experience.

I will separately estimate the worth of United miles for me. This is more difficult, because on one hand United has the best flights for my itineraries and thus I'd like to accumulate as many United miles as possible. On the other hand, I have my prospective flights covered for a year. If I start running out of United miles, the value of the hotel point conversion will rise.

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Re: Mattress Run: Was it stupid?

Post by 4nursebee » Mon Oct 05, 2015 7:25 am

Good lesson, thanks for sharing.

I find all the point/bonus cards nearly a waste of time.
I don't like carrying cards.
I don't plan where I will stay, typically it is for where I am tired of driving.
They can rarely find me in the system due to unique name.
Points earned are so very little. To date, no benefit other than free breakfast.

The best program I heard of was stay 4 or 5 nights get a night free. But it was a lower end place. When I travel I value safety/security/quiet and try to select hotels as such.
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Re: Mattress Run: Was it stupid?

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Oct 05, 2015 7:42 am

^ This summarizes my attitude to credit cards, points and miles until recently. However, retirement has changed the calculus. I am traveling more, travel savings result in savings of after-tax dollars, and I have more time to investigate various programs. The trick is to find a 20/80 balance where 20% effort would give me 80% benefit.

My Marriott Mattress Run, clearly, was not a 20/80 action. However, I also had some successes that motivate me to continue pursuing bonuses. In the past six months, I used miles for round trip flights to Madrid and Frankfurt, and I have free upcoming flights to Madrid (again) and Chicago. The initial plan was to go from Frankfurt to Seoul (using the same miles), but I canceled the Seoul part because they had MERS incidents and my event was canceled. I make 2-3 international flights every year, and getting them free saves me $3,000-$5,000 (or more) of after tax money. I am acquiring expertise in getting and using miles, which makes these activities progressively easier.

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Re: Mattress Run: Was it stupid?

Post by Boglenaut » Mon Oct 05, 2015 8:00 am

This reminds me of the scene from Punch Drunk Love where the main character buy a LOT of pudding trying to get frequent flyer miles. He found a loophole where it was cheaper to buy the pudding than a plane ticket. I believe that was based on a real incident.

But in general, I don't give much weight to airline miles or hotel points. They change the rules and then all of a sudden they are worth half of what they were. That happened to me 2 times.... Fly the flight you want; stay at the hotel you want. Get the points, but don't do the stay just to get the points.

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Re: Mattress Run: Was it stupid?

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Oct 05, 2015 8:25 am

Boglenaut wrote:This reminds me of the scene from Punch Drunk Love where the main character buy a LOT of pudding trying to get frequent flyer miles. He found a loophole where it was cheaper to buy the pudding than a plane ticket.
My Mattress Run was on the padding; but the proof, of course, is in the pudding.

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Re: Mattress Run: Was it stupid?

Post by Rob5TCP » Mon Oct 05, 2015 9:13 am

Holiday Inn had a special - spend two consecutive nights and get a free night at any Holiday Inn.
I was in mid Florida. I was going to stay at a cheaper hotel but ended up bouncing every 2 days between two Holiday Inns.
I ended up accumulating 5 nights that I spent 1 nights in SF (I live in NY but we spent the night right in the theater district) and 4 in San Francisco.
Even if I didn't need those nights at the more expensive Holiday Inn, it still would have worked out less. That special has not been offered since that time. The nights in NY/SF were 4x the cost of the nights I spent in Florida.

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Re: Mattress Run: Was it stupid?

Post by 2stepsbehind » Mon Oct 05, 2015 9:40 am

Rob5TCP wrote:Holiday Inn had a special - spend two consecutive nights and get a free night at any Holiday Inn.
I was in mid Florida. I was going to stay at a cheaper hotel but ended up bouncing every 2 days between two Holiday Inns.
I ended up accumulating 5 nights that I spent 1 nights in SF (I live in NY but we spent the night right in the theater district) and 4 in San Francisco.
Even if I didn't need those nights at the more expensive Holiday Inn, it still would have worked out less. That special has not been offered since that time. The nights in NY/SF were 4x the cost of the nights I spent in Florida.
There is actually a similar promotion going on right now for new members (and certain targeted members) of IHG (of which Holiday Inn is a member). Members can earn one free night at any IHG property after two eligible stays and a second free night after two more stays, but consecutive nights count as 1 stay.
http://viewfromthewing.boardingarea.com ... us-points/

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Re: Mattress Run: Was it stupid?

Post by Bustoff » Mon Oct 05, 2015 10:10 am

VictoriaF wrote: I will be staying at a Marriott for 6 nights at $200/night (plus tax).
Marriott has a generous government rate. I'm retired but they don't ask and I don't tell.

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Re: Mattress Run: Was it stupid?

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Oct 05, 2015 10:14 am

Bustoff wrote:
VictoriaF wrote: I will be staying at a Marriott for 6 nights at $200/night (plus tax).
Marriott has a generous government rate. I'm retired but they don't ask and I don't tell.
Thank you! I will try it.

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Re: Mattress Run: Was it stupid?

Post by Rob5TCP » Mon Oct 05, 2015 10:16 am

2stepsbehind wrote:
Rob5TCP wrote:Holiday Inn had a special - spend two consecutive nights and get a free night at any Holiday Inn.
I was in mid Florida. I was going to stay at a cheaper hotel but ended up bouncing every 2 days between two Holiday Inns.
I ended up accumulating 5 nights that I spent 1 nights in SF (I live in NY but we spent the night right in the theater district) and 4 in San Francisco.
Even if I didn't need those nights at the more expensive Holiday Inn, it still would have worked out less. That special has not been offered since that time. The nights in NY/SF were 4x the cost of the nights I spent in Florida.
There is actually a similar promotion going on right now for new members (and certain targeted members) of IHG (of which Holiday Inn is a member). Members can earn one free night at any IHG property after two eligible stays and a second free night after two more stays, but consecutive nights count as 1 stay.
http://viewfromthewing.boardingarea.com ... us-points/
My special also counted the entire stay as one stay - so every two nights I moved to another Holiday Inn - therefore it was a separate stay
I did this several times during my 10 days in Holiday Inn.

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Re: Mattress Run: Was it stupid?

Post by bloom2708 » Mon Oct 05, 2015 10:29 am

This seems the same trap as the mortgage interest deduction. Keep getting a bigger mortgage (paying more interest) so you can save 25% (or 28%) on your taxes.

When your other extended stay is complete will you bank a free night or two so you end up coming out ahead at some point?
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Re: Mattress Run: Was it stupid?

Post by rustymutt » Mon Oct 05, 2015 10:31 am

This is how you learn. A mistake or not doesn't matter, but what does is that you bonce back and go on. Don't make that decision again if you don't have to. We learn by what might, or might not be an error in life. Some lessons come with higher price tags. You'll be fine in the long run, don't sweat this little stuff.

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Re: Mattress Run: Was it stupid?

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Oct 05, 2015 11:02 am

Thank you, rustymutt,

Learning it was. When I started the thread, I suspected that I have exchanged $123 of real cash for $12 in future benefits. Thanks to several posters, I learned that I have exchanged $123 of real cash for $120 in future benefits. The latter does not seem too stupid, and the lessons are the same. Mistakes make better lessons.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

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Re: Mattress Run: Was it stupid?

Post by letsgobobby » Mon Oct 05, 2015 11:04 am

Not stupid, good thought though as you've figured out, from a dollars/points standpoint it's about a wash.

Marriott points are worth about 1 penny each, perhaps a shade less. I disagree with the 0.5 cents each valuation. So you spent $120, and got 12,000 miles. Pretty close to a wash, save for your time spent.

I got the same Megabonus offer as Victoria and have a planned trip to NYC this week, that would be a bonus 20,000 points (cost of the hotel over $2000 for the week) if it were my second stay. I thought about a mattress run but couldn't find anything under $140 inclusive. While that pencils out favorably, it's not by much, and it's an exchange of hard cash now for the promise of a future payoff later, which might or might not materialize (will the program be devalued again? when will I have the chance to stay 5 consecutive nights in a property that optimizes my value per point? etc.). I have opted against the mattress run, and frankly, checking in and out to a different property would be relatively easy but I just don't want to do it.

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Re: Mattress Run: Was it stupid?

Post by greg24 » Mon Oct 05, 2015 11:06 am

Don't let the tail wag the dog.

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Re: Mattress Run: Was it stupid?

Post by prudent » Mon Oct 05, 2015 11:23 am

Boglenaut wrote:This reminds me of the scene from Punch Drunk Love where the main character buy a LOT of pudding trying to get frequent flyer miles. He found a loophole where it was cheaper to buy the pudding than a plane ticket. I believe that was based on a real incident.
True - "The Pudding Guy" spend $3,000 to get about 1.2 million miles via a Healthy Choice promotion in 1999. Ten bar codes sent in earned 1000 miles. Then he found a grocery store selling individual pudding cups for a quarter... and each one had a bar code. He did the math, bought all he could find, cut a deal with the Salvation Army to donate the pudding if they would return the bar codes (earning a charitable deduction on the pudding!). Over a million miles gave him lifetime Gold status on American Airlines.

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Re: Mattress Run: Was it stupid?

Post by Barefootgirl » Mon Oct 05, 2015 1:56 pm

Marriott has a generous government rate. I've found that they can be competitive with their government rates, but not always and often government rates are higher.

I've found the best deals with Marriott tend to be reservations made 14 days or less from the date of planned stay and are non-refundable, so of course you are accepting the risk to save money.

Lately, I'm having better luck with other brands and I've got a couple bones to pick with Marriott anyway and glad to share them. One, they charged a meal to my room that I did not order - they produced a copy of the receipt and it was some kind of scam, no signature on it and someone had scribbled my room #. You would think they would accept their mistake, but no, it had to be escalated - both by myself and the credit card company. Secondly, they ran a promotion for a discount on their Marriott gift cards, but the gift cards can only be used on the most expensive room rates (not disclosed up front) ..bah to them and their ilk lol.
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Re: Manufactured spending: Was it stupid?

Post by backpacker » Mon Oct 05, 2015 2:20 pm

EmergDoc wrote:I also dislike the gimmicky credit cards. I'm only willing to put up with so much hassle for rewards. My favorite card is the PenFed 5% gas card which puts the 5% onto my statement as a credit. It's basically a discount for buying gas. My second favorite is the Fidelity Amex, which puts cash in my fidelity account.

However, if you have lots of time and mental energy, or you can't swap your time for money at a very high rate, then I've read about some serious benefits that people have gotten from playing these games. It seems to me the best return is the sign-up bonuses, especially for airline, and usually when used for upgrades rather than economy class tickets. I even know of a cardiologist who does this as a hobby.
A decent CC bonuses is easily worth $500+. I figure that it takes me about an hour in total to get the bonus for a new credit card. $500+ an hour isn't bad. And remember that CC bonuses aren't taxed! So that's $500+ an hour after taxes.

CC deals that aren't sign-up bonuses are too small and too much hassle to be worthwhile IMO.

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Re: Mattress Run: Was it stupid?

Post by Jags4186 » Mon Oct 05, 2015 2:21 pm

VictoriaF wrote:Yesterday, I have conducted an experiment that in retrospect seems stupid. Now I am curious just how stupid it was.

I am a novice in accumulating miles and points for travel, and so far I was focusing primarily on getting free Economy flights. However, I thought I should try my hand in hotels, too. In December I will be staying at a Marriott for 6 nights at $200/night (plus tax). I went to the Marriott web site and found that they are now offering Megabonus that gives double points starting with the second stay. To make my expensive December stay the second stay, I needed the first stay. I found a Marriott hotel within walking distance where I could stay for $109/night ($123 including tax) and checked in.

After the deed was done, I started getting a gnawing feeling that the point of the points is to have free stays, not to pay for unnecessary stays. I checked some blogs and it appears that Marriott points are valued at about 1 cent/point. By qualifying for the Megabonus, I will get 1,200 additional Marriott points for the December stay, which is equivalent to $12. It appears that I have spent $123 to get $12.

What's done is done. However, I'd like to get feedback if this was as stupid as it now appears to me. I'll use it as a lesson.

Thanks!
Victoria
Victoria,

Live and learn. FWIW I never ever pay for mattress runs or mileage runs. To me it's just not worth it. I do some mild manufactured spend at grocery stores and other than that I focus on big wins--credit card sign up bonuses, rotating 5x categories, portal bonuses, etc.

Also, IMO, focus most of your spend on earning airline points or cash back vs hotel points. I find in general hotel point programs have been diluted (except for SPG points which are impossible to earn in a meaningful quantity) so its not worth trying to earn them. You can get seriously good value with airline points. Once you have enough of that go for cash back and pay cash for your hotel stays.

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Re: Mattress Run: Was it stupid?

Post by backpacker » Mon Oct 05, 2015 2:31 pm

Jags4186 wrote:FWIW I never ever pay for mattress runs or mileage runs. To me it's just not worth it. I do some mild manufactured spend at grocery stores and other than that I focus on big wins--credit card sign up bonuses, rotating 5x categories, portal bonuses, etc.
From my perspective, buying Amazon gif cards at grocery stores, rotating 5x categories, and such just isn't worth it. I can get 20-25% back on my normal spending by meeting the minimum spend and getting the bonus on the next card in my churn. And using my newest card is no more work and no more complicated than using any other card. Why would I go out of my way to get only 5% back?

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Re: Manufactured spending: Was it stupid?

Post by White Coat Investor » Tue Oct 06, 2015 12:11 pm

backpacker wrote:
EmergDoc wrote:I also dislike the gimmicky credit cards. I'm only willing to put up with so much hassle for rewards. My favorite card is the PenFed 5% gas card which puts the 5% onto my statement as a credit. It's basically a discount for buying gas. My second favorite is the Fidelity Amex, which puts cash in my fidelity account.

However, if you have lots of time and mental energy, or you can't swap your time for money at a very high rate, then I've read about some serious benefits that people have gotten from playing these games. It seems to me the best return is the sign-up bonuses, especially for airline, and usually when used for upgrades rather than economy class tickets. I even know of a cardiologist who does this as a hobby.
A decent CC bonuses is easily worth $500+. I figure that it takes me about an hour in total to get the bonus for a new credit card. $500+ an hour isn't bad. And remember that CC bonuses aren't taxed! So that's $500+ an hour after taxes.

CC deals that aren't sign-up bonuses are too small and too much hassle to be worthwhile IMO.
Right, like I said. If you can't swap time for money at a very high rate, these bonuses are a much better deal. If you can, they're not so attractive. Might as well do work you like.
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Re: Mattress Run: Was it stupid?

Post by rustymutt » Tue Oct 06, 2015 12:16 pm

VictoriaF wrote:Thank you, rustymutt,

Learning it was. When I started the thread, I suspected that I have exchanged $123 of real cash for $12 in future benefits. Thanks to several posters, I learned that I have exchanged $123 of real cash for $120 in future benefits. The latter does not seem too stupid, and the lessons are the same. Mistakes make better lessons.

Victoria
Hey Victoria, thanks for sharing your learning experiences with us. That means more than you could ever know. Thanks.

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Re: Manufactured spending: Was it stupid?

Post by swaption » Tue Oct 06, 2015 2:12 pm

TNL wrote:Hi Victoria,

I used to have a Chase Marriott Visa card, but canceled it a couple of years ago. In my experience, hotel credit cards and accumulating hotel points is not nearly as lucrative as cash back cards or even airline points. Anecdotally, it appears to me that the major hotel chains have their programs set up to reward their frequent guests, and by frequent guests, I mean people like a friend of mine who is on the road staying in Marriotts 8-12 days per month for work. He is spending $2,000-$3,000 a month staying with Marriott and is a Diamond member and gets double and triple points, plus all kinds of perks every time he shows up at one of their properties. So if you are only staying 10 nights a year at Marriott, like I do, then you are just not going to be able to compete.

I don't stay in hotels often enough to really benefit from any program, so now I am a straight price shopper for hotel nights through Priceline. I save a lot more money that way.
Don't entirely agree with this. I have the SPG Amex and most of my spending goes through that card. I stay there a decent amount, but typically only enough to get to Gold, which my spending would do anyway. But SPG points are valuable, among the most valuable around. No blackout dates, so great for kids vacation weeks, and there are instances along the lines of a $500/night room at only 12k points.

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Re: Mattress Run: Was it stupid?

Post by centrifuge41 » Tue Oct 06, 2015 3:37 pm

Converting Marriott points to UA? Probably generally suboptimal. There are good uses to Marriott points. Examples include 7500 point Category 1 hotels in Gaithersburg MD (DC suburb) and Tewksbury, MA (Boston suburb). What other programs have Category 1 hotels in the suburbs of such important cities? I'm going to Denver soon, and my stays are at 10k Category 2 hotels. Marriott was the clear choice, vs. the category/points required for award nights with other brands (I also have HHonor points, star points, Carlson points, ING points, etc).

Marriott also has great resorts, if you want to spend 40k or 45k points a night. I think the mid-range, around 20k to 30k a night, are seriously overpriced though. I think 1.0 is an overly aggressive valuation for Marriott Rewards. I go by roughly 0.6 or 0.7. I only do category 1 and 2 stays - no resorts (yet).

With that said, it is very very rare that you can get more out than you put in. I have a few examples, but it occurs less than once a year. Long time ago, I spent $66 on a Country Inn, and got 44k points back (plus bonuses). I spent $88 on a Radisson (Crystal City) and got 50k points back (plus bonuses). Back then, 15k would sometimes buy 2 nights of stay at a suburban Country Inn (say, near O'Hare airport, with shuttle, or Nashville). If not 15k, 28k would almost surely get you 2 nights at a Country Inn.

Last year, IHG had an awesome promotion. In exchange for 3 stays (of which 2 are on Saturday, and of which 2 are at Holiday Inn - requirements stackable), I got 50k points. I made 3 stays for $300, of which 2 stays were ones that I'd have done anyway albeit at other brands. My marginal spend for the 3rd discretionary night, plus upgrading to IHG instead of random other brands, was $160. 50k points can be redeemed for 5 nights in properties such as a family room in Barcelona's suburbs, or in Rotorua, NZ (before they raised the rate).

I'm sure that there will be more promotions where I can get more out of it than what I put in. But it may be a while. IHG has a decent quarterly promo right now, but it's not (quite) attractive enough for me to utilize.

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