Travel Strategies: Hotels Savings Part 1

One of the biggest expenses of traveling is accommodation costs.  Back in my youth, saving money was pretty simple — just find a youth hostel and get a bed in a shared dormitory.  I would still do this for sure, but now that I am traveling with Lisa, we definitely would rather share a room together instead of segregating ourselves to single sex dorms.  Cost wise, it usually isn’t that much more for us to share a room versus paying separately to stay in a dormitory.  Even better is when we discovered Couchsurfing, when the cost was zero and we often had our own room and a bed to share.  A few years ago we discovered Airbnb and had some great experiences using that platform.  Another option that we have had success is in using Priceline bidding and using Hotwire — doing some research usually allowed us to figure out which hotel we might get through those opaque hotel web sites.  However, over the past couple of years our biggest strategy of saving on hotel costs is by using the points offered by credit card sign-ups.  Case in point:  this Labor Day weekend we will be visiting San Francisco.  With a popular convention in town, rates at all properties are sky high.  Even using points would be pretty expensive.  Thankfully we still have three free-night certificates to use from our Ritz-Carlton credit card.  With an average rate of $436 per night, we are getting over $1300 in value from the credit card that we signed up for last year.  The only thing we had to do to get these certificates was spend $5,000 in three months, which wasn’t too difficult to do because we timed our credit card application to coincide with our annual payments for insurance premiums and other upcoming travel bookings.  All in all, using the points and perks offered by credit cards has been the best way for us to stay very cheaply in hotels.  Eventually one day we will run out of points, but tomorrow I’ll share another strategy that we have recently used to save money on regular online hotel bookings…

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