Welcome to a weekly feature on the Renés Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.
This may seem like a simple and basic idea, but then again this is rookie Wednesday right? I talk to so many travelers who “put all their points into one basket” that is they are all one program focused. This can be OK if you are working on some big goal, but if you can it really is better to look at all the choices open to you.
Let me take my recent booking for a cruise for my 27th anniversary for an example and my thinking. When a really good price popped up for a suite I looked at when I could make it work. Once I found some days, before booking, I looked at all the bits:
- Lodging pre & post if needed.
Again sounds simple right? But the cruise deal is only a deal if I don’t have to pay much for it. Can I book via say Ultimate rewards points and get it all paid for with points?
Since Delta can be hard to find low level awards, are there seats either in coach or 1st class at low level at an airport inside my driving toleration level to get to the ship a day early and get me home the day we dock or even the day after if I want to extend the trip on land. Or, do I want to say use FlexPerks points and earn points for the trip and hope for an upgrade based on my wife’s lower medallion status (or split the ticket so at least one of us is likely to upgrade). Or, is this a good place to spend my RU or regional upgrade certificates if there is space?
Speaking of land, do I use hotel points or say my Arrival+ card to book a room, that is burn points or earn points and maybe pay off the room with those points or just earn points and have a higher cost for the room needed.
Same goes for all the other little bits and costs; do I want to use a card that will allow for credit back for paying for those expenses and then burn points to pay myself back.
I ended up personally on this one with a mix of much of the above and then, since the cruise was such an amazingly good deal, just paying for it with one of my latest round of cards I was working on meeting spend on so I get a win there and don’t mind a few bucks out of my pocket this time. The rest however, I want to be as close to FREE as I can get them so points rule!
I hope you are seeing the point of this rookie post. If you are wanting to get a trip as discounted as possible you have to have point balances across the spectrum to have the flexibility to pick and choose and also to be willing to adjust where, when and how to lower the final tab. And all these can really add up. I mean if you take a cab or uber vs a free shuttle, or end up having to pay for a night here and there along the way, or end up having to redeem points at a higher rate than LOW to get the exact flights you need – all can flip a trip from a great deal to just a so-so redemption.
All of this is also a reason to look at the 91+ day time table I talk about in the ROOKIE tab on the top of the blog. Every 91+ days a new flood of points pour in. Then, to make spend simpler, my wife goes for her 91+ day round the following month after mine. Another flood of points. I mean it doesn’t matter if we spend her points for a room or a flight or even if she ends up buying a ticket or room just for me – all points spend the same for us two.
Bottom line is flexibility. Plus, with all the changes going on over at Delta, having choice is a beautiful thing going forward!- René
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