Tuesday, September 9, 2014

New York Trip Part 1: Using Miles and Points

We recently returned from a 3-night stay in New York City. This was our first vacation without our kids, and we went to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary.

We attempted several selfies on this trip

Before I get into the the highlights of our trip, I want to explain how this trip was made possible by using miles and points to drastically reduce the price.

Airline tickets: The cheapest tickets from Dallas to New York were on Southwest at $260 round-trip. I still had Southwest Rapid Reward points left from the bonus points on my Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card. I also had earned a free companion pass that is good until the end of 2014, so my husband could fly for $0 and 0 points. So instead of paying $520 for 2 airline tickets, I was able to use around 18,000 Southwest points and pay only $15 for taxes. And since bags fly free on Southwest, we had no additional expenses. Airline savings: -$505

Hotel: Earlier in the year, my husband and I both got Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve credit cards. While the card does have a $95 annual fee that is not waived the first year, you get 2 free weekend nights at almost any Hilton hotel worldwide. The card also gives you instant HHonors Gold status, which provides free breakfast and Internet at your hotel stays. We originally got these cards to use on a big vacation we are taking in early 2015, but after we looked at hotel prices in New York City, we decided to use one set of certificates for our anniversary trip. We picked the Hilton Doubletree in Times Square.

Hilton has many properties in New York City, but I read reviews on each of them and solicited feedback on the Flyertalk forum before coming to the decision that this particular hotel would be the best use of our free night certificates. The cost of staying Friday or Saturday night during our trip in the cheapest room with tax was $497.50. So we saved $995 on our first 2 nights by using the free weekend certificates from the credit card. We wanted to stay a third night and debated on whether we should switch to a cheaper hotel since we would be paying cash...but since this was our anniversary trip, we decided to stay at the same hotel and avoid the inconvenience of switching. Luckily, the rate for Sunday night was slightly lower at $383 with tax.

So 3 nights at the hotel on the weekend we traveled would have cost $1378. We saved $995 because of the credit card perks, but also spent $95 on the card's annual fee. Hotel savings: -$900.

We did receive free bottled water in our room and a free breakfast buffet for 2 every day because of our HHonors Gold status with the credit card. The breakfast buffet for 2 with tax was $65.22 (!). So for 3 days the credit card gave us an additional $195.66 in benefits.

Also, we earned additional HHonors points for our stay because of the night we paid in cash and because we charged it to our Hilton credit card. Prior to our stay, I learned about a special Hilton promotion that would give us triple the points for a weekend stay if we signed up for the promotion by the deadline (I read about this on several blogs but now I can't remember who to give the credit). With the points we earned on this weekend, we now have enough HHonors points for a $100 certificate we can use for food, the spa or souvenirs at our next Hilton hotel during our 2015 vacation. Bonus!

Total cost of airline and hotel without miles and points: $1898
Total cost with using miles and points (including the cost of the credit card's annual fee): $493
Total savings: $-1405 (-74%)

Bonus benefits of free breakfast and future hotel credit: $295.66

A few other things we did to save money on this trip:
*  We took a bus to/from the airport instead of a taxi
*  We used a free $30 credit for first-time Uber users
*  We booked one tour with Groupon and another with an online coupon
*  We used a 20% off coupon for airport parking in Dallas

Up next--
New York Trip Part 2: Friday Night Lights


  1. Just found your blog thanks to your interview on Million Mile Secrets. I am loving reading about your NY trip & how you used miles & points to significantly reduce the cost. I'm new to the miles/points game, so it's great to see exactly how you used different methods to reduce the cost. I'm off to read more of your posts now :)