Trip Report - Savings on flights, hotels and rental cars


Level 2 Member
We are going on a trip to the east coast later this summer on college tours, so was able to practice/learn a lot of miles and points tricks. Pick and choose what's helpful:

Flight from SF to Boston: Cheapest option was Alaska nonstop at $152 each. Used Chase UR portal where same flight was $144. Used UR points (I have CSR) for 9,600 each. Plus we get 2,500 Alaska miles back. Plus, signed up for status match (I am AA Platinum) so hopefully will go up to 3,750. But even if not, total is about 7,000 points each for a cross-country non-stop on a real airline on schedule we wanted.

Hotel in Boston: No idea why, but hotel prices in Boston are insane when we are going--like in the $280-400 range for midpoint hotels. Hyatt has one Category 2 hotel in Boston area (right near school we are visiting). Transferred 8,000 UR points to World of Hyatt. Used Cash & Points for 4,000 + $55 per night (for 2 nights). Hotel is solid, not top tier.

Flight from Boston to Syracuse: Not a lot of options. JetBlue has a non-stop for $92 per person. Used CashBackMonitor to find best cash back, which was uPromise for Orbitz, offering $5.00 (5.5%) for flights. Booked each flight separately in order to get the bonus for both of us. Got each flight down to $87 each.

Hotel in Syracuse: Here's a neat trick. Great, highly rated Hilton Hotel available. (1) Able to use the MVP code (we qualify, but you don't need to) to get price down to $106 during the weekend, but not the week. (2) Here's the trick: We only need for two nights, but we booked for four nights to get the lower rate on all four nights. Then called the hotel to cancel the weekend nights and the rate stays at the lower rate for the weekdays. (3) AMEX offer for $100 Hilton Gift Cards for $80. Able to get applied to two AMEX cards using hidden browser, so that will take off another 18.5% (after shipping fees). Awesome deal--around $90 a night.

Rental Car: All the credit goes to Saverocity on this (National One-Way Codes | Saverocity | The Forum). Able to get 5 day one-way rental for $222.00 instead of $371 (using AutoSlash). I have Executive Elite status through AMEX platinum, so should be able to get our choice of cars.

Hotel in Philadelphia: Top-rated hotel in Philly (The Study--#4 in TripAdvisor). (1) Orbitz had a sale for $129 (usually $204), plus Orbitz coupon for additional 10% off, plus 7% back using shopping portal (TopCashBack--found using CashBackMonitor). (2) Plus had some Orbitz bucks for another $13 of savings. (Neat trick--maybe: I THINK I got the Orbitz bucks because I originally made a different hotel reservation in Philly which earned Orbitz bucks. I booked the Study before cancelling the other reservation, which I believe allowed me to use the Orbitz bucks from the reservation I then cancelled after booking the Study. This wasn't planned so not 100% sure but, if so, that is a major trick). Total price, $105 a night (for 3 nights) at top tier hotel.

Flight from PHL to SFO: Booked Southwest for $192. I have the Companion Pass (credit card sign-ups), so that's a total for both of us. Plus SW had given me and my son $100 travel vouchers each earlier in the year when a flight was delayed for an hour (Note--Southwest is awesome). One last trick--I had some other minor flight travel funds and almost drained gift cards on SW that I was trying to use for this flight. I originally booked a different flight and when I cancelled (for a better itinerary) they were all combined into a single travel fund credit--much easier than managing several.

Hope some of this is helpful--my way of paying it forward.