The Deal Mommy

An Under-Appreciated Travel Hacking Tool

In a few days we embark on Camp Mom South America. It’s a loooong travel day: a five plus a six hour flight to be exact. I scored tickets for $370 RT to Santiago on Copa, which is a steal. However, they’re in coach as you would expect for that price. I’m using an under-appreciated travel hacking tool- barter- to get us a more comfy ride down south. 

This for That

Most programs strictly forbid selling status or the perks attached. However, many allow gifting freely of the exact same instruments: upgrades, guest of honor perks, etc. With limits, some hotel programs allow points pooling and transfer among friends. There’s nothing in the terms that prevents a friend giving you a gift and you giving a different gift at the same time to the same friend. 

So in my case a friend gifted me regional upgrades (RPUs) and I chose to gift her Marriott points for an upcoming stay. Perfectly legal in both cases. If I had tried to purchase the RPUs or she had try to purchase the Marriott points, we would have run afoul of the program gods. 

This for that. 

Another example: I’m a Marriott platinum via the status challenge. A friend has an upcoming Marriott award stay coming up. By booking the room with her (with her name also on the reservation, perfectly legal)  she can share my benefits. She is a Hyatt Globalist. Earlier in the year I had a Hyatt award stay she booked with me as a guest of honor and I shared her benefits. Both Marriott and Hyatt allow points transfers between friends but in our case it wasn’t necessary as the stays were about the same value. 

This for that. 

Why FT4RL Matters: bartering is an underappreciated travel hacking tool you only get by making friends.

Making Friends

It takes advance work to have the right friends at the right time. It goes back to networking. You need to make effort to meet folks in “the hobby” who work together for a common goal: traveling better for less. I’ll throw in an FT4RL plug here but any number of travel hacking groups exist both in person and online. You just have to make the first step. 

Have you bartered with a friend for a better trip for both of you? I’d love to hear your success stories in the comments. 

The Deal Mommy is a proud member of the Saverocity network.


11 thoughts on “An Under-Appreciated Travel Hacking Tool

  1. NRTBound

    While you might not have gotten caught, the behavior you describe is not “perfectly legal” under the terms and conditions of many programs.

    Just because you didn’t receive cash, by receiving a “gift” of approximately equal value, you still sold your benefits.

    For example, the t&c of the American Airlines program clearly state, “At no time may AAdvantage mileage credit or award tickets be purchased, sold, advertised for sale or bartered (including but not limited to transferring, gifting…)

    Most other programs have similar language, so you might want to read the terms more carefully before you assume that the lack of a cash payment would save you from the wrath of “the program gods.”

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      If you booked 100, I agree flags will be raised. That said, even AA allows you to book for someone else with your miles. If that isn’t gifting, I don’t know what is.

  2. Jeremy

    You should be United Gold and Star Alliance Gold if you have Marriott Platinum. I’d think you’d be on the upgrade list as *A gold.

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Actually, you get United silver, not gold, with Marriott Platinum. Upgrades are only for two in a party, not four, and at silver are hardly a guarantee.

        1. Dia

          That would be premier platinum. I’m about to board a United flight and can verify that I have silver, not gold.

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Because they can. It’s the nature of Saverocity readers. Thanks for the comment and for getting the big picture.

  3. Pingback: Travel Hacking, JAL 787, Hyatt Credit Card Devaluation, Cashback Monitor - Tagging Miles

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