Behind the Booking – Using Points/Miles to Save Others Money While Traveling with You

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using miles for family friends
This was my third visit to Salt Lake City, but the first time I actually visited the lake!

Use Points/Miles to Save Others Money!

One of the coolest things about getting into this hobby is being able to use your miles & points to help friends and family travel along with you. I know of some people who have enough points that they pay for entire international tickets in business class for others. That is fantastic!

With a family of 4 it can be hard for me to splurge quite like that, but I am still able to share some of the wealth when possible. One such example was this past weekend in Salt Lake City. I traveled up to the city with a couple of friends and used a surprisingly small amount of miles/points to make the trip cheaper for them.

Airfare

using miles for family friends
Flying up to Salt Lake City allowed us to spend a day up in the tremendously beautiful Snowbird. We wouldn’t have had time (or energy) if we had driven up.

Salt Lake City is about a 6 hour drive from Las Vegas. With a fuel efficient car, the gasoline cost is about $60-$80 roundtrip. That is much less than the cost of two plane tickets. Unfortunately, if you only have two days in to visit, that 12 hours of driving really eats up the time and the fun.

One of my friends was flying in from Miami and the other was traveling with me from Vegas. Since I knew driving would be such a time suck, I was determined to figure out a way to fly cheaply. Alaska has launched a new LAS-SLC flight, but it wasn’t available with Avios (would have been 4,500) and the timing wasn’t right. Delta has a lot of flights, but they are a bad redemption value.

Then Southwest came to the rescue. I knew we needed a late Friday evening flight since my friend worked until 6pm. We were able to secure a 9:40pm flight out of Las Vegas that arrived about an hour after our friend’s flight from MIA. This was perfect so we could all meet up at the airport and then get the weekend started.

Since I had just received my freshly minted companion pass, I decided to add my friend as a companion and book the ticket with miles. I can change my companion to one of my children later and this allowed us to save $300 in airfare. My total cost was 8,062 points for both of us. My friend paid the ~$23 in taxes and it worked out perfectly. I also was able to introduce him to the Centurion Lounge!

Hotels

using miles for family friends
The Hyatt Place Downtown Salt Lake City is very close to the beautiful old Union Pacific Railroad depot.

It can be tough to find a hotel that sleeps three adults in separate beds comfortably without an additional charge. Thankfully Hyatt Place hotels do just that with a nice comfortable sofa sleeper plus two queen beds. It really was the perfect room for our situation.

Since our flights were late arrivals, it made sense to stay out by the airport on Friday night. The Hyatt Place Salt Lake City Airport was $109 for the night we stayed, but of course I booked it as Points + Cash. As a category 1, we were on the hook for $50 plus tax and we split it 3 ways.

Since we didn’t need to be out by the airport on Saturday, we booked at the Hyatt Place in Downtown Salt Lake City which was going for $119. The room was the same setup and as a category 2, it cost us $55 + 4,000 points. Once again we split the cost three ways.

So basically, I spent 6,500 points up front to reduce the cost for everyone. Since I received 500 points back as a welcome amenity at each hotel, a 20% bonus on redeemed points and points for our actual stay, my out of pocket points cost was 3,517. A small price to pay to save some money for friends and as a side benefit I received two stay credits towards re-qualifying for Diamond.

Car Rental

using miles for family friends
We scored an amazing upgrade from a compact to this beauty!

Sometimes it just pays to have a friend who knows how to find a cheap car rental deal. While I didn’t use miles/points to pay down my car rental, I did use my set of tools to get a great car for a great price. One of my go to places is Costco Travel. They aren’t always cheapest, but often can score you a great deal.

For our dates, I was able to get a two day rental for $64 including all taxes/fees. I knew that I didn’t want to drive all of the time, so we utilized Costco’s benefit of a free extra driver on Budget bookings. The best part of it was that we were upgraded to a Cadillac XTS. I have found that Costco has great contracts with car rental companies and you often get small perks. So we ended up with the cheapest rental I could find, a free extra driver and an amazing upgrade!

What Did We Save

using miles for family friends
Lagoon is an amazing family owned theme park north of Salt Lake City. This is Cannibal their newest creation. It was fantastic!

Instead of having 1+ days in SLC, my friends and I had two full days. This allowed us to head up to the mountains on Saturday and spend the entire day on Sunday riding roller coasters. Basically, Southwest points not only bought us almost a full extra day, but they saved my friend about $125.

As for hotels, both of my friends saved $46 each off of the going rate and I even got the benefit of two stay credits.  Yes we could have found a motel for $50 instead of the Hyatt Place, but then we would have spent the same money and been miserable?!?

Conclusion

When I told my friends that their grand total for hotel/car rental was less than $65 for the weekend, they were sort of shocked. The purpose of this post isn’t to say I am such a good guy for spending a few points (after all I could have spent more to make it “free”), but exactly the opposite. I was able to save my friends a decent amount of money and maximize our time together for very little. That type of “generosity” is prudent.


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6 COMMENTS

  1. Hyatt currently has an offer for triple avios miles(1500 miles) for each stay and for cheap hyatt stays it’s much better to get that instead of hyatt points.

  2. Hyatt allows you to book award stays for 3? I thought the standard for redeeming award stays are that it is for only two people. I have a couple of international trips planned in the upcoming year, and this would be good news for my friends.

    • It depends on the hotel. Hyatt Place hotels often allow more people because they are setup with a sofa bed plus up to 2 other beds. Some properties do only allow two people. It really varies from property to property.

      • Thanks for the tip! The hotels I’m visiting in the UK only allow an occupancy of two, but the others in Australia and China allow for 3.

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