Sometimes we get to redeem our points and miles for aspirational travel other people can only dream of. Other times, we redeem them for trips that are practical or downright boring.
A recent trip from Miami to Orlando I took ended with the latter situation — as in, me cashing in 7,200 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to spend five hours at the Ramada by Wyndham Suites Orlando Airport hotel. This wasn’t a planned redemption — it was one I made the day before on a whim. But it was necessary and I’m glad I did it.
Why I Love Having Extra Chase Points Laying Around
The redemption in question came about due to the weird flights I had to book into Florida for our spring break cruise on the MSC Seaside out of Miami. Flights from Indianapolis to Miami were insanely expensive and I couldn’t find any award seats I liked with my favorite airlines — American and Delta. Alas, I opted to book cheap Southwest flights early into Orlando and then a flight home from Orlando the day our ship got into port.
This also required me to get a rental SUV on both sides of our cruise, which cost a little over $200 total. The thing is, I still saved over $1,200 on flights with this strategy because Southwest flights into and out of MCO were better than flights into MIA.
Since our flight home took place the day our cruise ended, I was scared to book a departure that was too early. We had to get off the ship, after all, and I had my parents and my kids with me. We also had a 3+ hour drive up to Orlando and would need to stop for lunch. I initially figured we would just stop at a beach along the way and hang out for a few hours.
But the day before we got off the ship, I realized they wanted us to get off at 8:15 a.m. because we have Black status and that’s when our group was set to disembark. That means we could take the time to pick up our rental car, drive the three hours to Orlando, stop for lunch, and still get there at around 2:00 p.m. – EIGHT HOURS before our 10:00 p.m. flight would depart.
That wasn’t going to work, so I got on my smartphone and started figuring out a plan. This ultimately led me to book a night at less than desirable Ramada hotel for 7,200 Chase Ultimate Rewards points with my Chase Sapphire Reserve card. I could have booked something nicer, but we weren’t staying overnight. We just needed a place to hang and watch TV for a while, and this hotel was fine for that — barely, but it worked.
The Bottom Line
This is why I always strive to have extra points and miles laying around. You never know when poor planning or a change in plans can shake up your travel and leave you in a position where you need a hotel, rental car, or flight at the last minute. There’s nothing sexy about booking a cheap Orlando hotel for five hours, but it saved me $100 or more and gave us an easy way to kill some time. You can’t beat that.
Have you ever used points to spend a few hours in a hotel? When?
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Source: frugal travel guy