All The, Free Things, Cards Care, Cards Bring
Travel Hacking Folly Beach, SC
On the personal military churning front, this has been a productive few weeks. I will low key brag about these wins under the guise of educational examples and bask in the trivial page views (notice we don’t run ads) like those Instagram hearts that get monetized somehow.
Citi Prestige 4th Night Free
To start, I visited the family a few weeks ago on a starting-to-be-annual trip to Folly Beach, SC. It was lovely and you should go. We stayed at the Regatta Inn as our go-to bed and breakfast (and happy hour, probably the selling point), which had been previously booked and a deposit paid months in advance by my parents. The parents, having been repeat guests, received a decent 10% discount on room rates and decided to bump us up to the top floor suites for some balcony ocean view experiences. This ran a 4 night, 2 room total to $2891.04, minus the 10% on rooms, giving a total room expense of $2637.44. Well, about a week prior to leaving I remembered that the Citi Prestige card (article pending) has a 4th-night free benefit that is, unfortunately, changing a bit in Sep, but still a pretty substantial value if used properly. The Regatta Inn is not listed under the Citi travel portal so I needed to call into the Concierge to see if the 4th night free would apply. They did some research, gave me a preliminary “no” and opened a case file on it. Not having any time to wait for that, I decided to just try and rebook the rooms on check-in. After a fun game of phone tag between myself, the Citi Concierge, and the Regatta Inn’s front desk, I was able to cancel my parents’ room reservations, refund their deposit, and rebook the room via Citi’s Concierge while standing in the lobby. This step, unfortunately, lost my parents’ 10% off since I was now the booking individual but gained the 4th night free, a $317 win. Since you can only use the benefit for 1 room per card, the wife repeated the same process with her card for the second room and voila, $634 win, giving a new room total of $2257.04 and an overall delta of $380.40 from the original bill. Not bad for 2 phone calls.
Of course, those charges code as travel and earn 3x points on the Prestige, so the 6,771 points converted to cash ($67.71) wiped out our beach umbrella and chair rentals for the stay.
Free Uber Eats
Then, one evening we decided to order in dinner after an exhaustive day in the sun and discovered Uber Eats delivered to our cozy little B&B and with the free $75/month I get from my 5 Platinum cards we were able to get $73.89 worth of Zaxby’s delivered courtesy of Amex.
All in all, the power of the churn saved pops an appreciable $519.69 once all was said and done.
Amex Plat Escape Lounge Access
But the fun doesn’t stop there. On my way home I discovered a little known perk of the Amex Platinum card, the card that keeps on giving, I have never really paid attention to the Escape Lounge access the card provides because I had never come across an Escape Lounge. Turns out, the Greenville airport remodel added such a lounge and when I arrived bright and early at 0530 it was the perfect escape to free and no wait coffee. It was a pretty nice lounge too; not too big but well stocked with snacks and breakfast delights. The bar, although not open at 0530, also looks well stocked but I wasn’t sure if it was complimentary.
I Broke the Timberline Lodge in Denver
Then, I had a 6 hour layover in Denver. Normally, I’d relish this time in a Centurion lounge but Denver is still lacking such accommodations. This time I was planning on a little Priority Pass experiment. A lovely Priority Pass perk is the ability to get a $28 bill credit at participating PP restaurants and Denver has the Timberline Lodge, a well-traveled PP spot. Normally, you can only get 1 PP credit per visit per 24 hours (Timberline’s rules, PP actually resets every 2 hours). But, I came with 4 restaurant credit eligible PP memberships (Amex recently took the restaurant feature away from its PP memberships) from my Chase Sapphire Reserve, Ritz Carlton Card, Citi Prestige, and US Bank Altitude Reserve. So, in theory, I wouldn’t even have to wait for the 2 hour PP restriction and the Timberline would see each membership as a separate guest account. Well, with the first bill approaching the $28 max I cashed out and asked if I could swipe my PP again, to which the bartender said no and quoted the above rule, to which I asked about a separate PP membership account. The request was elevated to a supervisor and given the nod of approval and $28 credit the second was applied and I enjoyed a lovely few after breakfast cocktails. Then, somewhere in-between them allowing the second PP card and me finishing my cocktails, another manager had caught wind of this treacherous scandal and halted any further PP cards from my black book of cards citing that it was one $28 credit per person per 24 hour period. Lame. Of note, they have a bartender there with an encyclopedic knowledge of all things alcohol and he was an absolute delight to listen to. I will eagerly await purchase of his upcoming book: The Articulate Bartender Presents: The Complete Bartender.