Travel Hacking 101
I’ve settled back in to Austin life after an amazing ‘remote work’ week in Boulder, and this week I’ve been studying new travel hacking tips to bring down my cost of travel. To me, why pay $1000 for cramped coach flights overseas, when you can fly free by using points for that same seat? I’d rather spend my money on experiences, food and excursions, and not spend the money on my logistics. I’ve become pretty savvy with flights, but over the past couple weeks I’ve been studying car rental hacking. As you may have heard, car rental prices are crazy right now! The rental companies significantly reduced their inventory during COVID, and now they cannot keep up with the rental demand. For example, my flight to Boulder (if I’d paid for it) would have been $250, and my car rental was $480; that’s almost twice as much! And, my rental was a piece of junk from an off market rental company?! Seriously?! I find this situation so frustrating. Well, exclusively for y’all, below are 5 tips I’ve learned that I’ve learned during my recent research.
- Join the rental car loyalty programs; they are free. Why? Well, you get to skip the crazy long line when picking up your rental. And, you get points and perks and sometimes free upgrades.
- Look online for ‘coupon codes’. Simply google Avis Coupon Codes and see what pops up. Websites like retail Me Not sometimes have great coupons. This tip came from Wandering Earl and he said he recently received a 40% discount on a car rental.
- Decline all insurance, and make sure to pay with a credit card that has insurance, ie. American Express Platinum. ps. bring a copy of your car insurance as well, as some rental companies want proof of additional insurance.
- My last 2 car rentals, I’ve found through Hotwire.com; Hotwire has some great rates right now. Also, book as early as possible, at least 2 weeks in advance for he rates. Disclaimer: It is better if you can book the same price through the actual rental car company site.
- Always ask for the local office phone number as well as the 1.800 number. If there’s an emergency with the car, you want to know how to reach the local office.
Platinum American Express
One of my favorite credit cards is the Platinum Amex. I’ve had it for years, and I love having access to the Priority Pass Lounges when I fly. American Express just announce the cost of this credit card is going up by $145. It’s not cheap to begin with, but I still think it’s worth having. With the increased cost, I needed to find out the additional perks and bonuses so I could make the best use of this card. Below is a list of travel benefits with this card, and here’s an article from The Points Guy who is my go-to for credit card benefits. Yes, it’s expensive, but if used correctly, the benefits out way the cost.
- Annual Fee: Now $695
- Sign up bonus right now: 100,000 points after $6k in spending within 1st 6 months. Wowza!
- 5x points for flights booked directly with airline
- 5x points with prepaid hotels booked through Amex
- Rebate for Clear sign up
- Rebate for Global Entry sign up
- Global Dining Access through Resy
- $100 free shopping at Saks ($50 every 6 months)
- $200 credit on a specified airline for seat assignment, luggage etc.
- $200 Uber cash, $15 month
- $200 on prepaid hotels through Fine Hotels +
- $100 experience credit at qualifying Hotel
- Collection hotels
- Bonvoy Elite Status (Marriott)
Hyatt Gold Status
Avis, Hertz & National car rental status and perks
Global Assist Hotline, as long as you are 100 miles from home
Trip cancelation insurance
As mentioned in a previous missive, I visited Palm Springs in April for a wedding at The Parker Hotel. There were 6 of us from Austin, and we had a ball! Check out this video where I share tips, suggestions and ideas for a perfect weekend in Palm Springs. Congrats to Lea & Bob; your wedding was amazing!