There have been a number of posts recently about MS for hotels (see posts on the Frequent Miler, Saverocity, and Travel is Free (all great blogs btw)). In the past, I haven’t really focused on hotels since I’m a cheapskate and will do things like book overnight trains or sleep in capsule hotels or crash on people’s couches to avoid paying for hotel rooms. But as I get (slightly) older, I admit that I’m focused more on hotel redemptions, so these posts are helpful.
But a lot of these posts talk about how MSing on 5% cash back cards is best because it’s rare that you can get more than that value out of hotel co-branded credit cards. I totally agree. I would much rather earn 5% cash back than hotel points. But to get 5% cash back, you can’t just do your MS in your Cathay Pacific pajamas–you actually need to get your butt off the couch, put on some real clothes, and go outside (typically to grocery stores or gas stations).
Take Amazon Payments: it’s probably the easiest form of MS around. Granted, you’re capped at $1k per person per month, but you can do it from anywhere. But you’re not going to get a 5x multiplier. There’s another MS technique that’s relatively easy for me since I live close to a certain bank branch. But again, no 5x for that. So if 5x isn’t an option, what should you do?
I’ve said it before on my blog, but Club Carlson doesn’t get nearly the love that it should in the miles/points blogosphere. The Club Carlson credit cards are crazy good. 5x points would be meh by itself, but the extra free night for every award stay makes this card awesome. As long as you stay in increments of two-night awards, it’s like you’re doubling the value of your points. I’m heading to Sydney in a couple of weeks, and I’ve got 4 nights booked at the Radisson Blu Plaza (2 nights from my personal account, 2 nights from my business account, which is slightly dubious, but that’s another topic). Total points cost: 100k Club Carlson points. You can get that from $20k in unbonused MS since you get 5x everywhere. $20k of MS on a different unbonused card (like a 2.22% cash back card) would be $444 cash back. That’s good, but I doubt you’re going to get 4 nights at a nice hotel in a great location in Sydney for $111 per night.
Obviously, if you can get 5% cash back instead, the calculation is totally different. 5% back on $20k is $1000, and you can probably find a hotel for less than $250 per night that you’d prefer. But for those of us who are lazy and aren’t willing to go to the grocery store for our MS, Club Carlson is a pretty great program (with the normal caveat that their geographic footprint is more limited than many other hotel chains).