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Taking My Dad to Baseball Spring Training — Reader Success Story

Jan. 22, 2018
5 min read
Taking My Dad to Baseball Spring Training — Reader Success Story
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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Matt, who got great value on hotel awards for two separate trips to Florida. Here's what he had to say:

My dad is a huge Washington Nationals fan, so in the fall of 2016 when I was trying to figure out what to get him for Christmas, I knew I wanted to do something baseball-related. The team had a new spring training facility in West Palm Beach opening in 2017, so I decided to look into booking a trip for us to check it out.

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I've had the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from Amex for years, so I had a significant balance of Starpoints. I started researching Starwood hotels in West Palm Beach and ran into a roadblock: there were none. The closest one I could find was over 40 miles away from the ballpark, so I decided to hold off on booking anything.

Right around the same time, the merger between SPG and Marriott was finalized, and they started allowing members to transfer points between the two programs. I did a quick search on the Marriott website and found a nice Residence Inn less than 10 miles from the ballpark for 25,000 Marriott Rewards points per night. I transferred 34,000 Starpoints to Marriott at a 1:3 ratio, and then booked five nights for 100,000 points thanks to the fifth night free benefit. Marriott also matched my Starwood Gold status, so we were upgraded from a studio to a two-bedroom suite. It was perfect! The normal rate for the room was over $350 per night, so I was able to get a value of over 5 cents per Starpoint.

Fast forward to this past Christmas, when my Mom decided to take my Dad on a return trip to spring training. The same Residence Inn we stayed in before was going for over $2,400, so I looked into it to see how I could reduce the cost. I didn't have as many Starpoints saved up, but I had just received an email offer to buy them at a 35% discount. I bought the maximum of 30,000 points for $683, and then transferred them to Marriott with 4,000 of my own points to book another five night stay. My mom was ecstatic that I saved her over $1,700 on the hotel, and she's using some of that savings to buy better tickets and a new jersey for my dad.

The ability to transfer points between Marriott and SPG is one of the best benefits to come out of the merger between the two companies. I hope they don't get rid of it anytime soon!

Matt
Matt and his father were upgraded to a two-bedroom suite during their stay at the Residence Inn West Palm Beach.

The integration of Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest has been a boon for award travelers. Since the two programs merged in 2016, members have been able to match elite status and transfer points freely between them, but unique benefits (like Marriott's Hotel + Air packages and Starwood's airline transfer partners) have remained intact. I'm with Matt in wanting those opportunities last, and after Marriott recently signed co-branded card agreements with both Chase and Amex, I think we have good reasons to be hopeful.

Matt's story is a good example of why the Starwood Amex cards are a good option for everyday spending. If Matt had been using the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card over the years, his balance might not have been sufficient to book that initial five-night stay. Marriott has announced plans to offer new co-branded cards for both programs in 2018; we don't yet know what the benefits on those cards will look like, but higher earning rates should be a priority.

I love this story and I want to hear more like it! To thank Matt for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own award travel success stories to info@thepointsguy.com; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure.

Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Feature photo of Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker greeting fans during batting practice. (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Featured image by The Washington Post/Getty Images

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  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
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Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases