How to Get Big Travel Mixing Award & Paid Hotel Stays (And Airbnb)

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Want to travel longer, but don’t have enough points for a week (or more!) in a top-tier hotel?

Mix-and-match award stays and paid hotel stays to get more out of your trip – and make it more fun and interesting!

Or consider using Airbnb to find local accommodations and save even more money.  When you combine it with award stays at hotels, it’s like getting a 2-for-1 experience!

How To Get Big Travel Mixing Award Paid Hotel Stays And Airbnb

If You Prefer Longer Stays When You Travel, Mix Paid and Award Stays to Get Even More Time Away!

I’ll give you ideas and tips about how to get more out of your points!

Make Your Trip a 2-For-1 Experience!

Link:   Sign-Up for Airbnb (Get $20 Toward Your 1st $75+ Booking)

You can use your hotel points or complimentary night certificates to splurge for a couple of days at a top-tier hotel.  Then use cash (or leftover points) to stay at a budget hotel.  Or in a local, non-touristy neighborhood with Airbnb.

How To Get Big Travel Mixing Award Paid Hotel Stays And Airbnb

Planning to Stay a While? Stay in a Luxury Hotel, Then Live Like a Local to Get a 2-in-1 Experience!

Some folks like to travel for a week or longer, like:

  • Students or teachers on summer break
  • People lucky enough to work online
  • Retirees
  • Folks who want to get to know 1 city or area
  • Folks who bought a cheap fare and have to travel on certain dates to get the deal

Once you book your plane ticket, it’s time to figure out where to stay.  If you don’t want to use all your hotel points, or if you don’t have enough, stay 1 or 2 nights at a top-tier hotel.

And then round out the trip with less expensive rates at either a hotel, or an Airbnb!

That way, you get to stay longer, and you’ll have a more interesting trip!

Let’s look at some examples.

1.   Cancun

Link:   Chase Hyatt Card

The popular and touristy Hotel Zone by the beaches in Cancun can be pricey.  But if you want to work on your tan at the beach for a week or more, you still have options!

How To Get Big Travel Mixing Award Paid Hotel Stays And Airbnb

Fill-In a Week-Long Trip to Cancun With Airbnb. I Found Lots of Homes for ~$70 to ~$80 per Night!

I found lots of homes on Airbnb for rent for ~$70 to ~$80 a night!

How To Get Big Travel Mixing Award Paid Hotel Stays And Airbnb

Renting From Airbnb Doesn’t Mean Giving up Beach Time!

Many of the places I found, like this 1, are located on the water!

Or, if you want to spend some time with the locals, there are lots of cheaper lodging options that are a ~10-minute bus or taxi ride from the beach.  You’ll pay less for meals and drinks, and get to explore more of the city.

The bus is generally easy and very inexpensive.  And some of them play music videos!

Here are my tips on how to negotiate a better price on Airbnb!  And how to find a safe and comfortable Airbnb to rent.

How To Get Big Travel Mixing Award Paid Hotel Stays And Airbnb

Then Head to a Hotel, Like the Hyatt Zilara Cancun, to Enjoy an All-Inclusive Weekend!

When you’re ready to splurge, you can book a stay at a nearby hotel, like the Hyatt Zilara Cancun.

How To Get Big Travel Mixing Award Paid Hotel Stays And Airbnb

I Found Rooms in February 2016 for ~$600 a Night!

The nightly rate in February 2016 is ~$604 per night.

How To Get Big Travel Mixing Award Paid Hotel Stays And Airbnb

Use Your Hyatt Points or Certificates Instead to Save Money

But, you can pay 25,000 Hyatt points per night for 2 people in a room, and save a lot of money!

Keep in mind you CAN use the 2 free night certificates you’ll earn when you sign-up for the Chase Hyatt card and meet the minimum spending requirements.

And if you need more Hyatt points, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio.

Enjoy the beach, save money, and get to know the local culture – all in the same trip!

2.   Reykjavik

Link:   US Bank Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa

See more of the northernmost capital in the world!

If you want to stay around the Summer Solstice, to experience 24 hours of nearly constant daylight, you can book a room at the Radisson Blu Saga Hotel, Reykjavik for 44,000 Club Carlson points a night.

How To Get Big Travel Mixing Award Paid Hotel Stays And Airbnb

Save ~$355 a Night When You Redeem 44,000 Club Carlson Points for a Room in Reykjavik!

The US Bank Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa has a sign-up bonus of 85,000 Club Carlson points after spending $2,500 within 3 months.  After meeting the minimum spending requirements, you’d have enough for 2 nights in Reykjavik, worth ~$710!

How To Get Big Travel Mixing Award Paid Hotel Stays And Airbnb

Reykjavik Has Lots of Airbnb Options for ~$100 or Less!

But 2 nights in Iceland isn’t nearly enough, as I recently found out myself!

Stay a few extra days in a real Scandinavian apartment either in a private room with a local, or in an entire home for rent.  Here’s how to find a safe and comfortable Airbnb for your stay.

And if you want to visit Iceland, read my tips on how to fly there cheaply.  Because you’ll most likely want to enjoy the countryside, get a good deal when you rent a car.  And be sure to take the right card so you can fuel up in rural gas stations!

3.   Madrid

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

If you’re planning a trip to Madrid, you have lots of hotels to choose from, and many ways to plan your visit.

Let’s look at the The Westin Palace, Madrid as an example.

How To Get Big Travel Mixing Award Paid Hotel Stays And Airbnb

You Can Book The Westin Palace, Madrid, With Cash, Starwood Points, or Cash & Points. Run the Numbers to See Which Way Saves You the Most Money!

With this hotel, you can book with:

And, the daily rate is different on certain nights of the week!

How To Get Big Travel Mixing Award Paid Hotel Stays And Airbnb

This Night Is ~$260, or 12,000 Starwood Points

For example, I searched for a 5-night stay in April 2016.  The average rate is ~$278 per night.  But I decided to dig deeper.

When I searched each night individually, I found 1 of the nights was ~$260.

How To Get Big Travel Mixing Award Paid Hotel Stays And Airbnb

Other Nights Are ~$305, or 12,000 Starwood Points

But another night during the same 5-night period was ~$305.  If 2 of those nights cost that much, that’s an extra ~$90 I’d have to pay in cash!

Or, you can choose to pay 6,000 Starwood points per night + $110.  Here’s how Starwood’s Cash & Points works!

If the average rate is ~$278, that means your 6,000 Starwood points are worth ~$168 for each night with Cash & Points, which is a great way to use them!

How To Get Big Travel Mixing Award Paid Hotel Stays And Airbnb

Once You Figure Out Where (and How) You Want to Stay, You Can Get Busy Exploring Beautiful Madrid!

Or, you can pay cash for the less expensive nights, and use points for the more expensive nights – and then merge separate reservations into 1 stay.

Another option is to take advantage of Starwood’s 5th night free on award stays at hotels that are Category 3 or higher.

Because The Westin Palace, Madrid is Category 5, it qualifies.

How To Get Big Travel Mixing Award Paid Hotel Stays And Airbnb

5 Nights Costs ~$1,528 in Cash

You can choose to pay 48,000 Starwood points for the 5 nights (with the 5th night free), and save ~$1,528 in cash for the total stay.

You can also look on Airbnb or TripAdvisor and mix paid and award stays in another way that makes sense to you!

Other Ways to Save Money on Longer Stays

There are lots of ways to get a great deal when you want to stay for a week or more in 1 place.

Always run the numbers to come up with a plan that makes sense for your travel goals and budget.

Here are other ways to help you save even more money on paid and award stays:

Or, instead of mixing and matching, some Million Mile Secrets readers save points and money by staying longer at mid-range hotels.

So you have lots of choices for creating a fun and interesting trip no matter where you want to go!

Bottom Line

There are lots of ways to mix-and-match award and paid stays to build longer, more interesting trips.  Some places are worth exploring for more than just a few days!

Consider using Airbnb as a way to save money if you want to stay for a week or longer in 1 place.  And then splurge for a weekend with your hotel points.  It’s like getting a 2-for-1 experience!

Check out my tips on how to find a great Airbnb, and how to negotiate a better price.  And check reviews of your hotel, and prices of surrounding hotels on TripAdvisor to be sure you’re getting a good rate.

If you’ve traveled to a city for an extended stay, let me know your best tips!

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4 responses to “How to Get Big Travel Mixing Award & Paid Hotel Stays (And Airbnb)

  1. @Darius, have you ever written about priceline and websites like biddingfortravel. It would seem logical to use priceline for a four star in madrid for 60-80 dollars instaed of cash and points and save your points for free nights.

  2. I love airbnb, except for last minute reservations, I’ve never had a problem.
    Also, amex is offering 50$ off 100$ airbnb stay, so its a great time to use it.

  3. @Tom – I wrote about Priceline for car rentals here:

    http://millionmilesecrets.com/2013/03/07/priceline-name-your-own-price/

    I’ll look into it for hotels, though. Thank you for the tip, and for reading!

    @Mike – Thank you! Enjoy it if you were targeted! 🙂

  4. Thanks