Response to Reader: Quick Savings for Marriott Stay

A couple days ago, I received a complaint constructive criticism from a loyal reader who told me I was recently slacking on money saving tips.  While some (e.g., me) may argue that he is just flat wrong, I take my readers' comments seriously.

The following (forced) tips are tailored for this individual, who I know is in the midst of planning a trip, but anyone can/should use them.

Issue:  Individual is booking a trip for two to New Orleans and would probably appreciate saving some money on his airline tickets (US Airways) and the hotel (Marriott property).  Redeeming miles/points for the flight or hotel is not an option.    

Money Saving Tips and Tricks: Big money saving tips on airfare and hotels aren't easy unless you're talking about events like mistake fares or redeeming miles/points for high cost tickets/hotels.  In this case, neither of those avenues are currently available.  Nevertheless, below are some easy tips, most of which are covered in the "Stretch" Your Spending primer, to save some money on travel costs for your trip.
Fancy Graphic: How Saving and "Stretching" Will Add Up
  • US Airways Tickets: As I mentioned, there's not much you can do to save on a plane ticket, especially when you know exactly what flights you want. All I can recommend is:
    • Be sure you're signed up for USAirways Dividend Miles or a Star Alliance partner program to earn some miles.
    • If you have one, pay for your ticket with a credit card that offers increased rewards for US Airways flights or travel in general.  Examples include the US Airways Dividend Miles MastercardChase Sapphire Preferred Visa, and Barclay Arrival Mastercard.
      • Furthermore, the aforementioned US Airways Dividend Miles Mastercard provides cardholders an annual companion certificate good for roundtrip, domestic travel for up to two guests for $99 each.  If you have the card, use the companion pass.  If you don't have the card, you could apply for it if you have enough time.  I previously had this card and used the companion pass to travel with two buddies to Las Vegas.  It can really cut the per ticket cost.
  • Marriott Hotel Stay: There are some easy money saving options for hotels, which are:
    • Use a cash back portal when you book your room.  Mr. Rebates links will earn you 3% cash back on Marriott reservations.  Log-in, search for Marriott, follow their links to, and make your reservation. After your stay, you'll see 3% of the total charge deposited in your Mr. Rebates account.*  Theoretically, you could use a cash back portal to book your flight on a site like Travelocity or Priceline, but I can't recommend it because I'm not sure/don't think you'll earn frequent flyer miles for your flight.
    • If you're a member of AAA, Marriott often offers a nightly discount.  Use it if you have it.  I believe this discount is combinable with the Mr. Rebates cash back, but I'm not 100% positive.  It can't hurt to try.
    • See credit card point above.  There's also the the Marriott Premier Rewards Visa, which earns 5x points on Marriott spending
    • Make sure you're signed up for Marriott Rewards.
Anyone have any other money saving tips or tricks for this gentleman's upcoming trip?  Leave a comment.

* Not all Marriott properties are included in the cash back offer and specially negotiated rates don't apply.  Check the restrictions.

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