Stephen’s First 3 Cards, 3 Continents Mistake: Booking A Hotel For The Wrong Night

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Oops.

I’ve been preparing some posts about my 3 Cards, 3 Continents trip so that I can schedule them to go live while I’m traveling. One of those posts was going to be titled:

A rare time transferring Membership Rewards to Marriott was worth it

Yes, I had indeed found a unicorn – a Marriott property where, even without a transfer bonus, transferring Membership Rewards represented good value, at least for the purposes of our challenge anyway. I was looking for screenshots that I’d taken during that initial booking process and couldn’t find them, so I brought up the confirmation email for the reservation to grab a screenshot from that.

What is 3 Cards, 3 Continents? Frequent Miler loves creating fun and competitive team challenges. This year Greg, Nick, and Stephen are competing to book the most amazing 3-continent dream-trip using 3 credit card welcome bonuses.

However, there was something strange about the date listed for my stay. I’m setting off on my trip on September 12, flying overnight to my first destination. I’d booked this stay for the following night, so I was checking in on September 13 and checking out on September 14.

Except I wasn’t.

Marriott confirmation email

It turns out I’d inadvertently booked a stay for the previous night. When planning my trip, I’d originally been toying with the idea of setting off on September 11. Although that might’ve been doable, it would’ve made one of my flights slightly more expensive and I’d have had to book an extra hotel night, two things that had the potential to put my budget under too much pressure. As a result, I decided to start the trip on September 12, but must’ve still had it in my head that I was arriving on my first continent on that day rather than the day after.

Although it hasn’t been difficult to fix my mistake, it did cost me money that I wasn’t planning on spending.

The Initial Booking

The reason I was originally going to be writing about how it was a good redemption of Membership Rewards points is because I found a Marriott property costing only 7,000 Bonvoy points.

Marriott original booking

The cash cost for the stay came to $81.42, so that meant I was getting 1.16cpp of value by redeeming my points. That’s great for Marriott Bonvoy points; it’s certainly not spectacular for Membership Rewards, but it’s also not a terrible redemption considering some people cash out Membership Rewards for 1.1cpp via their Schwab Platinum card. It’s also not everyday where you can redeem only 7,000 Membership Rewards points for a hotel stay.

There wasn’t a transfer bonus from Membership Rewards to Marriott at the time, so for accounting purposes of this trip I transferred over 7,000 Membership Rewards and booked the stay.

The Revised Booking

In an ideal world I would’ve been able to cancel that reservation and rebook it for the following night for the same award pricing. Unfortunately I Bonvoyed myself by booking the wrong date because the night I needed was 9,000 points due to Marriott’s dynamic award pricing.

Marriott revised booking

Even that wasn’t an easy fix though. I’d already cashed out my remaining Membership Rewards points during the planning process, so I couldn’t just go back and change that redemption to transfer an extra 2,000 points because it would be going against the spirit of the challenge (and likely the rules of them too!)

I therefore had two options. One was to book a Cash + Points stay, while the other was to buy the points I needed to top up my balance.

As you can see in the screenshot above, the Points portion of a Cash + Points booking would be 4,500, so from my cancelled 7,000 point night stay I’d have more than enough to cover that. I’ve deleted out the cash component in the screenshot so that you can’t see the currency I’d be charged in as that would give a hint as to where I’m flying to first, but the US Dollar equivalent was $39.51.

The other option was to buy the 2,000 points needed. Marriott isn’t currently running a sale on purchased points, so doing that would cost me $25.

Marriott points purchase

In theory I could wait to see if Marriott runs some kind of points sale in the near future, but that’s simply not worth it. If they ran an offer where they sell points at a discount, it likely wouldn’t be applicable when buying only 2,000 points. For a deal where they offer bonus points when buying points rather than a straight discount, I’d need to buy 2,000 points regardless because they’re not going to run a 100% bonus points promotion which would be the only way buying fewer than 2,000 points would enable me to have enough points.

As would be expected, given the choice between paying $39.51 for a Cash + Points stay or paying $25 to buy the 2,000 points needed to top up my points balance, I went for the $25 points purchase.

Why I’m Lucky

Although it’s a shame that I’ve had to fork out another $25 from my limited budget due to my mistake, things could’ve been significantly worse.

If I hadn’t noticed this error before my trip started, I would’ve lost those original 7,000 Marriott Bonvoy points due to being a no-show. That would’ve left me having to pay the cash price for that night either at that property or a different one. The room rate would likely have been more expensive seeing as I’d be booking it literally at the last minute and that could potentially cause problems during the rest of my trip.

As things stand, I have $235 cash remaining for my trip with all my flights and accommodation booked and accounted for. That $235 has to cover taxis to and from hotels in a number of locations and I don’t know exactly how much they’ll cost. The $235 might be enough to also be able to pay for a hotel night at the last minute, but I wouldn’t want the stress of having to find out.

As mistakes go, this hasn’t resulted in it being a big problem, so hopefully that’s my first and only mistake with our 3 Cards, 3 Continents challenge.

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rxgeek

Makes me feel better that the pros make the same mistakes that befall us mortals. Tripit has saved my butt on more than one occasion.

Points Adventure

Marriott dynamic awards are a game-changer. I love them right now. Just redeemed 4.5k pts for a perfectly nice hotel in KL with a fantastic location, near everything you want to see and steps away from some of the best food I’ve ever had. Even the best days of SPG (cat1 off peak) pales in comparison. I’d choose this every time over the famed DoubleTree KL even when it was just 10k HH pts.

Of course, I don’t expect this to last. IHG was similarly amazing when dynamic debuted, and now it’s gone to hell.

Last edited 19 days ago by Points Adventure
TimR

Who is reverse googling the image to try and figure out which hotel it is? LOL

Andrew

It definitely is generic-ish. I think we may be able to tell the country but not necessarily the city.

Starbucks Man

Nick: Look at what you can do with Aeroplan! [mind exploding gif]

Stephen: I found a room for 7k Bonvoy points! [sad face]

I am being sarcastic – I’m sure the trip will be impressive.

LarryInNYC

Great recovery!

Nathan

I always forward all my confirmation emails to TripIt for this very reason. The timeline view makes it very obvious if there are any mismatches in dates, nights you haven’t arranged a hotel for, etc. I know I’m prone to such mistakes so the extra layer of confirmation really puts my mind at ease.

LarryInNYC

Great tip. I did not know there was a tool that showed a timeline view like this.

Kim

Ah, brings back bad memories of one of the first times I started using one way flights and had booked a “connecting” flight for the day before I arrived. Travel horror stories that turn out okay could be the theme for a new line of FM posts. I think Carrie and her husband would likely win with their story of walking between the two countries without the necessary visa.