I constantly rave about IHG PointBreaks list and how much value a regular family can derive from it. But there is another reason. I love treating my husband’s relatives who live around the country to short getaways using that list. Right now I have a good supply of points due to IHG Big Win promotions from last year and the current one (you can still register for it HERE). What I did with the last PointBreaks list is email it to my cousin-in-law in Arkansas.
She was thrilled with the prospect of a getaway. Right now, she and her husband are sharing the house with his uncle and aunt. So, obviously, there isn’t a lot of privacy. She decided on Crowne Plaza in Tulsa, which is located about 2 hours from where they live. Since I booked the stay using my account, I had to list them as additional guests.
Because of my Platinum status, they got a free breakfast buffet on both days and mixed drinks vouchers. I get a rebate of 10 percent on each redemption, so the whole stay ended up costing me 9000 points, which I value at 45 dollars. Quite a good value, wouldn’t you agree?
But the story doesn’t end there. I emailed her on the day of the check-out to ask how everything went. I got a reply that the roads were snowed in and they had to stay an extra night. She went ahead and booked it using her credit card at the rate of 129 dollar per night. Of course, I couldn’t let that happen! I called the front desk and asked to switch to an award rate of 5000 points instead of a paid rate. The manager agreed.
This brings me to the most heartbreaking redemption I’ve had so far. Last week my cousin-in-law’s good friend was in a car accident. He was fine, but his 3-year-old son, his only child, went into a coma. Since they have a family in other states, I volunteered my hotel points.
Fortunately, there was a hotel near the hospital, and it happened to be on the IHG PointBreaks list. I booked several rooms for grandparents and relatives, who apparently don’t have any money. There was also a family coming from Texas later in the week. Sadly, the boy had to be taken off life support, so they had to leave right away.
They no longer had to stay near the hospital, but needed a place closer to the parents’ house. Once again, there was an IHG PointBreaks hotel, though not as convenient as some Choice program hotels. Since I have a good stash of Choice points, I offered to book a Quality Inn instead. They agreed. However, when I called to make a reservation, the Choice agent asked me if it was for an immediate family member. I answered truthfully and said no. He said no dice… Of course, I don’t blame the agent but the corporate policy.
I asked him to talk to a supervisor, who stuck to the party line. Of course, I don’t blame the agent or the supervisor, who were just trying to be honest, but the corporate rules of Choice program. First off all, how foolish is this policy? What would stop someone from hanging up, calling back and saying that the award is for a family member? They only go by your word. No proof is required.
I felt like a jerk calling the relative and telling her about the change of plans, but she was very kind. She cried and there was nothing I could say or do, well, except use a portion of my points to help her avoid going into debt and be reminded of the horrific experience with each credit card statement.
Did I tell you all of this to showcase what a good Samaritan I am? No. It’s to highlight what’s possible with miles and points. Yes, we can hoard them for that redemption in Bora Bora , which may not even happen (though I hope it does!). Or we can use them for our friends and family (or friends of family), who badly need it at this very moment.
So often this hobby is all about winning. Outsmarting that credit analyst, that CVS clerk, that airline agent. Is that really the point?
It also made me think how important it is to treasure each and every moment with your loved ones because you never know when it all may come to an end. Yes, this was my best and simultaneously worst redemption ever…
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Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.