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The hotel points redemption that left me in tears

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I know  what you are thinking. Here goes yet another hotel review. And look, here is a photo of a toilet! Well, first of all, it’s a photo of Crowne Plaza hotel room’s toilet, and not of a Hyatt. So, it’s totally different! 🙂 And actually, it’s not that kind of a post at all.

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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Author: Leana

Leana is the owner and 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.

8 thoughts on “The hotel points redemption that left me in tears

  1. Leana doesn’t like thanks or pats on the back, but I wanted to say that on several occasions she come to our family’s aid with hotel rewards. She is extremely generous with her points. She loves helping out and we are so appreciative. 🙂

  2. Jen, I almost didn’t approve your comment! 🙂 I really didn’t want to make this post about me. In fact, I wasn’t sure if I should write it at all, it seems so trivial compared to the tragedy, that family went through. But, ultimately, I think it relates to this hobby, so I went ahead with it. Thanks for your kind words, though.

  3. What a wonderful post! I really think that possibly the best thing about the point hobby is that it allows us middle-class folks to be generous with family and friends. Also thanks for teaching me that I can book hotel rooms for others using points by adding them as additional guests, even when I am not there physically when they get the room. Highly useful.

  4. Uri, thanks for stopping by! I couldn’t agree with you more. I don’t have a lot of money, but I have a ton of points that I could offer to this family. And with PointBreaks program it didn’t really even cost me a huge amount. Plus, most of the points were earned through various promotions. I love IHG program!

  5. That’s very generous of you to give a helping hand to someone in need. If I were you though, I would lie about the boy’s family being a family member. I know you are honest don’t like to break rules, but if the employees make an exception for you, it would mean that they have to break their company’s rule. What would you have done in the situation? If you are an honest employee, you would have to stand by the rules too.
    The way I see it, I would rather break the rule myself than having to persuade others to break it.

    • Katye, thank you so much for commenting! You brought up a very good point and actually, I agree with you completely. I didn’t mean to imply that I wanted the employee to lie on my behalf. I simply thought, the company should have a policy to make an exception in such situations.
      That’s why I asked the agent to talk to the supervisor. I don’t blame them, but Choice corporate policy. It’s the only program, where such rule exists. I actually contacted Choice by Twitter to address this. I’m sorry, if I wasn’t clear in the post. I will update it and add that point. Please, comment again.

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