How I’m Taking Advantage of a Fortunate Situation

For those of you that don’t know, I have a corporate job. Traveling is rarely required in my position, but sometimes a project demands that I be on-site as opposed to working remotely. In general, I’m very happy about that because I don’t particularly enjoy traveling for work, despite the obvious points/miles benefits. For the coming few weeks, however, I’ll be travelling from SNA (where I live) to San Francisco, staying three nights a week in the Embarcadero area. I got pretty excited as soon as I looked up my travel options, and I want to explain why so that some beginners can see how I’ve planned my strategy (and maybe the more advanced readers can let me know how I can improve it).

First some background: I work for a very big corporation, so all my travel is reimbursed and I get to keep all the miles/points. The small downside to that is that each employee has a corporate credit card that we must use for all purchases, and it’s an Amex Green card. That means I can’t earn more than one point per purchase on any transaction – slightly annoying, but can’t complain, though I’d ideally like to use my own cards that can earn me much more than that.

Because the company I work for is so big, they have agreements with some airlines on special corporate status matches and challenges, and we also get preferred pricing at all major hotels. I leveraged this last year as a US Airways Gold member (which I earned mostly through work trips to and from Phoenix) when I decided to do a status match to American Airlines Platinum. I didn’t use that status at all last year, but I’m glad I got it because I needed it to match to United. Even with our special corporate status matches, United would not match US Airways status since both are Star Alliance carriers. United would, however, match American Airlines status. So even though my AA Platinum status is expiring in a week, I was matched to United Gold status through next February…and it took literally 47 minutes to get matched via email. Thanks United!

Working for a big company has some benefits!

Working for a big company has some benefits!

That means I’ll now have the ability to select Economy Plus seats and a slim chance of getting upgrades, plus increased mileage earning. I’ll also get some perks when booking or re-booking award tickets using United miles. All that is a huge win in my book, especially since I’ve grown tired of US Airways. My airline strategy is set.

I’m also an SPG Platinum member thanks primarily to business trips to Phoenix last year, though I had no choice but to stay at the terrible Aloft Tempe every night. This time, however, I have no such restriction, and thankfully there are plenty of SPG hotels in the area to choose from.

SPG is currently running two promotions: the first quarter Power Up promotion and the Le Meridien Unlimited Bonus Points promotion (which you can no longer register for). The Power Up promotion gives you 2,000 SPG points for every four eligible nights you stay (up to 8,000 points and 16 nights), plus an additional 10,000 points when you hit 20 eligible nights. That’s pretty boring, and sucks if you don’t stay lots of nights. The Le Meridien promo, however, is pretty awesome: you’ll earn 1,000 SPG points after your first stay, and then 2,000 more for every subsequent stay. I have the potential to earn a ton of points here.

This promo kinda sucks...but the Le Meridien one is awesome!

This promo kinda sucks…but the Le Meridien one is awesome!

Again, because I got lucky, the Le Meridien San Francisco happens to be the closest SPG hotel (less than a half mile away) to the office I’ll be working at. There are several other options within a mile as well. I’ll be staying three nights a week for 3-5 weeks, so in order to maximize my points I’ll stay Monday night at the Le Meridien, Tuesday night at another SPG hotel, and Wednesday night at Le Meridien again. Assuming I do this weekly for three weeks, here’s what I’ll earn:

  • Nine total nights over 3 weeks = 4,000 SPG points for the Power Up promo (2,000 + 2,000).
  • Six stays at Le Meridien = 11,000 SPG points for Le Meridien promo (1,000 first stay, then 5 x 2,000 = 11,000).
  • As a Platinum member, I’ll earn 3 SPG points per dollar every night. Assuming a $200 nightly rate, that’s about 5,400 points (3 x 9 x 200).
  • Nine nights also means 9 Platinum welcome gifts of 500 points each, so another 4,500 points.

That’s nearly 25,000 SPG points for 9 nights – a great points/night ratio. I’ll be due for another 10,000 points if I can somehow manage to hit the 20 night mark, and I’d be looking at something like 50,000 – 60,000 points if I get that far. Wowzers, that’s a lot of points! And I could have earned more if I was able to use my own SPG credit card!

Now THAT'S a promo!

Now THAT’S a promo!

This plan has drawbacks, of course. I’ll obviously be changing hotels every night, which means three separate check-ins and check-outs. I’ll also have to continually pack and re-pack (or maybe never unpack), which will get extremely annoying. I’m sure I’ll come across several other inconveniences that I haven’t even thought of just yet, but for now I’m trying to stay positive and be thankful for the opportunity to score lots of free points.

Would you plan the same strategy if given the opportunity, or is this too much moving around? I’d love to know if you could help me earn even more points!


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  1. Economy Comfort is Delta, United is E Plus 😉

    I think you have a good plan, especially since SFO isn’t a cold place where moving hotels is a drag at this time of year. Whether or not you keep it up for the year is another thing, but you might as well now.

    Is the UA match an actual match, or a challenge?

    • Oops…fixed! Clearly I’m a UA rookie…

      I definitely won’t be able to keep this up for more than a few weeks, and besides…the Le Meridien promo ends at the end of February so I’d probably stay at just one hotel after that.

      The status match is an actual match. I was immediately given UA Gold status and it was reflected on instantly. Why can’t united do other things this quickly?

    • Yeah luckily I have lots of flexibility this time. My Phoneix project had no flexibility on the hotel, but thankfully I can choose whatever hotel I want this time as long as it’s in a reasonable price range. Thankfully they’re all around the same price!

  2. I was in the exact same situation as you, but I convinced my Sacramento company to let me use my personal credit card and get reimbursed. I bounced around from Marriott to Hilton and back in the Bay Area for two weeks in September. I was able to earn three free category 1-4 certificates from Marriott and a bunch of points from Hilton. The only thing that sucked was the packing issue that you referenced and having to carry my luggage in my personal vehicle (a truck with no trunk) for two weeks. I was brand new to the points game and used my Capital One Visa. Dang! I should have gotten a Hilton card first!

    • Nice, the Marriott promo was really valuable. Unfortunately there’s no chance of me being able to use my personal cards, unless I lose my corporate card (which I did think about doing). Unfortunately getting a car isn’t reasonable considering the Le Meridien charges an obscene $50-$80 daily for parking. I decided to do a taxi and carry my luggage around. I’ll see how that goes…

  3. I just had a work trip to Fremont, CA. Stayed at the Homewood Suites, stayed longer and then stayed two nights in Hyatt Embarcadero SF, one night paid and one night with points. They charged me for two nights and I complained and got my 15,000 points back. Free night for me! 🙂

    • That Hyatt is right next to where I’m working, actually! Too bad I didn’t have status with them. If they counted award nights towards status, I’d have switched in a heartbeat doing the challenge!

  4. I sometimes miss the days when i worked for a big corporation…I could purchase my own flights (usually international) and keep the miles which was great for minimum spends and racking up miles. I never got to do any mattress hopping since I always travelled with my boss and I’m sure he would’ve thought I was insane. Enjoy SF! Should be a fun week leading up to the Super Bowl!

    • Working for a big company definitely does have some benefits, especially with regards to this hobby!

      haha I’ve already heard several remarks about the super bowl…i’m sure I’ll hear a ton more the next couple of weeks!

    • I barely travel for work…personal travel is a different story. Besides, reviews of hotels and airlines are a very small part of this blog. I like writing about “different” topics.

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