As many of you know, a couple of my favourite credit cards are the Diners Club Club Rewards MasterCard and the American Express Gold Rewards Card. Both cards are Hybird credit cards with very flexible "travel anywhere" options which I utilized for my family's recent trip to Maui.
Flights - Diners Club Club Rewards MasterCard
I booked 4 tickets for flights on Air Canada's direct service to Kahului from Calgary via the Aircanada.com website making sure I used a promo code I had for 15% of Tango Plus flights. I paid for the flights with my Diners Club card at the time of booking. The total price for each ticket including taxes was $601.00. Once those amounts appeared on my online statement I called up Diners Club to redeem most of the points I had against some of the charges. I ended up redeeming 70,704 points to cover the exact cost of two of the tickets which would result in a credit of $1202.00 issued on my account. This left me with 4,000 or so points and since Diners Club requires a minimum of 10,000 points to be redeemed per charge there were not enough points to redeem an amount against another ticket (had all 4 tickets been lump summed on the account I could have as that would have only been one charge). The good thing is that points I have collected since the redemption can still be used to redeem against any one or both of the tickets.
Considering their is still major transition process going on at Diners Club since BMO's acquisition of the brand in North America, my redemption experience was absolutely painless and took very little time. The credit to my account for the points redemption appeared within a week. Overall the process was easy and a nice way to save just over $1,200 on our Maui Trip.
Hotel - American Express Gold Rewards Card
My redemption with the American Express Gold Rewards Card was simply done to save a little more money on the trip and to experience the redemption process once again. For the fourth consecutive year my family and I decided to stay at the Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas on the Northwest part of Maui (a more detailed review of the stay will follow in a separate post) When I book the hotel I don't actually book it via Starwood Hotels or SPG.com. The reason why is that four years ago I came across Maui Hawaii Vacations who are a third party booking service that offer exceptional rates for stays at this Westin. The rates they offer do not award Starpoints however with savings of 30-50% over the cheapest pricing I could find via Starwood (including free night offers etc) I am more than willing to forego the Starpoints. Once at the resort however, incidental costs charged to the room do earn Starpoints. I booked our 9 nights for US$265 per night for a 1 bedroom suite and although Maui Hawaii Vacations takes care of the booking the charge actually comes from the Westin Ocean Resort Villas. Once I saw the charge from the Westin on my online Amex account I called up Membership Rewards and redeemed 30,000 points for a $300 credit against the charge. The whole process was painless once again (read about my first redemption experience) and a few days later I had the $300 credit on my account.
Overall both redemption processes were very easy to do and we saved $1,500 on our vacation which works out well for our family of 4 as it would have been more difficult to achieve this using a Frequent Flyer or Guest program. This is the beauty of these two cards as they offer a high level of flexibility since you don't need the full amount of points to redeem against a travel charge and I was able to do all the travel bookings on my own plus we earned status qualifying Aeroplan Miles and segments on the flights.
With the Diners Club Club Rewards MasterCard I achieved a 1.7% return on my purchases that gave me the points for this redemption (all tailored travel redemptions are at this rate) On the American Express Gold Rewards Card the rate of return would be just shy of 2% as I would estimate that 98% of the purchases were made at Gas, Grocery, Drug and Travel merchants which earn 2 points per dollar spent.