Moving house is always a stressful experience, but as a travel hacker there are particular advantages and disadvantages to moving to a new community.
The disadvantages are obvious: back in New England I had a group of well-trained cashiers at all my local haunts. That streamlined my daily routine and saved me time and stress convincing each cashier to try transactions that I already know will go through.
However, there are advantages to a move as well. For example, my routine in New England was limited to the small set of stores within walking distance of my apartment. The amount of money I was spending on a daily basis might arouse suspicion, and the longer I continued using the same store locations, the more likely a cashier was to start to connect the dots.
The biggest advantage is the one I wrote about here: a new locale means new store types, different products, and new opportunities.
I'm already excited by some of the options available in my new community, but today I want to write about a product I spotted just yesterday that may or may not be lucrative for some readers: Travelocity hotel gift cards.
$25 off 2-night stays
Like all good scams, Travelocity hotel gift cards are needlessly complicated. The card I found at a local gas station cost $25, and offered $50 off stays of two or more nights, as long as the price before taxes was $150 or more. In the ideal use case for these gift cards, you would get a $25 discount on a two-night stay that cost exactly $150 before taxes. Assuming taxes of 10%, you'd pay $140 for a $165 stay, for a discount of about 15%. Naturally, the more expensive the day, the smaller your discount will be.
Since you have to book your stay through the Travelocity Incentives website, you won't earn hotel points or elite night and stay credits for your reservation. Since hotel stays are by far the least efficient method of earning hotel points, this isn't the end of the world, but be aware of the issue.
While at first glance a $25 discount, even given the stay and price requirements for use of these cards, seems like a no-brainer, especially for non-chain properties or stays at chains you don't pursue status with (Best Western, anyone?), there is an additional problem: once you're willing to forego hotel rewards by booking through an online travel agency, you have other options.
For example, the Welcome Rewards program of Hotels.com rebates 10% of your pre-tax hotel cost in the form of a free night after 10 nights booked through them (with the value of the free night capped at the average nightly rate for your 10 paid nights). For many stays, that rebate will be worth more than the $12.50 per night discount offered by Travelocity on stays of exactly two nights.
If you're willing to work a little harder at it, Priceline's Name Your Own Price engine can still offer huge discounts on opaque bookings (where you don't find out the hotel until you pay).
While it may have limited appeal for the reasons given above, I wanted to bring these gift cards to my readers' attention for those cases when, while making a two-night reservation, you realize the nightly rate happens to be exactly $75. In such circumstances I'd strongly consider popping down to the gas station and picking up a Travelocity hotel gift card.