The Daily Getaways are a set of discounted travel packages sponsored every year by American Express and the U.S. Travel Association, and they’re coming back May 19 through June 20th. Here is what they say about it on their homepage:
Every weekday from May 19 – June 20, 2014, you can purchase amazing getaways at deeply discounted prices. Choose from a selection of top travel brands with no pressure to book or plan right away. Packages are limited, so get yours now.
AMERICAN EXPRESS CARDMEMBERS – TAKE AN EXTRA 10% OFF!
And, here’s a rundown of the packages being offered in week 1 (prices shown are before the 10% Amex card discount):
- Monday, May 19th: One night at a Super 8 for $84, 2 nights at a Days Inn for $192, etc. These packages are actually simply selling Wyndham Rewards points that can be redeemed for hotel nights.
- Tuesday, May 20th: One week Hertz Standard Vehicle rental for $280, Hertz Prestige collection weekend for $475, etc. These packages are really selling Hertz points that can be redeemed for weekly rentals, prestige weekend rentals, etc.
- Wednesday, May 21st: Two night stay at Cambria Suites for $165, three night stay at Comfort Inn for $175, etc. These packages are actually simply selling Choice Privileges points that can be redeemed for hotel nights.
- Thursday, May 22nd: Save $25 on your next Alamo rental. Price: $25 for estimated $50 value. This package is simply a way to buy an Alamo $50 certificate for $25.
- Friday, May 23rd: 100,000 Hilton HHonors points for $550, 150,000 points for $825, or 250,000 points for $1375.
Truth 1: These are not “amazing” deals.
With most of the deals, there are situations where they could save you money, and maybe even a lot of money. But, to be fair, deals that offer big savings come and go all the time. And, by buying into these particular deals, you may have to forgo other deals. For example, suppose you buy Hertz points and you use those points to book a Hertz rental that would have cost more than the purchased points. It sounds like you got a deal, right? Maybe. But, maybe another rental car company would have offered much better prices than Hertz for the same type of car, dates, and location. Or, maybe you can do much better through Priceline or similar services. It could be that these alternate options would cost less than the price of the points. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t buy these packages. There are definitely situations where using the points or certificates does save a lot of money, but it’s good to go into it with your eyes open.
Truth 2: These are not deals if you don’t use them
A couple of years ago, via the Daily Getaways, I bought Hilton points that are still sitting in my loyalty account. I had been swept up in the excitement of the moment and had imagined using the points at an incredible 5 star resort in a tropical paradise. I could have booked a trip like that, but I never did. And, since that time, Hilton has massively devalued their point program, so that I’ll now be lucky to get my money’s worth at all. Conversely, I also bought Hertz points at that time with the knowledge that we rent cars every year in peak season when rental rates are ridiculous. The use of points since then has kept my costs down and let me continue to bypass rental car counters thanks to my Hertz Gold membership (which I wouldn’t have been able to do if I rented through Priceline or similar instead). To me, the Hertz deal was worth it because I got real value from the purchased points. Obviously, the Hilton deal was not worth it since those points are still sitting around unused. Lesson learned!
Truth 3: Some of the deals really are worth getting
I know this is implied by the above two paragraphs, but I think its worth saying explicitly. If you know that you’ll really use these packages, then many of them can be good deals. None of these are amazing “mistake fare” level discounts, but when combined with the additional 10% off for using your Amex card, they can be really good offers. For example, in week four they are offering discounted Marriott gift cards. When you pay with an Amex card, the total discount will be 19%. That’s really good if you frequent Marriott hotels, but do keep in mind that you can’t use these gift cards to cover prepaid rates, nor can you use them for hotels booked on sites like Travelocity, Hotels.com, etc.
Truth 4: If you really want the deal, keep trying
One of the most frustrating things about the Daily Getaways deals is that they often sell out almost instantly. Be ready right when the deal opens up (usually at 1pm Eastern time) and start clicking. More likely than not, you’ll see something like this:
All is not lost. As the screen says, you can try again or try selecting a different quantity. I’ve had luck simply trying again and again over and over. Some percentage of people who have added the item to their cart do not complete the checkout process. So, after time, the offer becomes available again. Be prepared to keep clicking like a deranged madman for about 20 minutes until you either get the item, or you get a message that the item is sold out. If you do manage to get the package, go ahead and whoop with joy and try to forget that I told you that it wasn’t that great of a deal. Or, if you don’t get the package, keep in mind that more likely than not, other good (and maybe better) offers will come your way if you’re patient.
Truth 5: You can use Amex prepaid cards for 10% off
As long as you pay with an American Express card, you’ll get the 10% discount. In the past, I’ve paid with reloadable Amex prepaid cards. I’m sure that Bluebird, Serve, Amex Campus Edition, and the Target Amex card would work too. I think that Amex gift cards would work, but I’ve never tried. Please let me know if you have experience with this latter point so that I can update this paragraph.
Do you have any other questions or comments about the Daily Getaways? Please comment below.