Travel Bargains to Consider
December 10-31, 2020

WHY DO THIS NOW?

Some Thoughts About Travel Deals in the Time of Coronavirus
I've always considered deals reporting to be a critical part of Joe Sent Me. In fact, I've been writing on travel discounts with an appropriately skeptical eye since the 1980s. The First Gulf War in the early 1990s didn't stop me. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 didn't stop me. The Great Recession of 2008-2009 didn't, either. But this pandemic? Yup. Stopped deals in their metaphorical tracks. And I'm not sure reviving this page now makes sense. Yet we have to start thinking about travel again eventually. So with much trepidation and the oft-promised "abundance of caution," we're tip-toeing back in the arena. We will start small, post judiciously and get back to airline deals last. If you've got any ideas about how we should be looking at travel and discounts in the months and year ahead, please let me know.

HOTEL POINTS & PRICE PROMOTIONS

Hyatt: $75 Statement Credit for Independent Stays
Hyatt is far too small to compete with lodging industry giants such as Marriott or Hilton, so it's been snapping up so-called "independent" properties to build out its footprint. That includes hotels and resorts in Hyatt's Unbound Collection, the Destination Hotels chain and the Joie de Vivre group of boutique properties. All three play in the World of Hyatt program, of course. And to encourage Hyatt guests to use these different operations, the new offer is a $75 statement credit when you spend $250 at an Unbound, Destination or JDV property. To score the credit, you must use the Hyatt or World of Hyatt credit cards and register by January 5. Qualifying stays must be completed by March 31. Information: The Visa IT PAYS TO TRAVEL page.

TOURS AND PACKAGES

Oxford University: A Travel Evergreen Returns in 2021
The pandemic has changed a lot about travel, but it is heartening to know that the Oxford Experience will return in 2021. And the week-long evergreen of learning travel will be held in the third quarter of the year, when (we hope) many of us will have been vaccinated. The 2021 edition of the summer learning event at Oxford University offers seven tranches of week-long courses between July 4 and August 15, the start date of the last batch. Among the six dozen or so offerings for 2021: 200 years of British murder mysteries; the French Revolution; the life and music of Brahms; survey courses on English gardens and British country homes; the history of "fake news;" and the history of the English language. The course fee (about $2,100) includes a week of classes; accommodations with private bath; most meals and a final gala reception. Along the way there are pub walks, whisky tastings and even Morris Dancers. Because, really, what's Oxford without Morris Dancers? Information: The Oxford University OXFORD EXPERIENCE page.

GROUND TRANSPORTATION DEALS

Hertz: Airport-to-City One-Way Rentals for $10
Even before the pandemic devastated the car-rent business, rentals were being destroyed by ride-share apps. But Hertz is experimenting with a targeted response: one-way airport-to-city rentals for as little as $10. If you're flying into a baker's dozen of airports, you can rent a car for a day, drive as much as 150 miles and drop the car at a downtown location. Hertz won't even charge for the gas refill. The airports involved: San Francisco; Chicago (O'Hare and Midway); Washington (Dulles and National); Denver; Boston/Logan; Nashville; Houston (Hobby and Intercontinental); Dallas (DFW and Love Field); and Columbia, South Carolina. The deal is valid until December 31. Information: The Hertz FEATURED OFFERS page.

Amtrak: An Acela BOGO for Winter Travel
Amtrak has slashed long-haul routes and is only slowly rebuilding its bellwether service in the Northeast Corridor. Which is why this winter BOGO offer for its signature Acela trains between Washington and Boston is intriguing. For each roundtrip Acela you book--or every two one-ways you buy--you'll receive a pair of free Acela one-way coupons. You can earn four BOGO coupons during the promotional period until February 10. The freebies can be used through March 15. Major restrictions: Advance registration and (free) Acela Guest Rewards membership is required. Three-day advance reservations are required. Information: The Amtrak TAKE ONE, GET ONE page.

CREDIT CARD ACQUISITION BONUSES

Sonesta Hotels: Up to 95,000 points for Minimal Spend
When the year began, Sonesta had fewer than 100 hotels worldwide. But one of the chain's owners got into spats with InterContinental and Marriott and it is shifting 200 properties to Sonesta's flags. That includes a clutch of Kimpton, Courtyard, Marriott, Holiday Inn Express and other properties. At 300 hotels--all but a handful in the United States--Sonesta becomes an interesting niche player. So it probably wouldn't hurt to have its credit card (issued by Bank of America) in your wallet, especially since the acquisition bonus is huge. You'll receive 60,000 Sonesta Travel Points for spending $1,000 on the card in the first 90 days and 30,000 more at the end of the first year if you spend a total of $7,500 on the card. You'll also earn 5,000 points for adding an authorized user in the first 90 days. The card, designated a World MasterCard, even waives the $75 annual fee in the first year. Information: The Sonesta EXCLUSIVE OFFERS page.