Earn A $75 Hotel Credit By Booking Flights

Travis is my first new contributor to the blog, who will be writing a post every Wednesday to start. The idea behind adding guest contributors is to add different perspectives to the blog. Travis has a unique approach towards travel, given that he travels almost exclusively with his wife and young children, which is in stark contrast to my travels, which are usually alone.

You can find more posts by Travis here:


Cheaptickets launched their loyalty program over the summer called CheapCash without a lot of fanfare.

To be honest, loyalty programs from the major online travel agencies usually draw a yawn from me.  Sure they are worth signing up for — there’s no reason to leave points or rebates on the table — but they just are not that exciting to me.

CheapCash is a bit different.  Cheaptickets is currently offering $50 in CheapCash for any flight booked on the their website.  If you book on the mobile app, they give you an additional $25 bonus.  That’s $75 in CheapCash for any flight you book on the mobile app.  The CheapCash you earn can then be used to pay for hotels.

CheapCash is the new loyalty program for CheapTickets
CheapCash is the new loyalty program for CheapTickets

I normally like to book my tickets directly with the airline but $75 in hotel credits is definitely enough to get my attention and change my behavior (at least momentarily!).  Considering that I usually travel with the family, this can be very lucrative.

The terms and conditions for CheapCash seem relatively straightforward.  Here is a summary:

  • Earn $75 for each airline ticket booked, regardless of whether it is round trip, one-way, or multi-city.
  • CheapCash must be redeemed for hotels within 30 days (stay may be after 30 days).
  • CheapCash can be redeemed for hotel stays after the flight has occurred (not enforced?).
  • CheapCash can be combined with other publicly available discount codes (typically 15-20%).
  • Each account is limited to $100 of CheapCash per year.
  • CheapCash can offset the full amount of the hotel, including taxes.

I recently booked a domestic trip for our family of four using CheapTickets and earned $600 in CheapCash which more than covered the hotels for our trip.  This was my strategy:

  1. Create separate CheapTickets accounts for each family member.
  2. Enroll each account in CheapCash (this is actually very important!)
  3. Book each family member’s airline ticket from their own CheapTickets account.
  4. Book the outbound and return flights as separate one-ways.  (Make sure the cost is the same as a round-trip.)
  5. Book each night of the hotel separately using the CheapCash in each family member’s account.
  6. Be sure to use the current hotel discount code when booking the hotel to get another 15%-20% off.

A few comments and observations:

CheapTickets sometimes assesses a service fee of $21.99 on airline tickets.  For our outbound, nonstop flights were pricing with the service fee while connecting flights on the same carrier did not have the fee. For the return, neither nonstop nor connecting flights priced with the service fee. The airline and city pairs were the same in both cases.  I honestly cannot figure out when the fee is charged and when it is not. In general, most domestic flights are bookable as one-ways.  But always check to verify this.

CheapTickets says that only $100 of CheapCash can be earned per account per year.  I was able to exceed this which allowed me to earn $75 for both the outbound and return segments for each family member.  This was a few weeks ago, however, and it appears that the $100 annual limit is now more prominent so perhaps they fixed the glitch.

My CheapCash was deposited immediately and I used it to immediately book the hotels.  I suggest burning your CheapCash as soon as you earn it so it doesn’t expire.  I even used some leftover CheapCash to book a hotel for a stay that occurred before the associated flight.  Since this is not supposed to be possible, perhaps it is a glitch.

I needed to cancel one of the hotel reservations that I had made using CheapCash.  The CheapCash was immediately returned to my account and ready for use on another hotel booking.  It still had the original 30 day expiration associated with it, however, so booking and canceling does not seem to reset the clock.  I presume that means that if you cancel a hotel booking more than 30 days after you earned the CheapCash, the CheapCash used on that hotel is forfeited.

I inadvertently booked the wrong flight for one of my family members.  Fortunately Cheaptickets has a customer-friendly cancellation policy whereby you can cancel flights up until 10PM CT of the following day with no penalty.  (This is even better than most airlines and is the same policy as Orbitz, the parent company of CheapTickets.)  The online cancellation was easy to use.  The CheapCash that I had earned from the booking was immediately withdrawn from my account.

Booking eight tickets using a touchscreen would be very tedious.  I used an Android emulator to be able to run the CheapCash app from my PC.  This allowed me to earn the mobile booking bonus right from my computer.  This saved my sanity.


CheapCash can be a very lucrative rewards program.  Even if you book a flight that has a service fee, you are essentially paying $21.99 to get $75 in hotel credits or about a 70% discount.  If you travel with a family, it is quite possible to get your entire hotel stay for free since you can easily generate $600 in hotel credits for a family of 4 on one trip.

Have you earned CheapCash yet?

Comments

  1. Cheaptickets adds a booking fee of about 20 USD to most flights (compared with prices on other websites like Expedia or the airline’s website). Also, it appears that the bonus was dropped to 25 USD or 50 USD using the mobile app.

  2. I earned tons with this. Talk about MRing for free. At one point they would send an 8% off (IIRC) coupon with your first booking or so.

    However, you’re still missing one major component that makes this even more lucrative. Hint: Gen. 50:20. (If you do this, be sure to read T&C carefully. I missed a few bits early on. T&C enforcement is shoddy, though.)

    There is a second component you didn’t mention as well that makes this more lucrative (though I don’t know if they’re still offering it). Hint: The reason for this second (unadvertised) bonus was in the headlines a lot, on this blog and others.

    One caveat is that the CheapCash cannot be used on *some* chain hotels. I’ve successfully redeemed for some Best Westerns and HIXs, but don’t expect to be able to use them at chains in general. Chain redemptions are the exception rather than the rule, IME.

    Also be aware that their math is a little funny when you apply CheapCash. I haven’t dug into it to see exactly what they’re doing, but one thing is they’re not reducing the taxes.

  3. I tried it right now– the fares on their site seem to be a bit higher than on Orbitz or the airlines’ own sites.
    Is this consistently the case? If so, that could negate the savings…

  4. Adi-T:

    Like I said in the post, CheapTickets charges a service fee for some (but not all) flights. It seems that it can be about $22. Therefore, you would be paying $22 more to get a $50 or $75 hotel credit. Depending on how you value the hotel credit, this may or may not be a good deal.

    So yes, you should take that into consideration when deciding if this is a good deal for you.

  5. I need KOA-OGG ticket, it’s $84.00 on the airline website, tried cheaptickets, it’s $106.37 for the same flight ($22.37 more), and only $25 cheapcash (not $50). I suspect their hotel prices maybe higher than elsewhere as well.

    I also need another ticket on Air Baltic for a cheap intra-Europe flight, and cheaptickets does not show Air Baltic flights at all, while other major OTAs do. So no use for me. Maybe useful in other circumstances though.

  6. Pls check your post. Cheaptickets reduced the bonus for mobile bookings to 50 USD at the end of last week. If you book on your normal computer, the bonus is just 25 USD. Also, Cheaptickets now seems to collect the booking fee for pretty much all U.S. flights.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *