Our family just returned from Disneyland, and it reminded me of one of my Filofax features, one that I’m using a lot as we prepare for Christmas.
Traveling with kids can be expensive, and I try to make the most of savings and loyalty programs when I can. While we were at Disneyland, we stayed at an Embassy Suites, owned by Hilton. We used rewards points to pay for our 2-night stay. I opt for the Embassy Suites because they include a hot breakfast and family-friendly afternoon snacks and beverages in the afternoon. While not a “bargain” hotel, they offer lots of space and amenities at a reasonable cost for the area. We belong to the Hilton Honors program, and I earn free points by visiting merchants that work with them.
I keep a list of these merchants posted in the front of the finances section of my Malden. These are some of the stores that work with the Hilton Honors program to provide rewards points if you enter their websites through the Hilton Honors “Shop-to-Earn” site. I bookmarked the page on my browser, and now it takes about 30 seconds to get to some of my favorite stores’ websites.
The list below represents a small portion of all their affiliates, but I only wrote down merchants I already order from or would consider using.
I also belong to some stores’ rewards programs (e.g., Nordstrom, Petco), and I marked those merchants with an asterisk. That way I earn points for hotel stays AND the stores’ rewards programs. If I am going to buy from them anyway, why not maximize my purchases? Sometimes I use a Visa card that earns rewards, too…
Here’s an example: I have a 75 pound labrador/American bulldog mix named Scout. He eats almost as much as my 14-year-old boy! We also have two cats (Shaman and Coco), so we go through a lot of pet food and kitty litter. We belong to the pet store’s rewards program, so we earn 5% back on purchases. They send me coupon codes all the time (15-40% discounts), and they offer free shipping if you spend over $50 or $75 (remember, I have a big dog). Around the time food starts to run low, I find a coupon and enter their website through the Hilton Honors portal so I simultaneously earn points toward free stays. I save money, earn rewards, and avoid an extra errand to the pet store by adding about 30 seconds to my online shopping. When I pay with my GAP Visa, I earn points towards clothes at GAP, Banana Republic, and Old Navy.
The list in the front of my finance section is for times like now…I have Christmas shopping to do, and I prefer to do much of it online. It reminds me of merchants I visit less often, such as Land’s End, where I shop about 2-3 times per year. My husband also wants some new shoes, so I can suggest that we can earn points by ordering them through East Bay, his favorite athletic supply store. Wedding gifts, back-to-school shopping, ink cartridges…all can be ordered online at no additional cost (if you can find ways to not pay for shipping).
I wonder if other people keep lists of favorite merchants in their Filofaxes…
*Disclosure: I do not have any connection with Hilton or any of the other merchants mentioned in this post, other than as a paying customer. I wrote this post to describe one way I use my Filofax, as well as outline a way I try to maximize my online shopping. It could be done with other rewards programs as well. These brands are not necessarily bargain brands, and therefore this isn’t meant as cost-saving measures like extreme couponing. Please note it would take a very long time to earn free stays if you just use the shopping portal. We combine those points with points earned during business or personal travel to get to free stays faster.