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:
- Earn Mobile Bonuses From Your Computer
- Review: United’s Streaming In-Flight Entertainment
- To Lap Child, Or Not To Lap Child — That Is The Question
- Travis Joins One Mile at a Time
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.
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:
- Create separate CheapTickets accounts for each family member.
- Enroll each account in CheapCash (this is actually very important!)
- Book each family member’s airline ticket from their own CheapTickets account.
- Book the outbound and return flights as separate one-ways. (Make sure the cost is the same as a round-trip.)
- Book each night of the hotel separately using the CheapCash in each family member’s account.
- 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?