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Chicago hotels free nights, BRGs and points bonuses

On February 12, I set a travel savings task for myself with Challenge tutorial: 7 nights in Chicago for $700 during IPW convention with the objective to find seven nights in downtown Chicago for $700 during a convention with 7,000 attendees.

Chicago plans changed within a couple of days of writing my post as I accepted an offer to tour Iowa on a sponsored three-night group tour as a media attendee of the U.S. Travel Association annual convention. I am looking forward to a closer look at the grain belt of the USA.

Check Once, Check Twice, Check Back

Several weeks ago I finalized my Chicago hotel plans on March 1 with approved Best Rate Guarantee claims for Marriott’s Hotel Chicago Downtown, Autograph Collection and Choice Hotels Ascend Collection Inn of Chicago.

I may have checked rates once or twice since in the past few weeks, but I saw nothing to change with my reservations. Today I noticed several hotels dropped rates in Chicago over the next ten days to as low or lower than I saw six weeks ago.

Renaissance Blackstone Hotel

Renaissance Blackstone in Chicago was one of the hotels that I saw for a Best Rate Guarantee claim in February, but it required booking a nonrefundable room rate on Marriott and that was a risk I did not want to take.

Today, this same hotel was back as a Best Rate Guarantee discrepancy.

  • $138.37 (found on; rate refundable within 48 hours.)
  • Marriott rate $249 Best Available Rate ($224 prepaid, nonrefundable)
  • I booked Marriott $249 rate and submitted Best Rate Guarantee claim. Six hours later the Look No Further claim is approved by Marriott and the reservation rate is changed from $249 to 25% off $138.37 for a nightly rate of $103.77.

Choice Hotels Splits BRG Free Night Reservation from Other Nights

I received one free night when my February booking for Ascend Collection Inn of Chicago was approved for a Choice Hotels Best Rate Guarantee claim. An approved claim gets the first night free.

Choice Hotels split the reservation into one reservation number for the free night and another reservation number for paid nights. The cancellation policy was flexible for the paid nights portion. After getting the Renaissance Blackstone Best Rate Guarantee approval, I canceled the paid portion of the Choice Hotels stay and kept the free night reservation at the Inn of Chicago. Renaissance Blackstone was $10 more per night than Choice’s Inn of Chicago with a far higher guest rating.

Renaissance Blackstone gets 90% favorable rating on TripAdvisor with 824 reviews and ranks #26 of 167 hotels in Chicago. Choice Ascend Collection Inn of Chicago gets 59% favorable rating and ranks #116 of 167 Chicago hotels.

Free is free. I‘ll be checking in to the Inn to check out a free hotel room.

Club Carlson

This week I changed Chicago reservations to get a third night at a Carlson hotel Country Inns & Suites for $90 to earn 38,000 bonus points. I stayed two nights at Radisson Santa Maria in California last weekend for $160 all-in.

The Club Carlson 3 nights for 38,000 bonus points promotion pulls in about 45,000 points based on $225 room rates and points earned from the two stays. I earned the 2,000 points online booking bonus for a reservation booked before March 15 for my stay after March 15. This issue was a question for reservations made online before the booking bonus was discontinued with Club Carlson March 15 program changes. I got the online booking points for the March 22 Radisson stay.

$250 /45,000 point = $5.56 per 1,000 points paid for points earned with three hotel nights.

Chicago Hotels Objective Appears to be In Sight

My initial goal was Chicago for $700 for 7 nights. Currently I have booked 5 nights in Chicago for $455 while earning one Marriott Category 1-5 certificate with the MegaBonus offer and 40,000 Club Carlson bonus points with one Chicago night. That is about a $250 rebate value at the low end estimate for two free nights. A Category 5 Marriott free night and two Club Carlson high category reward nights (with Club Carlson Visa) can be a $600+ value if redeemed at good value hotels.

Traveling alone I don’t mind hotel hopping next week in Chicago.


Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

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