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How I booked TWO hotels for the Chicago Marathon for FREE

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Two Hotels for the Chicago Marathon for FREE

If you didn’t already know, Lisa and I are big fans of destination races! We love traveling to different places around the world and incorporating a fitness goal helps keep us active while on the go. When it comes to Marathons, it doesn’t get much bigger than Chicago.  The Chicago Marathon is a member of the Abbott World Major Marathons which includes the 6 largest marathons across the planet. The other 5 cities that host these giant races include New York City, Boston, Berlin, London, and Tokyo. 

Chicago Marathon

Have you dreamed of attending the Super Bowl or a premier music festival? If you’ve ever tried to attend a large event before; you may know that hotels are often sky-high due to supply and demand. The Chicago Marathon is no different where you’ll find hotels booked up instantly and rates raised to over $400 per night! Paying these prices isn’t feasible for most people and it’s important to know that there are basic strategies to get around those sky-high prices. 

After running the New York City Marathon last November; I set my sight on the next race and decided to proactively open a few credit cards. I opened the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card. I also opened The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card to earn Hilton Honors points. A key thing to remember with credit card offers is that the welcome offers change frequently. Be sure to always refer back to our Top Credit Cards page for the latest offers. 

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card

Earn 5 free nights (Valued up to 250k points) After you spend $5,000 on eligible purchases within 3 months from account opening
(Valued up to 250k points) After you spend $5,000 on eligible purchases within 3 months from account opening

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card

Earn 5 free nights (Valued up to 250k points) After you spend $5,000 on eligible purchases within 3 months from account opening

Next, I completed the lottery application for the Chicago Marathon and patiently counted down the seconds until December 11th! 

I received the word that I was in and feverishly started booking my hotels! Taking a look at where the finish line of the Chicago Marathon would be and decided to go with the Hilton Palmer and the JW Marriott. I booked both as quickly as they were stelling out fast. Knowing that the hotels allow free cancelations up to 3 days prior to your stay, I could make my final decision later.

The Hilton Palmer

The Nightly Rate using points was 60,000. I had 130,000 Hilton Honors Points from the welcome offer received after opening the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Credit Card. In addition, I already had a stash of 100,000 points leftover from opening the standard Hilton Honors American Express Card that I had been saving for a rainy day. 

Total Cost for three nights  = 180,000 Hilton Honors Points + $6.99 in taxes and fees 

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The JW Marriott 

The Nightly Rate using points was 35,000. I had 105,000 (5K from the spending requirement) from the Marriott Bonvoy Credit Card welcome bonus. 

Total Cost for three nights = 105,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points + $0 in taxes and fees 

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What it should have cost

For some Basic Fun, I took a look at the nightly rates for the same three days at both hotels. 

The Hilton Palmer would cost me $1,264.40 for the same three nights in the same room. 

The JW Marriott would cost me $2,004.63 for the same three nights in the same room. 

Using points to book these hotels has given me the opportunity to choose between two fantastic options! I have elite status with both Marriott and Hilton so I won’t have to worry about paying for breakfast which is also a nice perk. 

The question is, which hotel do I choose? 

Has anyone stayed at either hotel before? I’d love to hear about your experience down below in the comments section.

For rates and fees for American Express cards mentioned in this post, please see the following links: Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (See Rates & Fees; terms apply); Hilton Honors American Express Card (See Rates & Fees; terms apply); terms apply)

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

Disclosure: Basic Travel Couple, LLC has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Basic Travel Couple, LLC and CardRatings and MileValue may receive a commission from card issuers. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

The comments section below responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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