I have been writing about earning reward points on credit cards for over 3 years now. However, one important aspect of earning reward points is to redeem them for travel, vouchers or cashback. With this Yatra on Points series, my attempt is to share redemption experiences. The idea is to show that while earning rewards points on credit cards is easy, redeeming them is equally easy. You don’t need to be an expert in airmiles or hotel loyalty or need top-tier Elite or Platinum memberships with airlines and hotels to get good redemption value. In this post, I will share about my recent Yatra on Points to Dehradun and Mussoorie.
Yatra on Points- Mussoorie 2023
Brief Details of my Yatra on Points:
Travel Period: Last week of March 2023
Places travelled: Dehradun and Mussoorie
Nos of people: 2 adults and 1 kid
Mode of travel: Flight
Hotels: Hotel White Rock, Dehradun and ITC Savoy, Mussorie
Cards Used: HDFC Diners Black and Axis Magnus for points redemption.
Travel – Air Vistara
I booked Air Vistara, Mumbai Dehradun flight for this Yatra on Points. The reason for booking this flight was simple – a direct flight to Dehradun. Further, given that I was travelling with my kid, I didn’t want an early morning or a late evening flight. Therefore, Air Vistara fit the bill completely.
For the booking, I transferred my HDFC Diners Black points to Club Vistara at a 1:1 ratio. Got a really good value for my points (INR 1.4 for each HDFC point) as revenue return tickets for 3 people were going for ~45k including taxes. However, I paid 30k CV points + ~3k in taxes for the return flights.
Nonetheless, as luck would have it, just a couple of days after I initiated the transfer from HDFC, Air Vistara came up with a 25% bonus CV points offer. ☹
Airport Meet and Greet service
I used Axis Magnus to book an airport meet and greet service at Mumbai’s T2 domestic terminal. In my review of Axis Magnus, I mentioned that this is nothing but a glorified porter service. However, after experiencing the service I must admit that this service is helpful, especially when travelling with a young kid or senior citizens.
An usher was ready for us at the VIP departure gate at T2, Mumbai. A buggy took us to the business class check-in counter and then to the VIP security check counter. Within 10 minutes we were done with the check-in and security check. Looking at the queue in the normal process, we easily saved 25-30 minutes that day. That’s not all, the concerned person told me that lounge access is also part of the service. Thus, I didn’t have to use my credit cards for lounge access. Around boarding time, the buggy was ready to take us to the boarding gate was changed and it was quite a walk from the lounge, otherwise.
Dehradun – Hotel White Rock
We stayed in Dehradun for 2 nights and were looking for accommodation close to Dehradun Zoo and Robber’s Cave. The plan was to arrive in the evening, see the aforementioned places the next day and leave early morning the day after for Mussoorie. Thus, the requirement was basic accommodation with a neat and clean room and a comfortable bed.
There were only a few hotels that fit the bill. The shortlisted ones were Fairfield by Marriott, LemonTree Pacific Mall and Hotel White Rock. Fairfield by Mariott appeared expensive at 10k/night. Further, Marriott redemption also didn’t seem worth it as the asking rate was 8-9k points without breakfast. Given that I am at the base level in the Marriott hierarchy I had to shell out money for the breakfast. LemonTree Pacific Mall at 10k/night seemed expensive. Then, there was this Hotel White Rock which seemed to have very good reviews on TripAdvisor and other travel websites. Thus, I decided to book this.
On MMT, this hotel was available at ~12k for 2 nights, not bad. Now, I thought of redeeming my points for this booking too. Thus I used the HDFC’s SmartBuy portal and saw that the hotel was available at ~7.5K for 2 nights. Wow! Not to forget that you get 10x reward points of up to 2500 per day on Diners Black. Thus seemed like the perfect option.
For some reason, I checked Cleartip for the same hotel and to my surprise, it was available at just 5.2k for 2 nights post a 25% discount on Citi credit cards. Thus, I gave up my greed of 2.5k HDFC points and used my Citi Premiermiles and did a revenue booking for Hotel White Rock, Dehradun. Note to self, come what may, check all the websites for prices/fares before settling for the best option.
Experience at Hotel White Rock – What you pay is what you get!
With the booking done at ~2.5k per day with breakfast, I didn’t have high hopes for the property. Hotel White Rock is a decent hotel with few rooms and nothing more. However, the room was cosy, the bathroom was clean with running hot water and the bed was comfortable. Breakfast options were limited to idli sambhar, paratha, poha and omelettes; sufficient to fill your tummy in the morning. Not to forget that the staff was courteous and friendly. The downside, they charged us for the kid’s milk and food. But again, given the pricing this was expected and nothing wrong with it.
Mussoorie – ITC Savoy
For our stay at Mussoorie, I booked the suite at ITC Savoy for 3 nights. For this booking, I transferred my Axis Edge Points at a 5:4 ratio to ITC Green points and did the booking. Here again, I got a good value for my points as the revenue booking for the suite was going at 30,600/ night i.e. a total of 91,800 + taxes of ~16,500. Whereas, I did the booking in 81600 ITC Green points (102,000 Axis Edge points) and 14,688 in taxes.
The reason I booked the ITC Savoy was I wanted to stay at a luxury property that has a kid’s play area and is close to the main Mall Road in Mussoorie. The stay was genuinely very comfortable and the staff was obviously courteous, responsive & friendly and made sure that our stay was pleasant, especially for my kid.
Some tips: Suites don’t have a worthy view. They face the valley but the trees block the view. Book rooms with a mountain view to see the magnificent snowcapped mountains. The storytelling session in the evening is interesting. Games in the play area (foosball, Table Tennis, Croquet, Badminton etc) and colouring activities will keep your kid engaged. The change of guard and the movie session is a one-time activity at best. The morning walk organized by the hotel is good. The food is good, the breakfast spread is decent, and Garhwali Thali is good but not out of the world. More of a personal taste I believe.
Downside: ITC Savoy is not an owned hotel but a managed one. Thus, they do not accept GVs from ITC’s website or any other portal such as HDFC Gfytr or Axis GiftEdge to settle the bill. Do keep that in mind and don’t buy those vouchers beforehand.
Yatra on Points – Total spends
For the entire trip, I burned 30k HDFC points and 102,000 Axis Edge points. In addition, I spent ~40k in cash. ~22k was spent on taxes and accommodation (3k for flight + 14.6k in taxes at ITC Savoy and 5.2k at Hotel White Rock. The rest was spent on food, taxis, entry tickets etc. Thus, my 5-day holiday cost me around 40k.
For the above payments, I used the following cards.
- Citi Premiermiles for booking the hotel at Dehradun.
- Amex MRCC (Apply Now) to settle the food bill at ITC Savoy. Just to reach the 20k monthly milestone.
- HDFC Diners Black to pay the taxes on my room. Max reward rate at 3.3%.
- HDFC Tata Neu credit card linked to Paytm UPI for taxis, entry tickets etc.
The whole idea of earning reward points on credit cards is to redeem them for travel or gift vouchers for purchases. As someone said, the reward points are like monopoly money, they have 0 value lying in your account. I strongly agree with this and believe in earn and burn rather than just accumulation.
The reason for sharing this redemption story is to show that while earning rewards points on credit cards is easy, redeeming them is equally easy. You don’t need top-tier memberships with airlines and hotels to get good redemption value. Further, the reward points bring many luxury experiences within our budget. Case in point the suite at ITC Savoy, if I were asked to pay 1.08lks for 3 nights, I would have never paid that, but thanks to credit card reward points, I only paid 14.6k for 3 nights.
Do share your redemption story as I would love to read them. In case you want your redemption experience to feature in Yatra on Points, do get in touch with me at techtrick (at) gmail
Images Courtesy: Vistara plane image from Air Vistara website. Hotel White Rock image from Google. ITC Savoy – yours truly :).
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