Oct 202014

This post is by Summer Hull of Mommy Points.

frequent-flyer-toolkits-orlandoAt first blush, you’d think a trip to Orlando should be relatively inexpensive and it can be — sometimes. However, the cost of airfare fluctuates throughout the year and can get quite pricy during the holidays and school vacations, which is — of course — when it’s most convenient for many to travel.

There are a wide variety of accommodations that match every budget, but properties located near the theme parks — or right on park property, like the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotels — can be more expensive than other options. And, don’t even get me started about theme park tickets. If you’re traveling with a family, you won’t believe your eyes the first time you calculate how much cash you’ll drop for entry into Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, and all of the other attractions located in and around Orlando.

So, what can you do to save money and still plan an awesome trip to the theme park capital of Florida? Use frequent flyer miles, hotel loyalty points and bank points like Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards to help defray the cost of your entire vacation. Here’s how.

Saving On Airfare with Frequent Flyer Miles

Nearly every airline offers a frequent flyer program in which you earn miles to redeem for a nearly free flight. I say “nearly free” because you will pay cash for the tax on your ticket, which is currently $5.60 per flight segment per person. Your only other cost for the flight will be airline miles that you can earn sometimes for very little effort. Some airline programs offer fantastic values for travel to Orlando. Here are two of them:

  • Spirit Airlines: This low-cost airline runs the Free Spirit frequent flyer program and there’s a special deal for anyone who carries the Free Spirit-branded MasterCard. If that’s you, you’re entitled to redeem off-peak one-way flights for as few as 2,500 miles. That’s an amazing value! That means—if you can find available off-peak award seats—a family of five can travel to and from Orlando for just 25,000 miles. You can spend 25,000 for one round-trip ticket on many other airlines. Spirit offers nonstop flights from many cities, including Atlantic City, Chicago O’Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Latrobe, and Minneapolis.
  • British Airways: You’re right. British Airways doesn’t fly to Orlando but its OneWorld alliance partners, American Airlines and U.S. Airways, do. That’s why you can use British Airways Avios points to book award seats on these other two airlines. Well, you’re probably asking, “Why is that valuable to me?” British Airways utilizes a distance-based award chart so that presents a sweet spot for people living in the eastern part of the United States. For example, you can fly up to 650 miles, say from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Orlando, for just 4,500 Avios points each way. It costs 7,500 Avios for one-way trips between 651 and 1,151 miles, and 10,000 Avios for one-way trips between 1,152 and 2,000 miles.

The key with British Airways’ distance-based award chart is that it is most lucrative if you book a nonstop flight. If you add a connection onto the routes listed above, you’ll need to spend more points. If you don’t have British Airways miles, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points or American Express Membership Rewards points to your British Airways account and then book your award flights.

Those are just two excellent ways to use miles to get to Orlando, but there are others. I cover all the options in my latest ebook, Orlando for Nearly Free. It’s part of the Frequent Flyer Toolkits series.

Where to Stay?

Here’s some terrific news: you’ve got your choice of 30 hotel brands under the auspices of 11 different loyalty programs when it comes to finding accommodations that accept points or a combination of points and cash as payment.

  •  Stay on Site: There are so many fantastic places to stay in Orlando, but if you plan to spend most of your time at Walt Disney World, you’ll probably want to stay right on site. And, you can do just that while paying with hotel loyalty points instead of cash. That’s the case with the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotels. Both participate in Starwood Preferred Guests’ loyalty program. You’ll need 10,000 points per night or you can opt to pay 5,000 points plus $75 per night.
  •  Opt for a Luxury Resort: When you want to treat yourself, check into the Ritz-Carlton-Orlando, Grande Lakes. It costs 40,000 Ritz-Carlton Rewards or Marriott Rewards points. You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Ritz-Carlton Rewards on a 1:1 basis.

Where to Find Discounted Theme Park Tickets

There are a few ways to purchase discounted theme park tickets. Two Walmart locations in Orlando — 3250 Vineland Road and 4444 West Vine Street — near Walt Disney World have an in-store kiosk offering discounted theme park tickets. Some AAA (American Automobile Association) and CAA (Canadian Automobile Association) offices sell discounted Disney passes. Not all offices sell them though so call your local office to determine the options. Finally, you can purchase theme park tickets from Undercover Tourist. This reputable ticket broker sells admission to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando, and Legoland Florida.

These are just a few ways in which you can save some serious cash on your next trip to Orlando. I discuss these redemption strategies—as well as many others—in my series of Frequent Flyer Toolkits ebooks, including Orlando for Nearly Free, Hawaii for Nearly Free, and Paris for Nearly Free.

Readers of Orlando on the Cheap can sign up for the Frequent Flyer Toolkits email list to receive four free resources to help you earn and redeem your next nearly free flight or hotel stay. You’ll receive The Mommy Points Beginner’s Guide to Earning Nearly Free Travel, a podcast about the best flight redemption values available today, a miles-and-points tracker, and an award flight-planning calendar. Sign up now!

Summer Hull is one of America’s foremost experts when it comes to planning affordable family vacations with frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. She launched the Mommy Points blog in spring of 2011 and has successfully helped her readers earn nearly free flights and hotel stays ever since. While her site was born out of her family’s desire to find a better way to travel for less, anyone can benefit from Summer’s sage advice, which ranges from selecting the best frequent flyer program for your needs, to making the most out of elite benefits, to maximizing your frequent flyer miles to get you to your destination for almost free—and often in first class. She is the co-author of the Frequent Flyer Toolkits series. These ebooks—like Hawaii for Nearly Free, Orlando for Nearly Free, and Paris for Nearly Free—help travelers plan an inexpensive vacation to a specific destination.

Oct 172013

moneypenniesOrlando on the Cheap is looking for an editor and publisher. On the Cheap publishers own their sites, creating their own editorial calendars and working together with the national Living on the Cheap network. It’s like owning an online newspaper.

If you’d like to run a business as Orlando’s top maven of deals, discounts and free events, send your credentials to Teresa Mears, publisher of Living on the Cheap.

The ideal candidate has experience in journalism or marketing, knows the city well and has an interest in owning and operating his or her own small publishing business. Orlando on the Cheap is part of Living on the Cheap, a collective of independent website publishers who work together.

Apr 202013

coffeepot-278x300Capturing Suspect 2 after an intense manhunt over a period of 24 hours takes a special kind of hero. Add to that the stress of the Boston Marathon bombing earlier in the week, and it’s no wonder the men and women of the Boston Police Department are America’s best and finest.

So what do you say we all chip in to buy our neighbors in uniform a cup of coffee? And not just any cup of joe, but a special blend roasted just for them.

Living on the Cheap and its sister sites, including Orlando on the Cheap, are collecting $1 from everyone who feels moved to contribute toward this cause. The money will be used to buy custom bags of fresh roasted beans from Buona Caffe and send them to station houses all over Boston to fuel these officers’ days and nights. Each bag will have a special thank you message from our readers.

To contribute, click on the Donate button below and leave your message of congratulations in the comments. We’ll select random comments to print on the accompanying tags.

Thank you to everyone in advance, and a big hats off salute to Boston!


Mar 182013

Here’s a way to save on skincare, bath and beauty products with a Body Shop deal from Living Social. The store is offering $20 worth of skincare, bath and beauty products for $10. You must use the Living Social voucher in-store, not online. You’re allowed to buy three vouchers for yourself and one as a gift.

You can find other deals from Living Social and all the daily deals sites, constantly updated, on our Daily Deals page.

Nov 092012

It’s a new season for the Orlando Magic, and we’ve found a way to get 25% to 50% (or more) off Orlando Magic tickets.

Score Big routinely offers tickets to concerts and sporting events at 10% to 60% off. The ticket deals change all the time. Current Orlando Magic deals will give you 25% to 50% off.

We’ve also got a special promo code, HOLIDAY35, that will guarantee you 35% off  (on up to a $300 purchase). If you’re buying tickets that are already marked down more than 35% and want to save that promo code for later, new members can still get an extra 10% off their purchase with the code SB10.

Each promo code works only once per customer, so don’t waste a 30% off code if you can get the tickets for 50% off.

You can see all the ScoreBig South Orlando deals here.

Score Big is not a ticket broker but a company that works directly with venues, teams and promoters to sell off excess tickets. It’s a little like Priceline for entertainment and sports tickets. Here’s how it works:

  • Select the event you want and where you want to sit.
  • Bid how much you are willing to pay. You’ll have to enter your credit card information here.
  • If your bid is accepted, you’re notified instantly, and the company charges your credit card.
  • If your bid is rejected, you can place a new bid.

Sometimes you’ll get a counter offer, which you are free to accept or reject. No additional fees are added to the price you agree on.


ScoreBig is an advertising partner of On the Cheap.

Aug 202012

skincare-by-alanaSpa Review Magazine, part of the Living On The Cheap network, is holding a giveaway for five great spa products. Spa Review Magazine checks out spas worldwide, plus shares information on all sorts of spa products.Spa Review Magazine readers can enter to win 5 Travel Best Sellers from Skincare by Alana, a package worth $97. To learn more and enter the giveaway, go to this Spa Review Magazine post and be prepared to leave a comment. Deadline to enter is midnight Aug. 30.

Jul 262012

Couponing for the Beginner - a Guide to CouponingA bit intimidated by couponing? A new e-book can help. Couponing for the Beginner: A Guide to Couponing for the Uninitiated is the first in a series of guides released on GuideToCouponing.com.

Author Jenny Dean has been couponing for more than 10 years. Dean has not only studied, but read, heard and experienced how to coupon legally and effectively. She wanted to create this guide for all the people who ask her, "How did you do that?" when her total is $0.00 at checkout.

This book covers topics such as coupon rules and policies, where to get coupons, how to organize them, and how to maximize your savings, even how to get items for free. Dean also looks at refunds, rebates and money-back guarantees.

It’s normally $9.99, but you can get $4 off through our special code. To buy it, go here. Scroll down to the "Buy Now" button. Look for the words Discount Code. In the box below type in LivingOnTheCheap. Click on "Buy Now." You will be redirected to PayPal where the total should be $5.99 instead of $9.99. You can pay with your PayPal account or any major credit card. The eBook will be delivered almost immediately to your inbox.

Jun 252012

Treasure MoneyHere’s one giveaway prize everyone can use — $100. In partnership with Living On The Cheap, we’re going to give five lucky readers from across the country $100 each.

With such a big payout, we’re going to make you do a bit more than just leave a comment. We’re sending you on a hunt to find three “secret” words or phrases. But being nice guys, we’re giving you a map (actually step-by-step instructions). Be sure to follow the directions carefully so you get your chance at the cash.

Here is how you enter:

  1. Click on the Orlando on the Cheap daily deals page. Look for the secret word. Hint: It says “Here’s the secret word.” Write it down.
  2. That page also has a link to the second secret word, along with how to find it. Find that one and write it down.
  3. Go to this Living On The Cheap page and find the third secret word. Write it down.
  4. Now send an email to lotccontest@gmail.com. Put “Contest Entry” in the Subject line. In the body of your email you must include all three secret words/phrases, as well as your real name and mailing address. Don’t worry, we aren’t going to add you to any mailing lists, we promise.

Deadline to enter is 10 p.m. EDT on Thursday, June 28. Five winners will be randomly drawn and contacted by email from the Living On The Cheap crew. If they don’t hear from you within 72 hours, they’ll move onto the alternate winner.

Fine print: Only one entry per household. Duplicate or incomplete entries will be tossed. You must be a resident of the United States.

Jun 042012

barnes-and-noble-summer-readingThis summer, kids can get a free book at Barnes & Noble with the Imagination’s Destination summer reading program. If kids in grades 1-6 read eight books and fill out a reading journal, they’ll get to choose a free kid’s book.

The bookstore program isn’t the only one in which kids can earn prizes for summer reading. Our friends at Living on the Cheap have a list of 10 other free summer reading programs, plus a few additional resources.