PSA for February 21

If you’re like me, you’ve joined one or two or a dozen reward programs. Anymore it seems that almost every store and service offers some sort of reward system, from earning gasoline points by shopping at a grocery store to frequent flyer miles to earning points at the gym (yes, my gym rewards me with points for checking in that I can “spend” on things like gym-branded merchandise or personal training sessions).

Sadly, many of these points go to waste. I either forget to use them or I don’t earn enough to do anything with them. That’s particularly true for the travel reward programs—flights, rental cars, and hotels. A) I don’t travel frequently enough. And B) I’m really not a loyal customer. I don’t always use the same airline or hotel because I go with what’s most affordable and convenient. (And while you can get various credit cards to expedite earning rewards, I don’t have any of the travel rewards credit cards, and really, I try not to use credit cards at all.)

So many of my reward points languish, eventually wasting away into expiration land.

Marriott is one of the many reward accounts I signed up for many years ago. Throughout my adult-life, I have had to travel for work, and more often than not, Marriott has a reasonably-priced hotel nearby. Recently, Marriott sent me an email warning that I had points about to expire. The point fairy was looking out for me that day and nudged me to look at my Marriott points account. I had something like 20,000 odd points. Surprisingly, I had enough points for either a couple nights at one of the lower-end Marriott properties or I could have upgraded a room. But as I have no scheduled vacation or other travel plans, I really had no reason to use the points that way.

But, when scoping out Marriott’s reward site, I saw I could turn my points into a gift card. That’s right. You can use your points to buy a gift card or various types of merchandise. Because I’m trying to downsize the amount of stuff I own and not buy things just to have things, I focused on the gift cards. The brands included several stores I shop at, such as CVS, AMC Theatres, Best Buy, Macy’s, as well as others.

What gift card did I get, you ask? Well, I spent 17,500 of my 20,ooo odd points on a $50 Barnes & Noble gift card.

bn-booksThat’s right. I got a gift card for BOOKS!

(If you know me, this is not a surprise.)

Once you place your gift card order, Marriott’s site says it will take a couple weeks to arrive. (I don’t remember how long it actually took, but it seemed to arrive fairly quickly. Then again I kind of forgot about it.)

When it arrived, it was like Booktober in February. Or Christmas in Iceland.

This past Saturday, I ventured to Barnes & Noble clutching my gift card.

50 whole dollars designated for books is no laughing matter for a booknerd.

And, if you are a booknerd, then you know, the selection of new books is no easy task. I walked over a mile around that store. (I know because I was wearing my FitBit Frank and Frank counted over 2,000 steps.) I picked up and looked at dozens of books. I searched almost every section. And I kept calculating the total as not to go over my allotted $50. (In booknerd world, it’s sometimes difficult to control one’s wallet when one needs wants all.the.books.)

I ended up with 4 paperback books (one of which is a fairly new release) plus a 3-pack of blank notebooks. I spent, with tax, $50.82. That’s right. I only paid 82 cents out of pocket.

Eighty-two cents. Can you believe it? My reward, thank you Marriott, was $50 worth of books—all because I signed up for a rewards programs ages ago and I remember to give the hotel my rewards account when I book travel.

And because I enjoy spreading joy, I share this public service announcement with you now:

Go right now and check your various reward accounts.

If you’re like me, you don’t really know how many points you’ve accumulated. So you too may also have enough to trade in for gift card(s). So don’t wait, check today because there are books waiting for good homes!

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