S&H green stamps lurk deep in my shopping DNA. Back in Marriage 101, it was a dandy day when I leafed through the rewards catalog and realized I had pasted enough stamps into enough books to actually redeem them for a one-quart aluminum sauce pan, with lid.  For free!

Today I belong to loyalty programs at CVS and Rite Aid, Talbots and LLBean, Delta and JetBlue, Amazon and American Express, among others. I’m a player.

So when Mr. Wonderful and I were planning an overnight in Boston last week, I decided it might behoove us to tap into the bonanza of credit card reward points that had been piling up.

Voila! Our latest AmEx bill revealed we had $314.00 in reward points. Oh boy. Think what we could do with that largesse!

I phoned Loews Hotel in Boston. “A single night with a California king regularly costs $288.00,” the reservation clerk said. “But, if you are members of AARP and Triple A, we will reduce the cost to $186.00.” I’m fairly certain that when I started to slabber. 

“Honey, we can stay at a lovely hotel AND dine at a fabulous restaurant AND it’s completely paid for,” I told Bob. The Blueberry Boy smiled big time.

Off we went down I-95, over the Tobin Bridge, onto Storrow Drive, with our GPS guiding us to 164 Berkley Street. Just before the Loews valet drove our car to the garage, he casually mentioned a $50 parking charge would be added to our bill. I quickly did the addition and knew we were still flush.

Having time that afternoon, we decided to visit the Museum of Fine Arts. That necessitated a $12 day pass on the T, a $46 admission fee (“Senior rate!” I told Bob), and a $65 lunch in the New American Cafe.  I’m fairly certain that’s when I decided to deactivate my iPhone calculator.

Over dinner at Grill 23, we each sipped an Old Fashioned, shared a huge plate of fried calamari, then devoured steak and salmon entrees. Oh, and some wine. With tip, $180.00. 

Because we had a medical appointment at Brigham and Women’s Hospital at 7:00 the next morning, we decided to order a Continental Breakfast from room service. “So much quicker than going downstairs,” I said. Two coffees and English muffins:  $30.

Loews emailed me that morning with our bill. It indicated that the $186.00 room rate also included a state tax ($10.60), a city tax ($11.16) and a Convention Center Financing tax ($5.12), and the $50 parking. You do the math.

Was it worth it? You bet. And it made me realize that to keep this whole “freebie” ball rolling, I’ve got to SPEND SPEND SPEND to build up more points before we opt to do this again. 

And we will.