Recently I had the great opportunity to venture to the NCAA Final Four in Arizona. I wouldn’t normally recommend a trip like this, unless your team is there as mine was, or you just really want to go for the experience. Sports trips, especially last minute ones can hit the wallet hard, but you can still save.
Airfare-This is the most difficult. I booked ahead of time with Southwest since you can cancel and bank the air credits. The only mistake I made was not using some other Southwest credits I could have used. I had plenty of air miles and points but the price was too high for my liking so I bought the bullet here and paid cash. I kept researching and was able to lower one leg of my flight for no charge, saving me $80; yet another great perk of flying Southwest.
Hotel-I used some IHG points I had from a previous contest where I resorted to the free mail in option. Rooms were easily going for about $225 a night and up. I used 50k miles for 2 nights rather than spend the $500. These points cost me $45 through the contest so plenty of value achieved here. I was really impressed with Stay Bridge Suites and will consider them in the future for my trips, especially with the family.
Car-A rental car is a must in Arizona so I went back and forth here eventually locking in a rate of $88 for two days, including taxes. This was one of the rare times, where I booked through Costco and then found a better deal plus earning Southwest points by booking through airline offer via email. Important note here, that many rental car places are actually charging you to earn points or miles so read the fine print and see if it’s worth it.
As usual I booked everything with my Chase Sapphire reserve for the free insurance and trip protection (and 3X points).
The Final Four is played in too large of a stadium for my liking but the experience is fun. They have a fan fest and if you find out where the ESPN set is you can get up close and personal like I did. It was another fun memorable sporting event experience in which I didn’t pay full price for my travel.