Please note all offer links are subject to change and may not be available.
Have you ever booked a flight or hotel room and seen an ad for a credit card offer pop up? Most people would ignore this but for points and miles enthusiasts, this is what we’re looking for. I even go out of my way to “dummy book” a flight or hotel room in hopes of finding one of these offers. Here’s everything you need to know about dummy booking.
What is Dummy Booking?
Dummy booking is the process of making a fake hotel or flight reservation. You don’t actually book the room or flight, but you get far enough into the checkout process to see if you get a credit card offer.
Why Should I Try Dummy Booking?
The main reason to try dummy booking is because the credit card sign-up offers found through this method are generally better than the public offer. The enhanced offer is usually in the form of a statement credit in addition to the points or miles you would earn through the public offer.
Here’s the offer you’ll see on the IHG website:
By dummy booking, you can get an additional $50 statement credit with this offer:
Dummy booking can be hit or miss but it’s worth a shot if you plan on getting a specific hotel or airline credit card anyway.
What Hotels and Airlines Have Better Deals Through Dummy Booking?
In some instances, you need to be signed in to your award account to get the deal (like IHG) while it doesn’t seem to matter for others (like Hyatt). Play around with this if you try dummy booking and aren’t seeing a credit card offer.
Here are some offers I found by dummy booking:
United: 50,000 miles plus a $50 statement credit for the MileagePlus Explorer card from Chase. Note: the bonus miles amount may vary. It could be only 30,000 (public offer) or 50,000 (targeted offer). All I had to do to find this deal was search flights.
Hyatt: 2 free nights plus a $50 statement credit for the Hyatt credit card from Chase. I found the offer by entering dates at a random hotel and selecting a room. Since the $75 annual fee is no longer waived for this card, the statement credit can help offset the annual fee. I love this credit card even with the annual fee so this offer makes it even better!
IHG: As demonstrated above, 60,000 points plus a $50 statement credit for IHG Rewards Club Select from Chase.
In some cases, you probably won’t want to take the dummy booking offer. Here are some offers you may choose to avoid.
Delta: 30,000 miles plus a $100 statement credit after making a Delta purchase for Gold Delta SkyMiles credit card from America Express. The public offer is usually only a $50 statement credit after making a Delta purchase so this might look like a sweet deal. However, you can usually get more miles (e.g., 50,000) through the regular offer. I definitely value 20,000 miles higher than an extra $50. You have to spend $2,000 for the 50,000 mile bonus vs. 1,000 for the 30,000 mile bonus but I think it’s worth it.
Southwest: 10,000 miles and a $200 statement credit for Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier from Chase. This is a terrible offer for several reasons. First, the $99 annual fee eats away at half of your statement credit. Second, and most importantly, you will not be able to get the Companion Pass with a measly 10,000 mile sign-up bonus.
Hilton: 50,000 points plus a $50 statement credit for the Hilton HHonors card from American Express. This is better than the public offer of 50,000 points without the statement credit. However, there’s currently a 75,000 point offer. I value the extra 25,000 Hilton points at about $100 so I recommend the 75,000 point offer.
American: 40,000 miles plus up to $100 in statement credits for eligible American Airlines purchases for the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard. Unfortunately, this statement credit is more difficult to use than the Delta credit where you could make a $1 purchase and trigger the statement credit. If you fly American frequently, you’ll get more value from this offer. The public offer of 50,000 miles without the statement credit is more worthwhile. I value the extra 10,000 miles at $150.
Dummy booking is a simple method for getting a better credit card sign-up bonus offer, often in the form of a statement credit. Always weigh the offers against what is publicly available because in some scenarios, the dummy booking offer can be far much worse.