This article outlines some easy to follow steps for participants in the Carnival Fun Points Mastercard program. The steps below work at the time of writing but may not after they change the point system on May 1st 2011, but may continue to work even then.
A little background
There is a little known secret about the Carnival Fun Points system that could save you hundreds of dollars on your next cruise. If you have ever played around with the Fun Points calculator you might have noticed some odd conversion ratios. First, let’s price out a cruise for $1250…
Ok, so we need 113,636 points to pay for that Cruise, fair enough. I wonder how much a $1251 cruise is worth in Fun Points…
What!? If I spend just $1 more I can cruise for free with just 74,910 points? Yes, and there is more to the story, but if you just want to see where the savings come in skip down to the “What does this mean for me?” section. So, you’re pricing a cruise, it sure would be nice to know where these boundaries are. After some basic analysis we can see that there are several of boundaries that are important to know.
|Cost Range||Points Needed||Points Range|
|$50-$200||100 x Cost||5,000 – 20,000|
|$201-$800||~95.23 x Cost||19,143 – 76,190|
|$801-$1250||~90.91 x Cost||72,818 – 113,636|
|>$1251||~59.88 x Cost||74,910|
An astute reader will note that the same points buy you different amounts. For example if you have 73,000 points, which range do you fall in? The $801-$1250 range or the >$1251 range? Sadly it’s not documented on the site because they base their redemptions on the transaction amount NOT how many points you have. However, as you can see, spending more than $1251 gets you a huge increase of points to cash conversion. There are still two more caveats to this system however.
- The table above is only for a redemption of a transaction in full!
- If you cannot redeem your transaction in full with your points it defaults to using the $50-$200 conversion rate.
Now I’m going to show you how to save big money using a few easy rules.
What does this mean for me?
There are two main parts of this process. First, figure out how much your points are really worth. Second, make sure you only pay for a very exact amount of your cruise at a time.
Step 1 – Figure out how much your points are worth
Use the following simple algorithm to determine what you can get with your points…
- If you have more than 74,910 points then divide your points by 59.88
- If you have between 72,818 and 74,909 points then divide your points by 90.91
- If you have between 19,143 and 72,817 points then divide your points by 95.23
- Else you don’t have enough points for this method to work
Step 2 – Pay only what your points will redeem in full now
This is the most important part. The credit card company only uses transaction amounts NOT the price of the cruise to calculate point redemption rates. So, if you calculated that your points are worth $1300 but your cruise will cost $2000, call your travel agent and only pay $1300 right now. As soon as the transaction posts, you can redeem your points in full and pay the remaining $700 later.
How much can I really save?
Let’s say you have a cruise booked for $1925 and you have 75,000 points. If you pay for the cruise in full and tried to redeem your 75,000 points you would get $750 off, not bad. Now, using the system above you would divide 75,000 by 59.88 and get $1252. Call the travel agent and pay for $1252 of the cruise, and redeem your points in full. You just saved $1252 or $500 more than what they would have given you in the first place.
Is this legal? How did you find out about this?
It’s legal but they can probably close this loophole at any time so I’m trying to let as many people as possible know about it. I found out about it when I didn’t get the points I expected. After several attempts to get customer service to provide me with a document that outlined their formulas or method I was simply told that no such document existed. Finally, I did find out that the redemption amount is based on transactions and not the price of the cruise. The conversation went something like this…
Me: “So, if I call up my travel agent and tell them to only post amount X you’ll give me an addition $Y back? Just by splitting the transaction”
Rep: “Yes, it’s only based on the transaction amount”
First, if at all possible spend more than $1251 and have at least 74,910 points. The savings are huge when compared to the lower values. Second, pay what your points are worth. Since you have 180 days to redeem your points for any given transaction you may be able to milk more savings out the system, but just be careful not to lock yourself into something you can’t buy your way out of. Finally, spread the word. I’m sure this loophole will get closed at some point but you might as well save an extra $500 on your next cruise at the expense of the credit card company.