Get Maximum Value From Hotel Points: 4 Real World Methods

Dec 6, 2018

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There are plenty of trip reports and reviews out there that tell you about the most opulent and luxurious hotel rooms where you can spend your hotel points. Even I am not immune to the $2,500/night redemption from time to time. While gawking at luxury hotels is fun, I’m more concerned with giving you concrete tips you can use on the majority of your trips, instead of just the “once in a lifetime” blowouts (we’ll leave that to TPG himself). I’ve found four very real world ways to frequently get outsized value from my stash of hotel points.

Interstate Overnights

I know, this is about as far from the St. Regis Maldives-style redemptions as you can get, but road trips can be an especially good value on points. I’ve successfully used hotel points, particularly Radisson Rewards and Choice Privileges points, for last-minute stops along the interstates. Living in the DC area, my family takes advantage of $8 one-way car rentals to Florida each year Each time, I break up the drive with a last-minute stay on I-95 when it comes time to take a break for the night. I usually get at least 1.5x the average TPG points value on these sort of roadside redemptions.

(Photo by cosmonaut / Getty Images)
(Photo by cosmonaut / Getty Images)

Since I try to get as far down the road as I safely can before crashing for the night, these are last-minute award bookings. Tip: If you’re booking a hotel at the last minute from the road, book it before midnight EST. Most search engines will not let you book “in the past” once the clock rolls to 12:01am. This is especially important to remember if you are on the West Coast as 9pm might sneak up on you.

You can stock up on Radisson Rewards points with the Radisson Rewards Visa and Choice points via cards that earn American Express Membership Rewards since they are a transfer partner.

Airport Hotels

Hotel points can also be especially useful before and after flights. The only two hotel nights we used on a five-week South American trip last summer were both at the Holiday Inn Santiago – Airport Terminal. Airport hotel rates can be especially high during the week when business travelers are buzzing about, making those pricier nights a good time to turn to hotel points.

The Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport deserves a special mention in this category for two reasons. First, let’s face it than many families will find themselves in Orlando at some time or another (I see you Disney and Universal). Second, the hotel is literally inside the airport and there’s just something so fun about eating room service from your balcony while watching TSA agents do their thing. With paid rates frequently over $200 per night, using 12,000 World of Hyatt points or a Hyatt Category 1–4 award earned via the World of Hyatt Credit Card, is a tremendous deal.

Image courtesy of Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport's Facebook page.
Image courtesy of Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport’s Facebook page.

Special Events

I’ve recently talked here about “oblications,” those trips to Small Town, USA ,that you have to take as opposed to really want to take. Smaller towns in general offer good points values, but the points are even more valuable when a special event is added to the mix. Think college football games, state fairs, graduations or concerts when rates can temporarily soar.

While not located in a small town, a perfect example of a special event use are the hotels located along the parade route for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City. The good news about special events is that dates are often set far in advance. The bad news is that rooms can disappear quickly because everyone is competing for the same thing (or the hotels simply find a way to pull award availability, introduce a long minimum stay requirement, etc.). The trick to booking a room on points for a special event is doing so the minute the booking window opens — or keep checking as the date nears and people cancel.

You may even want to speculatively book a room on points if you might want to go see, for instance, the Bastille Day Fireworks in Paris. Note the cancellation rules, but often you can lock in an award booking and then cancel without penalty much closer to your travel date. Tip: If you do want to see the Paris fireworks, the view from the Eiffel Tower rooms at the Hyatt Etoile cannot be beat. Trust me on this one.

Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile. (Photo courtesy of Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile)
Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile. (Photo courtesy of Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile)

At just 15,000 World of Hyatt points per night, the Hyatt Etoile is eligible for booking with a World of Hyatt Credit Card Category 1–4 award making it a great deal in a great location to view the festivities.

People enjoy the traditional Bastille day fireworks over the Eiffel Tower from the Pont de l'Alma bridge on July 14, 2018 in Paris. (Photo by Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images)
People enjoy the traditional Bastille day fireworks over the Eiffel Tower from the Pont de l’Alma bridge on July 14, 2018 in Paris. (Photo by Ludovic Marin/AFP / Getty Images)

New Properties

One thing I’ve noticed, brand-new properties are sometimes placed in a lower-than-expected points category for a period of time. Last December, I booked into a brand-new Category 2 Four Points in Fort Lauderdale for 4,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points per night (now the equivalent of 12,000 Marriott Rewards points). This year, the exact same room is 35,000 Marriott Rewards points a night. While some of the adjustment was due to the Marriott/SPG transition, even at the time, most Fort Lauderdale properties were pricing around 30,000 points per night.

Image courtesy of Las Alcobas
Image courtesy of Las Alcobas

This anomaly is even more pronounced in luxury properties. For example: My all-time favorite points stay was when Las Alcobas in Mexico City, joined the Starwood Luxury Collection in 2015 as a way-undervalued Category 4 property. Within a year, it was a Category 6 (and still worth every point). Las Alcobas is the only hotel I’ve ever visited that offered me a “scent profile” choice among eight aromas and a “bath butler” to create a customized sachet and draw my bath!

Continuing the trend, last summer on a trip to Argentina, two new Tribute collection properties joined as Category 3 properties and were recategorized as a Category 5 within three months.

Bottom Line

By getting the most from your hotel points, you can create moments with your family that would be otherwise out-of-reach or much more painful to your wallet. Whether it’s a college bowl game, a temporarily affordable new property, or an overnight stop on the way to Grandma’s house, everyday strategic uses of hotel points can help you reach your travel goals faster and easier.


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