The Deal Mommy

5 Times When Using Travel Points on Hotels Doesn’t Make Sense- and 2 When They Do

hotel pointsSo many trip reports out there tell you about all of the amazing hotels you can book on points.  While I’m not immune to the $2500/night redemption I’m finding more and more of my travels are booked without using my travel points on hotels. My favorite reason for preferring cash over points is location. I just am over being tied down to locations populated by chain hotels. The Canary Islands would have been totally off my radar if I only used points. But even when chains are where you want to go they may not be your best option.

I’ve come up with a handy checklist for times hotel points just may not make sense:

  • When you’re sleeping more than four: You’ll most likely do much better renting an apartment than getting two or more hotel rooms. Check out my family hotel rooms in Europe post- the tips listed work outside Europe as well.
  • When you’re staying for a week or longer: When Endless Vacation Rentals can go as low as $300/week it’s hard to justify spending points.  You might even consider a monthly rental- I find they usually break even in about 10-14 days.
  • In South East Asia: (AKA my $18/night Bangkok apartment)  Unless you’re going 5 star you’ll usually be much better off with either a local hotel or renting an apartment. In Hanoi last year we had many points options but ended up going local. At the Boss Legend hotel we had an enormous brand new room with three beds. Total cost including breakfast? $68/night. Even better, we used Orbitz promotions to pay for the entire amount so the out of pocket was $0.
  • On weekends downtown and near the airport: Many sky high priced hotel rates on Sunday-Thursday drop to under their points value on weekends. Be sure to compare the cash prices before assuming points will be the best deal.
  • When a last minute 90% off option exists: I’m testing Sheradill next week and will update you, but if they’re 1/2 as good as advertised the site will be a steal. Sheradill is a terrific option to try when you have a confirmed points reservation. If you find something that works for 90% off just cancel it and bank your points.

And times when hotel points might surprise you with their value:

  • On a road trip: I’ve had success using points, particularly Choice hotels points for last minute stops along I-95. Tip: if you’re booking a hotel at the last minute from the road- BOOK IT BEFORE MIDNIGHTMost search engines will not let you book “in the past”.  Even though you’re looking for that night if it’s after midnight they’ll default to the next evening.
  • On Oblications: The bad news about oblications– or those trips you HAVE to take- is that hotel options are both limited and expensive. The good news is that many of those same hotels are low category redemptions on points. I’ve gotten as much as four cents per dollar by redeeming points at Country Inns, Hampton Inns, and Hyatt Places.

When do you keep your travel points stashed away, and in what place did they give you unexpected value? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
The Deal Mommy is a proud member of the Saverocity network.

8 thoughts on “5 Times When Using Travel Points on Hotels Doesn’t Make Sense- and 2 When They Do

  1. Becky

    Agree with a lot of your points! And airport hotels, even on weeknights, are often a steal on Priceline.

    For oblications, I usually DON’T use points…usually because I have reason to stay at a very specific property (like weddings or other events where “my” group is all based on one spot). Very rare that I can get rewards to line up and make sense, so I pay cash often 🙁

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Good point. Depends on the oblication: for instance rooms for the Iowa state fair are 200+ or a cat 1-3 as long as I find one in advance.

  2. MickiSue

    Your five reasons are why we try to always keep the Arrival+ balance topped off. It was so nice NOT to have to stay at an all inclusive in Jamaica in January, and to know that the rental car was paid for.

    Same thing last week. We mostly stayed on points, all the way up the CA coast. But Santa Barbara had nothing special for the actual night of our anniversary on points, and did have a host of guest houses and B & Bs.

    Knowing that the cost will be whatever time I spent MSing or buying stock for reselling? Priceless.

  3. L

    I think you also need to look at non chain options and where you may need those potential points in the future. We are traveling to Sydney for 5 nights which is an expensive hotel market but I was able to find a single room at a centrally located hostel with it’s own bathroom for $105 a night. I don’t need fancy but fancy is nice. I could spend my IHG free night and 55,000 points for two of the nights at the Intercontinental, but I think those points will be better used for a potential trip to London next summer where $105 gets you a dump or something really far from the center of the city. I will be in London only for two nights potentially so not spending a lot of time cpmmuting will be important.

  4. DaninMCI

    Obviously when a hotel is priced so cheap it would be worth more to earn the points and night stay credit toward elite status instead. For example I have a few nights booked in Munich this Fall. I was set to use hotel points but found a great chain hotel that was either 20,000 points per night or $70’ish. I’m paying for those nights. Not so much for the $300 a night in Verona later in the trip.

  5. Pingback: Uber Launching Self Driving Cars, Cheap Flights to Hawaii & More - Heels First Travel

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This