Nov052009

Points Earning Comparisons for Marriott, Hilton, and IHG

Part 3 of this multi-part examination of the mega-size hotel chains Marriott, Hilton, and IHG is focused on points earning potential. I have also included an award redemption comparison for spending points on New York City hotel award nights.

 

Earning Points

 

How does earning points compare between the three loyalty programs for Marriott Rewards, IHG Priority Club, and Hilton HHonors?  

 

Base hotel spending (room rate excluding taxes and fees) earns 10 points per US$1 with all three programs with some hotel brand exceptions for Marriott and IHG.

 

Hilton has some points earning advantages over the other two for base hotel spend:

1.       All Hilton hotel brands earn 10 points per $1.

2.       Marriott Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites brands earn only 5 points per $1. These two brands are about 1/4 of total hotels in Marriott chain. IHG brands Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites earn only 5 points per $1. InterContinental Hotel stays earn 2,000 points per stay rather than 10 points per dollar hotel spend.

3.       Hilton offers Double Dipping with Points & Points earning preference or Points & Miles. Members may earn 15 points per $1 if choosing not to earn miles with hotel stays. Earning preference may be changed with each stay. Elite bonuses are additional (HHonors Gold 25% elite bonus is 2.5 points per $1 hotel spend for 17.5 points per US$1.)

4.       Hilton HHonors American Express Surpass credit card earns 9 points/$1 at Hilton Hotels. Marriott Rewards Visa earns 5 points/$1 at Marriott brands. Priority Club Visa only gives 3 points per $1 at IHG hotels.

 

When it comes to promotion earnings the game definitely favors the Priority Club member. Frequent combinable promotions allow a guest to regularly earn 30+ points per $1 on hotel stays.

 

In this Loyalty Traveler post I detailed hotel free nights redemption with Marriott and Hilton based on the distribution of hotels in redemption categories. I did not include IHG Priority Club free nights due to a brand-based redemption structure as shown here on IHG Priority Club.

 

On the free nights side the loyalty benefit of free nights with points favors Priority Club with point levels for hotels like Crowne Plaza and high-end Holiday Inn hotels at just 25,000 points per night. Comparable quality hotels with Marriott and Hilton in many locations will likely be 5,000 to 10,000 points higher per free night.

 

New York City, 2 nights, Monday, November 16 to Wednesday, November 18

Marriott Rewards Category 6 Hotels

(30,000 points per night; 5th night free)

  • Brooklyn- New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge ($359)
  • New York- Fairfield Inn New York Manhattan/Times Square ($269)
  • New York- Courtyard New York Manhattan/Upper East Side  ($299)
  • New York- Fairfield Inn & Suites New York Manhattan/Fifth Avenue (na)
  • New York- New York Marriott Downtown ($419)

 

Marriott Rewards Category 7 Hotels

(35,000 points per night; 5th night free)

  • New York- Renaissance New York Hotel 57  ($399)
  • New York- New York Marriott East Side  ($449)
  • New York- Courtyard New York Manhattan/Times Square South  ($296)
  • New York- Courtyard New York Manhattan/Midtown East  ($359)
  • New York- Courtyard New York Manhattan/SoHo  (na)
  • New York- Residence Inn New York Manhattan/Times Square ($323)

 

Marriott Rewards Category 8 Hotels

(40,000 points per night; 5th night free)

  • New York- New York Marriott Marquis  ($399)
  • New York- Renaissance New York Hotel Times Square ($399)

Ritz-Carlton Battery Park  ($685)

Ritz-Carlton Central Park ($795)

(70,000 points for 1 night; 110,000 points for 2 nights)

 

Hilton HHonors Category 5 Hotels

 (35,000 points per night; 150,000 points for 6 nights)

  • Hilton Garden Inn Times Square ($296/night)
  • Hampton Inn Manhattan Times Square North ($229)
  • Hampton Inn Manhattan Times Square South ($249)
  • Hilton Garden Inn West 35th Street ($239)
  • Hampton Inn Manhattan 35th Street ($209)
  • Hampton Inn Madison Square Garden ($269)
  • Hilton Garden Inn Chelsea ($399)
  • Hampton Inn Chelsea ($299)
  • Hilton Garden Inn Tribeca ($375)

 

Hilton HHonors Category 6 Hotels Best Available Rate (BAR)

(40,000 points per night; 175,000 points for 6 nights)

  • Hilton Times Square ($479)
  • Hilton New York ($349)
  • Doubletree Times Square ($289)
  • Hilton Garden Inn West 35th Street ($239)
  • Doubletree Hotel Chelsea ($207)
  • Doubletree Metropolitan ($219)

 

Waldorf Astoria Hotel ($399)

2009: 40,000 low season; 60,000 high season

2010: 50,000 low season; 60,000 high season

 

InterContinental Hotels Group Priority Club

(Most of these hotels also offered even better discounts with Points & Cash awards)

  • Candlewood Suites Times Square 15,000 points ($184)
  • Holiday Inn Express Times Square 25,000 points ($165)
  • Crowne Plaza Times Square 25,000 points ($299)
  • Holiday Inn Express Madison Square Garden 25,000 points ($160)
  • Hotel Indigo Chelsea 25,000 points ($269)
  • Holiday Inn Midtown 57th Street 25,000 points ($220)
  • Holiday Inn Express Fifth Avenue 25,000 points ($210)
  • Holiday Inn Manhattan 6th Ave 25,000 points ($205)
  • Holiday Inn Manhattan Soho 25,000 points ($255)
  • InterContinental The Barclay 40,000 points ($494)

 

 

Upper end InterContinental Hotels at 40,000 points are at the price level of Marriott’s Category 8 elite hotels, but still below many Ritz-Carlton free nights using Marriott points. Lower-tier InterContinental Hotels at 30,000 points per night are the bargain redemption option for high end hotels. The new HHonors award chart pushes the high-end with Hilton to 50,000 points for the new Category 7 hotel or an off-peak award at most Waldorf-Astoria Collection properties. Top-tier Waldorf-Astoria Hotels go up to 80,000 points per night.

 

Low-end brands like Holiday Inn Express (15,000 points to 25,000 points), Candlewood Suites (15,000 points), and Staybridge Suites (20,000 points) are more in line with Marriott’s large number of hotels at the lower categories for free night redemption. Marriott Rewards has 77% of its hotels in Category 2 (26%), Category 3 (35%), or Category 4 (16%) with free nights at 10,000 points, 15,000 points, or 20,000 points, respectively. Hilton HHonors already has a higher proportion of hotels in higher point-level categories and they will be pushed even higher in 2010 when the hotels change to the new category structure with what looks to be an impending wholesale step-up of hotels into the next higher points redemption level.

 

Marriott and Hilton may toss a 50,000 points bonus a few times per year if you are lucky. The current Hilton promotion is the best for 2009 with 25,000 bonus points for 4 stays, up to 75,000 points. This promotion was launched one week before the 2010 hotel category increase was announced.

 

12 Hilton stays earns enough points (about 100,000 points with base spending and bonus) for two nights at a Category 7 hotel or Waldorf Astoria in off-peak dates.  12 Hyatt stays earn sufficient credit for 6 free nights at Category 5 Hyatt Hotels worth 108,000 Gold Passport points.

 

The promotions make all the difference in the hotel loyalty program world. Base earning for Starwood Preferred Guest is a low 2 points per $1 and Hyatt is only 5 points per $1. Reaching point levels necessary for free nights at a high redemption category hotel with SPG or Hyatt can look daunting.

 

Loyalty program comparisons often point out it would take $10,000 in hotel spend to earn a free night at a Category 6 Starwood hotel based on 2 points earned per $1 spent. Starwood Preferred Guest promotions available to any SPG member this year gave me the opportunity for 8 free nights in Category 6 hotels (120,000 points value) for under $2,000 in hotel spending.

 

Hyatt requires 18,000 points for its top category which could be as much as $3,600 in hotel spend. Bonus points offers of 2,000 to 5,000 per stay often exceed points earned from base spending at Hyatt hotels. Hyatt Gold Passport is providing its loyalty program members the opportunity through January 31, 2010 for a free night at any hotel with every two hotel stays.

 

Buy low-redeem high is a frequent guest bargain vacation. The result is better value for your money with any hotel loyalty program.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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