Balancing free stays with paid stays to burn and earn points

Today I received an offer for 4,000 Choice Privileges on my next stay by November 11. This happens to also be the end date for the current Choice Privileges promotion for 8,000 points after two stays. These bonus points offers may be combined, meaning I can earn 12,000 Choice Privileges points for two hotel stays by November 11.

Choice Stay Once 4K targeted offer

The reason I am posting about my specific targeted offer is to share my thoughts on how some of the most lucrative hotel loyalty promotions happen when you show interest in a loyalty program by signing up for promotions, but then you do not complete any hotel stays to fulfill the promotion. Over the years, I have had several generous bonus offers from various hotel loyalty programs targeted for my account due to not staying frequently on paid stays at the hotel chain.

IHG Rewards Club promotions tend to be easy targets for me, mainly due to the fact that I do not have many paid stays at IHG properties. Most of my IHG stays are reward night stays.

Starwood Preferred Guest sent me a targeted offer a couple months ago for 7,000 bonus points after three stays. I have not been staying at Starwood Hotels too often these past two years.

The same holds for Choice Privileges. I earned Choice Privileges mid-tier Platinum status this month after my 20th night in 2015. Only two of those 20 nights were paid nights when I stayed in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia last April. I even had nice upgrades on those two paid nights as a Choice Privileges Gold elite member. The other 19 nights I stayed at Choice Hotels and Nordic Choice Hotels in 2015 were on points rewards with one free night from a successful Best Rate Guarantee claim in Vancouver, Canada. That BRG free night did not count as an elite qualifying night since I paid no cash or points for the stay.

Redeem Points when rates are high and pay for stays when rates are low and bonuses good.

Nearly all my hotel stays since May 2015 have been reward nights using points. Club Carlson points put me in Radisson Blu Royal Copenhagen and The Mayfair London for ten nights when the published rates for these hotel nights was something astronomical like $5,000+ USD.

IHG free nights over the past three months put me into InterContinental Boston ($400 x 2 nights), InterContinental London Park Lane ($600+) and InterContinental Le Grand Paris ($700), InterContinental Geneva ($350), Holiday Inn Camden Lock London ($350) and eight nights of PointBreaks in Brno, Czech Republic ($500) and Clermont-Ferrand, France ($500).

I earned a $100 Best Western travel e-card on a successful best rate guarantee claim on an $89 after tax room in Georgia last May. That is one of three paid stays I have had at hotels since May 2015.

I paid $100 for one night at a Wyndham Ramada in Asheville, North Carolina in June and earned 4,000 Wyndham Rewards points. In July, I stayed at Wyndham Beacon Hill Boston on a 15,000 points reward night when the published rate was $350.

Fall Promotion Value for hotel stays

Here are my plans for hotel stays over the next three months to capitalize on good value hotel loyalty promotions.

1. Park Inn 15,000 bonus points for one stay by December 31.

Loyalty Traveler – Club Carlson 15K for one stay or Oh! Lord, Park Inn Fresno Again

2. Choice Hotels 2 stays by November 11 for 8,000 points + my targeted offer for 4,000 bonus points on my next stay = 12,000 bonus points with my combined offers. I stayed in Bergen, Norway at Clarion Collection No13 last month for 12,000 Choice Privileges points when the published rate was 2,040 NOK = $248 USD.

In California, I can book two paid nights in a beach resort town in the first week of November (start of low season rates) for around $80-$85 per night. I plan to be back in Norway and Sweden again in a few months and those Choice Privileges points are like carrying gold over there.

Loyalty Traveler – Choice Privileges 8,000 points for 2 stays Sep 3 to Nov 11, 2015

3. IHG Rewards ClubTwo Free Nights for New Members.

The best value hotel offer this fall is for members who join IHG Rewards Club with a promotion to earn one free night at any hotel worldwide after two stays by December 31. A new member can earn two free nights with four stays.

Loyalty Traveler – Earn 2 free nights after 4 stays by Dec 31, 2015 as new IHG Rewards Club member.

Of course, I am not a new member. My Accelerate promotion offer still ranks among the best value promotions for me for end-of-year hotel stays.

My tasks for IHG Rewards Club Accelerate Sep 1 – Dec 31, 2015

1. One Stay for 5,000 points.

2. Five Nights for 6,800 points.

3. Three stays on Points and Cash for 3,600 points.

4. Pay for one IHG stay with IHG credit card for 1,500 points.

Complete 3 of these tasks for 33,100 bonus points.

I already have one Points and Cash stay from InterContinental Geneva. I can stay five paid nights and earn 46,400 points or one paid night + two more Points and Cash stays to earn 43,200 points (but little or no net gain in account points due to spending points for Points and Cash stays).

Theoretically, I could book a 10,000 points per night hotel and have two Points and Cash stays redeeming only 10,000 points + $80 in spend and have net gain of 33,300 points.

Next month I have a ticket to travel to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Holiday Inn Kuala Lumpur Glenmarie

52.63 per night. Add breakfast for $6.41 more.

Holiday Inn KUL Glenmarie-2

I can book an IHG property for $280 all in for five nights and add breakfast for the entire stay for another $32.

Accelerate Bonus Points + Holiday Inn base points and Platinum elite 50% bonus points means this one stay would earn over 50,000 IHG Rewards Club points.

50,000 IHG Rewards Club points is sufficient for a reward night at InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam when I visit next February.

IC Amstel Feb 14 rates

What a lovely Valentine’s Day present IC Amstel would be for Kelley and me.

Basic Hotel Stay Strategy

My basic hotel stay strategy for the past two decades has been pay low room rates and earn points when there are good value promotions and redeem points for free stays at high-cost hotels.

It works out well for me in my travels balancing my free hotel stays and discount nights using hotel rewards points with paid stays at low rates during high bonus points promotions.

The next couple of months look like good value paid night opportunities for my hotel stay travel.

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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