hotel loyalty programs travel budget

Price of Travel Matters-93 hotel nights in 2016 cost me $5,510

In 2016, I stayed 94 nights in hotels. I paid $5,510 for 93 of those hotel nights on six trips to Europe with 61 hotel nights and one trip to New Zealand with 7 hotel nights. The remaining 26 hotel nights were in USA hotels for travel to Las Vegas, southern California and New Orleans.

  1. London
  2. Amsterdam, Netherlands
  3. Leiden, Netherlands
  4. Vilnius, Lithuania
  5. Copenhagen, Denmark
  6. Stockholm, Sweden
  7. Stavanger, Norway
  8. Krakow, Poland
  9. Vienna, Austria
  10. Salzburg, Austria
  11. Kosice, Slovakia
  12. Bratislava, Slovakia
  13. High Tatras and Levoca, Slovakia
  14. Auckland, New Zealand
  15. Napier, New Zealand
  16. Las Vegas
  17. Pensacola, Florida
  18. New Orleans, Louisiana
  19. Alexandria, Louisiana
  20. Dallas, Texas
  21. Santa Maria, California
  22. Bakersfield, California
  23. Tehachapi, California
  24. Las Vegas, Nevada

For accounting simplicity sake, I spent $5,510 in 2016 and stayed 93 hotel nights for an average nightly rate of $59.25 per hotel night.

$317 of that $5,510 was paid for a Marriott auction where I won 7 hotel night credits remaining to be redeemed in 2017. I don’t count these in my hotel stays for 2016 since I have not stayed at any of these hotels yet. I count the $317 in hotel spend for 2016, since I spent the money and there is a chance I won’t stay at any of these hotels. When I use these hotel nights in 2017, they will count as no spend nights in 2017’s hotel spend accounting.

The discrepancy between staying 94 nights in hotels and only counting 93 nights paid is a  JW Marriott LA Live free night stay in February 2016 to attend a Marriott Rewards sponsored gathering of bloggers. Another 3 hotel nights were a media trip across Louisiana and technically not hotel charges to me, however, I paid $150 for the 3-day media trip, so I count those as hotel discount stays I paid.

Excluding those 3 Louisiana hotel nights from the press trip would be $5,360 spent for 90 hotel nights for $59.56 per night.

I rarely booked prepaid rates to allow travel flexibility. All but 10 hotel nights were chain hotel brand stays. Hotel loyalty programs are my primary method for discount rates.

Rad Blu Bratislava

Radisson Blu Carlton Bratislava, Slovakia

By hotel chain:

Best Western 9 hotel nights = $272 + 24,000 points

Choice Privileges 20 hotel nights = $1,247 + 168,000 points.

Club Carlson 13 hotel nights = $279 + 200,000 points.

Hilton Honors 3 hotel nights = $137 + 8,000 points

Hyatt Hotels 8 hotel nights = $893 + 12,500 points.

  • Andaz Amsterdam 1 night $152 + 12,500 points Points + Cash with suite upgrade.
  • Hyatt Regency New Orleans 7 nights $693 (EasyClickTravel booking when Hyatt website wanted $2,200 for hotel stay. I received lounge access for stay).
  • Purchased 2,000 Hyatt Gold passport points $48 for a reward stay I ended up not booking.

IHG Rewards Club  18 hotel nights = $670 + 130,500 points.

Marriott International 2 paid nights = $192

$317 for 7 prepaid nights to be stayed in 2017

1 free night Marriott sponsored event.

Starwood Preferred Guest  1 night = $127

Wyndham Rewards  9 nights $705 + 6,000 points.

  • Ramada Apollo Amsterdam 1 night 3,000 points + $59 (GoFast Reward).
  • Ramada Salzburg City Centre, Austria 2 nights 6,000 points + $120 (Go Fast Reward).
  • Wyndham Grand Desert Vacation Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada 2 nights $199
  • Hawthorne Suites Henderson, Nevada 4 nights 12,000 points + $157 (GoFast Reward)
  • Purchased 15,000 points in 2016 Daily Getaways for $160.
  • Net expenditure = 6,000 points with 21,000 points redeemed and 15,000 points bought. None of my hotel stays earned points.

Independent Hotels 10 hotel nights = $659



  • LivelyFL April 20, 2017

    Fantastic information. Thanks. And it provides a guide if ever we’re in those cities.

  • Ric Garrido April 20, 2017

    I have written reviews for nearly all these hotel stays. Enter hotel name in “Search This Blog” box on upper right.

    Or go to for more comprehensive trip reports about destinations.

  • Samir April 20, 2017

    Great post — thanks for sharing. Your view of finding good “value” hotels and getting as much value out of points in relatively expensive cities otherwise is very aligned to what I look for, so this is a great list to reference

  • bluecat April 20, 2017

    Can you speak about the distribution of those nights over the year? If it is spread out very evenly, then your $60/night is even more impressive than if there is more in the winter (when prices are lower).

    Would you ever consider AirBnB? If not, why not?

  • Ric Garrido April 20, 2017

    Jan-Mar 19 nights
    Apr-Jun 21 nights
    Jul-Sep 29 nights
    Oct-Dec 24 nights

    I simply have never found a deal I consider a better value using Airbnb than I find with chain hotels.

    One of the primary reasons I stick with chain hotels is a time factor for how long I spend searching hotels. I spend a significant amount of time planning all these hotel stays with the limiting factor of focusing on hotel chains where I can earn or burn points.

    There are certainly dozens, if not hundreds of lodging options for any place I travel. I don’t want to spend a lot more time trying to figure the ‘best’ lodging value. Also, I don’t want to share a place with anyone. I am a solitary kind of traveler, unless it is my wife with me.

    So generally I only look at Airbnb when I can’t find a hotel chain deal. And even then, I usually find another hotel deal through an online travel agency.

  • bluecat April 20, 2017

    Very good info. You have figured out how to do this efficiently and smartly. Impressive.

  • Ric Garrido April 21, 2017

    I made corrections to this post.

    1. Actually made 6 trips to Europe, not 5 as originally posted.
    Traveled in January (Amsterdam), February (Amsterdam), April (Amsterdam, Lithuania, Sweden), July (Sweden, Poland, Denmark, Norway), September (London, Slovakia, Austria), December (Austria, Slovakia, Poland, Sweden). Traveled to New Zealand in November 2016.

    2. Realized my $61 stay at Holiday Inn Leiden in January 2016 was a 2-night stay on a super cheap rate. Even had a nice room upgrade and breakfast buffet. On that same trip, I listed Best Western Hotel Couture as a 1 night stay, when it was also a 2-night stay.

    That changed my numbers from 91 paid nights to 93 paid hotel nights in 2016. The calculations have been adjusted in the post to reflect 93 nights stayed in 2016 for $5,510 in hotel spend.

    Average room rate under $60 per night.

  • Ric Garrido April 21, 2017

    More corrections to post:

    Holiday Inn Leiden was only a one night stay. Looked over my hotel stay trip report post to confirm this.

    Also forgot I stayed one free night at Radisson Edwardian London Heathrow in July 2016 when United Airlines gave me $400 VDB certificate and free hotel night at LHR to fly the following day.

    So no new 2016 calculations needed, since loss and addition of one hotel night keeps the number totals unchanged. I subtracted one IHG night and added one Club Carlson night to 95 hotel nights.

    I published about 5,000 words on that day in London with a Loyalty Traveler photoessay series.
    I was in the city by 2 pm and stayed out until 11pm on an unexpected wonderful day walking miles all around central London.

    United paid me $400 to stay in London

    London Walking Tour in 8 to 10 hours from LHR, introduction

    ” target=”_blank”>London Walking Tour Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square in 1 to 2 hours

    London Walking Tour Trafalgar Square party, Leicester Square theaters, Chinatown food

    London Walks Lost in Sexy Soho

    Hotel Review: Radisson Blu Edwardian Heathrow Hotel July 2016

    There were supposed to be two more sections covering Oxford Street, Hyde Park and Harrods.

  • Benjamin Perley April 21, 2017

    Should that be $5510 + ~550k hotel points? Although if you valued them at .005, it would still be a respectable total of $8260 for almost 100 nights!

  • Ric Garrido April 21, 2017

    @Benjamin – Choice points were accounted for in points purchases listed for the $5,510 amount.

    IHG points were earned from 2015/2016 IHG promotions. The $137 spent for Holiday Inn Leiden and Holiday Inn Vilnius earned over 40,000 points. In Jan 2016, I received 40,000 points from IHG Accelerate fall 2015 promotion.

    Nowhere near a points cost of $5/1,000 points to earn those IHG points. They came as bonus points for nights when I needed hotels in Europe.

    200,000 Club Carlson points were earned from prior years when Club Carlson ran several one stay earns 50,000 points or 44,000 points for each of their hotel brands. We earned about 400,000 points for under $800.

    The cost to earn those points was paid for long before 2016 and again, the cost was more like $200 to earn 100,000 points or .002 cents.

    Plus, I earned at least 60,000 Club Carlson points from 3-night stays in January and February 2015 during a bonus points promotion.

    In 2014, I purchased 40,000 points for $140 during Club Carlson CyberMonday sale or 0035/point.

    Last month I earned 70,000 Club Carlson points for staying 8 hotel nights in Jan and February 2017.

    I see Hyatt should read $893 since I forgot to add $48 for 2,000 points purchased. My Hyatt Regency New Orleans stay earned 8,500 points. I bought 2,000 points. Only 2,000 points unaccounted for there with 12,500 Hyatt points redeemed and 10,500 Hyatt points earned in 2016.

    In general, I earned points from most 2016 hotel paid stays. I earn very few points from credit cards, so basically I either buy points and account for that spend in year I make purchase or points were acquired from prior hotel stays, and frequently with promotion bonus points. I try to balance out paid stays for earning points and good value hotel reward stays for redeeming close to an equivalent amount of points each year.

Comments are closed.