Mar192018

Does it make sense to buy hotel points like Hilton or SPG points?

The focus of this post is where hotel points in different chains have higher than average value for reward stays. Knowing places where hotel points offer good value makes it more likely you will get a great deal when buying hotel points.

Does it make sense to buy hotel points?

My answer is it depends on your travel destinations, travel needs and amount of money you have available to tie up in points.

Most major hotel loyalty programs sell points. Most programs sell hotel points at discount rates periodically at some time during the year.

You can find significant hotel rate discounts buying points for reward nights, if you know where to use those points.

 

Hilton Honors points in Poland and Romania

I purchased 54,000 Hilton Honors points for $300 on Friday, March 16 for a purchase rate of $5.56 per 1,000 points. This was the last day of the Hilton Honors sale offering me 80% bonus points. Some members had a 100% bonus points offer for $5.00 per 1,000 points rate.

Poland and Romania are two countries where it makes sense for me to buy Hilton points. There are two hotels in Romania at 5,000 points and two more at 10,000 points per night. Poland has one hotel at 5,000 points and several at 10,000 points.

Last summer I stayed 4 nights at Hampton Inn Krakow, Poland for 5,000 points per night. I saved several hundred dollars on the regular room rate and got a lower rate than I could get anywhere else in the city for a comparable hotel.

Hotel review Hampton Inn Krakow Hilton Honors category 1 reward nights (June 26, 2017).

This hotel increased to 10,000 points in 2018, yet that is still a great deal for summer in Krakow.

Hotel rates in Krakow can be surprisingly high in busy summer season. Hilton Garden Inn is $164 per night June 26-July 1 and Hampton Inn is $100 per night for a nonrefundable rate. A flexible rate is $120 per night at Hampton Krakow.

Hilton Krakow Jun26-Jul1 rates

Hilton Krakow reward rates Jun26-Jul1

Hilton Honors elite members can book 5 nights for 40,000 points.

Hampton Krakow 5-night reward Jun26-jul1

Based on the $300 for 54,000 points I purchased on March 16, Hampton Inn Krakow can be booked for $45 per night in June 2018 compared to the nonrefundable $100 per night room rate or $120 per night for the flexible rate. Hilton Honors reward nights are more comparable to the flexible reward rate. Buying points is a great deal for this hotel.

Marriott Rewards – South Africa

While Marriott Rewards does not commonly offer discount points purchases, there are frequently Starwood points purchase promotional sales.

Starpoints transfer to Marriott Rewards at SPG 1:3 Marriott rate.

SPG sold points last week for $22.75/1,000 points. This was a way to acquire Marriott Points for $7.58 per 1,000 points.

Marriott Rewards offers free nights at the low end of the points range for 7,500 and 10,000 points per night with 5th night free.

Marriott is the largest global hotel chain in South Africa with around 75 Protea brand hotels. Many of these hotels are category 1 at 7,500 points and category 2 at 10,000 points.

Protea Hotel Cape Town Mowbray July 3-8 (5 nights)

6,995 ZAR = $580.79

Marriott Protea Mowbray CapeTown rate

or

24,000 points for this category 1 hotel currently on PointSavers.

Category 1 at 7,500 points with 5th night free = 30,000 points – 20% PointSavers rate = 24,000 points.

Marriott Protea Cape Town Mowbray 24K-5 nights

$22.75 x 8000 Starpoints = $182.00 USD.

The purchase of 8,000 Starpoints last week for $182 was an opportunity to buy 24,000 Marriott Rewards points and save $400 on this Cape Town hotel for a 5-night stay in July 2018.

Hotel travel savings with points, but buyer beware

Buying hotel points can be a great way to save money on hotel stays. The main caution is keep in mind that hotel chains can raise reward rates at any time and a hotel you might desire may change hotel brand.

In 2017, I stayed at several hotels in Europe on great reward rate deals that are no longer offered in 2018.

Hilton Reykjavik Nordica, Iceland for 16,000 points + $66 with a Points & Money reward in April 2017. Hilton Honors changed their program so this hotel would now cost 16,000 points + $159. The published rate is $190 or standard reward is 45,000 points for April 3, 2018. Honors Points & Money rewards at this hotel are far less useful as a way for rate savings in 2018.

Ramada Vilnius, Lithuania for 3,000 points + 62 EUR in April 2017 when rate was $160 per night. Hotel left Wyndham Rewards and is an independent hotel now.

Hampton Inn Krakow, Poland for 5,000 points in June 2017. Hotel is 10,000 points now.

Courtyard Pilsen, Czech Republic for 7,500 points in July 2017. Hotel is 10,000 points now.

Radisson Blu Bratislava, Slovakia for 28,000 points in July 2017. Hotel is 38,000 points now.

Changes in point rewards means it is risky to hold too many points in any fluctuating currency.

My summer travel plans are focused on burning through Club Carlson points at several hotels that increased in reward price on March 1.

I redeemed 153,000 Club Carlson points in February 2018 for hotel stays in June 2018. These same hotels and dates are now priced at 277,500 points for the same reward nights.

The dramatic devaluation of Club Carlson points for places I wanted to stay helped determine my summer travel plans with a focus on Club Carlson reward nights.

My Loyalty Traveler axiom is “Points and miles have no value until you redeem them.”

My advice is do not buy hotel points unless you have a plan to use them on a trip not too far off in the future.

 

 

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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Comments

  1. There are many instances where buying points absolutely pays. For iexample, a Holiday Inn Express in the Tucson area goes for nearly $200 a night (including taxes) at the height of the winter season, which is when I visit each year. But, particularly now with the IHG flash sale, I can purchase each 20,000 point reward night for $100, and then get a ten percent points rebate as an IHG Visa Card holder. Net cost- $90 per night.

  2. I buy starpoints at every opportunity, even speculatively. Hilton points I’ve stopped buying, both because the domestic awards chart has been radically devalued, but also because Hilton is now penalizing buyers who do not carry the Hilton cc. Still, as you point out, if someone has a specific destination, they can be a good deal.

    I’m in the same boat as you, a pile of Carlson points that are becoming nearly worthless. If I got a chance to blow them all and leave the program I would.

  3. I would never use SPG points on a hotel. I buy them for flights. Buying them for transfer is fairly useful.

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