hotel loyalty programs hotel loyalty programs compared travel budget travel planning

Europe on hotel points for $68 hotel nights

a statue of a cat on a stone path
Cats and Cobblestones in Klaipeda, Lithuania

Most of my summer travel is planned with flights ticketed and hotels booked for Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Italy, Lithuania, Norway and Poland. This article is about the value I found with different hotel loyalty point currencies for different cities.

My summer travel plans use hotel reward nights in 7 different hotel loyalty programs. This article shows how much it would have cost to buy points for 30 hotel nights during sales in the past three months.

Another traveler could have purchased hotel points in 2018 for the same summer hotel stays in Europe at $68 per night for 30 hotel nights.

Airlines: United, Swiss, Lufthansa, LOT Polish, Ryanair and Wizz.

The cost of airline tickets between California and Europe is the major expense for my travels. Those tickets average out to about $450 to $500 round trip over 5 to 7 trips over the course of the year.

My summer tickets for Copenhagen and Rome priced at $517 with United, however, my Feb 2018 ticket to SJC-Amsterdam was $416 on British Airways and my Icelandair autumn travel ticket for SFO-LHR is only $263.

United flies me SFO to Zurich and Wizz, Ryanair, and LOT Polish flights move me around Europe inexpensively. Flights are relatively cheap with 7 intra-Europe airline tickets priced under $400 all-in, including bag fees and seats. I have flights to Copenhagen and Rome with Austria, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Norway and Poland flights moving me across Europe. Traveling primarily through ground transportation would be cheaper, if I limited to travel to one region like the Baltics. That was my original plan.

a statue of a cat on a sidewalk
Cats and Cobblestones in Klaipeda, Lithuania

Different Countries, Different Hotel Chains

Staying in the Baltics would have meant letting a free Marriott category 5 hotel night expire. I shifted plans to include Poland, specifically for a Marriott hotel I had in mind when I booked two Marriott brand hotel stays in London and Copenhagen during last New Year’s trip to Europe.

Poland is where I primarily use Hilton, Marriott and Starwood points. Lithuania is Radisson Rewards. Rome and Krakow are Best Western Rewards points. Copenhagen, Oslo and Vienna are Choice Privileges points.

Choice Privileges points means some Suite Nights

($685 in points for $3,000 in room rates saves $2,315).

136,000 Choice Privileges points buys 11 hotel nights for several stays in Scandinavia and Central Europe with room rates at $3,000. My Choice Privileges points purchase through Daily Getaways last month cost about $685 to buy 136,000 points.

The largest portion of that $3,000 in room rates is 4 nights in Copenhagen and Oslo at 20,000 points per night for $450 per night hotel stays. Those are insanely high room rates that I can splurge on since they are costing me only $100 per night with points.

Aside from the AC Marriott in Copenhagen last January I stayed at for $170, all my 40 or so hotel nights in Denmark, Norway and Sweden over the past 5 years have been paid for with Radisson Rewards or Choice Privileges points.

A focal point of my summer 2018 trip is an off the beaten path city I will visit primarily for the opportunity to book a hotel suite for an extended stay at 9,500 Choice Privileges points per night. My cost using Choice Privileges points is about $48 per $192 room night.

Radisson Rewards, my last hurrah ($432 in RR points for $1,206 in room rates saves $774). 

Summer 2018 hotel stays will burn off most of my remaining Radisson Rewards points accrued over the past 7 years. Room rates at Radisson Rewards hotels are actually priced lower now than they were in February when I made points reservations, primarily due to a strengthening US Dollar rather than a local currency room rate drop. The US Dollar is at its strongest currency exchange rates for 2018 against most  European currencies.

Based on today’s rates for my hotel stays, the Radisson brand room nights would cost $1,206. I redeemed 108,000 points for my stays. My redemption value is over $11 per 1,000 Radisson Rewards points. Last month Radisson Rewards sold points for $4 per 1,000 points.

Most of my planned summer trip was to be in the Baltics, but that was before we had airline tickets. I ended up cutting our time in the Baltics to add days in Rome.

The glory days of Radisson Rewards/Club Carlson with stays at The May Fair London for 35,000 points per night are faded travel memories. I burned through 84,000 points last New Year’s Eve for a 3-night stay at Park Inn Prague when room rates were around $250 per night.

Between the elimination of Radisson Rewards 2-for-1 weekend rates in Europe in January 2017, followed by the hotel reward category changes of 2018 moving several of the low cost hotels in the Baltics to higher reward night rates, summer 2018 might be my last hurrah with big Radisson Rewards points redemption stays in Europe. I think most of their hotels are overpriced as reward nights.

Best Western Rewards ($550 in BWR points for $900 in room rates saves $350).

The deal with Best Western (and Choice Privileges) is finding hotels offering higher category rooms for standard reward rates. I booked 5 nights at three Best Western hotels for 100,000 points. Lowest room rates were about $750, but I booked a higher category room with points at 2 of 3 hotels with room rates priced at $900. Some cities like Rome have Best Western hotels in desirable city center locations at a reward price lower than other major chain hotels in these same areas.

A couple could buy 100,000 Best Western Rewards points for $550 in last month’s Daily Getaways.

IHG Rewards Club ($170 for two hotel nights earns points for 2 reward nights and saves $220 on room rates).

Poland is a bunch of reservations to take advantage of different deals. I can pay for two hotel nights with IHG for $170 and earn 35,000 points. I booked 2 hotel nights at Holiday Inn in a different city for 30,000 points rather than pay $110 per night published rate. 4 hotel nights in Europe with IHG for $170 is a great hotel discount savings of $220.

IHG points can periodically be purchased for $5 per 1,000 points with opportunities to buy points for as little as $4.60 per 1,000 points during Points & Cash 20% off promotions.

Hilton Honors $130 for $160 in room nights is not much savings using points.

Hilton Honors points can currently be purchased for $5 per 1,000 points. I can save about $10 per night using points in a couple of cities where I plan to be, but there is also an opportunity to earn double points with paid stays May 1-Aug 31, 2018.

Hilton reward nights will cost 26,000 points, or pay $160 for room nights and earn points. 26,000 points can be purchased for $130.

Another advantage favoring reward nights using points are more flexible cancellation without penalty than lowest prepaid, nonrefundable advance purchase hotel rates.

Marriott Rewards MegaBonus free night ($250 redemption value).

December 2017 at Moxy in London and Jan 2018 at AC Bella Sky Copenhagen earned a free night certificate for a category 5 hotel. I spent about $240 for 2 hotel nights. My free night certificate is a 25,000 points value for a category 5 Marriott resort hotel night that has posted lowest room rates of $250 to $325 over past 6 weeks. There will definitely be a hotel review coming.

Starwood Preferred Guest $81 + 5,000 points for $200 room night.

Cash&Points 5,000 points + $75 + $6 tax is not a particularly great value for a $200 room night.

Starpoints can be purchased for $22.75 per 1,000 points in current SPG promotion ending May 31.

5,000 points is $111 worth of points + $81 for a total $192 room rate that priced for $226 when I initially booked. Rate is available for $182 at time of this post. Not much savings on this room rate, but great location and convenient.

My rationale for this low value redemption is I seldom have Starwood stays the past few years and my 5,000 points are simply sitting around in my nearly dormant account.

Simple math logic: $81 is less than $200 for my hotel night and $81 is a lot less than any other comparable hotel option in the area.

$2,050 for 30 Hotel Nights in Europe = $68.33 per night

$2,050 for 30 hotel nights is about what these hotel nights cost when points value and paid room rates are added together.

$6,000 is what these hotel nights cost if paying the published room rates for the room types I booked.

$2,050/30 hotel nights is $68.33 per night for my European vacation based on the cost to buy hotel loyalty points during sales over the past three months.

My actual cost is substantially lower than $2,050, under $1,000 all-in for 30 hotel nights.

I did not spend $432 for 108,000 Radisson Rewards points or $550 for 100,000 Best Western Rewards points for these hotel stays. I acquired Radisson Rewards points long ago at a far lower rate from hotel stays during high value promotions and Best Western Rewards points from Diners Club Rewards point transfers.





  • Rupert May 30, 2018

    Thanks for the overview, good analysis.
    Looking forward to the hotel reviews.
    I’m traveling in Poland right now and hotels are pretty good value based on my stays so far…

  • cori May 30, 2018

    “A focal point of my summer 2018 trip is an off the beaten path city I will visit primarily for the opportunity to book a hotel suite for an extended stay at 9,500 Choice Privileges points per night.” Which city is this? Thanks.

  • Ric Garrido May 30, 2018

    My summer travel writing will review hotels where I stay.

    Choice Privileges, Best Western Rewards and Wyndham Rewards all have some hotels in Europe offering suites at standard reward prices.

    Simply a matter of looking for them.

Comments are closed.