Jun172019

Why I value hotel points at lowest rate I can buy points

Many of the major travel blogs like The Points Guy maintain a list for the value of hotel points, airline miles and credit card points. Generally these points and miles valuations are credit card centered as a way to estimate the value of big bonus sign-ups when comparing credit cards.

My points valuations for hotel points are not based on credit cards.

I simply value hotel points at the lowest price I can buy points in a typical year. I use the same value for points when considering the cost of a hotel stay using points compared to cash rates. I use the same values for points earned from hotel stays and promotions.

The basic issue is a hotel loyalty program member needs points to make a reward stay and there is some acquisition cost for points. Credit card users may have a different acquisition cost than members who buy points. There are also members who earn points primarily from hotel stays and that points value analysis can become much more complicated. I simply value points I earn from promotions at the same values as given in my chart below.

My points valuations differ from The Points Guy June 2019 points values for hotels points.

I primarily earn points through hotel stays and points purchases. Credit cards play a minimal role in my acquisition of points.

Here are links to my articles showing points purchases sales at the price points I give in my table.

Best Western Rewards =  $5.50 per 1,000 points. Daily Getaways 2019 (May 21, 2019)

Choice Privileges = $4.82-$5.72 per 1,000 points Daily Getaways 2019 (April 29, 2019).

Choice Privileges = $5.00-$5.50 per 1,000 points Kids First Auction 2019 (May 7, 2019).

Hilton Honors = $5.00 per 1,000 points Daily Getaways 2019 (April 29, 2019).

Hilton Honors = $5.00 per 1,000 points Hilton Honors 100% bonus points (April 12, 2019).

IHG Rewards Club = $5.00 per 1,000 points Daily Getaways 2019 (April 29, 2019).

IHG Rewards Club = $5.00 per 1,000 points IHG Rewards Club Buy Points with 100% bonus points (June 4, 2019).

IHG Rewards Club = $4.85 per 1,000 points IHG Rewards Club Points & Cash 20% discount (Sep 13, 2018).

Marriott Bonvoy = $9.38 per 1,000 points Marriott Buy Points 25% off to May 15, up to 50,000 points (April 16, 2019).

Marriott Bonvoy = $7.58 per 1,000 points  SPG buy points 35% discount to May 31, 2018  (May 1, 2018).

Radisson Rewards = $3.50 per 1,000 points Good Deal! Buy Radisson Rewards points $3.50 per 1000, ends Nov 27 (Nov 20, 2018).

Radisson Rewards = $5.38 per 1,000 points  Any deals with Radisson Rewards buy points 30% bonus? Sep 8, 2018

Radisson Rewards = $4.00 per 1,000 points  Buy Radisson Rewards points at $4 per 1,000 to April 22  (April 20, 2018).

World of Hyatt = $17.14 per 1,000 points Hyatt 40% bonus points May 6-June 11 and June 3 Daily Getaways even better price. Daily Getaways is an extraordinary deal for Hyatt points at around $11 per 1,000 points, however, extremely limited sets of points means luck of the draw in reaching a landing page to buy before they all sell out. I have only hit a landing page on Daily Getaways Hyatt points one time in the past four years and I am there clicking precisely at 10:00:05 every time with a few dozen reclicks for several minutes.

Wyndham Rewards = $11.67 per 1,000 points Daily Getaways 2019 (April 29, 2019).

This Wyndham deal can still be purchased today through Daily Getaways for the simple reason that Wyndham Rewards points are generally overpriced at $175 for 15,000 points. 30,000 points maximum purchase means as little as one free night at many of the best hotels in the chain. For the first couple of years in Daily Getaways 2011 and 2012 Wyndham Rewards points were the hottest item around at low rates of $3.00 to $4.00 per 1,000 points and a great points-to-miles exchange ratio for airline miles.

There are some good reward night hotel deals with Wyndham Rewards points, but far fewer than there were before the April 2019 devaluation changed many of the top tier hotels from 15,000 points to 30,000 points. The 2019 change effectively cut the value of Wynhdam Rewards points in half for users who liked the higher end hotels at 15,000 points.

Wyndham Rewards ceased to be a lucrative program for me in spring 2018 when GoFast cash and points rates changed from a fixed copay amount to 65-70% of Best Flexible Rate. I had been regularly finding $200+ per night rooms with Wyndham Rewards for around $50 to $70 + 3,000 points per night. That changed to $130-$140 per night + 3,000 points once the cash portion for a GoFast reward stay was pegged to the daily room rate. That 2018 change priced most Wyndham Rewards hotels I desired out of my desired spend range.

When to Pay for a Hotel Room with Cash rather than Points

All my hotel points valuations are based on the price I can buy hotel points at times throughout the year.

The primary opportunity I seek when redeeming points is finding hotels where the points rate for a hotel night is a significant savings to the published rate for the hotel and a better deal than I can find for lodging elsewhere.

An IHG hotel at 15,000 points with a room rate of $120 after tax is a room I consider available for $75 with points. I value IHG points at $5.00 per 1,000 points. I save $45 using points. In general I find most IHG hotels are overpriced and the points rate cost is generally higher than the room rate. I don’t care about high end hotels on points since I don’t want to spend $400 in points for any hotel room night in my travels. I use free night promotions and credit card free nights for high end hotel stays.

I also use my point valuations to determine the value of hotel promotions for earning points.

For example, this summer I am staying one night at a Holiday Inn for 15,000 points. I redeemed $75 in IHG points for a $120 room night.

I also booked an IHG Points & Cash reward night staying at a Holiday Inn for $39 + 10,000 points. I paid $39 to buy 5,000 IHG points I only value at $25. I am paying $89 in points value for a 15,000 points room night. I only value 15,000 points at $75 so spending all points is the better value.

After 10% rebate in points from IHG Mastercard, my reward night is only 13,500 points and equivalent to $67.50 points value for a $120 room rate night. My Points & Cash reward night is $81.50 after spending $39 cash to buy 5,000 points and 8,500 net points redeemed after 1,500 points rebate. Yet, IHG’s Accelerate summer promotion changes the net room cost when using points for a Points & Cash reward night.

My IHG Rewards Club Accelerate promotion May 1-August 31, 2019 will earn 4,500 points with a Points & Cash stay. I also get a 10% rebate of IHG Rewards Club points as an IHG Mastercard member for 1,500 points back on my 15,000 points IHG Points & Cash stay. I paid $39 to buy 5,000 points and earn back 6,000 points through promotion bonus points. Net effect is my hotel reward night cost $39 + 4,000 points for a $59 points value room with a posted room rate of $120.

Deeper Dive into Using Hotel Points Values

I plan to expand these thoughts on hotel points values for how I used my points values to plan my summer trip with hotel stays using Choice Privileges, IHG Rewards Club, Marriott Bonvoy and Radisson Rewards points for hotel rate deals.

I also plan to complete IHG Accelerate with hotel stays in Europe to earn about 45,000 points with 5 paid nights.

I will examine some European cities comparing the points value cost of hotels across different hotel chains.

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.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

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  1. I can think of two variables off the top of my head that make your valuations murkier: 1) do you get any benefits that you value (e.g., breakfast) from a cash stay versus a points stay?; and 2) do you calculate in the value of the points you receive for a cash stay versus a points stay (where you do not earn any points)?

  2. I agree. Personally, I only value Hilton & IHG points at .5 cent each. When I joined Hilton last year, I never realized how many points they would be throwing me through different promotions. I have $4K worth of stays booked for an upcoming trip to Italy and Greece, which should net me well over 150,000 points with the 2X promotion, Diamond status and Aspire card. Those bonus points earned as a Diamond member add a ton of value for future stays, especially when breakfast and lounge access is included. I’m still hanging around Marriott because I still have three of their cards (Amex SPG Bus, reg. SPG and Marriott Premier). For $285 annual fees the three free nights are worth it I do a little searching. Their last points sale however was nothing to brag about, barely worth trouble so I passed. When the Feds start taxing all points, the points and miles game will be over.

  3. @Bluecat – I don’t personally see much difference between cash stays and points stays for my hotel travel over past few years. Breakfast is either part of the deal or not. I don’t have status that gives breakfast with any chain.

    I have lifetime Marriott Gold, Choice Privileges Platinum, IHG Rewards Club Platinum, Hilton Honors Silver, Hyatt Globalist and Radisson Rewards Gold.

    I value room upgrades and I seem to get plenty of upgrades with these programs regardless if points or paid stay.

    There is an example in this article of an IHG Points & Cash stay earning 6,000 points as providing $30 in points value.

    I am staying 4 paid nights with IHG spending $400 and I calculate I will earn 40,000 points for a $200 rebate through IHG Accelerate promotion.

    My objective is earn more than $5.00 per 1,000 points in redemption value with those 40,000 points. I have two nights booked for 30,000 IHG points saving $250 for $8.33 per 1,000 points redemption value.

    I often don’t consider points I miss out on by choosing to redeem points instead of paying for a room. The whole objective for accumulating points is to use them for free hotel nights. I keep earning points and redeeming points separate activities. No reason to build up a huge balance of points that will likely be worth less for buying hotel room nights over time.

    Earn and burn at relatively the same pace each year is my strategy. I don’t want to hold on to potentially thousands of dollars of hotel points that might be worth far less than my current valuation next year.

  4. Great point of view. I think we all agree that the values placed on loyalty points by the card-pushing travel bloggers are crazy. E.g.- If the Hyatt Place is 8000 points or $160, the card pushers claim those points are worth 2¢ each. If the Hampton Inn down the street is $99, then that 8000 point redemption saves $99, not $160.

    For people who travel a lot, I think your advice is dead on. However, for people who travel less, I see a problem. Those point sales don’t come along that often, so people have to buy a lot at once, and then hope there isn’t a devaluation before they use them. Everybody devalues. The huge devaluations we just saw at Radisson and Hilton are proof.

    For people who travel a couple of times a year, if any of them read Boardingarea, they’d probably do better using Priceline.

  5. If you don’t travel often but do travel enough to “earn and churn” the points that you would like to use, buy the points or top up during the sale. Then book 9-12 months out using those points at presumably today’s value. Push comes to shove, you can always cancel your reservation/s and have the points returned to your account. I have eight Hilton bookings over the next eight months using both points or cash, so I think I’m protected against any recent devaluation. I’m always looking for value using miles, points, point transfers to miles, and only book cancelable reservations.

  6. @Rick brings up a good point about points bookings, although he didn’t mention it directly.

    When you book with points, you have more flexibility to cancel than if it is a cash rate (I’m referring to the better cash rates). So, if you don’t have exact plans, points are a great way to lock down some speculative bookings.

    @Ric, Im a little surprised that you value room upgrades. You seem to me to be the type that is not into that—I mean, you eat basic grub from a grocery store in your room. (I do this too so I’m not judging.) But Holiday Inn, for example, is well-known for giving out squat when you book an award stay and a free breakfast (for Plats) otherwise.

    For me the takeaway from this article is that it’s good to have a number in your head for the value of your points so that you can compare it to the cash price before pulling the trigger.

  7. That was the benefit of Hotel Hustle to easily compare points and cash costs. Unfortunately Seth has decided that it’s not worth enough in rewards from the hotel bookings to maintain the service.

  8. Upgrade generally means a room on side of the hotel with better view compared to the room I actually booked.

    Since I generally work several hours per day in the room I want space to spread out and not feel like I am sitting on the edge of the bed when seated at a desk in the room.

    I don’t like it when rooms are so small that our luggage has to go in the shower stall or block the walkway in the room space.

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