In the final weeks of 2019 there seems to be an unprecedented opportunity to buy hotel loyalty points at discount rates. Many of these deals match the lowest price for buying points seen all year. Hotel points have provided me thousands of dollars in hotel rate discounts in 2019 over 65 hotel nights in 8 different major hotel chains with loyalty programs. Five hotel nights were independent non-chain hotels.
My 65 hotel nights this year were divided as 25 paid nights and 40 reward nights. Credit card free nights covered two hotel reward nights with Sopot Marriott Resort and Spa in Poland and InterContinental Monterey using my last unrestricted Chase IHG MasterCard annual night last month for an unnecessary hotel night locally.
The case for buying hotel points
I have no financial interest in whether readers buy hotel points or not. This article simply outlines how I use hotel loyalty points to reduce the price of lodging for my travel.
CyberMonday sales over the past five years have offered one of the year’s best bargain rates for hotel points purchases. There are so many hotel points deals available right now that it would be easy to spend thousands of dollars on hotel points to save many more thousands of dollars in hotel stays. Realistically, most of us have other items at the top of our list for available spend and cannot take advantage of all these cheap hotel points deals.
Buy Hotel Points Deals
Best Western Rewards – No SALE
BWR is one of two programs (other is Wyndham Rewards) that I have never seen offer discount rates to buy points. Best Western Rewards points are sold at rate of $10 per 1,000 points with a 20,000 points maximum purchase per transaction, however, BWR points purchases cannot be made online. Points purchases must be made through Best Western Customer Service Line.
The best opportunity to buy BWR points is during the annual U.S. Travel Association Daily Getaways sale, usually held in April-May. The Daily Getaways offer has generally been an opportunity to buy 10,000 points for $55, up to 50,000 points. That is a 45% discount on the $10 per 1,000 points rate through BWR.
In 2019, I had two stays with Best Western and earned one free night good for any hotel in North America. Unfortunately, the short validity period of 60 days for the free night to be used meant I ended up not redeeming my free night certificate.
Choice Privileges – $7.08 per 1,000 points matches lowest price ever through Choice Privileges offers. Sale ends Dec 5.
26 of my 65 hotel nights in 2019 were Choice Hotel stays. 23 of those 26 nights were reward stay nights using 250,000 Choice Privileges points. In May 2019 I purchased 266,000 points during the Daily Getaways at the rate of about $5.10 per 1,000 points.
Bottom line is I paid $1,380 to buy 264,000 points I redeemed for 23 hotel nights. My average reward night cost worked out to $60 per night when the average room rate for those 23 nights was $210.
Choice Privileges points are normally $11 per 1,000 points. Through December 5 members can buy up to 350,000 points at $7.08 per 1,000 points. Based on my redemptions in 2019, I could buy 264,000 points for $1,870 in this current sale. Given the same deals at Choice Hotels I found in 2019, the increased $2 per 1,000 points price for Choice Privileges points at $7 per 1,000 points compared to $5 per 1,000 points I paid last May would make the average room rate for my 23 hotel nights in 2019 jump from $60.00 to $81.26 per night.
Paying $81 per night is still a great deal given the average room rate for my 23 reward nights was $210.
40% bonus offer applies to purchases of 5,000 points or more. Transactions must be completed between 9:00 a.m. EST November 20, 2019 and 11:59 p.m. EST December 05, 2019 to be eligible for this bonus on points. Through December 5 members can buy up to 350,000 points at $7.08 per 1,000 points.
Hilton Honors – Nov 26 is LAST DAY TO BUY DISCOUNT HILTON POINTS. $5 per 1,000 points matches lowest price Hilton buy points offers in 2019.
Hilton points are $5.00 per 1,000 points. Normal rate is $10 per 1,000 points.
In 2018, I was able to take advantage of low 5,000 points per night reward available at several hotels in Romania. My 20,000 points 5th night free reward stay at Hampton Inn Cluj-Napoca allowed me to stay for $20 per hotel night. Unfortunately, nearly all 5,000 points hotels in Hilton increased to 10,000 points in 2018. Turkey and Egypt are two countries where there are still many 5,000 points per night hotels.
I had no Hilton brand hotel stays in my 65 hotel nights for 2019.
World of Hyatt – 40% bonus points drops price to $17.14, matches lowest price in 2019 for Hyatt points sales. Ends Dec 31.
Offer available with purchases made between 12:01 am ET November 14, 2019 and ends 11:59 pm December 31, 2019. Purchase 5,000 or more Bonus Points in a single transaction and receive 40% additional Bonus Points. Members can normally buy 55,000 points in a calendar year and this offer increases that to 77,000 points.
Hyatt normally sells points for $24 per 1,000 points. This sale drops price to $17.14 per 1,000 points.
My general attitude is Hyatt properties are too expensive for my budget. I think there is value at category 1 and category 2 hotels making points purchases worthwhile. I only had two hotel reward nights in 2019 when I was stranded in Fort Lauderdale last January after missing a flight connection to California on the weekend after New Year’s. Hyatt points saved money, but at $137 to buy 8,000 points, I would probably have sought a better value hotel deal if I had purchased Hyatt points at the current $17.14 rate. I had Hyatt points I purchased a couple years ago through Daily Getaways sales when I paid about $10 per 1,000 Hyatt points making my Florida reward nights $80.
I’d love to have a stash of 40,000 Hyatt points for good value opportunities, however, I am more confident of finding good value hotel stays with Choice, IHG, Marriott and Radisson by spreading out $660 across these other programs. Hyatt simply does not offer much value for places I have been traveling the past few years.
IHG Rewards Club – 80% bonus points + 10% off = $5 per 1,000 points and matches best price offered in 2019. Sale ends Dec 30.
IHG is my second most used hotel chain in 2019 with 16 hotel nights. I consider IHG to be the best program for earning hotel points from paid stays due to lucrative Accelerate promotions. My 8 paid nights with IHG earned back about 80,000 points of the 130,000 points I redeemed for 5 IHG hotel reward nights in 2019.
I generally use $5 per 1,000 points when estimating whether to pay for a hotel night or redeem points. My 130,000 redeemed points bought $875 in hotel rooms. My discount would have been $225 if I had paid $650 to buy 130,000 points in this sale. That rate of return tells me this purchase price is a good deal for my travels.
Two reasons why IHG will not be part of my 2019 end of year purchases. Firstly, I have about 200,000 points already. Secondly, IHG regularly offers buy points at $5 per 1,000 promotions throughout the year.
Marriott Bonvoy – 30% off points purchases is $8.75 per 1,000 points through Dec 22.
Marriott Bonvoy is a program I used for three hotel nights in 2019. This is the program I am interested in buying points due to having redeemed my remaining points in 2019 for a 25,000 points reward night at Sopot Marriott Resort in Poland. However, I would not buy over $200 in points to stay at Sopot Marriott. Where I see value with Marriott points right now is for off-peak category 1 hotels at $44 per night on a trip across Spain.
Radisson Rewards – potentially $3.50 per 1,000 points through Dec 3. Maximum purchase 160,000 points. Targeted offers so you might not have 100% bonus points for your account.
Radisson Rewards points have value for me at category 3 hotels, where this sale offers 28,000 points for $98. I redeemed 84,000 points in 2019 on three reward nights in Prague and Gdansk, Poland at category 3 hotels when combined room rates were $390. The cost to buy 84,000 points in this sale is $294. Not a great savings for these hotels, but still a savings of about $29 per night.
This offer matches the lowest price I have ever seen for Radisson points. The main impediment for me is the number of good value hotels at Radisson Rewards low categories has been significantly depleted across Europe in the past three years. I stayed in Lithuania on two trips in 2017 and 2018 when Park Inn Kaunas was 9,000 points per night and now it is 28,000 points. Radisson Blu Klaipeda was 15,000 points per night that year and is now 38,000 points. The Radisson Rewards program devalued significantly for my travels.
Wyndham Rewards – 40% Bonus Points through January 13, 2020 reduces price from $13.00 to $9.29 per 1,000 points.
Wyndham Rewards was a program where I found great value over the past five years. I redeemed my the last of my points for a 3 night stay at Ramada Apollo Amsterdam Dec 30-January 2. Apollo Amsterdam dropped Ramada brand and Wyndham Rewards affiliation in 2019. Changes to Wyndham Rewards GoFast rates killed the primary value of this program for me.
Still, this is a rare opportunity to buy Wyndham Rewards points at a discount for $9.29 per 1,000 points. There are many places with Wyndham brand hotels where a $150 room night will provide a rate savings, especially for hotels offering high category rooms for 15,000 points per night.