Buying hotel points has become my primary strategy for discount hotel rates. My primary objective when looking for hotel rooms is to find the best value deal I can book for rates or points for under $100 per night. This means I value hotel programs where I can find hotels using points where my total cost works out to under $100 per night for the price I paid to buy hotel points.
Hilton, IHG and Marriott offer discount reward nights when booking extended stays of 4 nights for IHG (about 25% fewer points with IHG credit card) and 5 nights for Hilton and Marriott (20% fewer points).
Record high room rates in the USA in 2022 has meant I generally compare hotel reward night rates among hotel choices in different chains for the city I am visiting. I seek the right balance between room rates, reward night room rates, added benefits and location. In general, I research Best Western, Choice, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Marriott, Radisson and Wyndham.
Among these major hotel loyalty programs I place Choice and IHG in the top tier for hotels I will likely find a discount using reward nights to find a highly rated hotel that will cost me $100 or less in purchased points. This means I try and buy hotel points when prices are their lowest of the year.
Choice Privileges and IHG One Rewards are two programs I regularly buy lots of points each year. I place these two programs in my Tier 1 level where I tend to buy points each year. IHG had been one of my top earning hotel programs due to their lucrative promotions for several years making points purchases unnecessary. The high rate of hotels in the U.S. makes it harder for me to justify spending money on high hotel rates to earn promotional bonus points when I can simply buy points for a bigger discount on my hotel stays, even after factoring points earning bonuses.
In the past year I redeemed about 200,000 Choice Privileges points for 10 nights, 250,000 IHG points for 24 nights and several credit card annual free night certificates for Hyatt, IHG and Marriott stays. I paid about $1,040 for Choice Privileges points in 2021 Daily Getaways and about $500 for 100,000 IHG points with the balance of IHG points earned from pre-pandemic hotel stays. The 10 Choice hotel nights for 200,000 points bought over $5,000 in hotel rooms based on the published rates for the dates I stayed in the specific hotel room category. IHG points are paying for my summer trip to Portugal where $1,000 in points (valued at $5 per 1,000 points) paid for $2,500 in room rates (primarily using 4th night free awards for 4-night stays).
For my summer 2022 travel I only have five paid nights booked at independent hotels and 20 reward nights. I am actually double booked for chain hotels using points for the same dates I booked refundable paid nights at independent hotels. I am still uncertain which hotels I will choose to stay and which I will cancel. Bottom line is I found the best hotel deals using points for nearly every place I plan to go this summer in Portugal and Greece.
There are plenty of Hilton, Hyatt and Marriott fans, but I personally do not find much value buying their points, except for the occasional low end hotel. There are probably plenty of deals where buying points will drop a $500 per night hotel rate to $300 per night, but that kind of deal is for people in a higher economic strata than I live. I mostly satisfy myself with the $150 to $200 per night hotel that I get for under $100 and the few $500+ per night hotels I booked for less than $100 per night in purchased points like recent stays I had in Vegas and Venice.
Tier 1 points hotel loyalty program points have many hotels offering reward nights using points for lower cost to buy points than pay posted room rates.
- Regular price: $10.30 per 1,000 points when buying 10,000 points or more.
- 180,000 points purchase annual limit. When sales offer bonus points you can buy over this limit.
- Last sale ended 4/29/22 for 40% bonus points when lowest price was $7.36/1,000 points.
- Best price of past year: Daily Getaways (Oct 2021) as low as $5.03 per 1,000 points. Daily Getaways returns July 18, 2022.
IHG One Rewards
- Regular price: $10.00 per 1,000 points when buying 26,000 points or more.
- 250,000 points purchase annual limit. When sales offer bonus points you can buy over this limit.
- Current sale through June 10, 2022: 80% bonus points drops price to $5.56 per 1,000 points. Possible to buy 450,000 points.
- Best price of past year: IHG had several 100% bonus points sales and Daily Getaways offers when points were as low as $5.00 per 1,000 points.
- IHG Premier Mastercard members receive 4th night free on reward stays.
Tier 2 hotel loyalty program points
Best Western Rewards
- Regular price: $10.00 per 1,000 points when buying points at time of booking a reservation.
- 20,000 points daily purchase limit; 100,000 points annual purchase limit.
- BWR does not offer points purchase promotional sales.
- Best price of past year: Daily Getaways (Oct 2021) offered 10,000 points for $55 with a purchase limit of 50,000 points for $275.
- Personal thoughts: BWR was much more useful to me when they offered multiple room categories, including suites, at the standard reward rate using points. The program now charges more points for higher category rooms. I have not seen a suite offered for points since 2019. I purchased 50,000 BWR points in 2021 Daily Getaways, but I find only a few hotels where points reduce the room rate by more than $25 per night.
- Regular price: $10.00 per 1,000 points when buying 1,000 points or more.
- 160,000 points purchase annual limit. When sales offer bonus points you can buy over this limit.
- Current sale through July 19, 2022: 80% bonus points drops price to $5.56 per 1,000 points. Possible to buy 288,000 points for $1,600.
- Best price of past year: Hilton had several 100% bonus points sales and Daily Getaways offers when points were as low as $5.00 per 1,000 points.
- Hilton Honors elite members get 5th night free on reward stays (20% discount on 5-night points stay).
- Personal thoughts: I find it very difficult to find significant savings using Hilton points compared to room rates for hotels that are 30,000 points or less. My last use of Hilton points was 2019 at Hampton Inn Cluj-Napoca when I booked 6 nights for 39,000 points. That hotel is now 100,000 points for 6 nights for an elite member.
World of Hyatt
- Regular price: $24.00 per 1,000 points when buying 1,000 points or more.
- 55,000 points purchase annual limit. When sales offer bonus points you can buy over this limit.
- Last sale ended May 30, 2022: 30% discount on points dropped price to $16.80 per 1,000 points.
- Best price of past year: Daily Getaways offers when points were as low as $11.00 per 1,000 points, but so few packages for sale that virtually impossible to buy.
- Personal thoughts: I have only used Hyatt points for category 1 and category 2 hotels over the past several years. I do not find much value in buying Hyatt points, even at sale price of $16.80 per 1,000 points. Room rates at Hyatt hotels are generally far higher than I want to pay, so I primarily earn Hyatt points through credit card spend and earn annual free night certificates limited to category 4 hotels. I was a big fan of Hyatt 10 to 15 years ago when a large percentage of hotels were in category 1 and 2 and the top tier hotels in the world were 15,000 points per night. Hotels in low categories are far fewer these days, even as the program has grown by 50% more hotels.
Hyatt series I wrote in May 2022 during the last points sale:
- Intro to Hyatt Hotels in Europe where buying points is a good deal (May 16)
- Hyatt deal for Premium Suite Thessaloniki, Greece (May 17)
- Check Hyatt Points+Cash and Suite Upgrade rates for reward night savings (May 17)
- Amsterdam hotels with Hyatt points (May 18)
- Regular price: $12.50 per 1,000 points when buying 1,000 points or more.
- 100,000 points purchase annual limit. When sales offer bonus points you can buy over this limit.
- Current sale through July 15, 2022: 45% bonus points drops price to $8.62 per 1,000 points. Possible to buy 145,000 points for $1,250. Some members report getting a 55% bonus points offer for $8.07 per 1,000 points.
- Best price of past year: Daily Getaways offers Marriott gift cards at 20% off face value. 55% bonus points was best deal of past year.
- Marriott Bonvoy members get 5th night free on reward stays (20% discount on 5-night points stay).
- Personal thoughts: Marriott is another program where most of my stays are using the annual American Express credit card free night. I do not see many hotels where points rates are a better deal than posted rates at low category hotels for short stays. I generally find better hotel deals with other chains in places I stay.
- Regular price: $7.00 per 1,000 points when buying 1,000 points or more.
- 80,000 points purchase annual limit. When sales offer bonus points you can buy over this limit.
- Last sale May 2-9, 2022: 100% bonus points dropped price to $3.50 per 1,000 points with 160,000 points for $560. Radisson Rewards typically has a 100% bonus points offer several times each year.
- Personal Note: Radisson Rewards offered several years of great value from about 2011 to 2017 with lucrative promotions, Gold elite member 2-for-1 and 4-for-2 night rate discounts in Europe and a free night on reward stays booked with points for credit card members. I find very little value for Radisson hotels these days, unless you happen to be traveling to the Baltic nations, Poland and a few other select places where there are category 1 hotels at 15,000 points per night.
- Regular price: $13.00 per 1,000 points when buying 1,000 points or more.
- 80,000 points purchase annual limit. When sales offer bonus points you can buy over this limit.
- Current points sale ends July 2, 2022: 25% discount on points drops price to $9.75 per 1,000 points.
- Personal note: There are some good deals to be found with Wyndham Rewards points, but they are in a limited number of places. This is another program where there were a few lucrative years from 2015 to 2018 when points had relatively high value for room nights. Wyndham Rewards devalued points in March 2018 when it changed GoFast nights from 3,000 points + a fixed cash rate per night based on the specific hotel to making the cash portion 70% of the daily rate for the room type. I had several extended stays at Ramada Apollo Amsterdam over a 3-year period in a top floor Panoramic Suite for 3,000 points + 62 EUR. The program change more than doubled the cash portion needed for this hotel. The hotel has left Wyndham Rewards.
The programs I placed in Tier 2 are ones where it is more difficult to find hotel bargains using points, except at the very low and very high end rate hotels. Hilton and Marriott are two programs where I find it difficult to locate any hotels offering rate savings using purchased points, except at some high end expensive rate properties.
Another example, Hyatt category 1 hotels at 5,000 points per night might only cost $79 to buy points. Chances are you will save money on the room rate by simply buying points. But how many Hyatt category 1 hotel nights can you find in places you travel? I like to keep points around primarily for when I end up stuck overnight at an airport. Many of Hyatt’s category 1 hotels are airport hotels.