In Getting Best Value out of hotel loyalty points - Part 1 we looked at Hyatt Gold Passport, Hilton Honors and IHG (Priority Club). In this article we will look up below hotel brands:
Most properties belonging to Marriott Hotels group belong to Mid-Tier level except Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott and BVLGARI brand hotels. The hotel night starts at 7,500 points in Category 1 and goes all the way up to 45,000 points for Category 9 redemption. There is separate reward chart for Ritz-Carlton hotels where reward night cost goes from 30,000 points in Category 1 to 70,000 points in Category 5. If you redeem your points for 5 night stay at the same hotel, the 5th night is free. The reward chart for Marriott brand hotels can be found here. There is one more unique thing about Marriott, where the reward night can be had at a cost of 1-tier less than their usual cost and this is called as "PointSavers". The list is updated every week and can be found here. Below is the current Marriott redemption chart for your reference.
There is one more redemption type which is called as "Travel Packages". These packages allows to redeem Marriott Points for "Air + Hotels". Essentially speaking you get Specific amount of Airline Miles credited to your Frequent Flyer Account in addition to 7 night stay in your selected category of hotel depending on package you select. These are good value if you are planning to stay anywhere from 5 to 7 nights in any of the Marriott hotels at a stretch. In additon if you hold United MileagePlus Premier Gold Status then you get 10% additional Miles for "Air+Hotel" redemption into United MileagePlus Program. More details on this RewardPlus program can be found here.
Club Carlson Hotels:
Club Carlson brand do not have strong presence within USA but have lot of properties around Europe. That being said the top tier brand of Club Carlson is "Radisson Blue". The redemption for reward night at Club Carlson starts at 9,000 points for standard room in Category 1 hotels and goes up to 70,000 points for standard rooms in Category 7 hotels. You could also redeem points for premium root at 1.5x the standard room rates. The reward chart for Club Carlson can be found here. There is also "Points+Cash" option available if you do not have enough points for "points only" redemption which just starts at 5,000 points and goes up to 20,000 points. The catch with this kind of redemption is that the "cash" portion varies according to the properties and may or may not be a good deal. The reward chart for Club Carlson is shown below for your reference.
The sweet spot of Club Carlson program is for folks residing in the USA and having one of the co-branded US Bank Club Carlson Credit Card which gives 1 night free for every redemption of 1+ nights. So essentially for 2 night stay you get the 2nd night stay for free. You can get 50 such free nights in a year which is great if you plan to make short reward stays. As mentioned earlier the best values are to redeem for free night in their European Hotels, specially in Paris where the downtown hotels usually sell upwards of 200 Euros.
Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG):
SPG is a great program mainly for two reasons.
Despite the above you will find that redeeming SPG points for Top-Tier hotel is usually a bad choice as the points required for stay at these hotels would be equivalent in terms of cash paid. There are few exceptions here and there but usually the points pricing is similar to what you would expect paying in cash. The redemption starts for 3,000 points for Category 1 hotel and could go up to 140,000 points per night for certain resorts. The reward chart can be found here. The good part is you can use "Cash+Points" options to pay for the reward nights if you do not want to use away all your points which sometimes gives better value than just booking with points. You could also redeem points for "Nights & Flights" for Category 3 & 4 hotels which is similar to what Marriott offers. You can find the reward chart for SPG properties below:
As you can see from above chart the Category 1 to 4 redemption are real value for points in SPG program apart from airlines partner transfers.
Well, the next IHG Point breaks is already out as you would have seen all over the place. In short, the Point Breaks let you stay for 5k IHG points/night. You can find the list here. This list is valid from 03/24/2014 to 05/31/2014. So, if you see any property listed where you would potentially want to stay you might want to get going right in the morning at 7 a.m. PST of 03/24/2014. Usually the number of such awards in each participating hotels are limited, so they dry up pretty soon. The best way is to book speculatively for dates where you possibly think you will be staying on those properties.
The important thing is if you are looking for points there are tricks to buy them for 0.6 cent/points. But if you are not in a rush and have few future planned stays or can find a cheap IHG property to stay at; you could easily get 10k to 20k points with just 1 stay. Just register for whichever possible codes you could by looking up lists here, here and here. Ohh and yes, do not forget to register for current IHG BIG WIN to pocket some additional bonus points. Enjoy!!
Note - HT to bart.la, loyaltylobby and of-course flyertalk.
NEW UNITED AWARD CHART GEM
After the recent devaluation of United Award chart, the awards in premium cabin on partner airlines has gone quite expensive. But the new award chart has a sweet spot created for visiting "Down Under" from quite a few Asian countries that too in premium cabin on partner airlines. To begin with look at the United award chart below:
As you can see from the highlighted section above, visiting "Down Under" from South Asia is just 30k miles one way in business or 40k miles in First. You could even do a return trip with a stop-over or 2 open-jaws and still pay 60k/80k in business/first. That is an incredible deal knowing how large is South Asia. Just to get an idea look below on countries classified under "South Asia" by United.
The gist is you can get to fly incredible Singapore Airlines, or Thai Airways to visit "Down Under" and go as far as Bangladesh (Dhaka) which is essentially very close to India/Pakistan. Below is the map of what you can do for 80k miles in first class for which US Airways would charge you 120k miles.
As you can see from the map you could potentially get a stop-over in either of DAC/BKK/SIN or for that matter any of the United classified "South Asian" country and get to travel "down under" for 80k United miles in First!! Hope this helps folks planning their trip from South Asian countries.
I love traveling / backpacking. This blog focuses on below 3 aspects of travel:
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