We are already done with Week 2 of Daily Getaways. I will list down the upcoming Week 3 and Week 4 deals which I feel could be a good value.
Week 3 (May 1 to May 5):
May 4 - Marriott e-gift card at 20% off (Good Deal): You could use these gift cards at any of the Marriott properties worldwide except all the Starwood (SPG) properties, Protea Hotels by Marriott and Marriott Executive Apartments. Alternatively you can also re-sell it to certain Gift card re-seller if you have bulk relationship with them (But you wan't earn much on in here). These are available in $100, $250 and $500 value. You will need to present the e-gift card at the time of check-out so you would not be able to take advantage of prepaid rates. The good part is that you can register the card on your email address and protect it in case of any fraud.
Week 4 (May 8 to May 10):
May 9 - Hertz points at discounted rate from ~4.24 to ~5.09 cents/point (OK Deal): So you are essentially buying points which you can redeem at standard rewards rates or anytime rewards rates. So based on the type of redemption you can get a good deal or a raw deal. Also points expire in 24 months if there is no activity on your account. For e.g. 5500 points for $280 can be used for 1 week rental (anytime reward) with no black out dates which is roughly paying about $40 per day for standard vehicle which may or may not be a good deal based on where you can rent. The interesting part is you could redeem for the same weekly rental for 2750 points only by using "standard reward" rate which may not be available though on certain black out dates. Also you can transfer the points to your spouse or domestic partner. Do remember if you pay with points for your rental you would forego car rental protection provided by certain credit cards and might have to purchase CDW insurance from car rental company. So, depending on your plans it may or may not be for you.
May 10 - Hyatt points from ~1.03 to ~1.1 cents/point (Good Deal): Hyatt points are valuable because you can use 30k points at high-end all inclusive properties. Also if you have upgrade certificates you can use them on award stays booked with points. With this deal they are selling 24,000 to 72,000 points and there is a limit of 1 package per person. Hyatt low-end redemption starts at only 5,000 points and they have pretty decent properties even at low end. Hyatt points packages sell out fast (within few minutes) as they are limited, so if you are eyeing one of them be there at 10 a.m. PST time to try your luck at it.
There are other offers in daily getaways but you can do equally better going other routes rather than blocking your cash up-front. Be sure to perform your due diligence before your purchase any of the above package. Best of luck.
Broadly Speaking there are three kinds of Hotel Stays:
Let's assume your intent is to "pay the lowest price". In that case this article would give you various resources which will help you making that decision better and faster (Hopefully!). Below are few websites/tools which will quickly allow you to narrow down your search to few of the hotels in your desired area.
This is a pretty useful tool where you can enter your desired hotel location and it will quickly show up the hotels and the points required to stay there. Since, it uses Google Maps as the backdrop, it is very easy to map the hotels with your desired place of stay. Currently the website supports following Hotel Chains:
All you need to do is to enter your "Destination" in the search box and it will pop up hotel property names and price in award points for them. This makes it very easy to short-list the hotels and gives estimate on price you would have to pay (based on your valuation of the points) if you chose to stay on "award". For e.g. I have searched "Bali, Indonesia" below and as you can see that there are several options to select from based on where I want to stay and price I am looking to pay. Of-course there are certain limitations of this tool, as it does not list the "exact rates" for your dates as well as it does not specify the availability of award for your dates, but you at least get to know available properties and the points required which makes your selection easier.
Wandering Aramean Hotel Tools:
This tool gives specific information about the hotels as well as comparison between the "cost of award stay" and "cost when payed with cash". The comparison does require your "Fair value of points input", but it is pretty neat in that it will only show hotels with availability on your dates. It requires you to create your "login ID" before performing the search and currently supports Rates comparison for following Hotels:
Now you have done your reward stay research it's time to check if there are hotels available (may or may not be brand affiliated hotels) which are better bargain then redeeming your points. HotelsCombined is hotel aggregate site which searches for the hotels in your "desired location" and gives you whole bunch of criteria to narrow down or refine your search. The best part is it will show various "OTA as well as hotel websites" where you can book online along with their price comparison. For e.g. searching for hotels with only "5 stars" gives us prices ranging from $21 for a shared dorm to a price of $2299 for a resort room. You can further filter down on brand name and other bunch of criteria to get best bang for your buck.
Enter TripBam! This is a useful tool once you have done the search through HotelsCombined and have booked a "refundable room" for your stay. You can use this "TripBam" to send you alert if the price of your reserved hotel goes up or down on your desired dates of stay. You can also set the criteria if there are other hotels of your interest where you can possibly stay if the price is within the desired range of the price you paid for the current reservation. TripBam can send you an email alert about the price changes for your set of desired hotels so you do not need to keep searching for lower price once you have booked your reservation. For e.g. you can select the set of hotels you are interested in as shown below and you are on your way to savings if the price drops below your price paid or desired price.
Although there are numerous other sites which can help you search Hotels such as Kayak, but the above are just a few gem of tools which would help you make your hotel search better and faster.
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.
As you keep collecting hotel program points for reward stays it's worth understanding the value you are getting out of your investment. Everyone has a different value on points they hold and in which program the points are available. But knowing what value you can get of those points is of importance. The intend of this post is to highlight different program "sweet spots" so you know your choices and where to look before deciding to use your points for hotel award night stay. The loyalty programs we will be looking at are listed below:
This article will focus on Hyatt Gold Passport and Hilton Honors. For IHG (Priority Club) refer to my post on IHG Big Win. The value proposition for IHG (Priority Club) comes from Point Savers Award. For details on Marriott, Club Carlson and SPG do check my next article in this series.
Hyatt Gold Passport
Most hotels in Hyatt brand represent high tier and luxury class hotels. Hyatt award night starts from mere 5k points for category 1 hotels and the highest category 6 hotels cost 22k points for standard room. The reward chart representing the hotels in different categories can be found here. The category 6 hotels include Park Hyatt Tokyo, Park Hyatt Maldives and Park Hyatt Sydney that retails upwards of $900+. Thus redeeming 22k points for standard room at this hotels is extremely awesome value proposition if you are looking for Style and grand experience. On the lower end of it you could redeem 5k points for hotels such as Bali Hyatt which goes for ~$120+. So if you are looking to stay at decent to good brand hotel, I would suggest looking at Category 1 & 2 hotels to see if any hotels exits for the destination you are planning to visit which provides great redemption value for award nights rather than paying cash.
Although Hilton has massively devalued their program in recent time by increasing award night redemption cost's almost 2x and introducing variable points reward rate based on seasonality; there are still quite a few value hotels for budget conscious travelers who want to experience Hilton brand. You should use this useful tool here to determine how many points are required for standard room stay at the location you plan to visit. Once you know the points, you can visit the brand hotel website and scroll all the way to the bottom to see the award night rate for your stay. Look at the example below for Double Tree Hilton Goa. The Hotel's average night cost is INR 11,000 which would roughly equate to ~$180 but the points cost is only 5k points. That's awesome value proposition for Hilton Honors points.
As you can see from above it is still a good value proposition redeeming Hilton Honor points for lower category hotels and thus maximizing value of your points for free award night stays.
So in short if you are looking for value from above programs look for lower or mid category hotels in Hyatt and lower category hotels in Hilton Honors program
There is a current promotion going on which caught my eye today. Aeroplan is running a great promotion where you earn bonus miles when you transfer your financial services, car rental, hotels and points.com points to Aeroplan till 13th of May 2013. Below are the partner list and chart of points earned.
As I had discussed in my earlier post of 50% bonus on transferred hotel points to US Airways, how to take advantage of the transfer using Marirott and Wyndham, I would not discuss that here, but in addition there are few other pluses in this transfer:
1. SPG is also a partner, so for every transfer of 20k SPG points you already earn 5k bonus miles from SPG, but in addition you would now also earn bonus miles of 4k from Aeroplan. So 20k SPG points would get you 29k Aeroplan Miles.
2. The bonus is calculated after considering the total miles you accumulate by transfer from all the partners cumulatively. That means you can transfer over points from various hotel partners to earn a maximum of 40k Aeroplan bonus miles when you get 150k Aeroplan miles deposited in your account.
Note: Transfer from American Express Membership Rewards does not count towards this bonus. You can check out the full list of terms & conditions on the bonus offer page here.
There is a hidden value in the transfer which makes this promotion more interesting and that's "points.com".
If you head over to "points.com" you will realize that Aeroplan Miles can be exchanged (minimum of 15k Aeroplan miles required) for US Airways miles at a ratio of 1 : 0.84. Not only that if you look closely you will find out that you can transfer your points to Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific) at a ratio of 1 : 0.724 as well as to Hawaiian Airlines miles at ratio of 1 : 0.672 which are really good if you are short of few thousand's miles on those account for your redemption. Considering that you cannot directly convert Wyndham points to either of Asia Miles and Hawaiian Airlines miles and adding a bonus factor to it could be a really cool value. You can see the snapshot from pionts.com below as well as conversion chart factoring in the bonus miles earned.
Thus if you missed the US Airways 50% bonus promotion (which was limited to only 1st transfer), you could very well use this promotion to get US Airways miles, but in addition to that you could very well get Asia Miles and Hawaiian Airline miles at reasonable loss in miles value (as well as transfer from Wyndham Rewards becomes a possibility).
US Airways is running promotion where you get 50% bonus miles when you transfer the "participating" hotel points into miles. This promotion is valid till April 30th and you are limited to "ONLY ONE TRANSFER BONUS OF 50%". Below are the transfer partners:
Although hotel points transfer to Airline miles is rarely a good value and a good partner like "SPG" is excluded. There are couple of good value to have above.
Wyndham Rewards Transfer:
Wyndham Rewards points transfer to US Airways miles with a ratio of "2.5:1". Adding 50% bonus the ratio becomes "2.5:1.5".
For e.g. Transferring 8000 Wyndham Reward Points with will you 4800 US Airways Dividend Miles.
Marriott Rewards Transfer:
There are two different ways of getting US Airways miles in exchange for Marriott Rewards Points:
1. Air Mileage: Marriott Rewards Points can simply be converted to US Airways miles with a variable ratio ranging from "5:1" for 10k points transfer to maximum of "2.5:1" for 125k points transfer. Thus with 50% bonus you will earn anywhere from "5:1.5" to as good as "2.5:1.5". Here is the link to get started.
e.g. 1: Transferring 10k Marriott Reward Points would yield 3k US Airways Dividend Miles.
e.g. 2: Transferring 125k Marriott Reward Points would yield 75k US Airways Dividend Miles.
2. Hotel + Air Package: Marriott Rewards Points have an option for redeeming for "Hotel + Air Package" deal. One of the good redemptions here is "7 nights in category 1-5 hotels + 120k miles" for 270k Marriott Reward Points. The good deal about this package is you not only get 7 nights worth of stay in category 1-5 hotels (which by the way you could finalize at later point in time) but you would get a transfer ratio of "2.25:1" without bonus. Adding the 50% transfer bonus would yield "1.5:1" transfer ratio which is "awesome" considering you get 180k miles + 7 nights of hotel stay as well.
Do note that the 50% bonus is only applicable for "1 transfer only" but you could always transfer the points to your spouse account as well and get similar benefits. Both Wyndham Rewards and Marriott Rewards allows such transfers. If you do not have either Wyndham Rewards Points or Marriott Rewards Points but are having "few thousand points lying over" in any other participating hotel program, now would be a good time to get a good 50% bonus on them.
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