How Do You Choose Between A Hotel Where You Earn Points and a Nicer One Where You Don’t?

by on October 13, 2013 · 5 comments

in Sunday Reader Questions, Video Blog Post

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Update: The offer mentioned below for the Platinum Card from American Express has expired. View the current offer here.

TPG reader Duc tweeted me an interesting question this week that I get all the time and is foremost for when booking hotel stays. He asked:

@thepointsguy If you had to choose between a much better reviewed hotel vs one which gets you points (Hilton, etc.), which do you pick?”

It really depends on the situation. If I’m on a business trip where I’m not actually spending much time in the hotel or taking advantage of its amenities, I would rather stay at the points hotel to maximize my earnings, any ongoing promotions and my elite status.

But if we’re talking about a vacation or a special occasion, I wouldn’t travel to the other side of the world just to stay at a hotel that you’re not really going to enjoy – especially when it’s a resort where features like a pool, location on a beach, the quality of the spa, etc., all really do matter. I guess it really just boils down to your travel preference.

Even on my stay at the Four Seasons Toronto I'm earning valuable benefits.

Even on my stay at the Four Seasons Toronto I’m earning valuable benefits.

But even when you stay at a hotel that doesn’t earn you points in a loyalty program of its own, you can still earn points or miles from your stay by maximizing your hotel bookings. For example, I filmed this while staying at the Four Seasons Toronto, which does not have a hotel points program. I booked it through American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts thanks to my Mercedes-Benz Platinum Card (personal Platinum and Business Platinum cardholders can also access FHR) which got me a $100 spa credit for my stay that I put toward one of the best massages I’ve gotten and free breakfast as well – so I am getting valuable benefits that are comparable to the points that I would earn by staying at another hotel with a less ideal location and not as great a view. I’m also going to try paying with my Chase Sapphire Preferred card so I earn 2.14X points per $1 on my hotel charge.

So there are a lot of factors to weigh, but once in a while, stay in a great hotel even if you’re not earning points for doing so. On the other hand, if you’re gunning for elite status and those perks over the next year and a half are going to be really valuable, then it might be worth staying at a less ideal hotel in order to rack up those points and that status so that you can put them to use on a great stay at a fantastic hotel in the future.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • pacheco18

    As much as I play the points game and love to earn points, the most important factor for me in choosing a hotel is LOCATION. I want to be in walking distance from the major sites, great restaurants and shopping. This is one of the rare occasions where points just do not matter.

  • Faye

    My math: in Florence Italy I could transfer 40,000 UR points to Marriott and stay at a subpar location/facility. At the very least I could cash out those same points for $400. Cute, well-located B&Bs were available for less than $400. I chose a B&B and paid w/Barclay Arrival.

  • Janet Stan

    I usually check sites like and find the best price and see if the price savings would offset the benefit of the points, or not.

  • thepointsguy


  • RakSiam

    I generally agree with this. You also have to be careful about the Amex hotels thing as well as the Visa Signature and Kiwi Collection hotels. While they do offer some nice perks, the room rates tend to be pretty high to start with since most of the hotels they list are near the top end. You can usually find a perfectly fine place for a lot less money. You may not get a spa credit or whatever but with all the money you saved on the hotel rate you can pay cash for the spa and still come out ahead.

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