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

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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.

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