Buying Points to Save on a Hotel Stay — Reader Success Story

Aug 22, 2017

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available – View the current offers here.

One of the things I love most about being The Points Guy is getting to hear stories from readers about how award travel has affected their lives — the exotic vacations they’ve planned, the trips they’ve made to be with family and friends, the premium seats and suites they’ve experienced and so much more, all made possible by points and miles. I love to travel and explore, and it’s an honor to be able to help so many of you get where you want to go.

I like to share these success stories to help inspire you the way you inspire me! From time to time I pick one that catches my eye and post it for everybody to enjoy. If you’re interested in sharing your own story, email it to info@thepointsguy.com; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. If we publish it, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure!

Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Erik, who took advantage of a Starwood promotion to save on a Marriott stay. Here’s what he had to say:

Erik
Erik saved money and boosted his SPG account by purchasing points for an award rather than paying cash.

My son will soon be heading to summer camp near Albany, and we made plans to visit him there on family visiting day. The camp was offered a group rate at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Albany East Greenbush, so we used that to book our one-night stay for $157.62 after taxes. However, I noticed I could book that same room for just 10,000 Marriott Rewards points per night. The only problem was that I didn’t have any Marriott points on hand.

Fortunately, I remembered that Starwood Preferred Guest was running a promotion to buy Starpoints at a 35% discount (for purchases of 5,000 or more points). Knowing that I could transfer from SPG to Marriott at a 1:3 ratio, I purchased 5,000 points for $113.75. You have to transfer in increments of 1,000, so I converted 4,000 Starpoints into 12,000 Marriott Rewards points — enough for one free night. After booking the award, I cancelled our original reservation and converted the leftover 2,000 Marriott points back into 667 Starpoints.

The net result was that I saved $44 and ended up with an extra 1,667 Starpoints. I also paid for the purchase with my Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from Amex to earn 2 points per dollar, though I’m not sure if it will qualify for the bonus. If it does, I’ll earn another 228 Starpoints for a total of 1,895. If not, I’ll earn at least 1 point per dollar (1,781 total). Either way, I think it’s a good deal overall!

Airlines and hotels frequently offer opportunities to buy discounted rewards. In general, I don’t recommend buying speculatively unless you’re getting a great deal, but these promotions are a good way to top up your account when you have immediate plans to book an award. In Erik’s case, the decision was easy — buying points not only saved him $44 in cash, but also earned him almost 1,800 extra Starpoints (worth almost $50 based on my latest valuations). His redemption isn’t as spectacular as some others I’ve shared, but it’s a good example of how thinking creatively about award travel can help you save.

Many loyalty programs sell rewards through third parties, which means those purchases might not qualify for a bonus on a co-branded credit card. The same goes for gift cards purchased online, though physical gift cards purchased from a hotel will usually count. Starwood sells its points through Points.com, so I don’t expect Erik will earn the extra point per dollar. If you’re not sure how a given purchase will be categorized, use a credit card that gives you a good return on everyday spending.

Photo courtesy of Hero Images via Getty Images.
Points purchases might not earn a bonus on a co-branded credit card. Photo courtesy of Hero Images via Getty Images.

I love this story and I want to hear more like it! To thank Erik for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 Visa gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you.

Again, if the strategies you’ve learned here have helped you fly in first class, score an amazing suite, reach a far-flung destination or even just save a few dollars, please indulge me and the whole TPG team by emailing us with your own success stories (see instructions above). Feel free to also submit stories of your most egregious travel mistakes. In either case, you’ll have our utmost appreciation, along with some extra spending money for your next trip.

Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Featured image courtesy of Fairfield Inn & Suites Albany East Greenbush.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
0% on purchases for 12 months
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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.