How Buying Points Saved Me $950 — Reader Success Story

Jan 31, 2018

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.

Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Dmitry, who got a huge discount on a hotel stay in Croatia. Here’s what he had to say:

The things I’ve learned from TPG have helped me keep a long distance relationship strong by letting us fill the relationship with lots of travel together. This year we’re heading to Hungary and Croatia. We booked our flights using United miles transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards. We’re flying from the US to Budapest, from Budapest to Split (using the United Excursionist Perk), and then from Dubrovnik back to the US for just 60,000 miles round-trip per person.

The big success we had in planning this trip was when we booked our stay at the Sheraton Dubrovnik Riviera. We’re headed there during high season and hotel prices were outrageous: the cheapest refundable rate was 266 euros (about $318) per night. However, the points rate is only 7,000 points per night, and with the fifth-night free benefit we could get five nights for just 28,000 points.

The problem was we didn’t have enough Starpoints, and the ones we did have were earmarked for a future flight. But then I remembered a recent TPG article about Starpoints going on sale. We bought 28,000 points for $637, and immediately redeemed them for a hotel stay that would have cost us $1,590 if we booked directly with cash. We saved $953 on that stay and maintained our Starpoints balance for future plans. From now on I’ll always check whether purchasing points can save money.

Buying points helped Dmitry make his stay at the Sheraton Dubrovnik Riviera much more affordable.
Buying points helped Dmitry make his stay at the Sheraton Dubrovnik Riviera much more affordable. (Photo courtesy of Sheraton Dubrovnik Riviera)

Whenever points and miles go on sale, it’s worth checking your upcoming travel plans to see if buying rewards will cost you less than the going cash rate. Even without getting the fifth night free, Dmitry would have saved over 50% on his stay by taking advantage of the SPG sale, making his decision to buy an easy one. That said, I generally don’t recommend buying points unless you have an immediate plan to redeem them. Also, keep in mind that award trips are generally ineligible to earn points or elite credits, so you should account for the difference in rewards when you’re deciding how to pay.

On a related note, I’m not a fan of earmarking points for future travel if it prevents you from using them effectively in the present. Dmitry already had some Starpoints in his account, and in his shoes I would have preferred to redeem those first before buying more. While he got a good deal on his hotel stay, the amount he paid to replace those points effectively went toward covering that future flight. Depending on his timeline for booking that later trip, he may have had better options (like looking for a fare sale or scoring a sign-up bonus on an airline co-branded credit card).

Finally, Dmitry also made good use of the United Excursionist Perk to add a destination to his itinerary without burning more miles. While this feature isn’t as flexible as the old MileagePlus routing rules, you can still get a lot of value from it if you get creative. Check out this recent post on how to maximize the Excursionist Perk for ideas, and see if you can tack an extra leg onto your next trip.

I love this story and I want to hear more like it! To thank Dmitry for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own award travel success stories 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. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure.

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

Feature photo by @annaelisabethsmith via Twenty20

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

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 and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • 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.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • 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
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.