The best ways to use your hotel points in Miami
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Miami attracts millions of tourists each year for its nightlife, powdery white-sand beaches, abundant ethnic cuisine and unrivaled entertainment. With a slew of hotels bookable on points — in the most coveted neighborhoods within the 305 area code — you are bound to find a hotel in your favorite loyalty program to suit your needs.
Below we’ll delve into 15 hotels across a range of categories — from the ultraluxe St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort to the super affordable Hampton Inn & Suites Miami/Brickell-Downtown. You can use your points at all of them. Whether you’re a Hyatt loyalist, a Hilton fan, are sticking with Marriott Bonvoy or have some IHG Rewards Club points to burn, you’ll find an option that will position you to explore the city, rest before embarking on a cruise or continue your trip beyond The Magic City.
Hilton has several hotels in the core of the city under an array of brands. The upscale hotels are good bets to use for any Hilton free weekend night certificates you may have earned from Hilton’s cobranded credit cards such as the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express.
The Gabriel Miami (Downtown)
Formerly known as the ME by Melia, The Gabriel Miami recently joined the Curio Collection — one of Hilton’s luxe hotel brands. This modern hotel has a minimalist design with abstract artwork throughout.
If you are in town to catch a game or concert at the American Airlines Arena or even a touring Broadway show at the Adrienne Arsht Center, these venues are a three-minute walk from the hotel. Across the street are Miami’s two most popular museums: the contemporary Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) and the Frost Museum of Science. Kids will love the aquarium at the Frost Museum with stingrays, sharks and birds diving deep into the aquarium to snag their next meal.
For shopping, Bayside Marketplace is a 12-minute walk from the hotel. A $10 Uber ride will get you to the Port of Miami and South Beach in less than 10 minutes. The Metromover, Miami’s complimentary trolley service, is convenient for exploring downtown hotspots and the exciting Brickell neighborhood. There is a trolley stop right across from the hotel.
The hotel is perfect for couples or friends looking to explore Miami’s urban center with activities only minutes away. Weekend nights go for as little as 55,000 Hilton Honors points and rates start at a modest $163 per night.
Hampton Inn & Suites Miami/Brickell-Downtown
Brickell is the city’s financial center, where soaring business towers and luxury condominiums overlook Miami’s Biscayne Bay. In the midst of five-star hotels like the Mandarin Oriental, Four Seasons and JW Marriott stands the Hampton Inn & Suites, which might have the best location of the bunch for a fraction of the cost of its high-end neighbors.
The hotel is a five-minute stroll from the iconic Brickell City Centre, where you will find three levels of shops and restaurants, including an Apple Store, Saks Fifth Avenue and La Centrale Italian food hall. Sugar, the hottest rooftop bar in Miami, is on the 40th floor of the Brickell City Centre’s EAST hotel. Relax and watch day turn into night with a panoramic view of the downtown skyline and surrounding waterways.
All rates include a free hot breakfast. Large suites come with minifridges and microwaves, a great benefit for families with young children. The rooftop pool is also a treat. Point redemptions start at 38,000 Hilton points per night.
Conrad Miami (Brickell)
Hilton’s Conrad Miami is your best upscale option in the Brickell neighborhood if you want to redeem Hilton points or a free weekend-night certificate. (Here’s how to maximize Hilton free night certificates.) The Conrad occupies floors 16 to 26 in the 36-story Espirito Santos Plaza building and offers sweeping views of Biscayne Bay from many rooms and a popular restaurant and bar on the 25th floor.
Rooms are standard size for Miami but the hotel offers upgrades for Hilton Diamond members to spacious condos called “residences,” based on availability. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card comes with a generous welcome bonus and automatic Hilton Diamond status for cardholders (more information about this card below). On a staycation last year with my family, we spent one night at the Conrad Miami in a spacious 1,300-square-foot residence with two king rooms, a fully equipped kitchen, two bathrooms and expansive views.
Though the hotel may be geared a bit toward business travelers, the Conrad also appeals to leisure travelers and families with a rooftop pool and in-room dining (including a kids’ menu). It is ideally located for exploring Brickell, Key Biscayne and downtown Miami. Starting at 64,000 Hilton points or an average cash rate of $239 per night, the Conrad Miami requires fewer points than many other Conrad properties worldwide.
Hampton Inn Miami South Beach – 17th Street
One block from the ocean and a five-minute stroll from the pedestrian-friendly Lincoln Road Mall, the Hampton Inn Miami South Beach-17th Street is blessed with a perfect location on Miami Beach. You will find hundreds of South Beach eateries close to the hotel, ranging from casual fare to fine dining, and the renowned Ocean Drive is only 10 minutes away by foot. If you are in town for a convention, the hotel is a stone’s throw from the Miami Beach Convention Center.
A complimentary hot breakfast buffet is served in a bright dining room and to-go breakfast bags are offered on weekdays. Other amenities include a 24-hour store, a business center and a rooftop terrace with an outdoor pool. A room for four starts at 41,000 Hilton points a night, making this a great-value points hotel in the heart of South Beach.
Boost your Hilton Honors balance
The best way to increase your Hilton Honors balance is to consistently stay with the company’s brands or pick up one of its cobranded credit cards. Here are the current options:
- Hilton Honors Card from American Express — Get automatic Hilton Silver status plus earn a 75,000-point welcome bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first three months (no annual fee; see rates and fees). Terms apply.
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card — Get automatic Hilton Gold status, and earn 125,000 bonus points after after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. ($95 annual fee; see rates and fees). Terms apply.
- Hilton Honors American Express Business Card — Get automatic Hilton Gold status and earn 130,000 welcome points after you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first three months ($95 annual fee; see rates and fees). Terms apply.
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card — Get automatic Hilton Diamond status, a free weekend-night certificate every year, statement credits ($250 airline incidental fee credit, $250 Hilton resort credit) plus earn 150,000 welcome points after you spend $4,000 in purchases in the first four months ($450 annual fee; see rates and fees). Terms apply.
Note: You can also earn free weekend-night certificates by spending $15,000 per year on either the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card or the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card.
IHG Rewards Club
With a diverse portfolio of brands and convenient locations near downtown Miami and South Beach, IHG has stellar redemption options in Miami. That’s especially true if you hold the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, which gives cardholders every fourth night free on all award stays (see more below).
The Holiday Inn Port of Miami is a popular choice with travelers spending a night or two before sailing out of the “cruise capital of the world.” It is right on Biscayne Boulevard which means you can literally see the cruise ships from the hotel’s higher floors. Across the street is Bayside Marketplace, a two-story open-air shopping and dining center with picturesque bay views. Or you can catch a Miami Heat game at the American Airlines Arena, just two blocks from the hotel entrance.
As the closest three-star hotel to the Port of Miami, weekend rates tend to be sky-high since many cruises depart and arrive on Saturday and Sunday. Rates start in the $200s or 45,000 IHG points per night on weekends and cruise passengers book their rooms well in advance. Paying with points instead of cash for those soaring weekend rates means the rewards traveler gets a respectable redemption rate of 0.6 cents per IHG point, on par with TPG’s current valuations.
At the edge of downtown and upmarket Brickell, the EPIC Hotel makes an impression. At the hotel’s palm-lined front entrance, you will see lines of luxury vehicles awaiting the valet staff or guests who have arrived by yacht for lunch at one of the hotel’s trendy restaurants.
As with all Kimpton properties, pets are welcome at no extra charge and the hotel provides a bed, a bowl of water and treats after check-in. The lively 16th-floor deck has two pools and live music on weekends. It’s a great place for guests to enjoy the sunshine.
Standard guest rooms are spacious, starting at 475 square feet and feel even bigger because of the floor-to-ceiling windows. Bathrooms are fully tricked out with touch-screen options and separate rain showers and soaking tubs. Rooms without water views overlook the Miami skyline; bay and oceanview rooms face the pool area and miles of ocean.
Rooms at the EPIC can be booked during low season (June through September) starting at $134 a night. During high season, rates exceed $250 per night. Depending on when you visit, the 55,000 IHG points-per-night rate would return outstanding value for this treasured downtown hotel.
If you still have an uncapped free night certificate to use from the IHG Rewards Credit Card, you should consider this kid-friendly but trendy oceanfront property on South Beach that regularly sees nightly rates exceeding $300 on busy weekends. Award nights cost 55,000 IHG points per night, making this a slam dunk for families and couples looking to save cash and redeem points for free nights.
The Surfcomber was a hugely popular nonaffiliated hotel prior to 2012 when it fell under the IHG flag to give members a new redemption option on Miami Beach. The hotel has an enormous oceanview pool and direct beach access.
Rooms are on the small side but the cheerful decor features bright colors, modern amenities (40-inch flat-screen HDTVs and iHome docking stations).
There is, unfortunately, a nightly $38 resort fee but the hotel offers unique extras such as bicycle tours around South Beach, daily complimentary coffee and evening wine hour, beach service and access to the pool and fitness center so it isn’t the worst resort fee we’ve ever encountered.
Another IHG option on South Beach, the newly expanded 85-room boutique Kimpton Angler’s Hotel is a great alternative to the Kimpton Surfcomber. Located just steps from the ocean and right on Washington Avenue, the Kimpton Angler’s is next to the ultra-luxury SoFi (South of Fifth) neighborhood of South Beach and minutes from the historic Art Deco District.
The rooms are a mix of studios, villas and lofts but are noticeably bigger than the Kimpton Surfcomber, ranging from 400 to 1,000 square feet. On the sixth floor, there is a rooftop pool and sun deck and the hotel recently opened a bar specializing in herb-infused craft cocktails.
Although families are welcome, this hotel screams “romantic getaway” with its lush vegetation, intimate layout and sophisticated feel. It caters more to couples looking for a quiet retreat rather than to the South Beach party scene. Current rates start at $249 (low season) and $349 (high season), or 55,000 IHG points per night.
Boost your IHG Rewards Club balance
You can easily transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to your IHG account on a 1:1 basis, though that isn’t typically the best redemption value. You’re often better served waiting for a chance to purchase IHG points at a discount.
Earn points with the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card that offers an 125,000-point welcome bonus after spending $3,000 in purchases in the first three months. You get a night certificate on your card anniversary and the fourth night of all award stays is free.
With more than 100 Marriott properties in the area, ranging from the ultra-luxurious St. Regis brand to extended-stay brands such as Residence Inn, the Marriott Bonvoy program offers a copious number of points hotels in Miami. You can find options to use both 35,000 free night certificates and 50,000 free night certificates that you can earn with certain cobranded credit cards (see below for more details).
The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort (Miami Beach)
The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort at the northern tip of Miami Beach is a refined favorite with snowbirds with no concern for the price tag and families who want to indulge in a beach getaway outside the madness of South Beach.
TPG’s reviews editor, Nick Ellis, recently reviewed the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort. Spoiler alert: He enjoyed spectacular service and the beautiful interior and grounds. He also received what he says was possibly the best suite upgrade of his life.
You can expect elegant accommodations with spacious rooms, floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic ocean views in all rooms and a full-service beach area with complimentary chairs and umbrellas for all guests.
The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort is not cheap. In fact, the lowest cash rate I found through September 2020 was $408 per night. Nightly rates even exceeded $1,000 in the busy winter months. This Category 8 Marriott Bonvoy property will set you back 85,000 points per night during off-peak season and 100,000 points during peak season. If you have Bonvoy points to burn and could use a special beach trip to Miami, you could book a five-night stay and use the Marriott free-fifth-night perk for a total of 340,000 points.
Marriott Stanton South Beach (Miami Beach)
If you are visiting Miami with a group of friends to sunbathe by day and party by night, the Marriott Stanton South Beach, which was recently renovated for $22 million, is a practical option. It is a Category 6 hotel, costing 50,000 points on standard dates in the upscale SoFi section of South Beach. Beautiful South Pointe Park on the southeast border of Miami Beach is a five-minute walk from the hotel. Less than 300 feet from the hotel entrance are famous eateries such as Joe’s Stone Crab, Big Pink and Prime 112, and two popular nightclubs, STORY and Nikki Beach.
Despite its prime location in SoFi on South Beach, the hotel offers enough tranquility that you can enjoy the surrounding hotspots and return rest at night. The chic, Art Deco-inspired design features several rooms with ocean views, private balconies and all the amenities of a modern hotel (flat-screen TVs, Wi-Fi, pillow-top beds, rooftop pool and gym).
Lolo’s Surf Cantina, the property’s funky Mexican restaurant, serves an abundant breakfast (for a fee). A 10-minute scenic walk gets you to News Cafe, a famed breakfast spot for tourists and finicky locals who rarely visit eateries on Ocean Drive.
The JW Marriott Miami, located on Brickell Avenue in the heart of the financial district, is close to pubs and restaurants and is an easy 10-minute wander to the city’s newest shopping and entertainment destination, Brickell City Centre.
Catering to business guests and event planners, this urban hotel boasts 296 elegant guest rooms, the latest in-room gadgets and technology and over 25,000 square feet of flexible meeting space. Guests looking for fun will enjoy the central location in the heart of buzzing Brickell or they can be whisked away by Uber or Lyft to Miami’s more eclectic foodie neighborhoods of Midtown and hipster Wynwood.
This Category 5 JW Marriott in Brickell is a great choice for travelers interested in food, nightlife and shopping. With rates averaging $189 per night and standard free nights requiring 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, this Brickell beauty provides a high-value redemption opportunity when using a free night certificate earned from certain Marriott Bonvoy cobranded credit cards.
Boost your Marriott Bonvoy balance
Or, you can earn Marriott points with a variety of cobranded credit cards, such as:
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card — Get automatic Silver Elite status; earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first three months (no annual fee)
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card — Get automatic Silver Elite status; 100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening and one annual free night certificate worth up to 35,000 points on your card anniversary ($95 annual fee)
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card — Get automatic Gold Elite status; 75,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months of account opening; and an annual free night certificate worth up to 50,000 points on your card anniversary ($450 annual fee; see rates and fees). Terms apply.
- Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card — Get automatic Silver Elite status; 75,000 welcome points after spending $3,000 in purchases in the first three months and one annual free night certificate worth up to 35,000 points on your card anniversary ($125 annual fee; see rates and fees). Terms apply.
World of Hyatt
Although it has the fewest properties in Miami of the larger hotel chains, Hyatt offers an assortment of high-quality brands in locations throughout Miami.
Hyatt Regency Miami (Downtown)
The location of the Hyatt Regency Miami is suitable for nearly every traveler. Across the street from the Marriott Marquis and Kimpton EPIC hotels, the Hyatt Regency is right beside the bridge over the Miami River that connects downtown to the posh Brickell neighborhood. The hotel is connected to the live music venue, the James L. Knight Center, and offers more than 100,000 square feet of event space, so the Hyatt Regency Miami is perfect for event planners or guests who are in town for a show.
Cross the bridge into Brickell and dine at La Mar, inside the Mandarin Oriental hotel, featuring the acclaimed Peruvian cuisine of chef Gastón Acurio, or walk the opposite direction and get a hot meal inside the new downtown Whole Foods.
Miami Beach is a 15-minute drive from the property while Vizcaya Museum & Gardens is about a $10 Uber ride. The airport is less than 10 minutes away by car, making it a practical option if you are in town for a short time and want to avoid an airport hotel.
If there is a convention or a big performance at the Knight Center, or if the Miami Heat has a home game, you will routinely see rates at the Hyatt Regency Miami above $200 per night. As a Category 3 hotel that requires 12,000 points per night in the World of Hyatt program, you could redeem a free night award good for Category 1 to 4 properties, earned from Chase’s cobranded World of Hyatt Credit Card and save the cash.
In addition to an annual free night certificate on the card’s anniversary, new cardholders can earn 50,000 welcome points (25,000 after spending $3,000 in purchases in the first three months and an additional 25,000 points after spending a total of $6,000 in purchases in the first six months).
The Confidante Miami Beach
In December 2017, the Confidante Miami Beach actually went down two levels from a Category 6 to Category 4 Hyatt, placing it within the grasp of a Category 1 to 4 free night certificate, courtesy of the World of Hyatt Credit Card. This property nestled in the Mid-Beach neighborhood is an outstanding choice in Miami Beach.
Formerly called Thompson Miami Beach, this hotel is best suited for guests who are looking for a hip SoBe vibe in a comfortable setting instead of the South Beach party scene. The beach is located beyond the pool at the back of the hotel property and you can expect a pleasant mix of couples, groups and families occupying the lounge chairs by the two pools and beach. One thing to note: On weekends, the Confidante usually has DJs at the pool, so if you are a light sleeper, ask for a room facing Collins Avenue instead.
Bird & Bone, The Confidante Miami Beach’s prized restaurant, offers award-winning chef Richard Hales’ southern-inspired fare in a contemporary farmhouse. The well-reviewed eatery is a must-visit.
Low-season rates at the Confidante Miami Beach start at $150, but like most hotels in Miami Beach, the winter months bring much higher room rates, making a 12,000-point redemption or use of the free night certificate a stellar choice. A $30 daily resort fee includes cushioned lounge chairs for the pool and beach, towels, weekend fitness classes and access to bicycles and helmets to explore the area.
Hyatt Centric Brickell Miami
Inside Florida’s tallest tower is the recently opened Hyatt Centric Brickell Miami. Among so many other established hotels in Brickell, this beautiful newbie is a breath of fresh air in the financial district’s hotel scene.
The property houses 208 rooms and suites, all featuring private balconies with impressive city views. The hotel operates the first 19 floors of the 83-story Panorama Tower. You can expect all the features of the Centric brand with a 55-inch flat-screen TV, Keurig coffee maker, minifridge, free Wi-Fi and sleek decor.
The hotel’s location in the vibrant urban Brickell neighborhood allows guests to seamlessly explore fashionable shopping spots like Brickell City Centre and cultural attractions in nearby hip neighborhoods. Feel the pulse of the city by visiting Wynwood, Midtown and Little Havana – just minutes from the hotel.
Falling just outside the parameters to use the Category 1 to 4 free night certificate, this newly minted Category 5 property in Brickell has sub-$400 rates on weekends from January through March. A redemption of 20,000 World of Hyatt points per night would net more than 2 cents per point in value during the peak winter months, surpassing TPG’s valuation of Hyatt points of 1.8 cents per point.
Hyatt House Miami Airport (Miami)
The three-star Hyatt House Miami Airport is the only property on the list located outside Miami Beach and the surrounding Downtown Miami neighborhoods. And for good reason.
Miami is the gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean and many flyers pass through Miami International Airport (MIA) on an overnight stop before heading to their final destination. The hotel is only two miles from MIA and offers a complimentary shuttle that runs every 30 minutes to anywhere within a two-mile radius of the hotel, including to and from the airport.
The bright and spacious suites here are customary for the Hyatt House and Hyatt Place brands. Perfect for families, you can expect rooms with one or two bedrooms, pull-out sofa beds, fully equipped kitchens and cozy living areas. The Hyatt House has free parking. You can rent a car and make the 12-minute drive to Downtown Miami or South Beach for superior dining, instead of eating at restaurants near the airport.
Although you won’t be doing much planespotting at this three-story hotel, you can watch aircraft landing by visiting the nearby 94th Aero Squadron restaurant. You won’t find better planespotting anywhere else in Miami, guaranteed. Hyatt House Miami Airport, is a 12,000-point property with cash rates averaging $155 per night. When you add free parking, free breakfast with made-to-order omelets and a free shuttle to catch your flight at MIA, the hotel comes in as a winner near MIA.
The Miami hotel market continues to grow rapidly, with an abundance of points hotels in the new mix. Most people choose to stay in Miami’s tourist areas, making for sky-high hotel rates during peak season. Points hotels offer substantial value on redemptions for sun-seeking visitors to the Magic City.
Featured image of Kimpton Surfcomber courtesy of Juan Ruiz
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Amex card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Surpass card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Business card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business card, click here.
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TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600
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