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How I save money on expensive hotel stays by buying points

July 6 2022
5 min read
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While many travelers will tell you to avoid buying points and miles, there are times when it can make a lot of sense.

If there’s any way to earn points other than purchasing them, it’s better to do that. For example, if you can open an IHG credit card and earn 140,000 points from a welcome offer, that usually makes more sense than buying points outright. But there are plenty of scenarios where buying rewards can save you hundreds — and even thousands — of dollars.

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I’ve purchased points many times to save money on a hotel stay. The strategy generally works best for super expensive luxury hotels and cheap hotels alongside the highway. I’ll give you some examples.

Buy points for expensive five-star hotels

Luxury hotels almost always cost a ton of points. You might think it’s absurd to buy hundreds of thousands of points for a single stay at brands like Waldorf Astoria, Ritz-Carlton and Park Hyatt.

But room rates are also sky-high at properties such as these. Take the Waldorf Astoria Park City: Rooms during ski season at this hotel are nightmarish. After taxes, you can pay nearly $2,000 per night.

(Screenshot from hilton.com)

The above screenshot is for a room in early February. You’ll pay $1,942.72 per night after taxes and fees. At the same time, it costs just 95,000 points per night.

As you can see, you’re currently able to buy enough points for the same night for $480 with Hilton’s current points sale, which offers a 100% bonus. Note that this sale is active at the time of writing, but may have changed by the time you read the article.

(Screenshot from hilton.com)

Plus, if you’ve got Hilton elite status (which you can earn from opening any Hilton cobranded card), you’ll get the fifth night free when booking five or more consecutive award nights. In other words, you’ll pay effectively 76,000 points per night when staying at least five nights.

Note: This sale allows a maximum of 340,000 Hilton points. To book five nights at this particular hotel, you’ll need 380,000 points. Fortunately, Hilton allows friends and family members to pool points for free, up to 500,000 points. So if you're booking with a friend, have them purchase the remaining points and then add them to the pool.

With this points sale, you’ll have to spend a whopping $1,900 on points for a five-night stay. That sounds like a ton of money, but here’s the thing: This exact same stay costs $9,713.63 in cash. By purchasing points, you can save more than $7,800 on this stay. You’re spending $380 per night instead of $1,942 — an 80% discount!

Spending $380 per night is still a high price tag for many of us. But for a stay at a five-star ski lodge during peak ski season, that price is inconceivable.

Related: Get your 4th or 5th night free on award stays

Buy points for inexpensive awards at hotels along the highway

This strategy works at more than just expensive luxury resorts. It’s a great way for road warriors or road-trippers to save lots of money on convenient roadside hotels with low points costs.

For example, the Hyatt Place Nashville/Hendersonville costs between 3,500 and 6,500 Hyatt points per night. But the hotel can cost over $300 per night.

As you can see, two nights would cost $676 on random dates in July.

(Screenshot from hyatt.com)

But you can use 13,000 Hyatt points and get the stay entirely "free" — you won’t even have to pay taxes.

(Screenshot from hyatt.com)

Hyatt currently has a modest promotion that offers 30% bonus points when you buy 5,000 or more Hyatt points. You could purchase 13,000 Hyatt points and reserve this stay for $240 instead of $676 — a savings of $436.

Related: When does it make sense to buy points and miles?

(Screenshot from points.com)

Bottom line

Hotel points are touted as the tools for "free" hotel stays. And they are — but they can also effectively reduce the cash rate of a hotel in a dramatic way.

If you’re considering paying for an expensive hotel — or if you’ve written off a hotel because its cash rates are too high — calculate how much you’d pay if you simply purchased enough points for an award night. You’ll often find that it places steeply priced hotels into your budget, especially if there's a points sale.

Featured photo by The Park Hyatt Auckland (Photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
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  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

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  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees