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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Isaac, who saved points by opting not to transfer them:
I was planning a trip to Portugal with three-night stays in Lisbon and Porto. With my IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, I had a free night certificate to use plus 51,000 points. I wanted to stay at the InterContinental Lisbon, which would cost the free night plus 80,000 points (40,000 per night). I weighed the option of transferring 29,000 Ultimate Rewards points to cover the difference for the third night, but realized I could instead book that night through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal for just 18,000 points. That saved me 11,000 Ultimate Rewards points, along with 11,000 IHG points I didn’t have to use on that night.
Understanding that my IHG Platinum Elite status gives me no benefits on award stays, I knew I wasn’t giving up any perks during my stay by not booking directly with IHG. The 11,000 IHG points I didn’t spend in Lisbon came in handy for my stay at the Crowne Plaza Porto, which was available for 10,000 points per night thanks to the PointBreaks deal. So instead of using 29,000 Ultimate Rewards points and all my IHG points on the last night in Lisbon, I only used 18,000 Ultimate Rewards points and got an extra free night in Porto with the leftover IHG points. Awesome!
One reason TPG maintains a monthly list of points and miles valuations is to help guide you toward decisions like the one Isaac made. Just because one award requires fewer points than another doesn’t mean it’s truly less expensive — it all depends how much those points are worth. Rather than weighing the nominal cost of awards, you should assess the value of the points or miles you plan to redeem, and (setting aside other factors like convenience and future plans) go with whichever booking option is cheapest.
The math is elementary in Isaac’s case: paying 18,000 Ultimate Rewards points for his third night in Lisbon was clearly a better deal than paying 29,000 Ultimate Rewards points plus 11,000 IHG points. A more illustrative example would be deciding which points to use if he had enough rewards in each program to cover the balance. Based on TPG’s latest valuations, 18,000 Ultimate Rewards points are worth $360 on average, while 40,000 IHG points are worth $200. In that scenario, booking with IHG points would be the “cheaper” option even though the total number of points redeemed is greater.
I love this story and I want to hear more like it! In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending Isaac a 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 email@example.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, we’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. Due to the volume of submissions, we can’t respond to each story individually, but we’ll be in touch if yours is selected.
Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!
Feature photo of Crowne Plaza Porto hotel courtesy of booking.com
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NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel