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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Kavi, who used points to book a hotel stay when rates were high and availability was low. Here’s what he had to say:
Looking to book a quick weekend getaway this past fall, I had my sights set on a night in Providence, Rhode Island, followed by two nights in New Haven, Connecticut. I booked an Airbnb in New Haven, but couldn’t find one I liked in Providence, so I began looking at paid rates across the larger hotel chains (Hilton, Marriott, IHG). Much to my surprise, a lot of hotels were already sold out on the particular night I needed, so I shifted my attention to points.
I have a stash of Chase Ultimate Rewards points I could have dipped into, but I’d much rather save those for my planned trip to Europe next year, when I can transfer to partners and get a more worthwhile redemption. Luckily, I had just over 37,000 points in my Hilton Honors account from past stays during weddings I attended. I found a Hilton Garden Inn right in Providence for 40,000 points, so I was less than 3,000 points shy.
Purchasing the last 3,000 points from Hilton would have cost me $30, but the Points & Money option was a little cheaper, as I could book the room with the 37,000 points I had plus $18. Paid rates for the one night were $399, so I got just over one cent per point in value and didn’t have to buy additional Hilton points (as I don’t stay at their properties often). It’s a small win, but having a cash and points option is really helpful to lower out-of-pocket costs and avoid overpaying for miles.
Unlike most cash and points award options (which are only offered at a few fixed rates), Hilton’s Points & Money awards let you redeem on a sliding scale. You can use however many points you want (starting at 5,000 and going up in intervals of 1,000), so there’s a lot of flexibility to book awards with an insufficient balance and to get a decent return from small balances. Kavi only saved $12 compared to the cost of buying points outright, but the amount is less important than the underlying principle that the Points & Money option can help you redeem Hilton points more efficiently. Redemption rates vary widely, so even if you have enough points to cover a standard award, I recommend playing around with the points/money slider to see what kind of value you’re offered.
One caveat: Be careful about booking these awards if you’re staying at a property that charges nightly resort fees. Hilton Honors generally waives resort fees for award stays when you pay entirely with points, but the fees will be added if you select a rate with even the minimum cash portion. In that scenario you may be better off buying the remaining points you need, since booking a standard award will probably cost you less overall.
I love this story and I want to hear more like it! To thank Kavi 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 firstname.lastname@example.org; 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!
Photo courtesy of the Hilton Garden Inn Providence.
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Aside from the 75,000 points welcome bonus, Amex recently made huge improvements to the Business Platinum Card, including the fact that you will now earn 50% more points on purchases of $5,000 or more, earn 5x on flights and eligible hotels at Amextravel.com and cardholders will receive a $200 airline fee credit each year.
- Welcome Offer: Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards® points.
- Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
- Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
- Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
- 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year.
- Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell. Terms apply.
- Get one year of Platinum Global Access from WeWork. With this membership, you can access 300+ premium, inspiring workspaces in 75+ cities. To get this exclusive offer, enroll between 2/15/2019 and 12/31/2019.
- Terms Apply
- See Rates & Fees