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. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

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 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!

Photo courtesy of the Hilton Garden Inn Providence. 

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
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.