Skip to content

Sweet Spot Sunday: Book low-end or luxury to get the best value from your hotel points

April 10, 2022
5 min read
Courtyard Brno Room
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. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

The Points Guy has labored to create true-to-life points and miles valuations to help you better understand the average value your rewards are worth.

We then dedicate our Sweet Spot Sunday posts to showing you how to get exponentially more value from your points than the average person. Today we’ll look at the best way to use hotel points to (almost always) get outsized value.

For more news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for TPG daily newsletter.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

There are a healthy number of ways to get huge value for your hotel points, such as:

  • Redeeming your points for a specified number of consecutive award nights to achieve a “bonus” free night (five nights with Marriott and Hilton, and four nights with IHG when you also hold an IHG credit card).
  • Using your hotel points to reserve hotel rooms at events like the Super Bowl and the Indy 500 when rates are cripplingly surcharged.
  • Booking activity-specific locations during peak dates — such as ski resorts in January, St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, etc.

However, there’s one philosophy you can follow to nearly guarantee yourself a great deal every time.

Why it’s special

Here are the current TPG valuations for the most popular hotel chains:

  • Marriott — 0.8 cents, on average.
  • Hilton — 0.6 cents, on average.
  • Hyatt — 1.7 cents, on average.
  • IHG — 0.5 cents, on average.

All but Hyatt have abandoned an award chart, as loyalty programs migrate the way of “dynamic award pricing.” That basically means hotels will charge you whatever they feel like, with cash prices and demand likely contributing to the award price.

Related: First look at Marriott’s dynamic award pricing

But as a rule of thumb (there are certainly exceptions), you’ll get significantly more value than the figures listed above by redeeming your points for either the absolute cheapest — or the most expensive — award nights you can find.

Let’s look at an example. There are 18 Marriott hotels in Bali. Here are the lowest award prices for a random date in November.

(Screenshot from Marriott.com)

The cheapest rate is at the Fairfield by Marriott Bali Legian. You’ll pay 10,000 points per night for a room selling for $113. That’s a value of 1.13 cents per Marriott point. Not spectacular (just 0.33 cents higher than TPG’s valuations). However, it’s significantly better than more middle-of-the-road hotels like the Aloft Bali Seminyak which charges 16,500 for a night costing just $105 (a below-average value of 0.63 cents per point).

Let’s scroll down the page to examine the opposite end of the award price gamut.

The ultra-luxe St. Regis Bali Resort costs 100,000 points for a night that otherwise costs $2,486. That comes to an average value per point of 2.48 cents — more than 3 points per dollar higher than TPG’s valuation of Marriott points.

(Screenshot from Marriott.com)

As you can see, the rates become progressively worse the further you drift toward the middle of the spectrum. The Westin Resort Nusa Dua, Bali charges 32,000 points for a stay costing $148. That comes to 0.45 cents per point —an offensive value for your rewards.

The best value almost always exists with super cheap or super fancy hotels.

Related: Bali and the Maldives loosen COVID-19 entry restrictions

How to book these awards

If you know the destination you’re after, head to the hotel website where you plan to book. For this example, let’s use Hyatt.

First enter the location and desired travel dates. Make sure to tick the “Use Points” box located below the dates.

(Screenshot from Hyatt.com)

Then, on the results page, you can use the filter menu to sort available hotels by award price. Make your selection and click “Apply.”

(Screenshot from Hyatt.com)

We can now see all available hotels. There aren’t many in Zurich, which makes this example all the more potent.

(Screenshot from Hyatt.com)

The Park Hyatt Zurich, a five-star bucket list hotel, costs 35,000 points per night, or $1,022. That equates to 2.92 cents per point — a whopping 1.22 cents more than TPG’s reasonable redemption value.

The cheapest hotel on the list, The Wellnesshotel Golf Panorama, costs 9,000 points per night, or $310. This gives you a value per point of 3.44 cents per point — more than double TPG’s estimated value of Hyatt points.

The two middle-of-the-road hotels offer between 1.21 and 1.37 cents per point. That’s significantly below average.

Bottom line

To squeeze the most value from your hotel points, try to stick to either the cheapest award prices at unmemorable hotels or the most luxurious resorts you can find. The middle-of-the-road hotels are where there is generally no value.

This is in large part because you hardly see a hotel priced under $100 nowadays — but award prices go as low as 5,000 points. Any hotel you find for 5,000 points is almost guaranteed to be a steal.

Likewise, the most luxurious resorts can easily cost $1,000 per night. Even a sky-high award price will likely yield a good value for such exorbitantly priced hotels.

Feature photo by Andrew Kunesh/The Points Guy.

Featured image by (Photo by Andrew Kunesh/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.

TPG featured card

Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 3X points
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points60,000 points
For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
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.

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • 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 Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases