I Picked the Wrong Hotel for Rewards — Reader Mistake Story

Jun 12, 2019

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Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Srinivas, who only earned half as many points as he expected from a recent hotel stay:

I am an avid TPG follower going on about nine years now, and consider myself an experienced award traveler. I have been traveling a ton for work the last two years, and I signed up for a recent Marriott Bonvoy promotion to earn bonus elite nights and double points. I thought it would be an easy way to maximize an upcoming 17-night stay at a Residence Inn, but afterward I noticed I had only earned half as many points as I expected.

Imagine my surprise when I called the Titanium Elite line and was told that members only earn 5 points per dollar at Residence Inn properties. There was a Fairfield Inn nearby where I not only would have earned 10 points per dollar, but also would have paid $5 less per night. Not realizing some properties had different earning rates cost me close to 22,000 points over those 17 nights — a mistake I’ll never make again!

Marriott Bonvoy members typically earn 10 points per dollar on eligible hotel charges, which include the base rate and other expenses billed to the room. However, some brands offer only a fraction of that amount: members earn 5 points per dollar at Residence Inn, TownPlace Suites and Element properties, and just 2.5 points per dollar at Marriott Executive Apartments and ExecuStay properties. As Srinivas learned, that can add up to a substantial difference in earnings over the course of an extended stay.

Marriott isn’t the only program to issue fewer rewards at some brands. Hilton offers a lower earning rate at Home2 Suites by Hilton and Tru by Hilton properties, while IHG does the same with Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites properties. Other major programs like World of Hyatt and Wyndham Rewards don’t vary earning rates by brand, but may do so based on other factors — for example, Choice Privileges doesn’t issue rewards for stays in over a dozen countries, including Japan, China, India and Brazil. Keep an eye out for similar rules and restrictions as you plan future hotel stays.

Related: Best Ways to Earn Points With the Marriott Bonvoy Program

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending Srinivas a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories to info@thepointsguy.com, and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls.

Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’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. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

Featured photo courtesy of Marriott Residence Inn.

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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.

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