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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Garrett, who maximized his return after weighing a few different hotel award options. Here’s what he had to say:
I recently returned from a wonderful four-night stay at the brand new Grand Hyatt Baha Mar resort in the Bahamas. The resort was on my wish list since it opened last year, and I wanted to take my fiancée for her birthday. We each had a few days from work open up at the last minute, but the total would have been almost $2,100 after taxes and resort fees — more than I was hoping to pay.
We focus on earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points (we both have the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Freedom Unlimited, and I also have the Chase Freedom card). As an avid TPG reader, I know you can get great value in some instances by transferring points to Hyatt, so I looked into booking awards instead.
My options were to pay 80,000 points for four nights (a redemption rate of about 2.6 cents per point), or to book the Points + Cash rate of 40,000 points and $803 (for a redemption rate of about 3.2 cents per point). I transferred my 40,000 points instantly and booked the Points + Cash option. In the past, I’ve only redeemed for flights using the Ultimate Rewards portal at 1.5 cents per point. It was definitely nice to get more than double the value from this redemption. As for the trip, we had an amazing time!
Like all awards, it’s helpful to consider the return you get when you book with a mix of points and cash. As Garrett explained, he scored a redemption value of 3.2 cents per point, which is well above my valuation for Hyatt points, and more importantly for Ultimate Rewards points (since he had to transfer from Chase). That’s clearly a better option than redeeming through the Chase Travel Portal, but the redemption value doesn’t tell the whole story.
To fully assess a Hyatt Points + Cash award (or the equivalent in another program), you have to also consider what you’re getting in return for the cash component. Garrett spent about $800 to save himself 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points, so he effectively paid 2 cents apiece for those points. That’s a fair price, so booking the mixed award was a good move if he wanted to conserve his points for even more lucrative redemptions. If he had points to burn and preferred to keep cash costs down, then booking the standard award would have made more sense despite the lower redemption value.
I love this story and I want to hear more like it! To thank Garrett 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 Grand Hyatt Baha Mar
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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
- 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®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- 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
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards