Our family saved $900 on a hotel suite — reader success story

Mar 25, 2020

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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Matthew, who used points to upgrade a hotel stay in Madrid:

Finding accommodations for our family of four when we are in Europe can be challenging due to room occupancy limits. On a recent trip to Spain, we were struggling to find an affordable room (or rooms) for our stay in Madrid. The best we could find near the downtown area was two rooms at $150 to $200 per room per night.

I am new to the World of Hyatt program, but fascinated by the confirmed suite upgrade options. I knew we could book a premium suite on points for twice the number of points of a regular room, but as I did more research, I found another option was to book a paid rate on a regular room and upgrade to a standard suite for 6,000 points per night or a premium suite for 9,000 points per night.

Looking at the Hyatt options in Madrid, I found the Hyatt Centric Gran Via offered premium suites (their only room type with a max occupancy of four) for $650 per night. However, regular rooms with a max occupancy of two were $350 or 20,000 points per night. Booking the premium suite at 40,000 points per night wasn’t a great value, but booking a regular room and paying an extra 9,000 points to offset the $300 difference in the cash rate seemed like a great deal!

Since the upgrades can’t be booked online (and being a newbie), I booked a refundable room rate for two people in case my strategy didn’t work. I then called the Hyatt reservation line, and the agent was able to upgrade us to the premium suite and add the rest of us to the reservation without issues. They deducted the 36,000 points for our four-night stay, which I had from the sign-up bonus on my World of Hyatt Credit Card.

Not only did our points save us $300 per night, but also we got a much nicer room and location for approximately the same amount we would have paid at the hotel we had our eyes on originally. We’ll be using this trick in the future when suites are significantly more expensive than the regular room rates!

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Upgrade awards are a useful middle ground for travelers who don’t want to pay for flights and hotels entirely out of pocket, but can’t cover the cost with points and miles alone. As Matthew’s story demonstrates, upgrade awards can provide a superior redemption value, so they’re worth considering even if your loyalty account balance is sufficient to book with points alone. Paying 40,000 points (instead of $650) per night for a premium suite would have yielded a redemption value close to 1.6 cents per point — below TPG’s latest valuation for World of Hyatt points. However, paying 9,000 points instead of $300 per night for the upgrade yielded a redemption value over 3.3 cents per point — that’s a much more efficient use of Matthew’s points.

World of Hyatt isn’t the only hotel program that lets you redeem points for premium rooms, but it offers the best and most consistent value. For example, Hilton Honors allows you to book nearly any premium room as an award, but the cost tends to be highly inflated, and premium awards eliminate the opportunity to get a fifth night free. Marriott also offers a few paths to upgrading with points,  but availability is spotty and redemption costs are unpredictable. If you’re looking for a premium room and can’t lean on elite status benefits to get you there, Hyatt should be your first look.

Related: Suite deals for families with points and status

I love this story and I want to hear more like it! In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending Matthew a 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, we’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.

Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Featured photo by Victor Garcia/Unsplash.

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