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How I saved $1,900 on hotels in Paris — reader success story

Sept. 23, 2019
4 min read
How I saved $1,900 on hotels in Paris — reader success story
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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Soonho, who paired a buy points promotion with one of his credit card benefits to save on an upcoming hotel stay:

A couple of weeks ago, I was planning for a four-day vacation in Paris for my wife and her family. Hotel prices were pretty daunting, especially as we needed two rooms (one for two people and one for three people). I recently got my IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card (sadly just before they released the new promotion), so I decided to look into IHG brands in the area.

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Luckily, I found that the Holiday Inn Paris - Montmartre had award nights for 30,000 points per night for each room. With the fourth night free thanks to my IHG card, that meant I needed 180,000 points total, so I took the offer to buy points with a 100% bonus (on the last day it was available) to purchase 120,000 points for $600. I then used the points I had left from my card's welcome bonus to cover the difference.

All told, I spent $600 for two rooms during a four-day stay that would have cost me almost $2,500 for the same place and time! I’m not sure if that was the *best* deal I could have gotten, but it worked out well for us either way.

Points and miles purchases are rarely a good deal without a promotional bonus, but there are other factors to consider when you're looking to buy. In particular, the ability to book an award that includes a free night alters the calculation dramatically. Getting a fourth night free instantly boosts the return on your purchase by at least 33%, and that's only if you're starting with a zero balance. Since Soonho started off with 60,000 points, his return was increased by an even greater 50%, as buying 120,000 points netted him 180,000 points worth of value. The same logic applies to awards with a fifth night free benefit, which boosts your return by at least 25% — that's enough to make a good deal great (or a bad deal passable).

Soonho says he spent $600 to get $2,500 worth of value, but that ignores the 60,000 points he already had on hand (worth $300 based on TPG's latest valuations). A more precise way to assess his award redemption is to treat his points purchase like a surcharge, subtract the amount spent from the total value received, and then calculate the redemption value of his points based on that lower figure. From that perspective, Soonho spent 180,000 points to get $1,900 worth of value ($2,500 minus $600); that yields a redemption value of over 1 cent per point, or more than double what TPG considers average.

Related: How to get elite status perks for multiple hotel rooms

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 Soonho 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 image by Getty Images
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.

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  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
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Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Earn 100,000 points
    75,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • 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 Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees