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. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Amin, who bought hotel points for a valuable hotel award. Here’s what he had to say:

I spent last New Year’s Eve away from my wife while stationed in South Korea. Since we’d been apart for a year, I wanted to make this upcoming new year special.

When IHG had a promotion for points purchases, I saw I could earn a 100% bonus. At the same time, I had applied for the new IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card with a 100,000-point sign-up bonus. The timing of these offers worked out perfectly. I purchased 100,000 points (with a bonus of another 100,000 points) for $1,000, which helped me meet the spending requirement on the card.

I was able to turn around and use the 200,000 points (along with 10,000 points that I already had) to book the InterContinental Times Square for New Year’s. Because my card offers the fourth night free on awards, and because I also get a 10% rebate from my old IHG card, I was able to book four nights for 189,000 points. The current room rate is $4,725 for those four nights, so I’m getting a redemption value of 2.5 cents per point — much higher than your most recent valuation of 0.6 cents per point. Now to surprise my wife with our New Year’s plans!

When Chase introduced the new lineup of co-branded IHG cards earlier this year, it created an opportunity for IHG Rewards Club Select cardholders to stack benefits for heavily discounted award stays. The Fourth Night Free benefit on the Premier card works in concert with the 10% award rebate on the Select version, so you can get a total of 32.5% off four-night stays booked with points. Both of these discounts also work at PointsBreak hotels, so you could book rooms for as little as 3,375 points per night. If you already have the Select card and you frequent IHG properties, I think there’s a compelling case to be made for holding both cards (rather than upgrading to the Premier).

Hotel points are great for booking stays around special events and peak travel periods, since award prices aren’t closely correlated with demand. The high cash rates you find in these scenarios can lead to inflated redemption values like what Amin got for his New Year’s Eve stay. To assess the value of an award accurately, however, you should factor in any related expenses, including the cost of buying points. Amin calculated his return using the room rate of $4,725, but since he spent $1,000 to acquire the points he needed, the true value of his award was $3,725. That yields a lower (but still excellent) redemption value of just under 2 cents per point.

I love this story and I want to hear more like it! To thank Amin 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 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, or to contribute to our new award redemption series. 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 by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Earn unlimited 10x miles on hotel stays booked and paid through hotels.com/venture. Pair that with the Hotels.com Rewards program and you'll essentially be getting 20% off of hotel bookings! With the 50,000 mile sign-up bonus you can get up to $700 in value based on TPG's most recent valuations and you'll have the flexibility to transfer those miles to participating airline partners or redeem those miles on any purchase for airfare, hotel stays, car rentals and more.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.99% - 25.24% (Variable)
Annual Fee
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Balance Transfer Fee
$0
Recommended Credit
Excellent, Good

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.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.