How TPG staffers are redeeming their credit card reward nights
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Summer is in full swing and TPG staffers are excited to get back in the air, redeeming miles and vouchers for the next big adventure. Airlines and hotels have been fairly generous during the pandemic, extending expiration dates on points and reward nights during a time when travel wasn’t possible.
Now that more people are getting vaccinated and with possible devaluations looming, it’s a great time to put those points and free night awards to good use. Most hotel free night awards have been extended until at least the end of the year, making this an ideal time to plan ahead and get some trips booked. Here is how TPG staffers are redeeming their credit card hotel award nights.
Ariana Arghandewal, points and miles editor
I recently discovered I have somehow earned three Hyatt free night awards, through a combination of the World of Hyatt Credit Card and by completing stays at certain brands. I also have two unused Hilton free night awards from the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. While the Hilton free weekend night award is unrestricted, the Hyatt free night is valid at Category 1-4 hotels.
The information for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
I will probably use my Hyatt free nights at the Park Hyatt Istanbul later this summer. The hotel has an excellent location in the Nisantasi area of town and standard room rates often go over $300 per night. This is an exceptional use of a restricted free night award and will save me almost $1,000 (or 45,000 points) when I head back to Istanbul.
The Hilton free night was originally restricted to weekends only, but Hilton extended it to weekdays through January 2022. I will probably use my two free nights at the Hilton Cancun, which is opening in November. This all-inclusive property is about 10 minutes from Cancun International Airport (CUN), has no resort fees and kids stay free on reservations made through June 30. Standard room rates start at $500 or 95,000 points per night in November, making this an excellent use of a free night.
Katie Genter, senior writer
I currently have five hotel credit cards. And I haven’t used any credit card free night awards to stay during the pandemic so far. Plus, I’ve also earned a few hotel free nights through promotions. So I currently have the following free night awards in my hotel loyalty accounts:
- Four 40,000-point IHG Rewards anniversary night certificates expiring Dec. 31, 2021, Dec. 31, 2021, March 25, 2022, and April 15, 2022, from my IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card and IHG Rewards Club Select card (no longer open to new applicants).
- One uncapped IHG Rewards anniversary night certificate expiring Dec. 31, 2021, from my IHG Select card.
- Two 35,000-point Marriott Bonvoy free night awards expiring Jan. 1, 2022, from a targeted Marriott Bonvoy promotion.
- Two Category 1-4 World of Hyatt awards expiring on Nov. 17, 2021, and April 29, 2022, from reaching 30 elite nights with Hyatt this year and spending $15,000 on my World of Hyatt Credit Card this year.
My husband and I frequently travel together and consider our combined free nights when making decisions. A few months ago, I wrote about our plans to use 17 expiring hotel free night certificates this year. Due to airline schedule changes and cancellations, many of our plans have changed since that post. But for conciseness, I’ll only focus on the free nights in my accounts for this post.
How I’ll use my IHG nights
Near the end of 2020, I redeemed an expiring uncapped IHG Select anniversary night that wouldn’t be extended for a night at the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort in October 2021. Then, in early 2021, I noticed some award nights at the InterContinental Danang cost as little as 40,000 points per night. After searching daily for a few weeks, I found nights adjacent to my reservation bookable at that rate. So, I redeemed two 40,000-point IHG Rewards anniversary night certificates (the ones that expire on Dec. 31, 2021) for two more nights at the InterContinental Danang.
I could redeem my other uncapped IHG Rewards anniversary night certificate for a fourth night at the InterContinental Danang. However, I have other places I want to revisit in Danang after spending a good bit of time in the city for Cathay Pacific’s 2019 New Year’s deal. So, I’ll likely redeem my last uncapped night for a night at the InterContinental Paris — Le Grand this summer.
I have two more 40,000-point IHG Rewards anniversary night certificates that expire on March 25, 2022, and April 15, 2022. And my husband currently has six 40,000-point IHG Rewards anniversary night certificates in his account. But most IHG hotels I consider booking are priced below 30,000 points per night and hence aren’t good candidates for these certificates. I’ll need to keep these certificates in mind as we plan our upcoming travel.
How I’ll use my Marriott nights
I have two 35,000-point Marriott Bonvoy free night awards that expire on Jan. 1, 2022. And I plan to use these free night awards on a two-night stay this fall at the JW Marriott Hotel Bogota. Currently, the paid rate for my dates is $252 per night. Although I wouldn’t pay $252 per night for this stay, I’m getting more value from these certificates than what it cost me to earn them during a Marriott promotion.
I haven’t yet decided whether I’ll apply Suite Night awards to this stay. I could get a one-bedroom junior suite with executive lounge access using Suite Night awards. But I’ll get lounge access either way as a Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite. So, I’ll wait to see how my other Marriott travel plans shape up this year before applying Suite Night awards to this stay.
How I’ll use my Hyatt nights
Finally, I have two Category 1-4 World of Hyatt nights that expire on Nov. 17, 2021, and April 29, 2022. I’ve had my sights set on the Category 4 Park Hyatt Zanzibar for a while now. And I have a trip planned to Tanzania in February 2022, so I may use the night with the later expiration date for that trip (and pair it with at least one other night I’ll have earned by that point).
I don’t currently have any plans for the award night that expires on Nov. 17, 2021, though. I’ll need to actively look for a high-value opportunity to use this night as I plan our travel for the rest of 2021. Worst case, I can use the night for an otherwise expensive night in New York City or London.
Andrew Kunesh, senior reporter
This year I have three Marriott free night certificates: two worth up to 35,000 points per night and one up to 50,000 points per night. I plan on using these certificates on various domestic trips I have planned this year.
My girlfriend and I are headed to Salt Lake City in September for an event with her family. I plan on using the two 35,000-point free night certificates at the Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek. It’s almost $300 per night when we’re booking, which would normally be out of my price range on a short domestic trip.
I’ll likely use my 50,000-point certificate to cover a night at the JW Marriott Marquis Miami and use points to cover a second night. I’ve wanted to check out this property for a while now given its stellar location near Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood. Plus, the rooms look great. Room rates are well over $400 per night for most of the summer.
Benji Stawski, strategic travel reporter
I normally get one complimentary weekend night certificate valid at almost any Hilton property around the world (there are a handful of all-inclusive and distinctive properties excluded) each year thanks to my Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. However, because I haven’t been able to use any of them last year and Hilton extended their validity, I’ll have three unused certificates by the end of this year. Even better, Hilton is now letting you use them on any night of the week you wish, instead of just weekend nights, so I’ll be able to use them all at once.
Since I don’t know if I’ll ever have an opportunity like this again, I want to make sure I get top value from my certificates.
Naturally, the first property that comes to mind is the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, where room rates often exceed $1,000 per night. However, the mandatory speedboat transfers are expensive and meals there can get pricey.
Instead, I’m considering a trip to the Conrad Bora Bora Nui. It’s just as beautiful, but easier to get to from the U.S., offers more activities and is a touch more affordable. Rooms here are often around $1,000 per night so I’d still be getting great value from my certificates.
Of course, depending on what travel restrictions will be like in a couple of months, it’s certainly possible that I’ll choose to stay closer to home. If that’s the case, I’ll probably opt for the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal. While I usually prefer the Caribbean coast of Mexico, this somewhat new addition to the Hilton portfolio looks beautiful. Rooms often go for around $900 a night and they all come with a private plunge pool.
Ryan Patterson, points and miles intern
This is an exciting year for me and my complimentary night rewards. I receive one Hilton complimentary night reward annually from my American Express Hilton Aspire Card, one up to 35,000-point certificate from my Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, and I received an epic sign-up bonus last fall from the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card that credited me five 50,000-point certificates after $5,000 minimum spending (no longer available).
With the extended use of my Hilton Aspire complimentary weekend night certificate from last year and the one from this year, I knew I had to use it wisely and to its fullest potential. I will be headed to the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi for two free night rewards with another night on points. Even with a pricey speedboat transfer, I am excited to try out the best Hilton has to offer. Pricing out at $2,000 a night during my stay, I am excited to get the most out of my certificates.
I am spending my Bonvoy Boundless 50,000-point certificates in a multitude of ways. I used my first 50,000-point certificate earlier this year for what would have been a pricey overnight layover at the Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott. The second I used just recently at the Courtyard Portland Downtown/Waterfront hotel. The third and fourth 50,000-point complimentary night certificates I plan to spend at the JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa later this summer. The last complimentary night certificate I plan to sit on for a rainy day, just in case I run into a canceled flight and don’t fancy dishing out cash.
I plan to spend my final up to 35,000-point certificate from my Marriott Bonvoy Business card at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge when visiting a friend — a great way to stay in the city without using cash for what would be an expensive one-night adventure.
Free night certificates are a great way to save points, especially as a college student. For only $640 in annual fees, I am receiving eight free nights at hotels, and I am getting my money back in only one night at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi.
Hopefully how TPG staffers are redeeming their credit card free night awards provides you with a bit of inspiration on how to redeem your own. While maximizing free night awards is definitely something you should aim for, it’s not the be-all and end-all. Use your free nights to save money and make memories. Don’t overthink the rest or feel like you need to jet off to the Maldives to get the most out of them.
Featured image of the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi — The Private Island courtesy the hotel.
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