New York City is absolutely filled with hotels – like over 100,000 hotel rooms! Pretty much every hotel brand has a presence in the Big Apple and the prices range from decent to downright ridiculous. Of course, we like using points to stay for free (or close to it!) so which points should you stock up for a trip or trips to New York City?
The Best Hotel Program for Free Nights in New York City
All the major hotel chains have a significant presence in New York City, with the exception of Hyatt (they are the smallest of the major chains so that is understandable). With the Marriott/SPG merger, that has put a lot of Marriott properties available for Marriott customers and they are a good option.
However, what I believe is the best hotel program for free nights in New York City would have to be Hilton Honors. Here are the reasons why.
1. Flexible Points
Last year, Hilton changed up their point redemption model to tie it to the cost of a room, but not going over an internal category ceiling. While this is not good across the board, this can actually be a big help in New York City. The reason is that there are some nights that cash prices are way below what they are at higher peak times.
For example, the Hilton Times Square (a nice option if need to be in Times Square area) can go up over $400 for a night but also drop into the low $100s for a night. If you were redeeming with fixed point redemptions based on categories, it could be a hard point pill to swallow to use 80,000 points for a single night. On the other hand, if you are trying to save your cash for other things in the city, you may not want to pay $150 per night for a hotel room – even in NYC.
Fortunately, the cost in points fluctuates with the cash price so for a night costing $180 after taxes, you may only pay 38,000 points. That can be a big help!
This works with all hotels in the Hilton lineup but you may find that some of them (like the high-end London NYC or the Conrad) to stick at the 80,000 or 90,000-ish point cost. This is due to the fact that the rooms there are quite expensive most of the year anyway.
Mix Points and Cash
You can also use points to offset the cash cost of a room which can be a help also. This way you don’t have to have all the points required for a room. But, that means you will pay the taxes when you do that and taxes in NYC are expensive so be aware of that!
2. Free Weekend Awards
Awards like those are best used at high-end properties – or at least hotels that charge a lot in points! New York City on the weekends can be a lot of fun since there is so much going on and it can also be quite busy. That means that New York City is a great place to redeem those free weekend night awards.
Since those awards are not capped by category, they are perfect for a place like NYC. With some spending and planning, you could earn enough to cover an entire weekend (the weekend counts as Friday, Saturday, or Sunday nights).
The Hilton Aspire gives you one night each year and allows you to earn another with $15,000 in spending, the Hilton Ascend allows you to earn one with $15,000 in spending, and the Hilton business card lets you earn one after $15,000 and another after spending a total of $60,000.
3. Suites or Larger Rooms
With other hotel programs, you are unable to redeem points for a suite for a single night (with Hyatt, you need to redeem for 3 nights or more) or at all! With Hilton, you can redeem your points for any room that is offered for sale.
Of course, the cost in points will normally be at a worse value than for a standard room but it can be done. In New York City, it is natural that hotel rooms are smaller than in other places due to space constraints (I have been in some tiny rooms that were actually quite expensive – if paying cash). If you are traveling with your family to New York City, it can be nice to get a larger space and Hilton points will let you do that – but remember, it will be at a premium!
Hilton is also the only hotel chain that will give you their top tier elite status from just holding a credit card. The Hilton Aspire credit card grants complimentary Diamond status which gives the customer suite upgrades, at check-in based on availability.
4. Free Breakfast
If you have Hilton Gold or Diamond status, you get free breakfast in all the Hilton brands that offer that as a benefit (Waldorf Astoria properties now offer it as well – but the WA in NYC will not reopen until 2020). You don’t actually have to stay a bunch of nights to earn that status either – Hilton Gold comes with the Hilton Ascend credit card and the Hilton business credit card while the Hilton Aspire credit card will give you Diamond status.
With those cards and that status, you can get a free breakfast for up to 4 people on your reservation. In a city like New York, that can be a nice savings if you are a big breakfast fan! Of course, I love bagels in the city but free breakfast is always nice, too. 🙂
Hilton, like other chains, has their brands all over the city. Seriously, there are some parts of Manhattan where you can come across 4 different Hilton brands in just a few blocks. This is great news for people that want to stay at a particular brand (maybe based on cost in points, maybe based on brand preference) but they don’t want to miss out on the action in their preferred area of the city.
6. Points Are Easy To Get
With Hilton Points Pooling and big credit card offers (not to mention the referral offers when others sign-up through you), it is quite easy to amass a nice chunk of Hilton points for that Manhattan vacation.
Also, Hilton will often run point sales where you can purchase Hilton points for about .5 cents per point. I would normally not advise people do this since that is about the redemption rate for them as well but since the prices for hotels in NYC can be so expensive, it could definitely make sense to buy some Hilton points to make sure you have all you need for a full points redemption. Remember, if you go the points and cash route, you will be paying the NYC taxes and that can be expensive!
There are many hotels to choose from in New York City! But if you want to get the most out of a hotel program for free hotel nights in New York City, I think that Hilton Honors is going to be your best shot.