There are often promos that offer points and miles at a decreased price for purchase. These promos are sometimes straight out purchase promos and sometimes they are share promos – promos that offer the recipient a bonus if you share your miles or points with another account. When these promos are available, they sometimes are decent deals for travelers who are able to use the purchased miles/points for specific, high-value redemptions.
Is It Ever Worth It To Buy Hotel Points?
When it comes to purchasing hotel points off promo, does it ever make sense to do it? The problem with purchasing points is that it is heavily stacked for the hotel’s benefit. The price to purchase these points is more than the points are actually worth when it comes to redemptions, unless you are booking a room at a five-star hotel on New Year’s Eve in New York City. 🙂
For an example, Hyatt Gold Passport points cost 2.4 cents a piece when not offered at a promo. To purchase 8,000 points for a Category 2 hotel (like the Hyatt Regency Rochester) would cost $192. It is possible to book that hotel on advanced rates for around $120 with the daily rate coming in at $160. So, to purchase the points for an award night would cost at least $20 more than the cash rate would be. This example is typical for purchasing all the points required for award stays.
However, there are a few situations where purchasing hotel points can be helpful for award reservations.
Topping Off An Account For Immediate Reservation
It is annoying but there are times that we find ourselves just a few thousand, or maybe a few hundred, points away. Sure, we always keep an eye on our accounts when we are getting ready to make a reservation, but there are those times when we need to make an unexpected reservation. There are also times when we are saving points for a planned trip but availability on the hotel is shrinking and all of our points have not posted yet. In situations such as these, it can be very helpful to purchase points to top off the account.
I faced a recent situation where I was about 3,000 Hilton points shy of the points I needed to make a reservation for a date right around the corner. While I could certainly have just used one of my many Hilton credit cards to rack up the points by spending, I knew I would not get the points before the travel date (they do not post until after the close of the statement). I also knew that the hotel I needed to stay at (due to location) was over $300 for the night, so paying around $40 for the same thing (in addition to the points) was not bad.
When The Purchase Price Is Low Against A High Cash Price
There are some times when it can actually make sense to purchase all the points you need for a room if the total cost is low enough. In contrast, the cash rate for those hotels and dates may be significantly higher than what it would cost you to purchase the points. This is normally the case for low to mid-tier hotels since the point requirement is lower but the location of the hotel can drive the price up.
One of the best examples of this is with Club Carlson hotels. It really works well for Club Carlson credit cardholders. This is because the last night of an award stay (over one night) is free when booked from an account that is tied to the credit card. So, you purchase points for one night but you are really getting two nights out of it.
One such example is the Park Inn Reykjavik (that I stayed at last year for the marathon). This hotel costs almost $200 per night for a total of $400 for two nights. If you were to use points, it would only require 9,000 points per night (which would be a total of 9,000 points for two nights if you have the credit card). The cost to purchase 9,000 points is only $63. That means, for a cost of $31.50 per night, you could stay at the Park Inn on points. Not a bad deal for any hotel!
With Cash and Point Awards
Some hotel chains offer the options on capacity controlled rooms for a mixture of cash and points. This type of rate is basically allowing you to purchase the miles, many times at a lower rate than what it would cost to purchase the points outright. Depending on the actual cost of the room and the amount of points required for full redemption, it can be a happy medium to utilize a cash and points rate.
Unfortunately, the nights that offer these rates are often more controlled than regular award nights. So, just because you find a night available for points redemption, it does not mean that you can book it as a cash and points mix.
SPG offers some great options for Cash & Points. All of their categories are available for Cash & Point reservations, though it does not mean that all of them are good deals.
Hyatt just this year began offering a similar option on all their hotel categories.
Club Carlson offers a cash and points option with the price tied to the hotel.
Hilton offers a cash and points option that varies based on the dates and hotel selected.
IHG offers a cash and points option that allows you to purchase points as a part of your reservation – $40 for 5,000 points and $70 for 10,000 points
Marriott offers a cash and points option that allows you to choose which nights work best for you.
Is it the best thing to buy hotel points? Unless they are available as a terrific promo, no. The best way to get hotel points is to use the co-branded credit card since many of them offer many points per dollar on everyday purchases. Doing this can help you to rack up a lot of points in a very easy, cheap fashion. To avoid being in a position where you need to purchase hotel points, it may be a good idea to make sure that you always have at least enough hotel points for a mid-tier hotel category or as much as enough points to cover a night at the top tier category. This way, you will at least be prepared in case a situation comes up where you need to book a room. However, should you find yourself in one of the above scenarios, at least you know what value it may be to buy hotel points.