As a traveling dad, one of the biggest costs of traveling with a family ends up being your lodging costs. This is especially true for our family since as a larger family (there are 8 of us), we often have to get TWO hotel rooms instead of one. One of the things that we do is use points earned from hotel credit cards to help offset these lodging costs. While hotel points can be super useful at any time, one of my best tips for using hotel points is to use them during peak travel times. Because most hotels don’t change the amount of points it takes for an award stay, you can get some IMMENSE value during peak travel times when cash rates soar
Using hotel points to save money during peak travel times
One of my best tips for using hotel points is to use points instead of cash during peak travel times. Some of the best peak travel times where this works is during big sporting events such as the World Series, Super Bowl or big college football games in small towns. Depending on where you travel for the holidays points might come in handy as well.
For more details on how to use hotel points to save money during some of these big sporting events, check out How to get Super Bowl hotel deals 50% off (or more!) or how to get World Series hotel deals for 50% off.
Examples of using hotel points to save money during big events
Here are a few examples on how you might be able to use hotel points to save big money (50% off or more) during peak travel times. Here are a few examples I pulled earlier in the year before Super Bowl LI in Houston. Let’s look at the Holiday Inn Houston West for the weekend of February 5th 2017.
Cash rate is $429 / night, but you can get it for only 15,000 points / night! That’s a value of about 2.86 cents per point, which is about 7 times what I would typically value IHG points for.
Another option would be using your hotel points at Marriott. Check out the Residence Inn Houston Westchase
30,000 points or $899 / night! That’s a value of nearly 3 cents per point, which is outstanding for Marriott points. Plus a Residence Inn includes a kitchen, which will help keep your other travel costs down!
How to find the cost in hotel points
It’s usually pretty easy to figure out the cost of a hotel in points, but the exact manner to do so depends on the hotel chain. Just look for a button that says “Use Rewards points” when you go to book the hotel
Of course, which chains will be available depends on where you want to go. If you’re looking for hotels in the domestic United States area, Marriott and Hilton have the largest footprint so you’re more likely to find one of those hotels available. Best Western and Choice hotels are popular in the Mountain West, and Hyatts are typically found in the bigger cities.
As far as which brand’s hotel points are worth more, I would rate Hyatt and Starwood points to be worth the most, with Marriott, IHG, Choice and Hilton each worth significantly less.
Where to get hotel points (if you don’t have them already)
If you already are in the miles and points world, then you probably already have some of these hotel points, or perhaps some of the credit card points (Chase, American Express, Citi ThankYou points) that can transfer into hotel points.
You can buy Marriott points, and you can also transfer your Chase points to Marriott 1:1 if you have a premium Chase card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve. You can compare these cards to other similar cards here or check out a list of hotel cards here.
But if you don’t have any hotel points, then even BUYING points (which I generally don’t recommend) can come out cheaper than paying inflated cash rates. Let’s continue the example from above of the Residence Inn which was 30,000 Marriott points vs. a cash price of $899 / night.
You can buy Marriott points every day at a rate of $12.50 per 1,000 points, which means that the 30,000 points you would need would cost you $375. Still expensive for a night’s lodging, but a far cry from $899 / night!! Hotels regularly sell their points at a discount too if you can wait for a sale. At the time of this writing, Starwood points are 35% off AND you can transfer 1 Starwood point for 3 Marriott points. So you can buy 10,000 Starwood points for $227.50 and transfer those to 30,000 Marriott points and get that room for 74% off!
I hope these tips for using hotel points to save money during peak travel times have given you a few ideas – leave your best tips in the comments!
Interested in using credit card points to help save you money on travel? Check out some of Traveling Dad’s favorite offers here!