Top 10 Ways to Use Your Hotel Points For Ultimate Travel Experiences

reward - image courtesy of Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
image courtesy of Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Written by Linda Hohnholz

Hotel rewards points are essentially a currency for travelers. However, hotel point redemptions often have no fixed value. The value you get from them varies by how you use them.

Over the years, I learned about this, and it has made my travel 100 percent better. For example, I had no idea I could sell unused Hilton points for cash to get Uber rides to all the places I wanted to visit. This can save some cash on fares, which can add up quickly.

I will share some unique and exciting ways to redeem hotel points beyond standard stays in this short guide.

Top 10 Ways to Use Your Hotel Points For Ultimate Travel Experiences

Here are some of my top ten ways to use hotel points for good value and better experiences.

Extended Stays for Families and Groups

Using points for extended stays at low-category hotels has been a game-changer for my family vacations. These properties often provide complimentary breakfast and free or cheap parking, significantly reducing costs.

I love how these extended-stay accommodations typically offer larger rooms or suites. This makes them perfect for families or groups needing more space without breaking the bank. 

For example, last summer, we used points to stay at a budget-friendly hotel and enjoyed a spacious suite with a kitchenette, making our trip both comfortable and affordable.

Fly Business and First Class

One of the best ways I’ve used my hotel points is by transferring them to airline miles for business and first-class tickets. International business and first-class tickets offer the highest return on points and miles.

A round-trip business-class ticket to Europe can cost between 100,000 and 180,000 points, compared to a $5,000 cash fare. On the other hand, an economy-class ticket to Europe might cost 30,000-60,000 miles, compared to a $400 cash fare. 

The comfort and luxury of premium cabins make long flights much more enjoyable. I once used points for a business-class ticket to Europe, and the experience was incredible—from gourmet meals to lie-flat seats, it was worth every point.

Peak Season Travel Deals

Using points during peak travel seasons has saved me a ton of money on high cash fares. For instance, the Westin New York Grand Central during Christmas can cost over $6,000 or 480,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, providing a value of 1.25 cents per point. 

I remember booking a stay during the holiday season and feeling relieved that I didn’t have to shell out thousands of dollars. 

By comparing redemption rates against cash prices, you can ensure you get the best value for your points during these high-demand periods.

Off-Peak Travel

Booking travel during off-peak seasons can stretch your points further. For example, American Airlines offers 20% savings on award tickets during off-peak dates. Flexibility with travel dates has allowed me to enjoy more trips or upgraded experiences without spending extra points. 

Last spring, I booked an off-peak flight to a popular destination and saved many points, which I then used for another trip later in the year. This is a great strategy for maximizing travel rewards.

Consecutive-Night Discounts

One of my favorite hacks for maximizing points is taking advantage of free nights on consecutive bookings. For instance, Marriott Bonvoy offers a fifth night free, while Hilton Honors provides the fifth night free for elite members. 

Similarly, IHG One Rewards gives credit card holders a free fourth night. These discounts allow you to extend your stay without additional cost. 

I once booked a week-long vacation and got two nights free using this strategy, making the trip much more affordable and enjoyable.

Sweet-Spot Redemptions

Finding sweet-spot awards with airlines and hotels is one of the most satisfying ways to use points. For example, ANA offers an 88,000 miles round-trip business class to Europe compared to United’s 160,000 miles.

Similarly, British Airways Executive Club provides a one-way flight to Hawaii from the West Coast for just 13,000 Avios. These sweet spots offer incredible value, making your points stretch further. 

I once booked a sweet-spot flight to Europe in business class, and the comfort and service were outstanding, making the experience unforgettable.

Book Luxury or All-Inclusive Resorts

Luxury and all-inclusive hotels offer excellent value for points, and I’ve had some unforgettable experiences using my points this way. For instance, hotels in the Maldives that cost over $1,000 per night can be booked with points. 

All-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean, such as Hyatt’s hotels, which start at 12,000 points per night, offer great value. 

These packages include meals and accommodations, ensuring you leave with a $0 bill at checkout. On a recent trip to an all-inclusive resort, I enjoyed gourmet dining, spa treatments, and various activities—all covered by points, making it a stress-free vacation.

Redeem for Practical Value

Using points for practical rewards has also come in handy for me. For example, you can use Chase Ultimate Rewards points for a New Orleans ghost tour or rental cars with American AAdvantage miles. 

Redeeming points for practical needs can help you avoid the risk of devaluation and expiration while still getting good value from your points. I remember using points for a rental car on a road trip, which saved me a lot of money and added convenience to my travels.

Hilton Honors Experiences

Hilton points can offer unique experiences beyond hotel stays, and I’ve had some fantastic times using them this way. These include culinary events, concerts, spa treatments, and sports events. 

Hilton offers three types of auctions: bid, redeem, and Dutch, allowing you to choose the best way to use your points for memorable experiences. 

I once attended a concert using Hilton points, and the experience was unforgettable. These options add an exciting dimension to your Hilton points, offering more than just accommodation.

Other Hotel Programs’ Unique Experiences

Various hotel loyalty programs offer unique experiences that can stretch your points further. World of Hyatt FIND Experiences includes cooking classes, sailing, and concerts, valued at 1.4 cents per point. 

Wyndham Rewards offers tours, culinary classes, and shows, with points valued at 0.3-0.4 cents each. Accor Limitless Experiences provides events and activities that are often specific to Europe.

Marriott Bonvoy Moments offers culinary, entertainment, lifestyle, sports, and partner activities. I’ve used my points for a cooking class in Italy and a sailing trip in Greece, both of which were unforgettable and worth the points.

Conclusion

Getting the most out of hotel points takes smart choices for the best experiences. Being flexible with travel dates and destinations can make your points go further. I explore different loyalty programs to find unique opportunities.

Premium travel, like international business- and first-class tickets, provides great value. Another good option I’ve discovered is selling unused rewards points and miles to reputable third-party buyers for extra cash. 

I always compare points and cash values during peak seasons and consider off-peak travel for better deals. I hope fellow travelers can use my experiences to maximize their hotel points or extend their stay at the same cost.

FAQs

Can you use points for hotels?

Yes, you can use points to book hotel stays. Many hotel loyalty programs allow you to redeem points for free nights or discounted rates at participating hotels.

How much is 15,000 hotel points worth?

The value of 15,000 hotel points varies by the hotel loyalty program. For IHG, 15,000 points are worth about $90.

How much is 1,000 Marriott points worth?

1,000 Marriott points are worth approximately $10.50. This means you pay 1.25 cents per point when purchasing Marriott points.

Can you turn hotel points into cash?

Yes, you can turn hotel points into cash. However, these are only offered by third parties, so it is important to deal only with a reputed buyer.

How many hotel points do you need for a free night?

The number of points needed for a free night varies by hotel and room type. Free nights can start at 5,000 points per night and go up to 105,000 points for a standard room, with some specialty accommodations requiring up to 190,000 points per night.

About the author

Linda Hohnholz

Editor in chief for eTurboNews based in the eTN HQ.

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