The Hotel Points Programs I Use the Most Frequently

It’s possible to write and talk a lot about the best hotel programs.  However, the true value of a program might not be all the best values for each point, rather in how often you find that program to be the best option for your needs.

In 2012 and 2013, I’ve redeemed over 30 nights worth of free hotels.

#1 Most Frequently Used Hotel Program: Starwood Starpoints

The sweet spot for Starwood hotels are stays of either one night or five nights.

The reason is because Starwood typically has the least number of points required for a single night as compared to other hotel programs.

[Some of the rates below are no longer eligible as the cash and points rates have changed or the hotel categories have changed.]

  • We’ve used points to stay in Sydney, Australia. (5 nights for 28,000 points)
  • We’ve used points to stay four nights in Kuala Lumpur. (6,400 points + $160)
  • Buenos Aires at 7,000 points per night for two nights.
  • Miami Aloft for 3,000 weekend points per night.
  • Aloft Washington at 3,000 points for a weekend night.
  • Aloft Denver for 4,000 points per night.
One of the things I like about the Starwood program is that you also earn credit towards status when you use your points.  That’s how I’m a Starwood Gold member even though I’ve never paid to stay at a Starwood hotel this year.

#2 Most Frequently Used Hotel Program: Club Carlson

The sweet spot for Club Carlson hotels are two night stays.

Since my wife has the Club Carlson Visa, we get a free night for every night we book using points.

We’ve used these points in:

  • Tulsa, OK
  • Billings, MT
  • Seattle, Washington

If we have a two night stay and there is a Club Carlson location, I can almost guarantee those are the points we’ll use.

#3 Tie  Priority Club Hotels, Hilton, and Hyatt

Each of the points with these programs were used when they offered the best value for a specific destination.

For Hilton, it was in Hawaii.  For Priority Club, it was in Hong Kong.  For Hyatt, it was in Bali.

Honorable Mention

This year I bought Choice Hotel points as part of the Daily Get Away sale.  My parents are going to Europe next month, so I offered them the chance to use my points.  They are getting hotels in Rome that cost over $200 USD for $42 worth of points.  If you’re heading to Europe, I’d give some serious consideration to Choice hotels.

Hotel Point Collecting Lessons:

  1. You should focus your points earning with your most used brand.  In this case, we use Starwood hotels a lot.  That’s why we’re going to be getting my wife the Starwood credit card while there is a 30,000 point sign up bonus (instead of the regular 25,000 point sign up bonus).  That’s also why my Starwood card is the first to come out of my wallet when I’m spending money at a place that accepts American Express.
  2. Do research for vacation destinations a year in advance, if possible.  Whenever we know we’re going to visit a specific location, I always try and see what hotels are available in that place.  That way I can be sure to develop a good strategy for getting the most use out of our points.  While you might rarely use a hotel brand, if they have the best offering for your destination, it would be wise to rack up points with that program.
  3. Diversity without immediate plans.  If I’m applying for credit cards and there’s a good hotel credit card offer, I’ll sign up even without immediate plans.  If you travel enough, there will come a time and a place where those miles will save you from spending some serious cash.

Comments

  1. A dellaventura says

    #2 Most Frequently Used Hotel Program: Club Carlson
    “The sweet spot for Club Carlson hotels are two night stays.” ( could you please explain why )

    “Since my wife has the Club Carlson Visa, we get a free night for every night we book using points.”
    ( So if I use my points for one free night I get an additional night free )

    “If we have a two night stay and there is a Club Carlson location, I can almost guarantee those are the points we’ll use” ( Does this mean as stated above because you use your points for the first night and get the second night free?.

    Any explanation would be greatly appreciated !

    Thank you

    • says

      When you have the Club Carlson Visa you get one night free with every stay. Stay 5 nights and get the 5th night free. Stay 2 nights and get the second night free. The way to get the most free nights is by staying two nights. Let me know if you’ve got any additional questions.

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