A Good Illustration That Not All Points Are Created Equally

a screenshot of a hotel room

I recall a conversation with my father-in-law a number of years ago where he was taking about points he earned with a Navy Federal credit card.  He felt like no matter how much he spent on the card he never got any worthwhile travel rewards.  Because of that, he assumed there was no reason to bother collecting points and miles.  It’s a discussion I’ve had dozens of times over the years with folks and likely half a dozen with my father-in-law (I’m a glutton for punishment). How you earn points matters relative to what else you could earn for that spending.  And, how you spend them matters as well.

How Much Are Hotel Points Worth?

I recently tested positive for COVID-19 and needed a hotel over Memorial Day Weekend so I could quarantine.  Because it was a somewhat busy weekend I couldn’t find one hotel that had availability for all the dates I need.  I zeroed in on three hotels from three different brands.

a screenshot of a hotel

A local Homewood Suites was 40,000 points per night, a pretty standard rate for them.

a screenshot of a website

SpringHill Suites required fewer points, 16,000 per night.  That seems pretty affordable compared to 40,000 Hilton points, right?

a screenshot of a hotel room

And, Hyatt was only 3,500 points per night.  So, it must be the best deal, right?  It all depends on the rate.

The Homewood Suites was $170 per night. What’s that worth?  Divide the $170 by 40,000 to get .00425, or 4/10ths of a cent.

The SpringHill rate was roughly the same ($170 all-in), though only 16,000 points, meaning just over a penny in value per point.  That’s actually pretty good for Marriott.

Lastly, the Hyatt rate was about $150 all-in).  At 3,500 points, or 4.3 cents per point, the Hyatt stay is clearly the best value per point.

The Final Two Pennies

There’s more to figuring out what your points and miles are worth, including what you had to spend to acquire them.  As a general rule, Hyatt points are worth more than other hotel chains.  But, chains like Hilton hand out many more points for hotel stays, especially with frequent lucrative promotions.  While Hyatt is my favorite hotel chain, the important point is to make sure you’re getting a good value for your points.  After all, if you spent the time to earn them you should get your money’s worth.

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  1. Suppose for each of the three brands (Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt), you acquired and held a low/medium annual fee credit card ($99/year) for a couple of years, and spent $5,000 on that credit card over those two years for revenue stays at the lowest elite level earning rate. You would acquire very different number of points in each program. How many nights could you get for those points for the properties which you looked at?

  2. So you went somewhere public to quarantine and prevent the spread of the cooties? The genius of people never fails to surprise me.

    1. Contrary to your belief, it is possible to quarantine at a hotel without spreading COVID. Hilton has digital keys at virtually all of their hotels, the hotels I chose had stairwells and a do not disturb sign on the door keeps staff out of the room and away from cooties.

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