« Shopping and Dining with Mom | Main | Public Service Announcement »

January 24, 2006

Hotel Reward Programs for those who aren't frequent travelers

Here's a comparative look at the major U.S. hotel reward programs for those who won't earn most of their points by hotel stays.

This chart looks at the possible points earning from affiliated credit cards and compares them to the price of a sample award stay and conversion to airline miles. It doesn't tell the whole story, especially if you do travel frequently. Hyatt, an excellent chain, is not included. Why? No affiliate credit card.

If you want points for airline miles, nobody beats Starwood, but Hilton's card if used judiciously for the 5 point per dollar purchases runs a decent second. With no annual fee and an initial sign up offer, it is an alternative or augmentation to consider.

Hotel stays are more complex. The chosen example isn't fair to Radisson; they have one hotel in NYC that costs double their usual award level for the US. For St. Petersburg, Russia, however, the only choices are Marriott at 20,000 points per night and Radisson at 30,000 - but Goldpoints can be earned via credit card usage three times as quickly.

Each program has its advantages with initial bonuses, desired destinations and earnings partners. To get the clearest picture of the best program for your goals, run the numbers for your desired situation and destination.

The table is more clear at this link.

Hotel Rewards at a glance
Points earned per $ with hotel stay10 + either airline miles or 5 bonus points10 (5 at some properties)102 or 3 with status10
Points earned per $ with affiliated credit card use3 (5 at Hilton purchases & grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations)1311
Usual conversion of 10000 points to airline miles (check for exceptions)15001500-20001250100002500
# of airline conversion partners3025113236
Amount of points needed for 1 night in NYC30-4000030-350006000010000 (Sheraton) - 25000 (St. Regis)20-30000
Cost for points for 1 night in NYC from stays (if using affiliated card)$1,500-$2,666$2,727-$3,181$4,615$2,500 - $6,250$1,818-$2,727
From CC usage$8,000-13,333$30-35,000$20,000$10,000-$25,000$20-30,000
Cost for 10000 miles from stays (if using card)$3,333$6,060$6,153$2,500$3,636
From CC usage$13,333-$20,000$66,666$26,666.66$10,000$40,000
Standard Initial Sign up bonus for credit card (as of January 24, 2006) - always check for special offers!10,000 (Amex or Visa)15,000 and a free night certificate (category 1-4)20,000 0 for purchase, up to 6,000 for stays15,000 initial + $20 credit on statement, 10,000 bonus for charging $15,000 annually
Online shopping portal?NoYesYesNoYes
Non-travel partnersSeveral including mypoints and e-rewardsYesYesFewYes
Other notes40% off "Point Stretcher" rewards to selected hotels (which aren't going to be the most popular ones)
The Scandic chain of hotels is a particular bargain at 10,000 points/night all over Northern Europe.
Amount of points per night drops with each add'l night
3 tiers of awards, point saver, standard and stay anytime
Two tiers of awards, Standard & Flex awards, which usually are doubleNo blackout dates
various discounts including reduced weekend redemption rates in categories 1-2 and 5th night free in categories 3 and up
Redemption options include paying with combined cash & points at participating hotels.
5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred to an airline.
Points required for redemption standardized by brand, with higher levels for "special destinations"

Posted by Leigh Witchel at January 24, 2006 6:03 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


you make me dizzy. =^@@^=

Even though I am a HIGHLY detail-oriented person, your interest and focus on this is amazing to me.


Posted by: Grace at January 25, 2006 10:03 PM

Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)