Overpaying for a Hotel Stay: My Mistake When Using Points

by joeheg

When searching for hotels, it’s important to consider multiple factors such as the hotel’s quality, amenities, and location. Are you looking for a luxurious resort or a simpler accommodation? It’s also important to evaluate the location of the hotel and its accessibility through public transportation or if you’ll need to rent a car and pay additional fees to park at the hotel. Additionally, consider the cost of the hotel, especially if you’re interested in redeeming hotel points for a free night.

After some experience, most of the travel planning steps tend to overlap. I’ll already have a clear idea of the purpose of the trip and my budget beforehand. Once I narrow down the location, it’s just a matter of comparing hotels and choosing one that suits our needs. If I have free night certificates for a particular hotel chain, I’ll look at those hotels first. But if that’s not an option, I’ll search for hotels that offer good value for my reward points.

We currently have hotel points with Hyatt, IHG, Hilton, Wyndham and Marriott Bonvoy. If it’s a great deal, I can also transfer points to Accor and Choice.

a large building with many windows with St Pancras railway station in the background

I made a blunder while booking a hotel when planning my upcoming trip to London. I mistakenly used the wrong value for my Marriott Bonvoy points. It’s a common mistake to make as each hotel point has a different value, and keeping track of each one can be confusing. Despite the availability of websites that try to assign a set number to each program, I prefer to use my own value for each point. For example, I feel comfortable redeeming IHG points only when I can get more than 0.75 cents each. That’s because I can easily buy them back for 0.5 cents during one of the IHG promotions, which makes it worthwhile.

So when I was looking for a hotel, I found one charging 64,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. When looking at the cash price, which was $300, my brain said it was a good deal. The hotel looked great and was in a perfect location. It wasn’t until a few days later, when updating my AwardWallet account, that I sensed something was wrong.

The usual amount where I’ll consider redeeming Marriott Bonvoy points for a reservation is 0.67 cents per point but I’ll usually wait until I can get around 1 cent per point. For this reservation, I was only going to get 0.49 cents per point. This is a terrible redemption and one I’d usually never consider. I’m going to chalk it up to I was tired and just finished booking an IHG hotel so the 0.5 cent per point was in my head.

a building with a balcony

Luckily, I realized my mistake in time, and the reservation was far enough out that I could cancel and rebook. I’m weighing my options between paying cash for this hotel or using points to book elsewhere. However, I’ve decided not to book an award night with Marriott Bonvoy in London, as their hotels are all poor value when using points.

For what it’s worth, I’ve overpaid for a hotel using points before, but only when it was the only option. We paid 24,000 points for a room at the Hyatt Centric Key West when the cash price was going for $600+ per night. But this was the first time I overpaid for a hotel room using points because I did the math wrong.

Have you ever made a mistake like this when using points?

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1 comment

MurrayF November 24, 2023 - 7:53 pm

I have an excel spreadsheet with my values of marriot, hyatt, IHG etc and always enter the points price to see if worthwhile. Bit harder if you do bookings on a phone or laptop I guess.


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