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Airfare is a major piece of the puzzle, but it’s also important to consider how hotels might fit into your travel scenario as well.
In the intro example, the first couple economized on living arrangements by renting a flat, but it’s also possible to include accommodations as part of your points-earning strategy.
It’ll take a little more spend, or a little more time, or another credit card application, but not only is it possible, it’s actually very practical to stay in luxury hotels for less than you would pay out of pocket for more “economical” accommodations.
As with the airline relationships we discussed earlier, many hotels are branded separately but part of a larger family, so you can stay domestically at a Hilton Garden Inn and cash those free nights in at a Waldorf Astoria or Conrad internationally.
|Loyalty Program||Affiliated Brands|
|Club Carlson||Quorvus Collection, Radisson Blu, Radisson, Park Plaza, Park Inn, Country Inn & Suites|
|Hilton HHonors||Hilton, Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, DoubleTree, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn, Homewood Suites, Home2 Suites, Hilton Grand Vacations|
|Hyatt Gold Passport||Andaz, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Place, Hyatt House, Hyatt, Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Zilara/Ziva, Hyatt Residence Club|
|IHG Rewards||Intercontinental, Hualuxe, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Even Hotels, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Holiday Inn Resort, Holiday Inn Club Vacations, Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites|
|Marriott Rewards||JW Marriott, Edition, Autograph Collection, Renaissance, Marriott, Courtyard, SpringHill Suites, Fairfield Inns & Suites, Residence Inn, Towneplace Suites, Gaylord Hotels, Marriott Vacation Club|
|Starwood Preferred Guest||Le Meridien, aLoft, Four Points, Westin, The Luxury Collection, W Hotels, Sheraton, St. Regis, Element|
Why Be Loyal To A Chain
One of the major benefits to sticking with a chain hotel is that they have loyalty programs! Sure, there are often better prices or experiences at boutique hotels in a given city, but I tend to think across the board the benefits of sticking to a chain hotel can add up quite quickly.
If you have elite status with a hotel (from staying a particular number of nights per year) you are often eligible for extra benefits like suite upgrades or complimentary breakfast.
Complimentary breakfast at the Conrad Hong Kong
Even if you don’t have top tier status with a hotel, you can still benefit from perks like free internet, bonus points, or even just a better room due to being a member of the hotels’ loyalty program.
Even Without Loyalty
On top of that, several hotel chains offer some downright ridiculous perks just for carrying their credit card. For the most part I wouldn’t recommend spending a lot on these cards – but the benefits of having the card more than justify the annual fee in most cases.
|Loyalty Program||Co-Branded Credit Card||Credit Card Perks|
|Club Carlson||Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card|
Club Carlson Business Rewards Visa Card
|10x points per dollar spent at Club Carlson properties, 5x points per dollar spent on everything else; 40,000 bonus points upon account anniversary; free night when you redeem for two or more award nights; Club Carlson Gold status for as long as you have the card and 15 nights towards Concierge status if you already have Gold status.|
|Hilton HHonors||Citi® Hilton HHonors Reserve Card|
Hilton HHonors Card from American Express
|Citi Reserve: 10x points per dollar spent at Hilton properties; 5x points per dollar spent on airline and car rental purchases; 3x points per dollar spent on everything else; Hilton Gold status for as long as you have the card, which gets you free internet and breakfast/lounge access; free weekend night certificate after spending $10,000 in a calendar year; Hilton Diamond status after spending $40,000 on the card in a calendar year.|
Hilton Amex: 6x points per dollar spent at Hilton properties; 3x points per dollar spent on everything else; Hilton Silver status for as long as you have the card, access to Hilton’s AXON awards, whereby you can redeem 145,000 points for four nights at any category seven Hilton property.
|Hyatt Gold Passport||The Hyatt Credit Card||Annual free night certificate valid at category 1-4 Hyatt properties; Hyatt Platinum membership for as long as you have the card, which offers free internet and other benefits; 3x points on Hyatt spend, 2x points on dining, airline, and car rental purchases; two stay credits and five night credits towards status after spending $20,000 on the card annually; another three stay credits and five night credits after spending $40,000 on the card annually.|
|IHG Rewards||IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card||5x points per dollar spent at IHG properties; 2x points per dollar spent on gas, groceries, and at restaurants; IHG Platinum status for as long as you have the card; annual free night certificate valid at all IHG properties.|
|Marriott Rewards||Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card||5x points per dollar spent at Marriott, 2x points per dollar spent on airlines, car rentals, and dining; annual free night at any category 1-5 property; 15 night credits towards status annually upon account anniversary; additional one night credit towards status for every $3,000 spent.|
|Starwood Preferred Guest||Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express|
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from American Express
|Two stay credits and five night credits towards elite status with Starwood annually per card (you can get both cards for four stay credits and 10 night credits towards elite status annually); Starwood Gold status after spending $30,000 on the card annually. Terms and Conditions apply|
Best of all, these card perks are on top of great bonuses that you can receive just for signing up for the card and meeting the minimum spend.
Just a few strategic credit card applications could easily result in enough free nights to spend a week abroad in four and five star hotels!
Given all the choices, I think a hotel program should absolutely be part of everyone’s miles and points strategy. Combined with the right mileage program, that dream vacation starts to be much more approachable.
Next: What’s Next?
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