When buying points is outright cheaper than paying for a room….

As I’ve mentioned several times before, my brother and mom are traveling to Egypt in less than two months, and since it’s the start of the high season over there, a lot of hotels/tours/cruises are already sold out, so it’s getting down to the wire. Anyway, for the last two days they’re in Cairo they want to stay at the Le Meridien Pyramids, which is $180/night, or $220+/night including tax. That’s awfully pricey.

Anyway, for the heck of it I decided to check how many SPG points those nights would cost, and since it’s a category 1 hotel it was only 3,000 points for the first night and 2,000 points for the second night (since it’s a weekend night), for a total of 5,000 points. 5,000 points can be purchased directly from SPG for just $175 (SPG points cost $0.035/point), which is less than half of the retail price!

Since my brother had some orphan SPG points he only had to purchase a total of 1,500 points, which cost around $50. While I know they won’t earn stay credits or points, I’m still amazed by situations like this.

So the lesson to be learned: buying points doesn’t always have to be a bad deal!


  1. This happens more often than many realise.

    For last year’s Kiwi Mainland Do Two in Queenstown, it was cheaper to buy all the points needed for the 2-night stay and book a Points Break award. There was also a promo giving bonus points, and the bought points counted for Priority Club status – thus automatic Gold. The Gold status then generated a room upgrade at check-in. After all this, I still had enough points for 2 more nights elsewhere.

    Even crazier, though, was that the hotel kept releasing rooms under the Points Break. I think only 4 of us out of all the Do attendees were not staying on the deal!

    As you point out, for small top-ups the maths can also work out favourably. This year I’ve switched from HHonors to Priority Club as my main hotel program. Faced with an expensive stay at Sandton I checked awards and was surprised to find Point Stretchers available. I didn’t quite have enough points, but buying some more allowed me to take advantage of the cheap award. Yes the bought points cost was high per point, but it was worth it to leverage the cheap award and also nicely clean out my account at the same time.

  2. I regularly show examples on my blog when purchased points can result in room rate savings.

    Obviously IHG PointBreaks with rooms at 5,000 Priority Club points will usually be cheaper than paying the normal rate for a room. 5,000 Priority Club points only cost about $60 and you can buy up to 40,000 points per year. I see there is actually a promotion going on right now for 10% bonus points when you buy Priority Club points over next three months.

    Points will often cost less than the regular room rate for high end hotels. Hilton HHonors charges 40,000 points for a Category 6 hotel and there are several hotels where $400 in purchased points will be less than the per night rate.

    Starwood Cash& Points is often a situation where purchasing points to get a Cash & Points awards will be less than the lowest room rate. This works very well for Category 4 and 5 hotels. Category 5 hotel is 4,800 points and $90 for rooms that are sometimes $400+ per night as the lowest rate. Buy 5,000 Starpoints for $175 and $90 cash for a Cash&Points awards will frequently allow you to book an SPG award room for $265 when the lowest paid rate would be $400 + tax ($450/night).

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