Tale of the Tape

Tale of the Tape

Last month, Tale of the Tape looked at how many points three different travelers would earn with the major hotel programs.

This month, we took the total number of points each traveler earned and converted those points into actual hotel award nights at various popular award destinations. We looked at mid- to upper-tier award categories at three destinations and based our choices on three hypothetical scenarios where a member might want to use their points. Because hotels sometimes change their category point requirements according to the travel period, we used the same dates across all hotels. Keep in mind that these findings are for a quick overview only — it’s up to you to determine the value difference between a stay at the Holiday Inn Fisherman’s Wharf or the W San Francisco.

We looked at mid-tier hotel locations for a Spring Break family vacation in Orlando on April 9. For a late summer wedding, we chose mid- to upper-category hotels in San Francisco on Aug. 15. The third scenario is an anniversary trip to London on Dec. 3, where the traveler might want to splurge and book awards at the highest category hotels. We didn’t take into account any of the programs’ special discounted awards, such as Hilton’s Point Stretcher 40 percent discount, Marriott Rewards PointSaver awards 33 percent discount and Priority Club PointBreaks for 5,000 points, although taking advantage of discounted awards can help travelers stretch their award points into many more award nights than shown here. Based on non-discounted award rates, how many days were our travelers able to stay for free with the hotel programs?

Number of nights earned
Best Western Gold Crown Club Choice Privileges goldpoints plus Hilton HHonors Hyatt Gold Passport IHG Priority Club Marriott Rewards Starwood Preferred Guest Wyndham Rewards
Low-spend 0 1 2 1 1 0 1 0 1
Moderate-spend 2 4 7 3 4 2 4 1 3
High-spend 7 17 25 17 15 11 16 6 13
San Francisco
Low-Spend 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 1
Moderate-spend 2 3 4 3 3 2 3 1 3
High-spend 7 13 14 17 10 11 14 5 12
Low-Spend 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Moderate-spend 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 1
High-spend 7 10 7 13 7 9 10 5 4

The Profile
The low-spend traveler

The low-spend traveler that spends an average of $2,052 on hotel stays annually would have enough points with most programs to stay one night (two with goldpoints plus) in Orlando but he would only earn enough points for a stay in San Francisco with just over half of the programs. The higher category hotels in London would put a free stay out of reach across the board. If he was earning and burning with Priority Club or SPG, he would be paying for rooms with dollars instead of points in Florida during a popular travel time. Or he could redeem points for a lower category hotel with those programs.

The Profile
The moderate-spend traveler

The number of nights a moderate-spend traveler earns is based on a total spending of $5,928. This traveler could stretch his points the farthest with goldpoints plus in Orlando, followed by Hyatt Gold Passport, Choice Privileges and Marriott Rewards. SPG yields the fewest award nights and this traveler would earn only one free night at all locations.

Marriott Rewards and goldpoints plus both offer point reductions on additional nights of an award stay, making both of these programs competitive on multiple nights’ stays. Members of goldpoints plus who redeem more than one night will receive a 10 percent point discount on each additional night, which was enough of a difference to add an extra night’s stay in both London and San Francisco. With Marriott Rewards, members receive a progressively larger point discount on multiple nights of an award stay. For example, one night at the Courtyard San Francisco is 25,000 points but three nights is only 65,000 points instead of 75,000 points, allowing a moderate-spend traveler who earned 71,136 points to stay three nights instead of two in San Francisco.

The Profile
The high-spend traveler

The high-spend traveler is based on an annual spend of $19,532. The Hilton HHonors program is strong for award stays in all three destinations, and high-spend travelers can enjoy 17 award nights in San Francisco — three more nights than the two-week stay earned by Marriott Rewards and goldpoints plus members at this level. Hilton HHonors elite members have access to HHonors VIP Rewards when staying between six and 14 consecutive nights. Elite members receive substantial discounts with this benefit — two weeks at a category six hotel would normally be 560,000 points but VIP members can receive a two-week stay for only 410,000 points.

Goldpoints plus, Hilton HHonors and Choice Privileges turn out to be the most rewarding programs for stays in Orlando and HHonors members will benefit most from this program in London. While SPG wasn’t the most rewarding program, its high spenders were able to earn an additional free night with the program’s “fifth night free” award offer.

Note: Last month, we mistakenly calculated the number of points each traveler would earn in the Hilton HHonors program when choosing points and points. When we calculated the point totals, we included the elite bonus percentage on the base points plus the bonus points, but elite members only earn a bonus on base points. We said that the low-spend traveler would earn 38,475 points when in reality, this traveler would earn 35,910 points. The moderate-spend traveler would earn only 118,560 points instead of the 133,380 points we reported. The high-spend traveler would earn only 390,640 points, compared to our erroneous calculation of 439,470 points. When determining the number of nights each traveler would earn with Hilton HHonors, we used the correct point totals.

Program Orlando April 9 San Francisco Aug. 15 London Dec. 3
Best Western Rewards The Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort Hotel -32,000 Best Western Tuscan Inn at Fisherman’s Wharf — 36,000 Best Western Premier Shaftesbury Hotel — 36,000
Choice Privileges Comfort Suites Downtown- 16,000 Comfort Inn By the Bay — 20,000 Quality Hotel Westminster — 25,000
Goldpoints plus Radisson Resort Orlando — Celebration 25,000 Radisson Hotel Fisherman’s Wharf — 45,000 Park Inn London, Russell Square — 90,000
Hilton HHonors Doubletree Orlando — 30,000 Hilton Garden Inn — 30,000 The Waldorf Hilton, London — 40,000
Hyatt Gold Passport Hyatt Place Orlando/Universal — 8,000 Grand Hyatt San Francisco — 12,000 Hyatt Regency London, The Churchill — 18,000
IHG Priority Club Crowne Plaza Orlando-Universal — 25,000 Holiday Inn Fisherman’s Wharf — 25,000 InterContinental London Park Lane — 30,000
Marriott Rewards Fairfield Inn & Suites Orlando- 20,000 Courtyard San Francisco Downtown — 25,000 London Marriott Hotel Park Lane — 35,000
Starwood Preferred Guest The Westin Imagine Orlando 10,000 W San Francisco — 12,000 The Park Lane Hotel, London — 12,000
Wyndham Rewards Wyndham Rewards Wyndham Orlando Resort — 15,000 Travellodge — 16,000 Wyndham London Chelsea Harbour — 45,000

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