Which Hotel program should I choose next?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by servo, Sep 12, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. servo

    servo Silver Member

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    I am already an IHG/PC person. My wife and I both have the PC Visa and about 200,000 points between us, but we don't have an alternative chain at the moment. I am a member of all of the major ones, but haven't yet attempted to accrue points with any others. We both like that the PC has a very strong variety between mid-to-lower budget to upscale properties, but we also recognize that now that we have the means to travel abroad a lot more, there are going to be places (SXM for example) that have no IHG properties, or ones that might be less convenient for our travels.

    I've heard good reviews about the Radisson Blu in SXM, but I don't believe they have the market penetration in the US that we'd be looking for, along with the variety of tiered quality hotels. Our primary domestic travel is to SDF/LEX/CVG (family) and MSN, ORD/MDW and IND for friends. I'm going to end up with the SPG card eventually (probably in a future churn when the offer bumps again), but I'm thinking either Hilton or Hyatt. Assuming I am starting from zero for both, and that we're considering travel to Thailand, India, Spain, France, Italy, SXM, Panama, and Peru in the future, which one would you choose and why? Please also take their credit card offers into consideration as well, and/or ability to xfer to Star or Oneworld airlines. I'm still researching it myself, and I am leaning toward Hyatt because I already have the status there from this awesome site, but I'm less sure about the quality and selection in our overseas destinations in the future. Any opinions, tidbits of info I should also consider, and even snide remarks are appreciated. :)
     
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  2. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    Short version
    • Hyatt = Better properties, but less coverage overall. But at least you get 1 night a year if you keep the credit card.
    • HIlton = Lots of properties, but yo need an awful lot of points. Best redemption is the 4night AXON/GLON stays. Also annual award is pretty much bleh.
    In terms of ClubCalrson; I'd just do the promo that they ran this year & last year. If you do it correctly you can get a few nights at some of their awesome Radisson Blu properties worldwide... but I agree their N. America coverage is less than stellar.
     
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  3. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    I was thinking Hyatt myself. He can probably do a Diamond challenge or status match to Platinum (assuming he's not via MP Premium :) ) and go for the credit card for the suite certs (or earn them the hard way).

    It would be hard to argue with SPG though, even if they don't have a lot of stellar properties in Peru or Panama. Going after the SPG AmEx and a few promos would yield some decent balances as well, and the point transfer ratio to the airlines is nothing to sneeze at, even before you consider the bonuses they offer.
     
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  4. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    agreed In less than a year (Since March) I now have ~60k SPG. 25k via CC. 15k via referal and the rest via stays/creditcard, promos (better by the night, nice choice)
     
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  5. marcwint55

    marcwint55 Gold Member

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  6. servo

    servo Silver Member

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    Thanks for all the advice so far. I feel like strategically, I'd value SPG points for the ability to transfer to airline miles over anything, so if I stay there, it would be on promos on paid trips to earn more starpoints for transfer, rather than to earn stays - and I need to have another option for earning stays besides IHG/PC. I don't stay at hotels enough to earn a lot more than what the card offers and will typically do IHG hotels domestically unless there isn't a good option - for example, I'm staying at a Hampton Inn in 3 weeks in JAX for a beach weekend before going to the Bears-Jaguars football game. There wasn't a solid IHG hotel on the beach up there.

    Since I'm not a frequent traveler (8-10 trips with 1 int'l trip annually), I need a program where I can get value out of the earned points pretty easily. That's one reason why I love the IHG/PC program. With the 5,000 point/night stay options and a strong variety (if I am paying and want to do a cheap place for a bunch of points on stackable promos) of hotel options in price and amenities. Hilton kinda sounds a little like the Delta of hotels. Sure you can earn points, but it's not worth as much at redemption time when they are more restrictive or more expensive. I guess what sucks is that the Hyatt card is also Chase. Thankfully I only have 1 Chase card at the moment, but am looking at the BA Card, the UA Explorer and CSP as well. I can see why everyone wants another lender to offer something else decent.
     
  7. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    What sort of property do you wish to redeem points at?

    Starwood is strongest in terms of value in their midrange hotels. Cash and points can be an excellent value and stretch the points a long way. At the very top they get quite expensive in terms of point costs. Hilton is often a mediocre value to redeem, except at the very top properties. Hyatt is good value at the low and at the high end of their chart.

    For in-hotel earning, Hyatt and Hilton will give a bit more than Starwood, unless you use Starwood primarily with cash and points awards (and thus value the points higher).

    On the footprint side, hilton trumps starwood trumps hyatt. This is especially true for properties at the more affordable end of the spectrum in the US.

    I'd primarily focus on what you can earn outside of hotel spend and collect points that way. It doesn't sound like you're in a position to really aim for status and related benefits.
     
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  8. servo

    servo Silver Member

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    Primarily mid to upper level properties internationally, with some exceptions. I would go top of the line for the free night certificates, like the 2 we get for both having the PC Visa, but would rather stretch those points more (which I can see why SPG P+C would be appealing - but with my value seemingly being more towards airline transfer with SPG points, I can't imagine using them to redeem as often. Also, SPG's footprint domestically where I'd stay is a bit lacking. I did find a Hyatt Place ($85/night) near CVG for my NYE trip this year to visit family, and can't really find anything competitive around there in the upper tier programs.

    This is a great point, and one I neglected to consider. It looks like there aren't a lot of non-hotel stay earning opportunities though, like we have with PC (dining, surveys, etc). Am I missing something? Overall, it looks like SPG are the most valuable (MR xfer as well), but they don't really have the mid-low budget hotel option.
     
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  9. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    Aloft and 4ps are there low end and are perfectly fine. Except said footprint of course.
     
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  10. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Yeah soon it will be Four Points only no? I thought the Aloft properties were getting renamed.

    But I agree with you, as far as "low tier" properties they are perfectly fine, probably even better than their equivalent in the IHG side.
     
  11. servo

    servo Silver Member

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    Right. Well, since I was planning on the SPG card at some point in the future anyway, it sounds to me like Hyatt would be the next logical choice, although international availability (I looked in Thailand, Spain and France, and only see 1 hotel in each country) seems to be slim. The Hyatt program wouldn't really do a lot for me if I couldn't use the points for hotel stays internationally or xfer 1:1 to airline miles. Looks like you can double dip with Hilton for both airline miles AND HH Honors points. Taking SPG out of the picture, which of the programs has the best international coverage/footprint? Club Carlson?
     
  12. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    Between Hyatt/Hilton/CC? I would say Hilton, Club Carlson & then Hyatt.
     
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  13. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    orly? To what? I didn't hear this... and they just recently opened a few Aloft locations so I think that's doubtful
     
  14. servo

    servo Silver Member

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    Ah, but I just read that Carlson got rid of their credit card, which eliminates them, because that's where I'd gain the majority of my points. Even though Hilton might be higher redemption, it seems like there's plenty of CC earning opportunity. Thanks for all the advice.
     
  15. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    Carlon is great for the BOGO promo. Me & the Fiancee stayed at 2 locations this summer. Each stay about $200 (for two rooms), netting us over 200k combineded.

    That's 4 nights at Radisson Blu in Europe that we plan on using that avg about $300/night.
     
  16. servo

    servo Silver Member

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    I will keep that in mind when it comes around again.
     
  17. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    SPG C&P can be more valuable than airline transfers - routinely several cents per point.


    Primarily credit card. If you're only staying a relatively small number of hotel nights a year you will not bring in tons of points in any program via stays. SPG are valuable, but you only earn 5 per dollar as an elite with CC. Compare to Hyatt where nonelites with cc would get 8, but pay fewer (sometimes dramatically for all-suite properties) points to redeem at the very top properties, or Hilton where nonelites with cc can bring in 25 points per dollar, but spend similar amounts for top, top properties as SPG.

    http://travel.usatoday.com/alliance...Method-for-Hotel-Program-Comparisons/136628/1 illustrates this in more detail. With SPG, you are depending on high-value promotions, cash and points, and if platinum the plat amenity points to make the earn/burn portion of the program competitive. With Hilton you get best value at the very top category 7 properties, with everything below that inflated. With Hyatt you have good value at their low and high ends.

    As someone without a ton of hotel stays, you may be better off just choosing properties you like with the best pricing.
     
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  18. servo

    servo Silver Member

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    What I gather from this is that I should get the SPG card (at some point) and determine how I'm going to use those points (if I HAVE to have them for airline mile top off, it's a great feature, or for P+C rewards), but don't hang onto it and pay the annual fee.

    I think the Hilton space with 4-5 different card offers means I could accrue a lot more points with signup bonuses and with non-hotel CC spend than with any other hotel card besides PC. Is that a fair statement?
     
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  19. IDGflygirl
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    IDGflygirl Gold Member

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    Yes, it's definitely worthwhile to get the SPG AmEx card (both personal & biz, if you qualify). (I'm sure many of us are happy to refer you if you PM us!;)). SPG is easier to requalify for Plat status as each card (personal & biz) give 2 stays/5 nights credit towards status, every year, - so one gets a nice headstart to status requal. Also SPG counts both award stays & cash + pts towards status (as does HH, I believe). So, this is far easier than Hyatt, IME.
     
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  20. Slow_Mustang
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    Slow_Mustang Silver Member

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    I accrue all I can, but favor Hilton, as there are many churnable CCs which allow their bonus miles to be transferred to Hilton points. And with just Gold status, the overseas Hiltons seem to treat you rather well, just my take.
     
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  21. MDDCFlyer

    MDDCFlyer Silver Member

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    First, I would you need to determine whether your goals are for the long run or for a planned specific trip. For a planned specific trip you can be strategic with the application to credit card (such as Hyatt, or the Hilton Reserve, or even, Choice card if you plan to go to the Nordic countries).

    However, long term strategy is completely different. I still believe that Hilton gives the best value all around - both by gaining status by having the credit card, the reduced award (AXON) and overall availability and breadth of the network coverage. Time will tell what the dilution of the Gold status will mean for Hilton (though I believe that not much at all, in almost all the hotels the benefits are on the margins and really do not cost the hotel that much). I highly value the double dip option with Hilton (though now that BMI is no more, it is less valuable). And despite the perception that it costs more to get a night, points are much easily obtained (OK, not as easy as PC - but than again a Platinum status with PC does not worth much). I know there are many post on TOB that redemption is difficult to get with the Premium award introduction. Personally, I never encounter that problem - but I am not going on a whim to a week in Bora Bora. I think most of us do not do that, and if going on vacation to high end place it is well planned in advanced and then hotel redemption rooms should be available.
     
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  22. Sweet Willie
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    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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    So IHG works for your current needs, excellent.

    I'd say forget other chains, if your travel is on your own dime. When you come across a destination that doesn't have IHG, actually pay (gasp) for the room you want at a property that you actually want to stay at, (rather than being restricted to what your default or 2nd hotel chain offers).

    Pros/cons to everything, while I value the experiences that hotel points have provided, there have been plenty of times where a chain hotel's location, redemption rate, amenities, etc etc have been ok but there were far better (& cheaper) lodging options available.

    I expect I'll always have some hotel points around as they do come in handy but restricting myself to only chain hotel programs & their properties is not a smart move for my travel wants/needs.
     
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  23. Jett Rink
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    Jett Rink Silver Member

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    Best Western works for some people. The top tier (Diamond) is not too difficult to achieve, and BW exists in many locales. A place to stay at the end o' the day.

    Hey, Jett Rink thought of it first: Best Western: a place to stay at the end o' the day.
     
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  24. servo

    servo Silver Member

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    Well said. I believe I'd be more inclined to agree with that strategy if neither of the initial two options weren't available in the area, rather than only restricting myself to one points earning option though.
     
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