Which Hotel Rewards Program Would be Best For Me?

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by mapenn, Oct 29, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. mapenn

    mapenn Silver Member

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    I'm getting ready for my 2nd-ever churn. My first got me started with some airline miles (SW and AA). I have even just finished the acquiring enough points for a SW Companion pass -- I've learned a lot in the last few months!

    I haven't wrapped my brain around the hotel rewards programs yet. I've seen some CC offers recently about HHonors. But, it seems as though those points really don't go far. SPG seems more 'valuable', but the locations are hit and miss.

    I have a family of 4. Our goal is not necessarily to stay in ritzy places, but we like to take a few in-state journeys each year and stay in moderately-priced hotels with a pool, free breakfast, wifi, etc -- like an Embassy Suites or an extended stay hotel. And, we'd like to take a week-long trip each year to a beach destination.

    If you were in my shoes, what direction would you take?
     
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  2. IPBrian

    IPBrian Silver Member

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    I usually like to tell people to start with an end goal in mind. IE, I want to travel to NYC and stay 4 nights at the Conrad. Great you need 25000 airline miles per ticket and 145,000 Hilton honors points for an AXON award. Starting with an end goal in mind will help build your road map.
     
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  3. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    My program of Choice is SPG, Hyatt, and then Hiton. SPG is primary because I get 10 to 15nights a year through work with them... Hyatt because of the UR redemptions and HIltons are for places where SPG/Hyatt do not have any presence.

    But honestly I think hotel programs can be switched around and interchanged freely. Some ppl forget about loyalty and just do priceline or hotwire for most of their stays and sign up for credit cards just for the bonus points and redeem them for free nights only.

    It really just depends on your situation.




    Below is my quick breakdown ... based on what I think.
    • Hilton - Lots of different grades of hotels, locations almost everywhere. Redemption is just a bit harder ... it costs 50k for a Conrad and some Hilton. However you can get HHonors points via a variety of credit cards (Amex/Citi/BofA HA/VS)
    • IHG - Again lots of hotels everywhere (HI/HIX); Chase is the card issuer. But there seems to be a promo running every other month for them.
    • Marriott - Honestly I dont know? I know Chase is the credit card issuer and there are locations everywhere ... but Afterwards how do you get points?
    • SPG - Lots of good quality hotels, their cheapest ones 4P is pretty darn good if you ask me. Their points are valuable because you can transfer them to Airlines; issued by Amex etc.
    • Hyatt - Nice Hotels, but not too many of them (non Hyatt Place). Earning them points is easy via UR, but I myself prefer to use UR for UA miles.
     
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  4. sobore
    Original Member

    sobore Gold Member

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    IHG seems to work well for family's. They have properties in many places which is a big plus. The free breakfast buffet at Holiday Inn Express makes a nice perk to help feed a family breakfast without additional cost. Points never expire making the program easier to manage. They publish 'Pointbreak' properties several times a year which allows nightly redemption for only 5000 points, not a broad list or properties, but I have been able to take advantage of it once.
    They also have a CC which pays you points per purchase.
     
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  5. miles and smiles
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    miles and smiles Gold Member

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    Most people here and on the travel blogs are interested in the higher end properties, not the moderately priced hotels. Priority Club (IHG) is a good one for moderately priced hotels. So is Choice Hotels. You should do some research on hotel programs. http://boardingarea.com/blogs/loyaltytraveler/ is my favorite source of hotel program info and promos.
    Also, you should seriously consider obtaining points in more than one program, because chances are that no one program will meet all your needs.
     
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  6. mapenn

    mapenn Silver Member

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    thanks for the tips everybody!
     
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  7. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

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    I find that Hilton offers me a lot. They have some great bonus promotions. Just got 25k points for a 2-night, $1k stay and then another 9k points from Amex. Granted, it wasn't a cheap place to stay. Usually, we stay in Hilton Garden Inns or Embassy Suites.

    Since June, I've earned enough points to book a 2-night stay at a Conrad, but I was really working toward it.
     
  8. Counsellor
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    Counsellor Gold Member

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    You might want to look into Marriott Rewards. A few reasons:

    1. Wide range of properties, 14 brands from Fairfield Inns and Suites (free breakfast, free wi-fi, usually free pool) to the full-service Marriotts, Renaissance, and J.W.

    2. With most properties, you get 10 points per dollar spend before taxes (it varies, some give the bonus only on room rate, some give only 5 points per dollar).

    3. If you get the Marriott Rewards Premier VISA from Chase, you'll be automatically boosted to Silver Elite, with a bonus of 20% on the points you earn for stays (so instead of 10 points per dollar, it would be 12 points per dollar).

    4. With the Marriott Rewards Premier VISA, you also get a bonus of 5 points per dollar for Marriott bills paid with the card (including tax), so paying a Fairfield bill with the VISA would get you 10 base bonus, plus 2 (20%) silver bonus, plus 5 VISA bonus points, for 17 points per dollar.

    5. Great bonus offers for getting the VISA card as well. Right now, they offer 50K points, plus one free night at a category 1 - 4 property the first year; thereafter it's one free night at a category 1 - 5 property annually. Lots of other benefits as well. Here's a link:
    https://creditcards.chase.com/a1/marriottpremier/50n1ksh/?CELL=67S1&SPID=F2RJ

    6. They also have promotions, usually three a year, that let you earn more free nights (e.g., one free night at a category 1 - 4 hotel for 2 stays) or bonus points for stays.

    Lots more -- check out the Marriott Rewards forum here on MilePoint.
     
  9. deant
    Original Member

    deant Milepoint Guide

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    Since you are working on a churn, I would definitely suggest Hilton. You can do the double browser "trick" and get 100K points after $3K (total) in spending. On top of that, you can get the Hilton AMEX and get another 50-60K points. 150K points would get you 4 nights at a top of the line Hilton or more at lower level hotels. If you need more points, you can go to Hawaiian or Virgin and they transfer to Hilton. There are threads where it is possible get over 300K HHonors points in one churn.

    The problem with SPG is that it is hard to earn their points at any reasonable rate other than paying for a stay. You typically get a 25K sign up bonus which is about 1 night at a top of the line Starwood.
     
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  10. mapenn

    mapenn Silver Member

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    This is wonderful advice. Thanks so much! The Marriot and IHG rewards look like a very good fit for us - and both have CC offers that result in 3-5 free nights at their lower-mid tier properties.

    Question...I eventually want to get a Chase Ink card; and I currently have both of Chase's Southwest cards (personal and business). Both Marriot and IHG cards are thru Chase. At what point does the number of cards become a concern for Chase?
     
  11. miles and smiles
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    miles and smiles Gold Member

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    The answer to that varies a lot from person to person. Just know that Chase is generally picky about giving out too many cards at once and overall. Chase applications do need to be spaced out over time.
     
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  12. DTWBOB

    DTWBOB Silver Member

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    What you have to ask yourself is how often will you be traveling and what hotels are likely to be near where you go.

    I prefer Hiltons and there are ways you can get gold status with as few as four stays, or even none if you get the right credit card.

    Bob H
     
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  13. servo

    servo Silver Member

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    If you have some "beach" destinations in mind, take a look at the tripadvisor reviews of the chain hotels out that way. Obviously SPG will win over many of the other chains in reviews, because they're typically more expensive in the US, with some minor exceptions. You'll start to notice a pattern of chains outperforming in the areas you'd like to travel. That's where my first step in hotel churning has always resided. You don't have to know EXACTLY where you want to go, but research 3-4 areas that might be on your radar. Then, take a look at some of the other areas in the country that you travel to, and see if the same chains look worthwhile (if they exist at all...SPG has one hotel in KY, so it doesn't do me a lot of good since I visit family and friends there most often).

    This is how I handle my hotel bookings right now:

    1 - I use Hipmunk.com to look for IHG or Hilton properties in the location I'm going to. (IHG and Hilton are my top choices because I am an IHG Platinum, and will soon be Hilton Silver-at least)
    2 - If none exist or are up to snuff (price or review-wise) in the area, then look for an SPG property (b/c the points are valuable)
    3 - If 1 or 2 hasn't found a desirable property, then I use Hotels.com Welcome Rewards for the 1 free night after 10 paid nights deal.
    4- If Hotels.com doesn't offer anything special, then I would go back to Hipmunk and consider airBNB or something else. (I've never gotten this far before. 1-3 always finds me something worthwhile)
     
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  14. servo

    servo Silver Member

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    I agree with deant's recommendation. From everything I've read, it does vary from person-to-person, and anywhere from 4-8 cards. I don't think I've seen anyone claim to own more than 8 active Chase cards, but that seems on the very high end of the limit.

    The reason I agree with deant, is because the most important part about card churning, like your 401k portfolio, is diversification. You can get 1 Hilton AmEx right now for 65k points, and the 2 browser Hawaiian airline trick with BofA and Bank of Hawaii for 70k miles which xfers to 140k Hilton points. That's 205k points in 3 cards, and 3 different lenders! Then, you've saved some Chase apps for the Ink card or CSP, as I would value those much more highly than a Mariott or Hyatt card.

    Personally, I would bypass the Citi Hilton cards at the moment in favor of the 2 browser Citi AA trick, because airline miles are worth more to me than hotel points, but that's up to you.
     
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  15. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    Key word is active cards.

    By next year you should be able to cancel one/both of your SW cards and get Ink & another personal card no problem.

    ... and when I say cancel; I don't literally mean just cancel. Just apply and then if you get declined call them up and offer to either cancel one line if you'll get the new one you applied for; or move some lines of credit around so no cards are canceled.
     
  16. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    Good advice; but you might wanna look into pointshound to replace #3 ... UA miles > Hotels.com B10G1 for me any day.
     
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  17. servo

    servo Silver Member

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    I'm not really the early adopter type. Once I see some history with pointshound and folks getting the miles they're expecting, then I would absolutely switch up. However, PH is still a little bit too new to earn my trust and money yet.
     
  18. merice107

    merice107 Silver Member

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    I was going to post a very similar question and saw this post. Perfect timing! I will just go ahead and piggy back off of this if that is ok...

    I have been focusing most if not all of my attention on my new hobby of points collecting with airlines thus far (I got into this around May). My wife and I are starting to plan our trip to Thailand in June/July of 2014. I have the the airlines miles all good to go so that we will go to Tokyo, Bangkok, Beach Thailand (destination to be determined, I have a separate post about that in the Thailand forum), and Hong Kong. I really don't know where to start with the hotel point thing. I would like to obviously stay at some nice hotels. The curve ball is that we are planing to go to the Maldives the following summer (2015). I was going to get the Chase Hyatt Visa to use in the Maldives because I've read that is one of the best redemptions you could use that on. I would then also work on Ultimate rewards points to transfer to Hyatt as well to add some more free nights there.

    So my dilemma is this: I don't want to use so many points on hotels for this trip to the point that I don't have enough for my Maldives trip. Am I safe to assume hotels are going to be a lot more expensive in the Maldives? I think I can get a decent deal or two for the Bangkok and Thailand beach hotels, but Hong Kong and Tokyo aren't as cheap either. So does anyone have any suggestions for what I could focus on for Hong Kong and Tokyo (and maybe Thailand) without depleting myself of opportunities to use in the Maldives?

    I was thinking about getting the Priority Club Visa (one for me and one for my wife) and using that for 40,000 points a night at IC Tokyo Bay for 4 nights (each card getting 80,000)? And then maybe getting the Chase Marriott Rewards Visa (not the premier) for my wife and I each and use her two free nights and my two free nights at the Courtyard Hong Kong (category 4) with 60,000 points left to use in Thailand.

    This would leave me lots of Hilton options and the Hyatt card to help me prepare for the Maldives (along with UR points to transfer to Hyatt).

    Sorry for the lengthy post. And sorry if I should have just started a new thread and not changed the subject on this one. Thanks in advance for any advice.
     
  19. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    SPG for Thailand is a good alternative. Lots of nice properties there. With C&P your 25k+ will last you quite a bit.

    I'm doing Thailand in Jan ... 7 nights in BKK; 3 nights @ KBV ~20,000 + Cash
     
  20. merice107

    merice107 Silver Member

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    I was hoping to use those for US air miles. I'm hoping to get RT to Tokyo on a US Air award. My perfect world scenario would be Lufthansa 747-8 ORD to FRA. a380 FRA-Tokyo. And then a 787 on ANA return back to the states. the perfect aircraft trifecta :cool:!

    But if I can manage to get some more US Air miles before then, I have been keeping those SPG points in my mind as a back up. Please tell me what you think of the properties after you go.
     
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  21. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    Have you looked into AA miles for you trip? or Delta ? That's just my opinion... I prefer to keep SPG points for Starwood.

    If you could start @ SFO ... you could do SFO - HND - HKG - SFO for 115k AA miles in J & stop as long as you want in HND/HKG
     
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  22. Ltyka1

    Ltyka1 Member

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    I have a AmEx Hilton Surpass. I know Hilton gets a bad rap around here. But I get 3 points for every dollar, 6 points for groceries and gas, and 9 points at Hiltons. Yes, it costs 25K - 50K points to get a room, but the points are adding up at least 3 times faster than any other card. There is a Hampton Inn or Embassy Suites in almost every city and town. Hyatt is great, but they're not in a lot of places we go. The card racks up points so fast, I'm always amazed. We've gotten so many free hotel rooms, I can't even count. We just got back from NYC (timing!) and stayed in the middle of Times Square at a Doubletree Suites with a 2 room suite for 3 nights on points. 150K points ( @ 3-6 points per dollar) = $1500 worth of hotel room!
     
  23. miles and smiles
    Original Member

    miles and smiles Gold Member

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    Welcome to Milepoint!
    Glad you enjoyed your stay in NYC.
     
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  24. merice107

    merice107 Silver Member

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    I'm planning on using those to fly Qatar to the Maldives for the next trip. I know people say to not hold on to miles that long, but I don't want to get in a situation where I come up 20,000 miles short in each alliance. But I agree that it seems best to keep starwood points for hotel stays (even though that 5,000 transfer bonus every 20,000 is pretty nice)!
     
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  25. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    Honestly I don't think SPG are that hard of to come by.

    In about 1 Year I've earned about 86k ... and spent about ~45k.

    25 via sign up
    15 via referral
    8 via general spending
    The rest were by stays and promos. Like for example; this better by the night one ... where a week long stay cost $1000. I got about 12k in SPG from it. 2k from spend, 4k via promo, 1k via elite bonus, 2k via amex spend, 3k via Make a green choice.
     

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