Get More for Your Points by Using Them at Inexpensive Hotels

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There are only a limited number of hotel points that you can easily acquire.

You’ll get more value from your hotel points, by booking multiple free nights at less expensive hotels, than you would by booking fewer nights at higher-end hotels.

For example with Hilton, 95,000 points will get you a single night at one of their most expensive hotels, and 70-80,000 points will get you a night at most of their properties in New York City; but the same number of points can get you 14-19 nights at their least expensive hotels. With Marriott, 85,000 points will get you a single night at one of their most expensive hotels (100,000 points during peak season); or 11.33 nights at their least expensive hotel (17 during off peak times); 50,000 Marriott points might get you a single night at most of their New York City hotels, but the same number of points could get you 2-6 nights somewhere else.

Of course, with a limited amount of vacation time, you may primarily choose to spend your nights at nicer hotels or more expensive destinations. But, if you have an opportunity to book an award at a low category hotel, you’ll almost always get great value per point.

“Award Room Rates” at low category hotels

We like to calculate an “award room rate” that represents the cost of using your points to book a hotel room (versus using them for a different hotel or trip). The following table shows the award room rates for Category 1 and Category 2 hotels in the largest hotel programs. Even in less expensive locations, these are usually great rates (especially because they include taxes).

Program CPP Award "room rate" for a
Cat 1 Room Cat 2 Room
Hilton .45 $22.5 $45
Hyatt 1.7 $85 $127.5
IHG .6 $60 $90
Marriott .7 $40 - $70 $70 - $110

These are ridiculously low prices for a Category 1 Hilton and Marriott 1 off-peak nights.

Staying on the outskirts of cities, or by the airport

One of the ways to get more value from your points is to stay at a hotel on the outskirts of town, or out by the airport, rather than a hotel in downtown. If you are sightseeing by car anyway, it may not make a big difference to your trip, and you’ll usually save even more money by avoiding expensive overnight parking.


Traveling in less expensive countries

The other opportunity for low cost redemption is when you are traveling in less expensive countries. For example, the Hilton Garden Inn Konya in Turkey is only 5,000 Hilton points, the Hilton Garden Inn Hanoi is only 10,000 Hilton points, the Hyatt Regency Kuantan Resort in Malaysia is only 5,000 Hyatt points, and the Protea Fire & Ice! Pretoria in South Africa and AC Hotel Palacia de Santa Ana are only 5,000 Marriott points on off peak nights.


Finding redemption opportunities at low category hotels

  • Use one of the award hotel search tools, when you are looking for a specific trip. If you know your destination, you can use one of several tools that are designed to help you find hotels that participate in the various reward programs. Then you can filter or sort the list to show just the lower-priced options. Unfortunately, each of these tools has significant flaws. Finding the Award Hotels at Your Destination.
  • AwardMapperDallas.jpg
  • Browse lists of all the low category hotels. If you are motivated, you can scan through each program’s low-end category list to see what is available in destinations near your house, or where you may be headed in the future.
  • ChoiceLogo.png

    No Published List


    Category 1, Category 2. Map.


    No Published List Map.


    1. Map.


    No published list. Map.


    Marriott Hotel Directory, you can filter by category. Map.

    At Le Club Accor, your points are redeemed for a fixed value per point—there are no hotel categories at all.

  • Travel is Free’s Unbelievably Cheap Hotel List. has put together a good compilation of attractive low-category hotels around the world. It is not a great place to find super-cheap award nights in the United States, and it is really out of date, but it highlights some of the more interesting options in other countries.
  • He has recently published a revised list of Good Category 1 and Category 2 Hilton hotels.

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