Why booking with points can save you more than just the room rate

Over the last couple of days I have been writing about using SPG and Hilton points, partly because I am thinking about whether or not to use them for my next holiday and branch out from IHG for a change.

In both those articles, I looked at the basic room rate and compared them with the amount of points I needed to get a picture of whether they represented good value for me or not. But this doesn’t tell the whole story.

In some parts of the world, the price advertised is exclusive of taxes and other fees. In the UK, the price shown is the price you pay, but in the US there are often taxes and fees added on which can make a big difference.

Take the Waldorf Astoria New York as an example:

MM-waldorf_2884645k

Today is my birthday and if I was in New York, I would want to treat myself. A top room at the hotel would set me back 187,319 Hilton points or, at the advertised rate, $669. However, you need to take a closer look at the fine print.

WA NYC Points

My points stay shows the total and the taxes, but 14.75% of $0 is still nothing. You might be charged the $3.50, but I can live with that.

The cash night is very different; the total comes to $771.18 – over $100 more than the advertised rate. Stay for 5 nights, and you would be looking at an additional $540 on top of the room rate.

WA NYC Cash

In this example, each Hilton point was worth 0.357 cents before the tax; but in reality they are worth 0.412 cent each when you factor in the taxes. It is worth noting that if you redeemed somewhere with a ‘resort fee’ like most hotels in Las Vegas, you would still be charged this regardless of how you pay for the room.

The other benefit points can bring is flexibility. Often the cheapest rates are pre-paid and non-refundable or changeable. Take a booking at the InterContinental London Park Lane next month:

IC Park Lane

The cheapest room is £225 and requires pre-payment; the cheapest flexible room is £299 and give the same terms as a points booking using 60,000 points. If I were booking for cash, I would probably be taking the cheaper room and not the added flexibility as my plans don’t normally change, but I am still getting 0.5p value instead of 0.375p per point.

When redeeming for points, it is certainly worth taking into account the added flexibility they can give, as well as the additional savings if there are taxes to be paid. These can make a big difference in the cash price / points calculation.

Where have you redeemed your hotel points?

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One thought on “Why booking with points can save you more than just the room rate

  1. […] But, my Mum is a creature of habit and, as can been seen from her MummyAirmiles posts, is not adverse to luxury. In this case, she could think about buying Ambassador Status with IHG which will set her back $200. With that, she would get 5,000 points, taking her total up to 165k. She would also get a 2for1 Weekend certificate. Using this at the InterContinental Times Square would cost her $549 for a King Bed Deluxe room for 2 nights. She could then do three nights as points + cash at 55,000 and $40 per night. This gives the added benefit of booking with points for added flexibility and no taxes. […]

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