This past weekend (3/19, 3/20), Nick and I presented “The 10 Best Awards Bookable Today” at the Travel & Adventure Show in New York City. This was a fun and light overview of what is possible. It was neither a tutorial nor a deep analytical presentation. For those interested, you’ll find our presentations slides along with brief commentary below. Enjoy!
I opened with a brief introduction to Frequent Miler, and then jumped into the top 5 hotel awards bookable today. Nick followed with his presentation of the top 5 flight awards bookable today…
Table of Contents
What is Frequent Miler?
Our tag line is “Earn Miles without Flying.” We regularly post opportunities for earning points and miles from home so that you can travel the world for free and in luxury. We do not charge for any of our subscriptions.
As with many other blogs and online publications, our primary revenue is through credit card affiliate links. If you click through a credit card affiliate link to apply for a card, we’ll earn a commission. However, we often do not show our affiliate links. When we are aware of a public offer that is better than our affiliate offer (and that happens often!), we show the better public offer instead.
Above is an example that was true at the time of our presentation, but offers change frequently and so the details may not be accurate by the time you read this. At the time of our presentation, many websites were showing the following offer for the Amex Platinum card: 100K points after $6k spend in 6 months. Meanwhile, our site showed an offer for 150,000 points after $6K spend for the same exact card. Plus, the offer we linked to showed a great additional kicker: earn 10X points at restaurants on up to $25,000 spend in the first six months. The reason many sites show the far inferior 100K offer is because that’s the one that offers an affiliate commission.
The 5 Best Hotel Awards Bookable Today
I then kicked off the meat of the presentation with a selection of 5 great types of hotel awards…
Luxury Hyatt Hotels & Resorts
Hyatt offers a number of luxury brands like Alila, Miraval, Park Hyatt, and Thompson. Within those brands, a number of properties routinely cost more than $1,000 per night for a standard room. Alternatively, Hyatt’s award chart tops out at 45,000 points per night* for standard rooms. I would never pay over $1,000 per night for a hotel room, but I’d happily pay up to 45,000 points per night for the same luxury. Miles and points make it possible to enjoy experiences like these that you might never otherwise be willing to pay for in cash.
* Miraval properties actually cost more because they have their own award chart. At Miraval resorts, you could pay up to 50,000 points per night for a standard room when they’re peak priced. And that’s for only 1 person. If you have two in the room, you’ll pay up to 72,000 points per night. I didn’t include this kind of detail in the presentation because our time was very limited.
For each type of hotel award, I showed one example. In this case, of course, I picked one of my favorite resorts in the world: Alila Ventana Big Sur. Since this hotel is going up to category 8 on Tuesday, I went ahead and listed category 8 award pricing.
Hyatt Premium Suites
Hyatt offers a number of ways to book standard and premium suites (See: How best to book Hyatt luxury suites). For this presentation I simplified things to two primary options, specifically for booking premium suites: book entirely with points, or pay cash and use points to upgrade.
In September, as part of our big trip to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and the Maldives, Nick and I stayed in a premium suite at the Hyatt Regency Dubai. Nick covered the details here: Prince Suite at the Grand Hyatt Dubai: amazing use of Hyatt points.
I asked the audience who had a Chase Sapphire or Chase Freedom card and most hands went up. I pointed out that they then already had the key tools for getting Hyatt points since Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer 1 to 1 to Hyatt (as long as you have or get a premium card such as the Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred). I further pointed out that those who pay rent could do well to sign up for Bilt Rewards (which offers points for paying rent) since Bilt points also transfer 1 to 1 to Hyatt. And finally, I pointed out that there are two Hyatt credit cards that have welcome offers: the consumer World of Hyatt Credit Card, and the World of Hyatt Business Credit Card.
Many people can sign up for business cards even if they didn’t previously realize that they have a business.
IHG’s Forgotten Luxury Resorts
IHG, which is known for the Holiday Inn, also owns some luxury brands like Six Senses, Regent, InterContinental, and Kimpton. And, even though IHG’s award pricing is mostly dynamic, there are some luxury properties where dynamic pricing was forgotten. In these cases, it is still sometimes possible to get far outsized value for your IHG points. Two specific properties that I’m aware of and interested in are Six Senses Laamu, Maldives, and the Kimpton Seafire Resort, Grand Cayman (see my review of the latter, here).
I had reservations at the Six Senses Laamu, Maldives (which I wrote about here), but I sadly had to cancel when my plans changed.
The IHG Premier credit card is available as I write this with a 125K welcome offer (+ a free night certificate). And the business card is expected to debut soon. That will likely have a similarly big welcome offer. A third option is to buy points for as little as a half cent each when IHG has point sales. As long as the Six Senses Laamu, Maldives can be booked for 100K points per night, a half cent point sale makes it possible to buy the points needed for a free night for only $500. That’s a bargain at a resort where the cash rate is usually well over $1,000 per night.
New & Underpriced Marriott Hotels & Resorts
In the past, it has often been the case that Marriott has underpriced awards at some of their new hotels. Not all new hotels, though: just some. The Le Meridien Maldives was one of the most spectacular examples of this, but I’ve seen it happen elsewhere as well. For example, in Florida Marriott seems to price awards very high, but at a couple of new hotels that caught my eye, they priced them much lower than one would expect based on their quality and location. Both the Ben in West Palm Beach, and the Luminary Hotel in Ft. Myers fit this pattern and are now expected to go up in price at the end of this month.
Starting March 29th, Marriott plans to ditch their award chart in favor of dynamic pricing, but they have said that most hotels will keep the same maximum (peak) pricing through the end of 2022. They also listed a number of hotels that will go up in price and all three of the new hotels I listed above are on that list.
Once Marriott’s award pricing goes completely dynamic, its unclear whether some new hotels will still be cheaper when booked with points than expected.
The above photo was taken with my own iPhone. The resort, really is that pretty.
Both Amex and Chase offer Marriott credit cards, often with big welcome offers. I cautioned, though, that getting multiple Marriott cards is complicated. See: Are you eligible for a new Marriott card? The simplest option for those who want two Marriott cards is probably to go for both Amex cards: Bonvoy Brilliant and Bonvoy Business.
Choice Boutique & Luxury
Choice points can be used for cheapo properties like EconoLodge or for some really nice places. Some examples:
Ascend Hotel Collection. See: Choice’s Ascend Collection Gems
Some Clarion hotels are very nice
Some Nordic Choice hotels offer amazing value. See: Nordic Choice Sweet-Spots: Great Value w/ Choice Points.
Choice also has a partnership with Preferred Hotels. See: Preferred Hotels & Resorts via Choice: Value unlocked. Frustration assured.
See my review, here: The Peacock Inn – A charming inn and great point value in Princeton, NJ.
The Citi Premier card is the key to getting a huge number of Choice points thanks to the fact that they double your points when transferred to Choice. 60,000 ThankYou points transfer into 120,000 Choice points!
The 5 Best Flight Awards Bookable Today
Below are Nick’s slides showing his picks for the 5 best flight awards bookable today. I think that most of Nick’s slides are pretty self explanatory, so I didn’t add much commentary to this section of the post…
Airline partner awards unlock huge value
Nick made it clear in his presentation that booking United flights with Turkish miles is a very, very difficult process. His point above was to demonstrate how big the opportunities can be when using partner miles.
Singapore Suites to Europe
Starting March 27th, Singapore Airlines will feature their new first class on flights between New York and Frankfurt! Saver awards can often be very tough to find, but there have been times recently when it has been widely available.