In the world of miles and points, things aren’t always what they appear. This could go in so many directions, but for today, we’ll focus on hotel redemptions. Let me show you an example. I mentioned a while back that both my husband and I got approved for US Bank Club Carlson Signature Visa.
I don’t think I’ve been this excited about a card in quite some time. Mostly, because this is a long-term relationship since I don’t plan to cancel it. So, like a kid in a candy store, I started playing with various hotel redemptions.
I plan to take my kids to Sea World next year, so I looked at some possible Club Carlson options. Since our stay will be 2 nights, we’ll get a second night free due to having a co-branded credit card, the perk that makes it a keeper.
I’ve mentioned earlier that you’ll get the best bang for your buck/point when redeeming during peak times and holidays. I put in a stay from December 30th-January 1st of the following year. Let me show you some options I’ve found:
Clearly, Park Inn Orlando is the winner for cheapskates, right? Not so fast! Let me show you why this may not be the best option for a family of 4. In fact, a better choice might be Country Inn and Suites Orlando Universal, the hotel listed just above Park Inn. How so?
Well, first of all, Park Inn has a resort fee of $15 per day, the other hotel doesn’t. That’s $30 extra for 2 days, and according to the website, they do charge it on award redemptions. Also, Country Inn includes a free breakfast, Park Inn does not. Even if you eat at McDonald’s, you’ll easily spend $20 for 4 people for a decent breakfast that includes hot items. That’s another $40 for 2 days we’ll have to add to the totals.
Also, Country Inn offers a free shuttle to Sea World, Park Inn does not. But let’s ignore this benefit and assume that you are going to Disney instead. Both properties offer a free shuttle there. So, taking into consideration the resort fees and breakfast benefit, you would spend $70 extra if staying at Park Inn. The difference in award rate is 13,000 points, since we get every second night free.
For some, that amount is worth $70 (0.54 cents a piece), but not to me. Why not? Because Club Carlson sells these points for 0.35 cents on occasion (half price). As a rule of thumb, I never value miles and points at more than the loyalty program will sell them to me.
Also, don’t forget that you earn 5 points per dollar on everything when using a Club Carlson credit card. Taking into account the fact that we forego earning 2% cash back, we would effectively be buying points for 0.4 cents each.
There is an interesting twist, though: If you have 5 in the family, Park Inn is a better choice. That’s because Country Inn and Suites Universal does not give a room option for that many people, but Park Inn does.
Why it may not matter
If you have a lot of points, just go with the property you like and don’t worry about CPP value. I know I tend to obsess about these things in my blog. It doesn’t mean you need to. If you value Trip Advisor reviews, your option should clearly be Radisson Hotel Orlando Lake Buena Vista. It goes for 38,000 points, and you would get your second night free. It also fits 5, though, doesn’t include breakfast.
Always compare apples to apples, oranges to oranges, mangoes to mangoes, etc. when researching your hotel options. Also, consider applying for US Bank Club Carlson Signature Visa. Even though their footprint isn’t that great in small towns in America, most popular locations, including Orlando, usually have several options.
If both spouses apply for it, you can potentially get 4 nights near Disney for only 30,000 points (when booked back-to-back). Heck, even at 56,000 points, it’s a bargain. I don’t make any referral on this card, so it has to be good for me to keep pushing it, right?
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Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.