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Reader Dilemma: To Splurge on Hyatt Near Legoland California or Burn IHG Points Instead?

Now and again I like to share emails from readers (with their permission, of course). The idea is that if one person is asking a specific question, ten others are probably wondering the same thing. Here is the question from Amanda (edited):

“I’m planning to take my son to Legoland in California. Only two of us will be going. I was thinking about booking  Holiday Inn in Carlsbad for three nights (20,000/night with IHG program). This hotel has free shuttle service to Legoland. The paid rate is $197/night, so it seems to be a decent redemption value. There is also a Hyatt Place property that runs at 8,000 points per night. It’s very close to Legoland.  I thought it might make sense to use IHG points and save UR points for air travel – which for me is a necessity. Legoland is more of a “luxury.”

I have 67,000 IHG points and over 300,000 UR points.  Note, those UR points will go fast after a trip or two home, since I have family on another continent. But the way I was looking at it – if I use all my IHG points now and later I need a hotel and end up transferring points to IHG – at 1:1 and spending say 20,000 points for a night, then I would have been better off cashing them out now on Hyatt for 8.000 points a night.  And I admit, I’m tempted by the breakfast and  the comfortable beds at Hyatt that I keep hearing about in blogs.

Also, I wanted to get IHG card for my partner and then we’d have enough points for a full  vacation somewhere. Don’t know much about Hyatt,  but meanwhile I was wondering if you had any pointers for me?”

My advice

Before I get to my response, let me mention something to readers. Never ever transfer your UR points to IHG unless you are absolutely desperate or if it’s only 1,000-2,000 points. You can usually buy them by making and canceling Cash+Points reservation on IHG.com, and the price will work out to be around 0.7 cents per point, sometimes less.

Update: A comment from reader Mana: “Actually transferring UR to IHG will count towards elite qualifying credit, so for people who want higher status, transferring UR could make sense. Though I would add it is definitely not worth transferring 75k points just to get Spire, but if you’re only needing 10k, 15k, etc to hit 75k for Spire it could definitely be worth it.”

Now, on to the actual email (edited):

This is a tough choice and there is no right or wrong answer.  Most people value IHG points at 0.5 cents each and UR points can be redeemed for cash at penny each. Of course, they are worth more towards travel. 

If breakfast is important to you, stick with Hyatt. However, if you just need a place to sleep and reviews are good, maybe save UR points.  UR points are far more valuable than IHG currency.

That being said, since you have 300K UR points, why don’t you treat yourself to Hyatt just this once? The price isn’t terrible on points, and who knows when this opportunity will present itself? IHG properties are everywhere, so you should be able to use them at some point. With Hyatt it’s tougher because they don’t have that many hotels around the world.

Like you said, if your partner gets IHG card at some point, you can combine your stash for a nice getaway. Hyatt Place  has an amazing complimentary breakfast. But then again, if you only need a place to sleep, burn IHG stash and save UR points. There is no wrong choice here.”

What ended up happening

The big twist, as revealed in a follow-up email from this reader:

“So, I kept confusing Hyatt HOUSE with Hyatt PLACE.  All I could hear was HYATT.    

Hyatt HOUSE is 12,000 UR points per night – available

Hyatt PLACE is 8,000 UR points per night – no availability for my dates

Holiday Inn – 20,000 IHG points per night – available

Once I realized that Hyatt PLACE was not an option, since there was no availability, I hummed and hawed over the difference between IHG and Hyatt HOUSE.  Then I looked closer at the map and realized, Hyatt PLACE is 2.5 blocks from the ocean, and right in the middle of Legland and the Carlsbad Village, while Holiday Inn is WAY inland, relatively speaking. So, I booked Hyatt House.

And the good news is that since my Hyatt room will sleep 6, I’ve invited my best friend and her family to join me.  I’ve known her husband since I was about 10, so I’m pretty comfortable sharing a room with him.  They are seriously thinking about it, and haven’t committed, but if they come, it will make the value better: 6 people with free breakfast.  Yay!”  

OK, so the last part is a little crazy and I tried to discourage my reader from filling the room with six people (three of them adults). But she thinks it will work out fine, and who am I to tell people how to redeem their points/live their lives? But yes, that’s a huge advantage of Hyatt House and Hyatt Place properties. Most will fit and feed six people. Winning!

Speaking of lack of availability, make sure to always set an alert for your date on HotelHustle. If an award room opens up, you’ll get an email letting you know (for free). Can’t beat that!

Bottom line

The question of which points (if any) you should burn  for your trip is impossible to answer. There are many factors to consider, like how much cash you have at the moment, as well as your future travel plans. I tend to think that it’s OK to splurge now and again. Personally, if I had 300K UR points, I would save my IHG stash and book the Hyatt for 8,000 Hyatt points per night. Complimentary  breakfast would be a swaying factor, for sure.

However, I would not pay 12,000 UR points, unless I absolutely had to be in that location. That’s a bit too rich for my middle-class blood. Keep in mind, in Holiday Inn properties, kids 12 and under eat for free. In the case of Amanda, she would only have to pay for her own breakfast, so the amount would be fairly low. However, the more people you have, the bigger price tag you are looking at.

Either way,  I don’t think there is anything wrong with splurging on Hyatt if that’s what you want. Points are meant to be enjoyed. And that breakfast at Hyatt Place is seriously incredible. We recently stayed at Holiday Inn Express, and at breakfast time I just kept thinking about those yummy skillet sandwiches at Hyatt Place Orlando:

Of course, there was no Hyatt in that town, so it’s not like we had any choice. But if we did, and there was a property that runs at 5,000-8,000 Hyatt points per night, I would be seriously tempted to stay there instead. It’s not always about logic, my friends.

Readers, what would be your advice to Amanda?

P.S. Speaking of hotel points, last call (maybe) for Citi-issued Hilon cards. Find direct non-affiliate links here

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Author: Leana

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.

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14 thoughts on “Reader Dilemma: To Splurge on Hyatt Near Legoland California or Burn IHG Points Instead?

  1. Would love to hear people’s advice!

    I’m still confused about it all.

    So many factors to consider.

    To complicate matters, IHG offers free shuttle service to Legoland and Carlsbad Village, but they expect you to reserve 24 hours in advance. Like you are expected to know what time you’ll feel like going and what time you’ll feel like coming home from Legoland in advance. Sounded too confusing.

    Hyatt Place offers free shuttle service, with no 24 hour reservation requirement. So that was one of the points that pushed me over the edge, into Hyattville.

    Then I realized Hyatt Place was booked and Hyatt House more expensive, but with improved location right by ocean and village, I just went for it. Only 3 nights so 12,000 points extra.

    By this time I was getting analysis paralysis, so I just went for it. And then, after it was all over, I realized that amongst all the confusion I forgot to confirm that Hyatt House had shuttle service. I called and they don’t. Ug.

    In hindsight since I couldn’t get Hyatt Place (8,000 points per night with “normal” shuttle service), I wish I would have gone IHG, honestly, but I had already transferred my UR points to Hyatt before I realized my mistake and since I don’t stay in hotels a lot, I didn’t want those points lingering, so I just stuck with Hyatt House. (Also I was too lazy to try and get UR points transferred back).

    My friend ended up not coming! So the value isn’t there afterall. Boo. (6 in one room with this particular family would have been fine, but probably not with any family!)

    It was a case of “analysis paralysis”. I sat there analyzing so much that I was making myself sick and had to just decide something and move on! Probably not the best choices, but we’ll have fun and the beds will be comfy! (So I’ve heard)

    • @Amanda Sorry to hear your friend’s plans fell through. You know, I think you should just stick with the Hyatt you reserved and not worry about it, unless the other Hyatt becomes available. It sounds to me like it has a better location than IHG property, and that’s worth something. Plus, you can’t transfer Hyatt points back to UR program and who knows when you’ll be able to utilize them.
      So I say: enjoy your first Hyatt experience! Soon you’ll be Hyatt virgin no more. 🙂

      • I agree, somewhat reluctantly, but yes I agree.

        I think I have actually stayed at a Hyatt – in a previous life, when my company paid for it! So I didn’t pay enough attention to it. You don’t care when it’s free. Nothing to complain about then!

        This will be my first time staying for “free” though. 😉

  2. It is possible that your nights could open up at the Hyatt Place closer to the date as sometimes people cancel. Sometimes I cancel hotels up to 6pm on the day of arrival if the terms allow and I find a better hotel opens up.
    Enjoy your trip! I’m sure either hotel will be fun. 😀
    Has anyone else been to a Hyatt Place recently that had new skillet bowl breakfasts? The sign at the one I stayed at recently said the sandwiches were now replaced with skillet bowls. I liked them, but my kids still prefer waffles or pancakes with a side of breakfast meat at hotels. 😄

  3. Hyatt house has kitchenettes so you could save money by fixing meals in your room. The location sounds wonderful! I hope you will wind up enjoying AND feeling like you got good value.

  4. Can anyone help me figure this out? I have a booking at my local Hyatt HOUSE for $98.00 (with taxes $110) for Valentine’s weekend 2018. I could pay the cash rate or transfer 5,000 UR to Hyatt to stay for free. Which is the best value?

    • @Natasha To me, using points is a much better value, hands down. Unless you value your UR points at more than 2 cents apiece, saving cash probably makes more sense. The only scenario I can think of where it would be preferable to go with the paid rate is if you wanted to qualify for top Hyatt status. If that’s not the case, use the points.

  5. @Amanda – I would definitely stay at a Hyatt House or Hyatt Place especially at those point values. I have booked Hyatts for 20,000 and 25,000 points, but they were in extremely expensive markets so a free night is worth it in my opinion. Set up an alert on Hotel Hustle, but also keep checking the Hyatt website (I set up an email alert on Hotel Hustle and was never alerted when the hotel I wanted opened up) — the Hyatt Place may just open up due to cancellations. I wish I had 300,000 UR points — so jealous (enjoy)!

    @Natasha – keep the cash and use the points. It’s very rare to find a Hyatt property for 5,000 points so grab it and enjoy a free night.

  6. Actually transferring UR to IHG will count towards elite qualifying credit, so for people who want higher status, transferring UR could make sense. Though I would add it is definitely not worth transferring 75k points just to get Spire, but if you’re only needing 10k, 15k, etc to hit 75k for Spire it could definitely be worth it.

    • @Mana That’s a good point. I’ve seen it mentioned in a few blog discussions. I don’t chase status, especially when it costs me money. However, under the right circumstances, it would definitely be worth it. I’ll update the post.

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