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?”
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!
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
Leana is the 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.