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Value of hotel points is extremely subjective. It depends on many factors, like travel patterns, family size, as well as $ amount you have in your bank account.
For the most part, acquiring hotel points via sign-up bonuses is a low-risk proposition. Even if a program devalues, you will be able to leverage them eventually as long as you are patient. That said, last year has shown that collecting hotel certificates comes with a significant risk.
I’m personally sitting on a bunch of them at the moment, though I’m fairly certain that we will be able to utilize them by the end of summer. But that’s the tradeoff of locking in hotel rates at an artificially low price. Plus, in all likelihood, this last year has been an outlier. At least I hope so!
With that, let me share what hotel programs I personally value the most at this particular time. By next year, the list may be totally different because the one constant in the miles and points hobby is change.
The winner: Hilton Honors
Surprised? Me too. Hilton program gets trashed in this hobby on a regular basis. It’s true that the nicest hotels can costs a fortune via points, but I don’t usually stay in those.
I’m mostly interested in mid-scale resort properties in Florida, and that’s where Hilton really delivers. The last few hotels we stayed at really impressed me. More than once I found myself thinking that I wouldn’t actually mind paying cash if the price was right. The rooms were nice, breakfast benefit was decent, and we got an upgrade each and every time due to Diamond status ( easily obtainable via Amex Aspire credit card).
Obviously YMMV, but I’ve become a Hilton convert over the last few years. I like the fact that Hilton has a huge footprint, and that several beachfront properties in Florida offer suites for the same price as a regular room.
So, it’s a good option for adults-only getaways as well as family vacations. And if all else fails, you can find a Hilton hotel near any airport. As with all hotel currencies, speculatively collecting Hilton points does come with some risk. However, you can be certain that you will get close to 0.5 cent per point in the near future. And sometimes much better.
Resorts in Florida worth considering: Baker’s Cay Resort Key Largo (a mini suite for 60k points per night), DoubleTree Resort in North Redington Beach (see review), Embassy Suites St. Augustine Oceanfront Resort and many others.
Our view from DoubleTree resort North Redington Beach
How I plan to accumulate Hilton points/certifcates: At this point my only option is applying for or upgrading to Amex Hilton Aspire. I might even consider buying Hilton points in the future, but only if I had no other currency to burn. Aspire card has a huge $450 annual fee, but you get a ton in return, like one “free” weekend night, $250 resort credit and Diamond status. And I’m not even taking other goodies (airline credits, lounge access etc) into account.
Second place: Wyndham Rewards
The only reason this program is so high on the list is due to newly added option to redeem points on Vacasa properties. If Wyndham guts it (and they probably will), it will go to the bottom, right next to spoiler alert Radisson Rewards.
But right now I’m pretty excited about the ability to redeem points on condos in lesser known Florida beach towns where other hotel points are of no use. I’m primarily talking about Siesta Key, Englewood and Anna Maria island.
Other than Vacasa, at this point there isn’t a ton of value left in Wyndham. Sure, there are occasional gems here and there. But you either can’t find award availability during high season or the location isn’t quite right. This is a very “niche” program, but at the moment it works for me.
How I plan to accumulate Wyndham points: via credit card renewal that gives me 15k points in exchange for $69 annual fee (no longer available to new applicants).
Third place: Hyatt
I’m actually a big fan of Hyatt, but there is one major drawback. It has a very limited footprint. For that reason it will never be at the top of my list. I wasn’t even a little bit tempted to acquire top-tier status via recent promo that you could get after staying in Hyatts only 10-15 nights. Partly it was because I had no desire to risk Covid exposure.
But I’ll be honest, I would pass on it even in normal times. I enjoyed top Hyatt status when I was able to acquire it at no cost in 2016 via fortunate series of events. But I’m not about to spend money for possible future suite upgrades and (not so) free breakfast. Why not just pay extra points/cash as needed?
Still, Hyatt has some nice properties and my kids absolutely love one in particular: Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa (see Nancy’s excellent review)
Hyatt also has decent hotels near most major airports. I really appreciate Hyatt Place brand since rooms have two queen beds and a sofa sleeper. That helps with stopping my kids from killing each other at night.
How I plan to accumulate Hyatt points/certificates: via transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards and renewal of Hyatt credit cards.
Fourth place: IHG
Oh, IHG! We’ve made so many priceless memories together. You will always have a special place in my heart.
But there is no denying that the program has lost its luster. This isn’t a huge surprise since they were giving out points like candy just a few years ago. Still, there is value to be had as long as you are willing to be flexible and don’t demand luxury.
And of course, there are many airport hotels that are fairly reasonable via points. Not on every date and not in every location, but still. I no longer go out of my way to collect IHG points, but definitely plan to hang on to my old IHG credit card that has an annual $49 fee. I’ve just used two certificates on a local beachfront Holiday Inn during off season. Can’t beat that!
Last place: Radisson Rewards
I don’t think too many people are surprised to see it in last place. Where to begin… First, they announced splitting the program in two parts (Americas and the rest of the world) and had the nerve to call it an enhancement.
Now comes an announcement of another “enhancement”, aka chart devaluation (see post on LoyaltyLobby). Oh sure, some folks will benefit from the changes, no doubt. As I’ve mentioned at the beginning of the post, the value of hotel programs is very much in the eye of the beholder.
For me personally, this is a nail in the Radisson coffin. All the properties I’m interested in are going up in price. I’ve already cancelled our co-branded credit cards awhile back, but still have 120k points left.
One hotel we’ve stayed at a few times is Radisson Suite Hotel Oceanfront in Melbourne (an hour from Orlando airport). It’s not perfect, but still a solid choice for families. Last time we stayed in a remodeled suite with tile floors and regular mattress rather than a horrible Sleep Number. So, I was thinking about using most of my remaining points on a two-night getaway in the middle of 2022.
Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be able to lock in the current rate of 44k points per night before the award chart changes. As of middle of June it will cost 60k points, and you can only book nine months in advance. Since I have a ton of certs to burn, this is one that will probably get away.
That said, there is a decent chance that in the next few years we will have to overnight near Frankfurt airport. I may be able to use my points at the excellent Radisson Blu Schwarzer Bock Weisbaden (read my review)
It looks like it will increase from the current 44k to 45k points, a minor “enhancement”. I absolutely loved this hotel, and plan to stay there again when I’m in Europe visiting my parents. I will actually pay cash if I have to, so perhaps saving my points makes sense for the time being.
Mineral springs fed pool
As I’ve mentioned at the beginning, this is my subjective opinion. You’ve probably noticed that Marriott isn’t on the list, but only because I prefer to transfer points to miles. I actually quite like Marriott, but their properties tend to be expensive. Like IHG, Marriott program also doesn’t waive resort fees on award redemptions, a huge negative in my book.
That said, I strongly believe that at the right price, virtually all hotel currencies and certificates are worth collecting. Yes, even Radisson. You never know where your travels will take you.
Readers, how do you rank hotel programs?
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.