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Unbelievably Cheap Hotel Award Redemptions

Keeping track and analyzing every dollar we spend on hotels has taught me that saving our points for lower category hotels saves us money in the long run. If there’s a place on this list you’d like to visit, feel free to blow your points.

Quick Overview On Earning Hotel Points

To know which Amex, Chase, and Citi cards transfer to hotel points, I decided to take a piece from the post on What Credit Cards Transfer to What Miles:

  • Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) cards that transfer to miles: Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold, Chase Ink Plus
  • Amex Membership Rewards (MR) cards that transfer to miles: Both Amex EveryDay Credit Cards, Green Card, both Gold Cards, and the Platinum Card.
  • Citi ThankYou (TY) cards that transfers to miles: Citi ThankYou Premier, Citi Prestige, and Citi Chairman

Any of these cards can qualify for points transfers to their partner hotel chains. So what are the partner hotel chains you can transfer to with these cards?

Credit cards that transfer to hotel points:

IHG Chase UR cards, IHG card
Hyatt Chase UR cards, Hyatt card
SPG SPG card
Marriott Chase UR cards, Marriott card, Ritz Carlton card
Hilton Amex MR cards (1:1.5), Citi TY cards (1:1.5), Hilton cards
Choice Amex MR cards, Amtrak (1:3), Diners Club (1:2)
Club Carlson Club Carlson card

These are the very basics on earning hotel points. Most cards have their own sign up bonuses. Some 2 free nights and some a points bonus. This post is focusing on cheap hotels, so the goal is to get lots of points, either by partner cards or by the hotel’s cards. It’s worth noting that there are actually 15 different cards that transfer to Hilton points. Also, the Club Carlson card gives a free night per award booking, effectively making it a buy one get one free. Also, I should note that I never transfer Chase points to hotels. 10,000 points is worth $100, and most 10k Marriott hotels are worth about that, so why redeem for a non-qualifying night?

Europe

Sheraton Fuerteventura Beach, Golf & Spa Resort Canary Isle

SPG

  • Le Meridien St. Julians Hotel & Spa, Malta – 7,000 points
  • Ljubljana Four Points, Slovenia – 3,000 – 4,000 points
  • Sheraton Zagreb Hotel, Croatia – 3,000 – 4,000 points
  • Sheraton Prague Charles Square Hotel, Czech Republic – 7,000 points
  • Sheraton Athlone Hotel, Ireland – 2,000 – 3,000 points
  • Sheraton Fuerteventura Beach, Golf & Spa Resort Canary Isle – 3,000 – 4,000 points
  • Four Points by Sheraton Barcelona Diagonal, Spain – 3,000 – 4,000 points
  • Sheraton Brussels Hotel, Belgium – 7,000 points

Holiday Inn Villach

IHG

  • Holiday Inn Villach – 15,000 points
  • Holiday Inn Krakow – 15,000 points
  • Holiday Inn Lisbon – 15,000 points
  • Holiday Inn Marseille – Saint Charles – 15,000 points
  • Holiday Inn Express Glasgow Riverside – 15,000 points

Club Carlson

  • Radisson Blu Budapest – 15,000 points
  • Park Inn Krakow – 15,000 points
  • Radisson Blu Hotel, Lisbon – 28,000 points

Hyatt Regency Dusseldorf

Hyatt

  • Hyatt Regency Dusseldorf, Germany – 12,000 points

Marriott

  • Courtyard Linz, Austria – 15,000 points
  • JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel, Romania – 15,000 points

Choice

  • Quality Inn Porto, Portugal – 10,000 – 12,000 points
  • Comfort Hotel Diana, Venice, Italy – 10,000 points
  • Quality Hotel Prince Philip Stockholm, Sweden – 6,000 points
  • Clarion Collection Hotel Drott, Sweden – 8,000 points
  • Comfort Hotel Gardenia Sorrento Coast, Italy – 8,000 points
  • Comfort Hotel Bolivar Rome, Italy – 10,000 points

Hilton

  • Hilton Sibiu, Romania – 10,000 points
  • Hampton by Hilton Cluj-Napoca, Romania – 10,000 points
  • Hampton by Hilton Bursa, Turkey – 5,000 points

 

Asia & Pacific

Holiday Inn Krabi, Thailand

IHG

  • Holiday Inn Krabi, Thailand – 10,000 points
  • Holiday Inn Bangkok Silom, Thailand – 15,000 points
  • Holiday Inn Resort Phuket Mai Khao Beach Resort, Thailand – 15,000 points
  • Holiday Inns in Shanghai and Beijing, China – 10,000 points
  • Holiday Inn Suva, Fiji – 15,000 points
  • Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu – 20,000 points

Not as cheap, but great deals:

  • InterContinental Koh Samui, Thailand – 25,000 points
  • IC Danang, Vietnam – 25,000 points

SPG

  • ITC Grand Chola Chennai, India – 3,000 – 4,000 points
  • ITC Agra, India – 3,000 – 4,000 points
  • ITC Mumbai, India – 7,000 points
  • Le Méridien Chiang Mai, Thailand – 3,000 – 4,000 points
  • Le Méridien Chiang Rai, Thailand – 3,000 – 4,000 points
  • Le Méridien Angkor, Cambodia – 3,000 – 4,000 points
  • Sheraton Hanoi, Vietnam – 3,000 – 4,000 points
  • Sheraton Senggigi Beach Resort, Lombok, Indonesia – 3,000 – 4,000 points
  • Sheraton and Aloft hotels in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – 3,000 – 4,000 points

Hyatt

  • Hyatt Regency Kathmandu, Nepal – 5,000 points
  • Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, Malaysia – 5,000 points
  • Hyatt Regency Saipan – 8,000 points

Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Kuala Lumpur

Hilton

  • Doubletree By Hilton Hotel Johor Bahru, Malaysia – 5,000 points
  • Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – 10,000 points
  • DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Beijing, China – 10,000 points
  • Hilton Garden Inn Hanoi, Vietnam – 10,000 points
  • DoubleTree by Hilton Agra, India – 10,000 points

Marriott

  • JW Marriott Hotel Medan, Indonesia – 10,000 points
  • Renaissance Chengdu Hotel, China – 10,000 points
  • JW Marriott Hotel Hanoi – 15,000 points
  • Renaissance Johor Bahru Hotel, Malaysia – 10,000 points
  • Renaissance Beijing Wangfujing Hotel – 15,000 points

Choice

  • Comfort Hotel Tokyo Kanda, Japan – 8,000 points

 

Africa & Middle East

IHG

  • HIX Cape Town City Centre, South Africa – 15,000 points
  • Holiday Inn Dubai Downtown, UAE – 15,000 points
  • Holiday Inn Tbilisi, Georgia – 15,000 points

Marriott

  • Renaissance Cairo Mirage City Hotel, Egypt – 10,000 points

Le Méridien Ile Maurice, Mauritius

SPG

  • Le Méridien Ile Maurice, Mauritius – 3,000 – 4,000 points
  • Aloft Abu Dhabi, UAE – 3,000 – 4,000 points

Hilton

  • Hilton Sharm Waterfalls Resort, Egypt – 5,000 points
  • Hilton Hurghada Resort, Egypt – 5,000 points
  • Hilton Salalah Resort, Oman – 5,000 points
  • DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Aqaba, Jordan – 10,000 points

Hyatt

  • Grand Hyatt Amman, Jordan – 8,000 points

 

Caribbean & Central/South America

IHG

  • Holiday Inn Express Medellin, Colombia – 15,000 points

Grand Hyatt Santiago, Chile

Hyatt

  • Grand Hyatt Santiago, Chile – 8,000 points
  • Park Hyatt Mendoza, Argentina – 8,000 points

SPG

  • Four Points Punta Cana, Dominican Republic – 2,000 – 3,000 points
  • Sheraton Mendoza Hotel, Argentina – 3,000 – 4,000 points

Marriott

  • Courtyard Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic – 10,000 points
  • Courtyard Guayaquil, Ecuador – 7,500 points
  • Courtyard Recife Boa Viagem, Brazil – 10,000 points
  • Cali Marriott Hotel, Colombia – 15,000 points

Choice

  • Quality Suites Bela Cintra, Sao Paulo, Brazil – 8,000 points
  • Clarion Suites Roatan at Pineapple Villas, Honduras – 6,000 points

 

Conclusion

I didn’t bother doing the USA because there’s an endless number of hotels. It could be broken down by state almost and go on forever. But most are airport hotels, highway hotels, or in cities I don’t want to visit. But this list if full of some pretty exotic locations. We’ve actually been to many hotels on this list, from some of the ITC’s in India, all the Holiday Inns listed in Thailand, to many of the hotels in Europe. Personally I love the Grand Hyatt Santiago and it’s totally worth paying a little extra for lounge access. An amazing use of points, although I’m not in love with the location or even destination. Any of the Marriott hotels in Asia will be incredible. One notable deal is the Le Méridien hotels in Thailand and in Cambodia. It’s pretty hard to beat 3,000 points on weekends. But remember, it’s about the destination not the hotel. If these destinations aren’t your thing, don’t go for the hotel. Hotels don’t make trips. But if one of these is in a desired destination, go and burn a week of points. On this list it won’t cost that much.

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43 Comments

  1. Great post. I’ve bookmarked it for future reference. I’d noticed the Holiday Inn Express Glasgow & Doubletree Kuala Lumpur rates before, so it’s good to see someone else feel the same way about them.

    I would also add the Holiday Inn Express Hong Kong SoHo to the list. It’s 20,000 per night for a hotel rated a 4 on TripAdvisor in a great location in an expensive city. I just bought 100k for an upcoming 5 night stay through Daily Rewards (which shockingly may still be available almost a week later?) for $565. I have the IHG card, so the 5 nights will only cost 90k, meaning I’ll pay about $500 for the whole stay. I’m very happy with that, considering the best cash rate would be around $1,100 right now.

    Reply
    • I actually considered staying at the HIX my last trip to Hong Kong, good value. I think Holiday Inns in most major cities are great deals. Usually below 20k and usually decent. But in Asia everything is nice.

      Reply
    • In Asia everything is nice, for now. Time will tell if they do the maintenance to keep things nice.

      JinJiang Inns in mainland China used to be a favorite budget hotel for me 5 years ago: clean, quiet, dignified accommodations at a very reasonable (less than $40 night) in major cities. But the last couple of times, it’s been a sorry tale of peeling paint, missing floor tiles, filthy upholstery on sofas and prices 30 to 40 percent higher.

      Now I’m finding that Ibis is an excellent value in China. Stayed at one in a smaller (population > 500K) city for $19/night.

      Reply
  2. Excellent! Super valuable information. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Thanks.

      Reply
  3. Thanks for the great list! I just made a similar one to go along with our next couple years of travel and there were some on your list that I missed.

    Only unfortunate point that I would add is that some of these hotels only seem to release reward nights during the off-peak times. For instance, I was trying to book reward nights at the Holiday Inn Krabi in February of next year and looking at the availability calendar they only have June/July/Aug open.. not a good time to be in Thailand.

    Reply
    • Call IHG and you will be able to book the Holiday Inn Krabi. I don’t know why, but there’s always rooms and no awards. So I wanted to book some nights there and I called IHG, IHG called the hotel and the hotel released the space for the agent.

      Reply
  4. nice list – thanks for the work.

    Reply
    • Thank you.

      Reply
  5. I got good value using UR points to Hyatt. I stayed at the Hyatt Place Seattle for 12000 points. The average room rate was $259. For some reason, hotels in Seattle were really expensive for the 5 days I was there

    Reply
    • But this is why I diversify. If I don’t have the Hyatt points I use IHG, Club Carlson, or SPG. But to each his own. But that’s a oneway from Japan to Bora Bora. 😀

      Reply
    • Hi, Drew, sorry if im missing something but how do u do japan to bora bora for 12k 1-way? On UA? Tnx! As always, great post!

      Reply
  6. I would add Park Inn in Cape Town for 15,000 points. Great location and as the amenity for Club Carlson credit card holders you get a bottle of South African wine and a plate of dried nuts, dried fruit and jelly beans. The rooftop has amazing views. Great breakfast buffet as well.

    Reply
    • I think that hotel went up to 28,000 points? Still a great deal, but don’t think it’s a cat 2 anymore.
      I do need to get to Cape Town!

      Reply
  7. Thanks Drew. Sheraton Lima, Peru has moved to Category 3, costing 7000 SPG points per night

    Reply
    • Oops, thanks.

      Reply
  8. Drew, SPG just moved up Lombok property to Cat 2 from Cat 1.

    Reply
    • Dangit. Well, good thing it didn’t go to cat 3, I can handle 3k on weekends. 😀

      Reply
  9. Drew – Please take this constructive suggestion the right way: when you send out your eNewsletters, many of your readers are subscribed to several different blogs and get the value of different perspectives and excellent coverage. However, yours is the only blog that sends out email without any specific info in the subject line. So when I go back to find certain issues from various blogs, it is easy to do so by finding subject lines such as “Ski Hawaii | BeachBumming in Fiji | New MS opp with CSP” etc etc. But in your blog’s all ever is” “Travel is Free” … so could you please start adding what your blogs contain? thanks

    Reply
    • Wow great feedback! Thanks so much.
      We’ll know tomorrow morning if it worked but I think I changed it.

      Reply
  10. Last week I booked Sheraton 4 Points Barcelona for several nights in May: 4000 points per night. It may be worth mentioning.

    Reply
    • Hey great find!

      Reply
  11. Great list! I’ve never been, but the Hyatt Regency Kuantan Resort looks pretty nice for 5K.

    Can’t believe I had not heard of the Cat 2 hotel in Mauritius!

    Depending on how Friday goes, I may be heading to the Pineapple Suites in Roatan this summer. Looks like an incredible deal. Even comes with daily access to Little French Key.

    Reply
    • The Mauritius one just changed prices I believe. shhhhhh…

      Never been to Kuantan or even that coast of Malaysia but have heard good things.

      Looks like I’m racing you to Roatan.

      Reply
  12. Any recommendations for Tokyo and/or Osaka? I’ll be going in October.

    Reply
    • If you already have Hyatt points it’s a good use. We used our Hyatt free nights there (at the Park Hyatt) which was good. Same if you have an IHG free night, it’s expensive so good time to use free nights.

      Choice is one of the only cheap redemptions for tokyo. Starwood has a 10k I think.
      I’ve never been to Osaka but there is a cat 2 Hyatt.

      Reply
    • And a cheap Sheraton osaka for 3000 points weekend rate

      Reply
    • I’ve been to both cities, don’t waste your points on most chain hotels. Japan has pretty cheap business hotels, often with a washing machine provided. If you don’t mind smaller space (but modern initeriors), those hotels are often $50-70 per night…probably less now with a stronger dollar.

      However, Choice hotels seems to have a bunch of 8000 properties, so if you have those points, could be a good deal.

      Of course this assumes you’re not a hotel snob and are traveling for the destination :)

      Reply
  13. Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral is 3000ㅡ4000 points per night. Nice hotel in a rather convenient part of the city.

    Nice list by the way. Bookmarking it.

    Reply
    • Thanks good add. Forgot about that one.

      Reply
  14. Stayed at Doubletree Beijing. Awesome hotel for 10k. They had just raised it from 5k shortly before I booked.

    Reply
    • Good to know, might be there soon.

      Reply
  15. Great list! I plan on going to Santiago in a few months and I saw the two different Hyatt locations. You say its worth it for the lounge access…any reason why? I would have to take those from my Chase points so I don’t want to spend them unless its really worth it. Does the lounge have good enough food to be able to save on having to eat out once or twice?

    Reply
    • Well, it’s always painful to transfer from Chase because the extra points for the lounge would be worth $50 alone, enough for the cash upgrade possible.

      But the lounge when we were there in 2012 brought up sushi from the Japanese restaurant. While it was done over 20 tiny plates, us and our friends ate and drink there for hours, totally making up a meal. If it weren’t for the sushi I don’t think it would have been acceptable. For $50 though you can just eat out.

      Reply
  16. Hey Drew, awesome list. So I’m planning a trip to Chiang Mai for next year. Have you stayed at the holiday inn there in Chiang Mai? If so how is it? It’s crazy expensive during the week of Chinese New Year so it’s a great use of points.

    Reply
    • I stayed there a few years ago (at like $35/night), and thought the hotel was fantastic. But I didn’t included it on the list cuz I’m all about the location and I thought it was on the outskirts. I like being in the center. No meters in the area so it’s a pain to get a fair price. But they gave us a big suite.

      Reply
  17. I wouldn’t necessarily equate low-category with good value. In Phuket, for example, it’s often possible to pay cash for a nice hotel comparable to the Holiday Inn, for around $50, and the chain hotels themselves might be cheap. I once stayed in Phuket for $20 a night!

    The moral is, always compare cash rates and not just with the chain hotel, but any similar quality ones nearby. You’ll often find even rock bottom points redemptions are still a waste of points.

    Reply
    • Well, you can stay a lot of places in a hostel for $20/night.

      But I’ve stayed at two of the HIs in Phuket and I’d agree with Patong. I booked the HIX for like $40/night during the big win promotion. Hard to beat that.
      But the one in Mai Khao is awesome and normally a little more expensive. We had rooms that had stairs to the pool. So it’s a legit resort.

      Reply
    • I don’t mean hostels, that’s why I clarified that you should compare it against hotels of similar comfort level. I paid $20 for a Patong hotel down the street from Holiday Inn. It was slightly less upscale, but had all the same amenities.

      I suppose in resort locations you kind of don’t have a choice, so you suddenly find yourself paying a “westerner tax”. There’s no reason a resort in Thailand should cost over $100 a night with their cheap labor prices, but they rip you off since you have no choice.

      Reply
  18. Add to your IHG Asia list Holiday Inn Rotorua. Its 10k/nt !

    Reply
  19. Hi Drew,

    How do you usually earn Choice pts? (besides the transfer from Amtrak..) It seems to offer great value at several destinations I am interested. I figure there are other better earning options

    Reply
  20. Any recommendations for London?

    Reply
  21. ITC Grand Chola, Chennai arguably the largest 5 tar in India for 3000 SPG is a steal. It’s pity, earning SPG points isn’t as simple as Hilton.

    Reply

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We have spent the majority of our marriage traveling full time, living out of hotels.   All the while, we list our expenses publicly, budgeting $25,000 a year for our nomadic life while still staying in mostly 4 or 5 star hotels across ~20 countries a year.
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