So you’ve saved up a bunch of points, filed for vacation time and chosen a destination. All that’s left is finding your hotel and figuring out how to redeem that stockpile of points. We don’t blame you for needing a rundown of hotel award charts for beginners — hotel award charts vary between each loyalty program, and some hotels have done away with them altogether.
Let’s take a look at different hotel loyalty programs and the value of their points. Feel free to jump to your chain of choice:
The largest hotel chain in the world, Marriott features over 7,000 properties in over 130 different countries. This is good news for travelers, as odds are high that you’ll find a Marriott property wherever you go. The other good news is that it’s loyalty program, Marriott Bonvoy, currently operates on a fixed rate award chart.
When redeeming points for an award stay, you’ll pay a specific number of points depending on whether you’re traveling during peak, off-peak, or standard season.
Marriott divides its hotels into eight categories, with its cheapest hotels costing just 5,000 points per night at off-peak season. In contrast, a Category 8 hotel during peak season will cost you 100,000 points per night.
We value Marriott Bonvoy points at a rate of 0.7 cent each, which means that redeeming 100,000 points for a one-night stay would be the equivalent of paying $700 in cash.
Nerdy tip: Although Marriott currently uses an award chart, the company will move to a dynamic pricing model beginning in March 2022.
One particular sweet spot to mention is that those who’ve got the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, and thus a free night certificate worth up to 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points each year, can maximize their value at high-end properties by booking off-peak Category 7 hotels. Terms Apply.
If you’re looking to redeem a specific amount of points per night, Marriott also features a robust search algorithm. When using the hotel directory, it’s easy to filter your results by both location and award category.
Keep in mind that these rates will kick in after March 2022; until then, you’ll only pay standard rates.
Hyatt has separate award charts based on room type. You’ll pay the fewest points for a standard room, though it’s also possible to use points for a club-level room, a standard suite and a premium suite.
You’ll notice that the award rate for a Category 8 standard room caps out at 45,000 points, which is less than half of what Marriott charges for its top-tier hotels. This is one of the reasons why we value Hyatt points so highly at 1.9 cents each.
At this rate, a room that costs you 45,000 points would be the equivalent of paying $855 — and while that may seem pricey, you can find some excellent sweet spots within Hyatt’s portfolio.
Consider Calala Island, an all-inclusive property on its own island in the Caribbean. The entire resort has just four rooms, and at most you’ll be sharing the island with just six other people. A three-night stay here will cost almost $9,000 depending on the time of year.
In contrast, you can redeem your Hyatt points during low season to spend 105,000 points for your entire stay. That is the equivalent of spending $1,995.
Hilton Honors has done away with its award chart in favor of a dynamic pricing model, but the program still has some limits. The most you’ll ever pay for a standard award room is 150,000 points, while the least is just 5,000 points.
You can use the Hilton Points Explorer Tool to find different hotels by redemption rates, and if you have a specific destination in mind, it’s also simple to search by location.
One of the best features Hilton offers is the ability to search using flexible pricing. This allows you to scan award rates a month at a time. In order to use this, you’ll need to check “My Dates are Flexible” in the search dates.
Once you find the hotel you’d like to view, select “View Available Dates” to see a monthly calendar that shows available rates based on your length of stay.
As you can see above, there is a stark difference in the cost for a premium room reward versus a standard room reward. Premium reward rates have no cap and will often exceed a million points per night.
We value Hilton Honors points at 0.5 cent each. This means a one-night stay at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi in a standard room that costs 150,000 points, will run the equivalent of $750.
Of course, you could always pay more than $2,400 in cash instead.
Like Hilton, the IHG Rewards Club has also done away with its award chart. Unlike Hilton, however, IHG’s dynamic award pricing fluctuates dramatically. As it stands, there isn’t much rhyme or reason to IHG’s costs, but this can actually work out in your favor.
The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card features an annual anniversary night reward worth up to 40,000 points each year. By taking advantage of dynamic pricing, you can redeem this reward — or any IHG points you have — for maximum value.
IHG doesn’t have a monthly calendar for reward rooms, but there is a workaround for it. You can find the lowest rate for a hotel you’d like to visit by entering travel dates in month-long chunks.
You then navigate to the hotel you’d like and hit “Select Room.”
From here, you’ll be presented with the nightly cost for your room. Click on the “Rate Details” button in the corner.
Selecting this will bring up a night-by-night breakdown of your room rate.
From here, you can accurately see the redemption rate for each night. In this example, you’ll be able to redeem your anniversary night reward anytime between Jan. 2-7, but not between Jan. 14-17.
If you want to redeem your hotel points
There are a few other hotel chains that offer award stays, but Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt and IHG are the big players when it comes to using hotel points. Although each program varies based on award charts, standard room rewards and dynamic pricing, there is value to be had no matter where you stay. One final word of advice: before you book, check the cash rate of your room to ensure you’re getting a decent value from your points. Then, enjoy the vacation.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for: