Monday, April 9, 2018

On April 10 Daily Getaways offers Choice Hotel points for a half-cent each; run don't walk for this deal

    If you like to travel on the cheap, offers heavily discounted hotel points along with other travel offers starting today. The annual promotion goes on for five weeks, which is two weeks longer than previous years.
    Points on offer include those from Hilton, IHG (Holiday Inn), and Choice. Marriott isn’t included in the first two weeks, but will likely be added later. If you want to buy some of these really cheap points the first thing you need to do is have a membership in the corresponding loyalty club; so do that right now!
    In my view, the best offer by far is the Choice Hotels points being offered for just under one-half cent per point; this is almost a 20 percent increase over last year’s price, but these are still a great deal. The Choice brand includes 11 mostly down-market hotel chains, although included in that is the semi-luxury Ascend Collection and the usually reliable Comfort and Sleep Inns. On the lower end are the EconoLodge and Rodeway Inn. Yes, you can earn points for staying at an EconoLodge.
    Even though the Choice hotel brand doesn’t include the most luxurious hotel brands, this point offer (and their loyalty program) offers great value. I’ve been buying these points since 2011, when I paid just over a third of a cent per point, thanks to a no-longer-offered American Express discount. That summer I was able to book four rooms in Venice, Italy for 10,000 points per room, or $35 per night. To understand what a value this is, do a search for Venice hotel rooms.
    Not every hotel offers rooms for only 10,000 points, as redemptions cost as much as 30,000 points per night, and 25,000 per night is common. But on the top end rooms in New York City at a Cambria or Comfort hotel go for 25-30,000 per night, so with these discounted points the cost per night would be $125 to $150 per night. For New York City that’s not a bad deal. Last fall I booked a room in Tuscaloosa on a ballgame weekend for 25,000 points when the going rate was roughly $350 per night. Choice frequently puts one or two European countries on “sale” for lowered point amounts. Right now rooms in Paris can be had for as little as 12,000 points per night and rooms in London near Hyde Park for 16,000. At $5 per thousand points that's $60 and $80.
    The Choice points go on sale tomorrow, Tuesday, April 10, at Noon Central time. In past years these points were so popular that they were sold out within a few seconds of being offered, although you could repeatedly try to buy them and get lucky when someone else’s sale fell through, either because their credit card didn’t process or because they didn’t have a valid membership number. I would open three different browsers in order to get as many points as possible. With this year’s 20 percent increase in price comes a 10-fold increase in the number of point packages offered, so odds are that lightning fingers won’t be needed, and the points might be available for several hours if not days days. But if you want these points it’s still a good idea to be sitting at your computer at the crack of noon!
    Also being offered are IHG points (formerly Priority Club) for $5.80 per thousand on April 11 and Hilton points at $5 per thousand on April 12. I have purchased a small number of IHG points every year and manage to put them to good use, although the savings aren’t nearly as extreme as those from the Choice points. Hilton points at a half-cent each are a pretty good buy, but I wouldn’t stock up on them unless I had already priced out a trip and could see the savings up front.
    There are a lot of good deals being offered during the Daily Getaways promotion, but I’m going for the Choice Hotel points; that’s where the savings are.