If you follow travel blogs, like I do, you’re bound to read headlines about how someone just got 12 cents per point on their most recent booking. I guarantee you, there was something iffy in their calculations.
When looking at how good of a deal you are getting for your points, there are two things you always have to consider. How many points are your using and how much would the same reservation cost you in cash? The first answer is usually a constant, as the number of points needed for a reservation, if you are not dealing with a fixed-value program, do not change. The problem when making these calculations comes with the cost of the reservation in cash.
Take, for example, the 75,000 points we just used to stay at the Hyatt Centric Key West Resort and Spa. When I booked the hotel, I wrote this post.
So, was this redemption really worth almost $1,900 for a 3 night stay? If it was, my redemption was worth 2.50 cents per point. That’s a good value even before including the $30 a day resort fee that I wouldn’t have to pay (because Hyatt excludes the resort fee on all points stays).
Unfortunately, that valuation isn’t even close to my actual value. I could never see myself paying $650 a night for a hotel room in Key West. We’ve stayed at several hotels there and not paid anything close to that. However, this trip was different from our usual trips in 2 important ways.
- We had never gone to Key West “in-season” before
- We were booking only a month in advance of our trip
This trip was a spur of the moment idea. I had the long weekend off of work and we had no plans. It had been a long time, for us, to be away from Key West (which is one of our favorite places for a quick escape). The lack of knowledge of when the busy season is and the close in booking time meant the prices of hotels I’ve stayed at before were costing $300 to over $400. That’s a little more than I was willing to pay for a last-minute getaway.
So I went to Plan B, which was looking for hotels with points. One of the things we like about Key West is the lack of corporate influence. This has been changing over the years, but it does mean there is also a lack of points hotels in the Old Town section. Since the Westin was recently sold and rebranded as the Margaritaville Resort, there is no other Starwood property in the area. The only Marriott hotels are on the far side of the island and Sharon wasn’t willing to stay that far from the action. The LaConcha Hotel and Spa, which is right on Duval St., is an IHG Crowne Plaza property that costs 50,000 points a night, but was unavailable to book with points for our stay.
That meant the only other option we had was the Hyatt. Luckily, they showed availability for 25,000 points a night. I didn’t have enough Hyatt points, so I would have to transfer points from my Chase Ultimate Rewards account. Being able to transfer points like this is the advantage of earning flexible points. I can wait until I need them before transferring them to other programs. I know that Chase points transfer almost immediately to Hyatt.
I needed to decide if the Hyatt was worth the 25,000 points a night. For reference, if I redeemed my points as a statement credit, they would be worth $250. If I used the points to book travel through the Chase Travel Portal, I could get $312.50 in value (points are worth 1.25 cents toward travel bookings if you have a Sapphire Preferred card).
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was comparing the prices I was used to (usually during the fall) with the prices for rooms during high season. While I would never pay $600 for a room at the Hyatt, a room at the Eden House (where we have stayed before) was going for more than $300 for our dates. I then realized that my points for a room at the Hyatt would be worth about $350 a night. That’s the lowest price I could find at a hotel I wanted to stay at. I also had to take into consideration that I had enough Chase Ultimate Rewards points and didn’t have a current use for them. I might as well use them to pay for our trip. At that point, if I had to pay those prices out pocket for a room, we probably would not have went on the trip.
Decision made. I transferred the points, made the reservation and we had a wonderful time on our trip. We had absolutely perfect weather and I can see why this is considered high season for the Florida Keys. While I still stand by my decision that I would NEVER spend $600+ for a room at this hotel, it was worth the points we redeemed for it and that’s the only measure that means anything.
I’ve found that, for me, collecting points is the easy part. Eventually, you need to learn to let go of them. Spend the points and miles on trips that make you happy. While I might not have scored the “perfect” redemption, I’m happy with it. In the end, that’s all you can hope for. Your Mileage May Vary.