Saturday, September 26, 2015

Free Night at Club Carlson

So it looks like we need a NYC hotel for a night in late October. As it turns out, NYC has tons of different hotel options, all of which are overpriced both in terms of cash and reward points.

We really don't need a hotel to be that fancy for this one night stay, but also don't want to stay somewhere with drunk degenerate tourists roaming around the hallways either.

Since NYC is apparently quite popular, there are plenty of different chain hotel options where my father can use his award points. Here are the options with our current point balances:

1. Starwood - 139,066 SPG points 
We normally would try to stay at Starwood hotels to maintain SPG Platinum status, but (a) we already reached Platinum for 2016 and (b) the cheapest hotels were 12,000-30,000 SPG points per night.

We probably would have selected the the Westin Grand Central, which ran $426 per night (including taxes/fees). Using points, it was only" 12,000 SPG points and also located very close to the event my parents are attending. However, those SPG points were worth 2.5 cents/pt to my father (so $300) in future hotel redemption value.

2. Hyatt - 100 Hyatt Gold Passport points, but 377,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards
For my parents' anniversary this summer, they stayed at the Andaz 5th Avenue for 20,000 points on a special promotion (normally 25,000 points). Both the Andaz and the Grand Hyatt would be ideally located for their event, but 25k Chase UR point price tags weren't cheap (those points were worth about $500 to my father). And my father sure as heck won't spend $716 in cash for another night at the Andaz (without complimentary breakfast).

3. InterContinental - 165,514 IHG points + Free Award Night
My parents had racked up quite a bit of IHG points over the years, taking advantage of their generous 2013 promotions. Plus, since each of my parents had their own IHG Visa credit card, each one received a Free Night Award for any IHG hotel in the world. After using one of them for my grandmother's stay at the Intercontinental Hong Kong for her 65th birthday trip, we still had one left that wouldn't expire until September 2016, and also over 165k in IHG Points.

If we did want to use these points, we'd opt for the InterContinetal Times Square. It ran about $555 in cash (including taxes), but would have been 50,000 IHG points (which my father would value at $400 or 0.8 cents/pt). Of course, we'd have to deal with getting through Times Square, so not a perfectly ideal location for us.

4. Club Carlson - 23,045 points + Free Night Award
Similar to IHG, we actually received a surprise Free Night Award from US Bank for having their Club Carlson Visa credit card. While not a guaranteed perk, the bank generously offered us the certificate for no real reason, though we suspect it had something to do with downgrading the other award benefits of the card earlier this year. 

23k points, however, isn't enough to stay at the single Club Carlson hotel in Manhattan - the Radisson Martinque in Herald Square/Koreatown - which runs a whopping 70,000 points (which my father values at $560 or 0.8 cents/pt). 

Our Decision
When it came down to our choices, it really was between (1) Starwood in an effort to reach 50 nights this year, which would earn us 10 additional SPG Suite Night Awards or (4) Club Carlson given we were unlikely to find another use for their Free Night coupon.

And since you read the post title "Free Night at Club Carlson," I'm sure you figured out which option we chose.

Whenever we have the choice of using an expiring coupon or points, we always redeem the coupon first. Why? Because the points shouldn't ever expire, though they are susceptible to program devaluations in the long run.

And while the coupon could have been redeemed for any Club Carlson hotel in the world (including the very expensive Mayfair in London), we were actually very limited in redemption options. After all, we only had 1 free night coupon and lacked enough Club Carlson points for a free second night. And my cheap Asian father would never pay those ridiculous cash rates for an expensive luxury city hotel. So how many near-term future 1 night stays did we think we'd have?

Comparing that to the very valuable and versatile SPG points, we'd much rather save 12k points for possibly 2-4 free award nights at lower category hotels, such as the multiple Four Points over Labor Day weekend.

The Booking

So we went online and booked the Radisson Martinique on Broadway. Per the e-coupon's instructions, we just had to enter a code while searching for hotels. As you can see, the rate came out to $0.00 for the night using the code.

Curious to see what we would have had to pay in cash, we looked at the revenue rates. That same night in the same hotel room would have cost $389 under the Advance Purchase (non-refundable) rate after taxes and fees.

Considering that certificate had a high chance of never been used at all, we were pretty happy that it came in handy after all. When we look at the hotel award redemption objectively, it didn't save my family $389, but rather it kept my family from burning 12,000 SPG points.

Which hotel would you have chosen?

1 comment:

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