I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

I don’t spend much time in hotels (here’s a breakdown of where I’m sleeping as I travel 365 days this year), but I’ve been looking at booking some upcoming hotel stays. I carry several co-branded credit cards, but as I’ve crunched the numbers, my Citi Prestige® Card has come out as a better option for paying the hotel stay in almost all cases.

That’s especially true if I’m looking at a four night hotel stay, since the Citi Prestige® Card offers the fourth night free on paid hotel stays, which is an ~25% rebate (more if you’re doing it right.)

But even on a one night stay at a chain hotel where I have the hotel’s credit card, the Citi Prestige® Card‘s 3x hotel category bonus is usually a better option. Since I value ThankYou Points at 1.8 cents each, getting three points per dollar is like a 5.4% return for me. I can either use the points for 1.6 cents off American Airlines and partner flights or transfer them to 11 types of miles.

Let’s take a look at some major chain and non-chain hotels to see the return from using a co-branded card versus the Citi Prestige® Card. In parentheses is the card I’d use for a stay at that hotel chain. If there is nothing in parentheses, I’d use the Prestige. Here are there rankings by number of affiliated hotels according to Wikipedia:

1. Wyndham (Wyndham card for American properties)
2. Choice (Choice card for American properties)
3. IHG
4. Hilton
5. Marriott
9. Club Carlson
10. Starwood (maybe SPG Card for American properties depending on how you use ThankYou Points)
15. Hyatt (SPG Business Card for American properties)
Non-chain hotels

1. Wyndham

The Wyndham card offers 5x points per dollar on Wyndham stays at the following brands:

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I value Wyndham points at 1.33 cents each now that you can book any Wyndham property for 15,000 points per night. That’s a 6.65 cents per dollar return from the Wyndham card versus 5.4% from the Prestige.

But the Wyndham card has a 3% foreign transaction fee that the Prestige doesn’t have, so only use the Wyndham card at American properties, not abroad where the Prestige offers more value.

2. Choice

The Choice card offers 15x points per dollar on Choice stays at the following brands:

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I value Choice points at 0.5 cents each. That’s 7.5% back.

But the Choice card has a 3% foreign transaction fee that the Prestige doesn’t have, so only use the Choice card at American properties, not abroad where the Prestige offers more value.

3. IHG

The IHG card offers 5x points per dollar on IHG stays at the following brands:

  • Candlewood Suites
  • Crowne Plaza
  • Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts
  • Holiday Inn Club Vacations
  • Holiday Inn Express
  • Hotel Indigo
  • InterContinental
  • Staybridge Suites

I value IHG points at 0.7 cents each. That’s 3.5% back.

I’d prefer to get 3x points by paying with the Citi Prestige® Card, which I value at 5.4% back.

4. Hilton

The Hilton Reserve offers 10x points per dollar on Hilton stays at the following brands:

  • Conrad Hotels & Resorts
  • Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts
  • Hilton Hotels & Resorts
  • DoubleTree by Hilton
  • Embassy Suites
  • Curio, A Collection by Hilton
  • Hilton Garden Inn
  • Hampton Inn
  • Homewood Suites by Hilton
  • Home2 Suites by Hilton
  • Canopy by Hilton
  • Hilton Grand Vacations

I value Hilton points at 0.4 cents each. That’s 4% back.

I’d prefer to get 3x points by paying with the Citi Prestige® Card, which I value at 5.4% back.

5. Marriott

The Marriott card offers 5x points per dollar on Marriott stays at 18 brands including Marriotts and Ritz-Carltons.

I value Marriott points at 0.4 cents each. That’s 2% back.

I’d prefer to get 3x points by paying with the Citi Prestige® Card, which I value at 5.4% back.

9. Club Carlson

The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card offers 10x points per dollar on Club Carlson stays at the following brands:

  • Country Inns & Suites
  • Hotel Missoni
  • Park Inn
  • Park Plaza Hotels & Resorts
  • Quorvus Collection
  • Radisson Hotels
  • Radisson Blu
  • Radisson Red

I value Club Carlson points at 0.4 cents each. That’s 4% back.

I’d prefer to get 3x points by paying with the Citi Prestige® Card, which I value at 5.4% back.

10. Starwood

The SPG card offers 2x points per dollar on SPG stays at the following brands:

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I value Starpoints at 2.5 cents each. That’s 5% back.

I’d prefer to get 3x points by paying with the Citi Prestige® Card, which I value at 5.4% back. But if you use ThankYou Points like cash toward American Airlines flights, they are worth 1.6 cents each, so you’d only get 4.8% back.

In any case, the SPG card has a 2.7% foreign transaction fee, so definitely use the Prestige at Starwood properties aborad.

15. Hyatt

The Hyatt card offers 3x points per dollar on stays at the following brands:

  • Park Hyatt
  • Andaz
  • Grand Hyatt
  • Hyatt Regency
  • Hyatt
  • HYATT CENTRIC
  • Hyatt Place
  • Hyatt House
  • Hyatt Zilara
  • Hyatt Ziva
  • Hyatt Residence Club

I value Hyatt points at 1.5 cents each. That’s 4.5% back.

However you can actually do better by using any American Express OPEN Business card, which offers 5% off Hyatt stays. The best would be the SPG Business card because you’d get 5% off plus 1 Starpoint per dollar (another 2.5%) for 7.5% back total.

Non-Chain Hotels

Definitely get 3x points by paying with the Citi Prestige® Card, which I value at 5.4% back.

Bottom Line

The Citi Prestige® Card is always the best card to book hotel stays of four nights with the fourth night free, and is often the best hotel card to book any stay.

The only hotel credit cards that offer a better return at their own hotels are the Wyndham and Choice cards, and those only offer a better return at American properties because of their foreign transaction fees.

Check out my review of the Citi Prestige Card which explains its many benefits like $250 in airfare or airline fee credits per calendar year, access to the American Airlines Admirals Clubs and Priority Pass lounges, 3x points per dollar on air travel and hotels, and a $450 annual fee.

 

  • $250 Air Travel Credit each year
  • Complimentary 4th Night for any hotel stay
  • Earn 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.
  • Points are redeemable for an $800 flight on American Airlines or US Airways®, a $665 flight on any other airline or $500 in gift cards.
  • Transfer points to a variety of travel loyalty programs from airlines to hotels.
  • Earn 3x points on Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 2x points on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment
  • 1 ThankYou® Point per $1 spent on other purchases

Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card

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Updated June 4: Hilton has moved up its free wifi to today from its originally announced date of August 1.

Hilton, Hyatt, SPG, Marriott, IHG, and Fairmont all offer free internet in their hotels worldwide if you meet certain easy conditions. Finally the great hotels of the world are catching up with a standard benefit of hostels for the last decade. 😉

Hilton now offers free wifi as of June 4, 2015 to all Hilton HHonors members who book their stay through a Hilton-controlled channel (like hilton.com, the Hilton app, or by contacting the hotel itself.) Join Hilton HHonors free here. Diamonds will get premium internet. All other members will get basic internet. Hilton operates the following brands:

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Hyatt offers free wifi in lobbies and guest rooms worldwide since February 1, 2015. This applies no matter how you book your room–yes even if you use Priceline–and even if you are not a member of the Hyatt Gold Passport loyalty program. Hyatt operates the following brands:

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SPG offers free internet access since February 2, 2015. The free internet is only available to SPG members who book their stay through SPG.com or other SPG owned channels (ie the SPG app or sheraton.com.) Join SPG for free here. SPG operates the following brands:

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Marriott offers free internet access since January 15, 2015. The free internet is only available to Marriott Rewards members who book their stay through marriott.com or other Marriott owned channels (ie by phone or directly with the hotel.) Join Marriott Rewards for free here. Marriott operates the following brands:

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IHG has long offered free internet to IHG Rewards club members no matter how their stay is booked. Join IHG Rewards for free here. IHG operates the following brands:

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Fairmont has long offered free internet to Fairmont President’s Club members no matter how their stay is booked. Join Fairmont President’s Club for free here. Fairmont operates the following brands:

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This is great news for travelers. In the United States, I never bought internet from hotels anymore, opting to tether my laptop to my phone, but abroad I was often stuck paying 10 to 15 euros per day at hotels. I look forward to free internet at hotels worldwide for the rest of my life.

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Get two free Hilton weekend nights worldwide at the fanciest properties with the Hilton Reserve card.

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Until May 31, 2015, you can buy between 10,000 and 55,000 Hyatt Gold Passport Points and get a 40% bonus on the number of points you purchase.

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Hyatt points normally cost 2.4 cents each. With the 40% bonus, the price drops to 1.71 cents per point.

The bonus only kicks in on purchases of 10,000 or more points, and the maximum Hyatt points you can buy is 55,000 per account per calendar year.

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If you buy 55,000 Hyatt points before May 31, you’ll receive 77,000 points for $1,320.

Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 3.27.20 PMSeventy-seven thousand Hyatt points is enough for 15 nights at a Category 1 hotel or three nights at a Category 6 hotel.

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When to Buy (Math)

Is buying Hyatt points for 1.71 cents each a good deal?

I would not buy Hyatt points speculatively for 1.71 cents each because I value them at 1.2 cents each. But if you have an immediate high value redemption in mind, buying points can be a good deal.

Check which category your dream Hyatt is in. Here are the Category 7 properties. Use the dropdown to change category.

Then consult the Hyatt award chart to see how many points you’d need to book that hotel for a night. Search the dates you’d like to stay to see the paid price. If buying the points makes sense, there is award space on your dates, and you are ready to redeem now, buy the points.

If you value top tier properties at their retail value, you can get a lot of deals, but it will cost over $500 during this sale to book a Category 7 property like the Park Hyatt New York for one night. That might be less than the retail price on some nights, but I would never pay $500 for one night in a hotel.

Buy Hyatt Points with These Credit Cards

Hyatt points purchases are processed by points.com, so the purchases will not code as a bonus “travel” or “hotel” purchase on any credit card. You will not earn category bonuses from the purchase of Hyatt points.

That means you should make the purchase with whatever card you need to meet a minimum spending requirement on.

For me, that’s the Citi Prestige® Card, which I got for its 50,000 bonus points after $3,000 in spending in the first three months, its $250 Air Travel Credit that refunded my first $250 of airfare and award taxes this year, and its unrivaled airport lounge access.

Bottom Line

You can buy 14,000 to 77,000 Hyatt points for 1.71 cents each. That’s too high to buy speculatively, but there are a lot of immediate awards you can book where that price offers great value.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Monday begins the third week of five weeks of discounted travel packages from the US Travel Association called Daily Getaways. Every weekday at 1 PM ET, a discounted travel package or packages will go on sale and will often sell out in a few minutes. Every weekend I’ll preview the deals for the next week, and the morning of interesting deals, I’ll have a full write up.

Here’s that overview of the third week of deals that start Monday. I see value on a few days, though I only plan to purchase Friday.

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Monday April 6: $30 for a one-day rental or $1,115 for Avis Chairman’s Club Membership

The $30 one-day Premium rental is “valid at any participating Avis location in the U.S. (excluding the New York Metro area), Canada, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.” For more expensive rental locations, this is a good deal, but I don’t have any upcoming rentals that I haven’t already booked, so I will sit this one out.

You can use up to seven one-day rental certificates on a single rental, and rental certificates like this are extra awesome because they mean that you don’t have to pay percentage taxes on your car rental, though you do have to pay flat fee taxes like “facility charges.”

The $1,115 for Avis Chairman’s Club sounds absurd. This is what it is:

  • Through April 30, 2016, enjoy streamlined travel and personalized service from the airport to your car and back with Meet-and-Greet service and Personal Return Valet service. An Avis representative will meet you and escort you directly to your waiting car and, on your return, he or she will take you right to your departure terminal.
  • Making an unexpected trip? Don’t worry, Avis will always have a car for you, even if you don’t have a reservation. Avis provides exclusive service to Chairman’s Club members, including guaranteed car availability and complimentary upgrades (subject to availability) to the best car available when you reserve an intermediate-level car or higher.
  • We’ll even deliver a car anywhere within 25 miles of participating Avis locations. It’s one of the most seamless and exclusive car rental experience available – and it’s only for Avis Chairman’s Club members. Thanks to a dedicated Avis Chairman’s Club desk and first-rate vehicles, you can always enjoy the ride with Chairman’s Club.
  • Membership benefits available at participating locations in the U.S. and Canada.

But if you use Avis enough to get use out of this, you should already have this status. This is my general theory on status, which is why I don’t buy it outright or through mileage runs.

Purchase Link: One-day car rental only $30

Purchase Link: 1 Avis® Chairman’s Club Membership: $1,115

Tuesday April 7: One- and Two-Night Stays at Omni Hotels & Resorts

Purchase these packages for one- and two-night stays at Omni Hotels & Resorts. You can only buy one of each package, so there’s no way to stay longer than two consecutive nights with this deal. Each package has a short list of properties at which you can redeem your stay for a Friday or Saturday check in by December 30.

Purchase Link: One Night for $238. For stays at:

Omni Berkshire Place, New York, NY
Omni Nashville Hotel, Nashville, TN
Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, Amelia Island, FL
Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa, Austin, TX
Omni Bedford Springs Resort, Bedford, PA
The Omni Grove Park Inn, Asheville, NC
The Omni Homestead Resort, Hot Springs, VA
Omni La Costa Resort & Spa, Carlsbad, CA
Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa, Rancho Mirage, CA
Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia, Scottsdale, AZ
Omni Tucson National Resort, Tucson, AZ

Purchase Link: Two Nights for $338. For stays at:

Omni Chicago Hotel, Chicago, IL
Omni San Francisco Hotel, San Francisco, CA
Omni La Mansion del Rio, San Antonio, TX
Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington, DC
Omni San Diego Hotel, San Diego, CA
Omni Parker House, Boston, MA
Omni Los Angeles Hotel at California Plaza, Los Angeles, CA
Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate, ChampionsGate, FL
Omni Mount Washington Resort, Bretton Woods, NH
Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort, Hilton Head, SC

Purchase Link: Two Nights for $245. For stays at:

Omni Royal Crescent Hotel, New Orleans, LA
Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center, Atlanta, GA
Omni Interlocken Hotel, Denver/Broomfield, CO
Omni Mandalay Hotel at Las Colinas, Irving/Dallas, TX
Omni Dallas Hotel, Dallas, TX
Omni Fort Worth Hotel, Fort Worth, TX
Omni Houston Hotel, Houston, TX
Omni Austin Hotel Downtown, Austin, TX
Omni William Penn Hotel, Pittsburgh, PA
Omni Providence Hotel, Providence, RI
Omni Richmond Hotel, Richmond, VA

Purchase Link: Two Nights for $162. For stays at:

Omni Austin Hotel at Southpark, Austin, TX
Omni Majestic Hotel, St. Louis, MO
Omni Charlotte Hotel, Charlotte, NC
Omni Charlottesville Hotel, Charlottesville, VA
Omni Houston Hotel at Westside, Houston, TX
Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale, New Haven, CT
Omni Jacksonville Hotel, Jacksonville, FL
Omni Severin Hotel, Indianapolis, IN
Omni Dallas Hotel at Park West, Dallas, TX
Omni Corpus Christi Hotel, Corpus Christi, TX
Omni San Antonio Hotel at the Colonnade, San Antonio, TX

Unfortunately this deal says there are blackouts, but it doesn’t list them. See if the weekend you want is cheaper with these certificates. It probably is, but I’m sitting out this deal.

Wednesday April 7: Stays at Loews Properties

There are extremely expensive suites and more modestly priced stays that must be completed by June 30, 2016.

Purchase Link:  Ocean View Suite at Loews Miami Beach: 2-Nights for $1000

Purchase Link:  $1000 for 2-Nights in a Suite: Loews Regency in New York City

Purchase Link:  Ocean View Suite at Loews Santa Monica: 2-Nights for $950

Purchase Link: 2-Nights at a Four Diamond Loews Resort: $325. Included resorts:

Loews Miami Beach Resort,* Miami Beach, FL
Loews Don Cesar Resort,* St. Pete Beach, FL
Loews Royal Pacific Resort* at Universal Orlando®
Loews Coronado Bay Resort,* Coronado Bay, CA

Purchase Link: 2-Nights at a Luxury Loews Hotel: $275

Loews Annapolis Hotel, Annapolis, MD
Loews Atlanta Hotel, Atlanta, GA
Loews Boston Back Bay Hotel, Boston, MA
The New Loews Chicago Hotel, Chicago, IL
Loews Chicago O’Hare Hotel, Rosemont, IL
Loews Hollywood Hotel, Hollywood, CA
Loews Madison Hotel, Washington, D.C.
Loews Minneapolis Hotel, Minneapolis, MN
Loews New Orleans Hotel, New Orleans, LA
Loews Philadelphia Hotel, Philadelphia, PA
Loews Regency Hotel, New York, NY
Loews Santa Monica Hotel, Santa Monica, CA
Loews Vanderbilt Hotel, Nashville, TN
Loews Ventana Canyon, Tucson, AZ
Loews Hotel Vogue, Montreal, Canada

Again there are unspecified blackout dates.

Thursday April 9: MGM Properties in Vegas Packages

These are expensive, ranging from $475 to $1,780. They include dinners, shows, massages, rooms, and more. These are cheap if you value all those things at retail value, but you can do Vegas a lot cheaper.

Friday April 10: Hyatt Points for 1.04 Cent Each

You can buy one of each package, four total. Hyatt points can be used on this award chart.

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At these prices, Category 1 Hyatts would go for $52 and Category 7 Hyatts, like the Andaz Maui, would go for $312.

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This is about the highest price I would pay to speculatively buy Hyatt points. You can certainly get many properties for under their retail price by purchasing at these prices, but you’re not going to get super cheap hotels.

Bottom Line for Week 2

The star is Hyatt points for 1.04 cents each.

Some folks will see value from $30 car rentals on Monday, discounted Omni and Loews properties on Tuesday and Wednesday, or Vegas packages on Thursday.

This week doesn’t have any must-have deals, but for different travel styles, there are clear winners.

Look for a full post Friday from me by 9 AM ET about the Hyatt sale, and mark your calendar for any deal that piques your interest.

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Earn up to 20 free hotel nights after meeting spending $2,500 in the first 90 days on the Club Carlson Visa.

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Update 2/18/15: According to a Mommy Points/Hyatt Concierge conversation on Twitter, you can get the Hyatt card now and register for the promo by March 31, and you’ll get a 20% rebate on all awards. You’ll even retroactively get 20% back on the awards between now and when you register. Sweet!

If you were a Hyatt credit card holder as of January 31, 2015, you can get a 20% rebate on the points needed for award stays completed by July 31, 2015 by registering for this promotion.

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The 20% rebate on the points needed for award stays applies to free nights, points + cash nights, suite upgrades, and dining and spa redemptions. The 20% rebate does not apply to other redemptions of points like exchanging them for airline miles or car rentals. Here’s the chart before the 20% rebate. Now Category 1 hotels drop to 4,000 points per night at Category 7 drops to 24,000.

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Three thoughts on the promotion:

  1. Thanks, Hyatt and Chase!
  2. You have to have all the points already in your account for a full-priced stay because this is not a 20% discount at the time of booking, it is a 20% rebate that posts 4-6 weeks after your completed stay. A 20% discount would be a little nicer, but the 20% rebate keeps us more engaged because we’ll end up with points in our account instead of zeroing out the balance.
  3. This makes points + cash nights a worse deal.

While free night awards are available whenever a standard room is for sale, points + cash nights are capacity controlled award nights where you pay half the points of free night plus a cash copay. I think of that cash copay as re-purchasing half my points as compared to a free night award. The cost to re-purchase points on a points + cash stay is 1.2 to 2 cents per point, with the best deals at Category 3-6 properties.

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This rebate is a 20% rebate on the points needed for free nights and points + cash stays, but no rebate on the cash copay. That makes the cost to re-purchase your points higher. During the promotion, it will range from 1.5 to 2.5 cents. I’ve never made a points + cash booking with Hyatt points anyway–only free nights–and this promotion makes me less likely to make a points + cash booking for a stay before July 31.

I’m registered for the promotion. I don’t have a lot of Hyatt points, but I do have a lot of Chase Ultimate Rewards, which transfer 1:1 instantly to Hyatt points. I’ll consider this promotion if I need a hotel stay, though I generally prefer airbnb and using points from my Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card, which offers 85,000 bonus points after spending $2,500 on the card in the first 90 days and the last night free on all award stays of 2+ nights.

Full Terms and Conditions:

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Meeting the minimum spending requirement on the Arrival Plus give you about $500 worth of free flights on any airline with no blackouts.

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Until December 10, 2014, you can purchase Hyatt Gold Passport points for 1.85 cents each.

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The sale offers a 30% bonus on the number of miles you receive for all purchases of at least 5,000 points, and you can purchase up to 55,000 points per calendar year. (If you purchases 55,000 points, you’d receive 71,500 points after the bonus.)

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 11.17.22 AMSince the bonus is constant, and the price of Gold Passport points is constant at 2.4 cents each, you pay 1.85 cents each for any purchase of at least 5,000 points (6,500 after bonus.)

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In general, I’d value Hyatt points at 1.2 cents, so as usual, this sale is not the time to stock up on points. However, there are a lot of uses, for which buying points now and then immediately redeeming them makes great sense.

  • Under what circumstances, should you buy Hyatt points for 1.85 cents?

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Today is the third day of the third week of five weeks of discounted travel packages sponsored by the US Travel Association and American Express called Daily Getaways. Every weekday at 1 PM ET, a discounted travel package or packages will go on sale and will usually sell out in a few minutes. I’m writing about all the awesome ones

Today’s deals are discounted stay packages of Hyatt Gold Passport Points:

These will be the toughest hotel-point packages to get get, since the quantities are miniscule. I’d guess you have a second or two right at 1 PM ET to snap them up.

  • How good are the deals?
  • What are the best ways to use Hyatt points?
  • What hotels are covered?

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I love staying at Hyatt properties. One of my recent favorites is the Andaz Maui at Wailea. (See my review here.) So I got to thinking about which are the best credit cards to get more free stays at Hyatts worldwide.

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Sunset at the Andaz

The surprising answer is that the best card for most people is not the Hyatt Card.

The best cards for most people are actually the The Ink Plus and The Ink Bold, which are both business cards. The best personal card is either the Hyatt Card or Chase Sapphire Preferred, depending on your goals.

I’ll break down the best cards to earn Hyatt stays by sign up bonus, spending bonuses, best card for paying Hyatt bills, and flexibility.

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This is the fifth installment of a round-the-world trip report that started here. We pick up in Macau, China.

I like Las Vegas in small doses, so I’ve always wanted to check out Macau, one of China’s two special autonomous regions (the other is Hong Kong). Macau is famous for being the biggest gambling destination in the world with revenues about seven times larger than the Las Vegas Strip’s in 2013.

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Macau and Hong Kong, 37 Miles Apart

I had heard that comparing Macau to Vegas was a mistake because while there’s a lot to do in Vegas from shopping to shows to just people watching, Macau is just gambling. I had even heard you could see Macau and get sick of it in a day.

That meant this was the perfect trip for me to go to Macau because I only had 20 hours in Hong Kong as part of an American Airlines award, and Macau is a short ferry ride away from Hong Kong International Airport.

I still haven’t spent time in Hong Kong itself, and I want to save it for a trip when I have several days to explore.

The day before heading to Macau, I had booked myself one night at the Grand Hyatt Macau, which usually goes for around $300 per night. The hotel is a Category 4 property, so I booked my night for free with 15,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points, the majority of which I had transferred instantly from Ultimate Rewards.

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I landed at 2:20 PM in Hong Kong, and I was feeling pretty good since I had slept eight hours on my flight from JFK in Cathay Pacific First Class.

I headed toward the ferry counters, which are well signed and before immigration. There are two ferry terminals in Macau, both of which are served from HKG for about $40. One terminal is called Macau on the north end (the Macau Peninsula) and the other, Taipa, is on the south end (on the island of Taipa.) Taipa was closer to my hotel, but I would have taken the first ferry to either because a cab from one ferry terminal to the other is only about $10.

I booked my ferry ticket for a 4 PM departure and boarded the one hour ferry to Taipa Ferry Terminal on Macau.

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How was the Grand Hyatt Macau? Is Macau worth a visit?

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I just got back home from two nights at the Andaz Maui at Wailea.

It’s a beautiful, luxurious, attentive resort with breathtaking sunset views.

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It’s also very expensive, poorly located for the activities that interested me on Maui, and charges a $30 mandatory valet fee per day if you come with a car.

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What are my thoughts on the service, food, room, value, and more (with tons of pictures)?

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2013 was a year of several major devaluation announcements including:

  • United (kicks in February 1, 2014)
  • Southwest (kicks in March 31, 2014)
  • Delta (already kicked in on current award bookings for travel that starts February 1, 2014 or later)
  • Hyatt (kicks in January 7, 2014)
  • Ultimate Rewards (with three major transfer partners devaluing–United, Southwest, and Hyatt–the program took a major hit through no fault of its own)

But the more things change, the more they stay the same. We’re still getting outsized value from our miles and points and traveling the world in style for next to nothing.

What’s my outlook for 2014 and what’s my strategy for earning and burning the major points’ currencies?

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Hyatt has announced its new 2014 award chart for bookings made January 7, 2014 or later. Categories 1-4 maintain their prices. Categories 5-6 go up in price, and a new, more expensive, Category 7 is introduced. Some hotels are going up or down one category.

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What are the changes to Hyatt award chart for 2014? How can you beat the changes? What credit card is made more valuable by the announcement? Which are made less valuable?

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The Chase Hyatt Credit Card no longer has an annual fee the first year, a $75 savings.

The Hyatt card has my 11th favorite sign up bonus from Chase, but it’s a solid card to hold forever, and one that I have. The big draw is the sign up bonus of two free nights at almost any Hyatt worldwide after spending $1,000 in the first three months. In fact, I just booked my two free nights today.

What 10 Chase cards have better sign up bonuses? What are the other perks and drawbacks of the card? Where did I use my free nights?

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I am a lodging cheapskate. My ideal trip length is four weeks, so hotel bills would add up quickly. Right now I haven’t been in the US since February, so I’ve had to come up with creative ways to sleep cheaply.

But just because I’m a cheapskate doesn’t mean I don’t want to stay at fancy hotels sometimes too. I’m jealous that Rookie Alli has two nights at any Hilton worldwide. I have my own two free nights at Hyatts worldwide that I’ll be sure to use somewhere way outside my price range.

There is a third way, though, between the extremes of free ultra-luxury and cheap adequate accommodation: under-categorized hotels are a fantastic value play.

Free nights at hotels cost a certain number of points that are decided by which category a hotel places the hotel into. For instance, a Category 1 Hilton costs 5,000 points for a free night. A Category 10 Hilton costs up to 95,000 points for a free night.

The number of points needed generally tracks the quality, location, and price of the hotel, but some hotels are under-categorized and represent fantastic value with points.

Last night I stayed in one such hotel, the DoubleTree Kuala Lumpur, which is a Hilton Category 2 property that costs only 10k Hilton points per night.

Continue for my review with photos of the DoubleTree Kuala Lumpur and a rundown of all the freebies I got. What hotel award charts might have sweet spots? What are the best value free nights you’ve gotten?

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Update at 1:02 PM ET: I had two computers and a smartphone ready on three different-sized packages (69k, 36k, and 24k), but all got the “on hold for other customers” message within seconds of 1 PM. This is the first deal I failed to get in on. Congrats to those with faster fingers.

Today is the penultimate day of five weeks of discounted travel packages sponsored by the US Travel Association and American Express called Daily Getaways. And it’s the last one that I’m going to take part in personally.

Every weekday at 1 PM ET, a discounted travel package or packages will go on sale and will sell out in a few minutes. Some of the offers will be awesome; some will be duds. Today’s offer is fantastic.

Today’s deal is discounted Hyatt Gold Passport points in 24k, 30k, 36k, and 69k packages for under one cent per point.

How can you get the deal?

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