Why are savvy travellers using frequent flyer points to book accommodation instead of flights. Adele Eliseo, Founder of the The Champagne Mile, shares her top 5 tips for why using points for hotels is smarter, and helps you to holiday like an A lister
Are you someone who has piles of frequent flyer and loyalty program points stacking up but you don’t know what to do with them? Every time there’s an opportunity for extra points when buying your groceries you take it up? But what to do with your hard-earned points? In the past, it was all about flights – looking for deals to get that free seat on a domestic getaway, or saving big to chase that overseas trip. But as more travellers get savvy with airline schemes, the competition for award seats has increased significantly. That’s why you’re often better off using your points to book hotels. Here’s why I recommend nights over flights as the smart way to use points:
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- Flights are cheaper than ever to book these days. JetStar, for example is currently offering flights from Sydney to Melbourne from $59*. That’s about as much as filling up your car or a couple of weeks’ of take away coffee costs. With deals that good, why waste your hard earned points on redeeming domestic flights? And if you’re going overseas, keep an eye out for regular sales (you’ll realise most airlines run these at similar times each year) and you could be jetting to Europe for less than $1,000. The fact is, using points for that trip could deplete a decade worth of your point saving efforts. The added pain of hefty taxes and fees can add significant costs to the final price, making the exercise pointless.
Where you can use your flyer points for accommodation:
- It’s a good way to spend a small number of points that won’t cut into your balance. With Marriott Rewards, for example, you can book a weekend at the lowest category property (Category 1) for as little as 10,000 points per night. You can also use Qantas points with Airbnb so if your vibe is more homely and relaxed, then you have that option too.
- Make the most of hotel loyalty programs. Sign up to all of them! As you travel more, you’ll realise that there’s one you prefer, that has the most presence in the places you visit, be it Hilton Honors or IHG Rewards. These hotel chains are desperate for your loyalty. They know how fickle consumers can be so they’ll be regularly sending you offers and enticing deals to keep you coming back. Gathering points with these loyalty programs can earn you a free night’s stay pretty quickly, as many also team up with partners, just like airlines and credit card providers do.
- When you book accommodation, instead of flights, you can expect more flexibility when it comes to cancellation policies. Sometimes plans change, and if you’ve used your points to get a seat on a plane, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get those points back, certainly without incurring a hefty fee or points penalty. Most awards nights in hotels have more generous policies so having to change or cancel the trip all together can be less of a mental and financial stress.
- Finally, once you’ve used the points think about the extra benefits you’re enjoying ‘for free’. With your nights’ stay, you’re likely to have breakfast included, so make the most of that saving – it’s likely to be far more satisfying the small snack you’d get on the flight. You’re likely to have free wifi, saving your roaming fees, which can stack up if you’re overseas. Add in the free in-room coffee, luxury toiletries and newspaper and you’re getting dollars of free treats.
It may be that your goal is to fly first class to New York on that trip of a lifetime with your frequent flyer points. But you’ll have had to spend tens of thousands to accumulate that number of points, and it’s unlikely you’ll be able to go at the time you want, unless you book far in advance. The savvy traveller is using points to book accommodation, which can be far more rewarding for you – both on your points balance and for your peace of mind.
*As advertised on JetStar website on 30.01.20