Once you’ve been participating in this hobby for long enough, it’s easy to end up with points in random programs. This is especially true if you focus the bulk of your earnings on flexible programs like Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards like I do.
When it comes to hotels, I currently have random point balances all over the place – around 35,000 points with IHG, 51,000 Marriott points, 26,000 Hilton Honors points, and 11,000 starpoints. While each of these balances is enough for something, none are enough to constitute a full-fledged trip.
So, what should you do with your hotel point balances? Here are some options to consider:
Save them for positioning. Using hotel points for positioning can make a ton of sense if you fly out of more than one airport. As an example, I live in Indianapolis but often fly out of Chicago due to better award availability and flight options. I have used 3,000 – 4,000 starpoints from the Starwood Preferred Guest card from American Express to stay at the Four Points Sheraton O’Hare at least 5 times. This helps my family save money, points, and time.
Use them for road trips. If you travel to see family often or just love a good road trip, random hotel points can come in handy. With programs like Marriott and IHG Rewards, you can usually stay a roadside hotel with free breakfast for around 15,000 points per night. And since both of these programs are Chase transfer partners, you can top up your balance with points transferred from your Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred accounts.
Pool them with a spouse. The Starwood Preferred Guest program lets you pool points with a spouse or partner residing at the same address. New changes to the Hilton Honors program will also let you pool points with up to ten other members, including your spouse. If you have random points you can’t use, adding them to your spouse’s account could make sense.
Find a way to earn more. Another way to handle random point balances is to continue adding to them through regular spending, signup bonuses, or transferable points. The key here is making sure your points don’t expire, and that you’re earning signup bonuses as often as each program allows.
Use points and cash. Almost all the major hotel points offer some type of points and cash option these days. With the IHG Rewards program, for example, a hotel that normally costs 35,000 points per night can go for 30,000 points + $40, 25,000 points + $70, and so on. If you’re slightly short the number of points you need for a specific redemption, points and cash offers are worth looking into.
If you have a bunch of random points everywhere, the best thing you can do is be proactive. By transferring points to a spouse, plotting ways to earn more, or saving up for positioning stays, you could put all your points to good use.
What do you do with your random hotel points? What options would you add to this list?
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