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Using Loyalty Points

Some times the points guys get a little crazy and loose track of what’s important. One thing that I tell all of our readers about Loyalty points is the only thing you should use any loyalty points for is the loyalty points primary industry. If it’s air miles you will always get the most bang for your buck with flying on the miles. If it’s Rental Car Points you will get your best bang for the buck with renting a car. Finally, If its Hotel Points your best bang for the buck is always getting free hotel stays. No Mildred there is no exception to this RULE.

Recently Choice Hotels did a very sneaky transition with one of my favorite loyalty programs, their amazing “two for one stay” program. I have talked about this amazing loyalty program before it’s worth talking about again. The program is deceptively simple. You stay two “qualifying” nights and you get between 6000 and 8000 reward points. They call this two for one because if you stay two night and get the 8000 point bonus that 8000 point bonus can score you a free night. Trust me there is not a better Hotel Loyalty deal out there.

For reasons that only a drunken marketing wizard could explain, about a month ago Choice modified there program to the one above. Now instead of “marketing” a free room they want you to use your 8000 bonus point to buy a $50 gift card. I hear you “WOW TOM that’s 50 smackaroos! That’s cash!

Ok, yes my friends for two stays this deal is giving you $50 dollars but as I always recommend DO THE MATH. Before this marketing bit of wizardry was launched a $50 cash card was available thru Choice Rewards for 16,000 point. That gave Choice Loyalty Point holder about 1/3 of a cent per point in value (.3125 cents to be exact) . That is about as poor a return on your Loyalty Points as you can get.

In steps the Marketing genius, “lets make it so they can get a $50 gift card for only 8000 Choice Loyalty Points.” WOW Choice just doubled the value of your points to about 2/3’s of a cent per point. Happy Days? NO, not so happy. That 2/3 of a cent per point still sucks for a return on you investment.

Remember what I always preach “Only Use Your Loyalty Points on the Loyalty Point’s Products”.

After you earn your 8000 points the Choice site gleefully congratulates you and says now get your $50 gift card. Your answer has to be a resounding NO! Because, you can be getting as much as an insane 5 cents + in Hotel savings for your points. NOT .33 cents per point, NOT .66 cents per point, BUT A FULL 5 + cents per point for your Loyalty. Would you sell an apple for 1/3rd of a cent when you could get 5 cents for it? I’m thinking NO!

I hear you, “Tom that’s fake news!”. and I respect your cynicism so in true Geezer proof here is the math. On two hotels. the first is a good return on your Loyalty and the second is what Loyalty Point Legends are made of.

I picked Hotel # 1 because as Charlene and I travel the world and we have found very few places that are more expensive then Scandinavia.

The Scandinavian economies are on fire, between high tech and oil and gas deposits countries like Sweden are tremendously expensive to visit. One of Charlene’s favorite cities is Gothenburg , Sweden in this example for 10,000 points you can score a $168 dollar room. In Sweden the posted rate includes taxes and fees so the total bang for your buck with this hotel is 1.68 cents per dollar.

It’s fun to look at hotels in places like Sweden but truth be know most of us travel more in the good old U.S.A. So for fun lets look at Manhattan, the Big Apple. I wish I could tell you that the $536.02 you will flush down the toilet to stay at the Cambria in downtown New York was out of line, but the reality is it’s pretty normal!!!! I get hives just looking at this screen shot. $536.02 to visit New York, that’s crazy. So lets fix this little problem by using those points.

In the example to the right you see that Choice is offering two possible solutions to you’re little problem. First you can use 6000 Choice Points and $180 and in the second option you are using 30,000 Choice points. In both of these examples there is not tax attached so the point price you see is the entire bill. Given the choice in this situation between using 30,000 points or 6,000 points and $180 I would have to take door number 2 and fork over the $180. Again it’s all about the math.

Please, let me explain. If you pay the 30,000 points you are getting a $536.02 room for 30,000 points or 1.78 cents per Choice Loyalty Point, a nice return on your money but if you eat the $180 Hotel Charge you are getting $356.02 worth of value for 6000 Choice Privilege Reward point, in Geezer terms a return on each Loyalty point of 5.9 cents per point ( $356.02 / 6000 points).

I’m just an Old Geezer but even I know that a $50 gift certificate is chicken scratch compared to saving $356.02 on a fancy Mid Town hotel that you might want to splurge and stay at while you catch a couple Broadway Shows!

Two things I hope you walk away with, first Hotel points are only as valuable as the circumstances allow them to be. Second, always do the math and you will soon figure out that Loyalty can have huge rewards.

No the chipmunk doesn’t have a thing to do with this blog I just wanted to end on a fuzzy note.

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