We’re coming up on the last step of my series on a trip to Europe with points & miles.
After booking Business class airfare with Aeroplan Milesused BMO Rewards points for car rentaloptimized air miles for a flight from Germany to Malta and redeemed Scotia Bonus Points against the cost of train ticketsHere I’ll show you how I used my hotel program points.
Book hotels in Europe with points
If you follow milesopedia, you’ll know that my favorite hotel program is Marriott Bonvoy. And I’m quite anxious to see this program being merged with the Marriott Bonvoy program, which is far less generous to its members.
But I also took advantage of this trip to “clean out” a few hotel point accounts: IHG, Club Carlson and Best Western.
Best Western Rewards points
Like many of you, I have signed up for the Best Western Rewards credit card. It is free year after year and gave me 20,000 Best Western points as a welcome bonus.
With these 20,000 points, you can get between 1 and 2 nights in a hotel depending on the location.
I decided to use 20,000 points for a night in Lyon:
Those 20,000 points here save me over $200. Not bad for free points earned with the Best Western Rewards card!
IHG program points
IHG (Intercontinental Hotels Group) no longer offers credit cards in Canada. This makes it difficult to earn IHG points without spending nights at IHG hotels.
However, IHG offers many promotions to purchase points.
While I don’t normally recommend buying points, there are exceptions!
In fact, IHG offers what’s called “Pointsbreaks,” a list of hotels updated quarterly, offering hotels at only 5,000 points per night. So if you buy points for as little as $35 / 5000 points… it may be worth the cost/cost!
I had just over 5,000 points left in my IHG account, so I decided to use them for one of the hotels on the PointBreaks list – which has since been removed, by the way… maybe a mistake!
Club Carlson points / gold points
Club Carlson does not offer credit cards in Canada. Like IHG, the only way to earn points is to be a loyal member of the group’s hotels, to buy points… or to benefit from certain promotions!
That’s what I did in 2012 when Club Carlson offered 150,000 gold points after 3 nights at any of their hotels!
I used points several times for several hotels, but I still had over 60,000 points left!
Having anticipated our arrival in Malta, I needed to book an extra night at a hotel… Rather than use starpoints again to stay at the same SPG hotel, I decided to empty my Club Carlson account by booking one of the best hotels on the Island.
Two hotels were offered to me for the same number of points… I chose the better one, namely the Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, Malta Golden Sands (which also had the most expensive public rate!).
Marriott Bonvoy points
I already told you about the reservation I made at the Westin Malta Dragonara Resort & Spa….
This one only cost me 40,000 starpoints for 5 nights (the fifth one being free) instead of 2,500 CA$ (taxes included).
It’s a real bargain: we did the same technique as this couple for their trip to Thailand: I took an American Express Marriott Bonvoy card (and got 20,000 starpoints), I sponsored Audrey (and thus got 10,000 starpoints) and she got 20,000 starpoints.
We then grouped them in the same SPG account to proceed with the reservation.
To give you an idea, here are the only transactions in Audrey’s SPG account, namely the 20,000 starpoints provided by the welcome bonus, the spending on the card… and the transfer of all these points to my SPG account!
The remaining 10,000 points were used to book our hotel in Stuttgart at Le Meridien, ranked in the top 3 hotels in the city on Tripadvisor.
Here are the booking details on Marriott Bonvoy:
This saved us nearly $275 (taxes included)!
As you can see, I booked 9 hotel nights on this trip with all my points. The rest of the time, we will stay with a family.
Here are the results of these reservations:
|Programs used||Points / miles||Savings|
|Marriott Bonvoy||50 000||2 775 $|
|Best Western Rewards||20 000||$200|
|Club Carlson||44 000||$350|
So these hotels cost us almost nothing (just the 2 American Express Marriott Bonvoy dues of $120 each). These 2 fees ($240) represent 10% of the price saved on the 6 nights of Starwood hotels that we took… a bargain then!
So in total, a market value of $3,445 for 9 hotel nights totally booked with points!
It is obvious that without the points, I would have tried to optimize my expenses with less luxurious hotels or AirBnB rentals (not recommended for a single night because of the cleaning/service fees). But I still had to spend a 1200-1500$ (if not more) for those 9 nights in hotels!
The maps used for this trip