Getting a Deal in Vegas When Even the Excalibur Wants $777 Per Night

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I know how valuable points can be, but I’m still taken aback by just how valuable they can be at times. Yes, cash back may be on the rise even in this community, and yes sometimes loyalty programs jiggle with availability and make strange decisions that raise eyebrows, but at the end of the day (or year, as the case may be), I sure am thankful to have points at the ready to get me in and out of situations that my wallet alone couldn’t handle.

The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN

I recently found out I need to be in Las Vegas next month for a meeting, which normally isn’t a big deal as Vegas has tons of hotel rooms and scoring a good deal on one doesn’t take very much skill or luck. Heck, I checked prices for tonight out of curiosity and rooms start at about $35, which I assumed would hold true on a weekday in January, too.

Because hotels in Vegas during the week are rarely a problem, I said yes to the meeting time and location before doing any hotel research. I started thinking through where I wanted to stay on this quick trip to Sin City and hopped online to compare prices. Normally, I like booking relatively inexpensive hotel rooms in Vegas via the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts program thanks to my Platinum Card® from American Express to get free breakfast, late check-out, $100 food or spa credit, and a shot at an upgrade, but that was not to be on this trip as most nicer hotels were sold out and the few that were left had some seriously eye-popping prices. Even a standard room at the Excalibur was an honest to goodness $777 dollars for one night. The EXCALIBUR!

Not that it really matters, but this isn’t even a price for a super pimped out high roller suite, this is the price for a “run of the house” room at the Excalibur. If I booked via Mlife with my Noir status it would be about $100 less, but still off the charts insanely priced.

Clearly, this meant something huge was going on in town, and indeed a quick search revealed that is the week of the massive CES conference. On realizing that sleeping in Sin City would cost close to four figures, my Plan B was just to fly in and out the same day, but I wouldn’t mind a night in Vegas and doing a turn around would result in a really long day that I would rather avoid if I could, so I turned to my bag of points to see what they could do.

Hyatt has a relationship with the Mlife resorts, but unlike at traditional Hyatt properties, they don’t have to make standard rooms available on points when they are for sale with cash, and indeed on my date there weren’t any award rooms available using Hyatt points. Of course, the only Mlife properties even for sale with cash were places I don’t love including Excalibur, Monte Carlo, and Luxor.

Wyndham Rewards points can be used to stay at the Caesars/Harrah’s properties in Vegas, but those options all led to dead ends and sold out properties except a random Super 8 or two that could be booked with points.

I then checked SPG as they have some properties in Las Vegas, and while most were sold out, the SLS Las Vegas had rooms for sale for $690++ per night. Not only that, but they had standard awards available for 10,000 SPG points per night! Normally, I would not consider spending 10,000 SPG points to stay at the SLS in Vegas, but compared to every other option out there, this was an absolute steal.

Even if you were short on SPG points, right now you can purchase SPG points for as little as 2.275 cents per SPG point (that 35% discounted rate valid until December 29, 2017), which would come to $227 to book a hotel room that otherwise would cost more than 3x that rate. That is an example of a time when buying points absolutely makes a ton of sense.

Link: Starwood Buy & Gift Miles

Between scoring a great deal on flights (thanks to part to Spirit), and using SPG points to avoid a $777 room rate at the Excalibur, I managed to dodge spending over $1,000 just to go to Vegas for one night and instead have virtually no out of pocket costs and I’ll even get a jump start at re-qualifying for SPG Platinum status in 2018 since award stays count towards earning status in that program.

Have points ever gotten you out of a jam that your wallet couldn’t have handled?

Head here to learn more about available rewards credit cards and their bonuses.

 

 

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

Comments

    • Likewise but to ORD, cash price was $800 so instead I paid 12.5k Aeroplan milles to fly UA but not have to pay their close-in booking fee!

  1. I am in Vegas during that time, and booked after I registered for CES, and was able to grab a suite at the MGM Signature for $680 for the stay through Airbnb, earning skymiles

  2. In Hong Kong the next few days. Lowest price for my stay is $150 and that’s a very basic room or a hostel. I use some IHG Points and my IHG credit card annual free night to book Intercontinental Hong Kong located on the tip of Kowloon peninsula. Still needed some serious cash, but pints reduced my cash portion to $610, a steal for that hotel given regular rates of $800+

  3. My flight from Manila, Philippines to Berlin on Turkish Airlines was canceled due to snow in Istanbul, as well as flights the next few days. No immediate rebooking, just a hotel and meal voucher and a promise that we would be contacted as soon as rebooking was possible, phone agents were no help. It was an absolute nightmare situation as I had a crucial work commitment the day after I would have landed. Buying a cash ticket for that route one day in advance would have been obscene, but fortunately I had a bunch of Flexpoints and was able to use them for a ticket from Manila to London the next day, I think I already had 80k and spent $635 buying the rest of the needed points, and still considered myself lucky. I booked an airport hotel in London and transferred some of my leftover UR points to Avios for an early morning flight from London to Berlin, allowing me to fulfill my work commitment that day.

    Side note, my original ticket had been booked through Citi ThankYou and both their agents and Turkish gave me the absolute runaround for many weeks as far as reimbursing my unused return ticket. But I did eventually get reimbursed for the cash value of my original, unused return flight at the time of booking ($500+) as well as for my hotel and taxi in London. If you’re ever in that situation, plan on multiple emails via their broken website, long and frustrating phone calls, and having to reinforce your demands with Turkish ticket desk agents in person (they were the ones who finally gave me an unpublicized email address for my refund request, which succeeded).

  4. couple years ago, IHG had stay twice and get free night promo… I’ve made 4 stays and earned two free night vouchers. I’ve used them at the Intercontinental HongKong. Nightly rate was $400-600. I’ve also used my Chase annual free night vouchers (mine and my wife’s) to put my friend’s in another room there. All told, 4 room nights for virtually nothing at Hong Kong Intercontinental.

  5. Another option this time of year can be the Venetian / Palazzo and IHG points. I burned 60k IHG points for 2 nights at the Venetian this past January, which was going for over $1,000 per night for my stay during CES week. I thought that was a pretty nice value for those points.

    • Actually – quick edit – it was 60k per night, so 120k points total for the 2 nights. Still, at over $1,000 per night, I thought that was pretty good considering the general value of IHG points, which is usually well under 1 cent per point.

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