Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.
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.
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.
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?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.