May 21, 2016

Why Buying Points at the Margin is a Good Idea

I'm working on another trip to The Maldives and unfortunately was a bit short of points to lock in the hotel (the most important part of any Maldives trip).  Especially given the challenge of finding hotel award availability along with flight awards, locking in the hotel portion when it matches with flight availability is key.

While we loved our stay at the Park Hyatt during the last visit, we wanted something a bit closer to Male to maximize our time.  There are only a handful of point redemptions at the moment and the Conrad was essentially our only other option that met our requirements.

Conrad Maldives

We wanted to stay for four nights this trip.  I had two free weekend (Friday/Saturday/Sunday) nights thanks to the Citi Hilton Reserve card signup bonus which got us 50% of the way there.  Each night at the property is 95,000 Hilton Honors points.  Given the fact that Hilton is currently giving out credit card signup bonus points like candy, that should have been easy.   But both of us have already had all of the Hilton branded Citi/Amex cards so that wasn't going to work.

I could transfer points to my Hilton HHonors account from Citi or Amex at a 1.5:1 ratio but that is a bad deal.  HHonors points are easy to acquire and not nearly as flexible as Citi ThankYou or Amex Membership Rewards points.

You can buy up to 160,000 points through this sale

After doing the math, I was 58,000 points short of the 190,000 points needed for 2 nights.   Paying cash was out of the question since rates are typically around $1,100 USD AI per night.

This place isn't cheap

Hilton is currently selling points at 100% discount (click here and then login to your HHonors account).  That meant that I could buy the 58,000 points for $290 USD.  While that isn't cheap, I don't have an effective way of generating that kind of point balance in a short amount of time.  It's easy for me to rationalize spending $290 to get a $1,100 hotel room.  While I wouldn't ever pay that, I'm also happy to spend the marginal $290 to get us the four night stay we want.

So I bought the points which posted instantly.  A 15 minute call to Hilton and the four nights were booked (more on the trip details in future posts - it is going to be another RTW adventure) using a combination of the two free weekend certificates and 190,000 points from my account.  I've used this approach a handful of times when I've been close to an award (airline or hotel) and want to lock it in immediately.

I highly recommend reviewing your point purchasing options when you're close but not all the way there.  Award availability can disappear in an instant and the difference between the perfect trip and no trip might just be purchasing a few hundred dollars worth of points.

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