If you have a business hotel credit card, you’ve probably been racking up points with your favorite hotel brand with your everyday business expenses.
If you feel like you need a break, the summer may be a good time to think about taking a vacation, and your hotel points can help you do it. Here are some tips to help you make the most of them.
1. Book a once-in-a-lifetime trip
Depending on how many points you’ve managed to earn through your credit card, you may have enough to stay at a five-star hotel or even an all-inclusive resort. Check your loyalty program to see what your options are and where you can book the stay of a lifetime.
Just keep in mind that every hotel brand varies in how many properties they have and where those properties are located. So if you have a specific destination in mind, make sure there’s a hotel you can use your points at before you start planning the rest of your trip.
2. Stretch your points with lower-category properties
Hotels typically provide a range of properties separated into categories. Higher categories typically cost tens of thousands of points per night — some even upwards of 100,000 — but you can often get low-category hotels for much cheaper.
If you’d rather have a long trip than a short, luxurious one, look for low-category properties in the city you want to visit and see how many nights you can squeeze out of your rewards balance.
3. Use your free anniversary night
A lot of hotel business credit cards offer a free night stay every year when you pay your annual fee. Some, including the Radisson Rewards™ Business Visa® Card, offer multiple nights every year, depending on how much you spend on the card.
These free nights are typically limited in value up to a certain level so you may not be able to use yours at a five-star property. But on a card that charges an annual fee of around $100, you may be able to get a stay worth hundreds of dollars.
So if you need a one-night getaway or just want to extend your stay by an extra night, these free night awards are perfect for the job.
If you have a card that offers a free anniversary night, one thing to keep in mind is that they typically expire a year after they’re issued. So if you’re not going to use yours during the summer, make sure to have a plan to use it up before you forfeit it.
4. Use points and cash
If you don’t have enough hotel points to book the trip you want, some hotel programs allow you to pay with a mix of points and cash to make the trip still happen.
Before you do this, though, take the time to calculate how much your rewards are worth booking with points only versus points with cash.
For example, let’s say you can get a $250 room with Marriott at 35,000 points per night. But if you choose points with cash, it’ll cost you $140 and 17,000 points.
With the first redemption, your points are worth 0.7 cents apiece, and with the second one, they’re worth 0.65 cents each. If you’re trying to maximize the value of your points, you may be better off looking for another property that allows you to book your full stay with points and get more value.
5. Be flexible
Hotel loyalty rewards programs have a dynamic pricing system, which means there’s no set value per point. Instead, the value of your points can fluctuate, based on when and where you’re booking your stay.
As a result, flexibility is your best weapon when trying to make the most of your hotel points. When you’re planning your trip, look at more than one hotel in the area and possibly in different cities to see which one will give you the best redemption rate.
Also, because rates can vary by day, try booking different dates around the time you plan to travel to see where you can find the sweet spot.
The bottom line
Hotel business credit cards can make traveling a lot easier, and you don’t have to use your points strictly for business purposes. As you consider whether to travel this summer, look at your hotel rewards balance to see if you can take advantage of its value to improve your trip.
As you do so, consider these tips to help you make the most of your hotel points. There’s no single best way to redeem the rewards, so it’s important to take your time and research all of your options to get the right redemption for you. Finally, consider other business travel credit cards that can allow you to earn non-hotel travel rewards to potentially get more of your next trip covered for free.
This article was originally written on May 28, 2019.