Hotels can make a dent in your wallet quickly. That’s why I have come to love and adore booking free hotels nights with World of Hyatt and Hilton. Unlike airlines where rates and fees are transparent, Hotel imposed resort and parking fees can quickly add up. In this post, I will be looking at cheap hotels versus booking with points.
I will be looking at 3 cities and comparing points and cash rates for low end “cheap hotels”. For big brands, lower end point hotels include Hyatt Place, Holiday Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, and more. For finding cheap hotels, I will be using Hotels.com as the primary search tool. I will look at both San Francisco and Chicago to compare rates for Summer 2023.
Cheap Hotels vs Points in San Francisco
For hotel nights in San Francisco, we will look at June 15 – 19 in Summer 2023. Rates per night are pretty manageable with multiple options under $100 per night, but the poor reviews are definitely alarming.
For Hilton, awards rates started at 60,000 at the Hampton Inn San Francisco. With Hilton points being valued at about half a cent, one night was equivalent to roughly $300. Reviews at this property are higher than “cheap hotels” but that’s not saying much.
Hyatt was about the same. The cheapest award nights for June 15-19 started at 17,000 points per night. I know some travelers value Hyatt points at almost 1.5 cents, but I personally value them at about 1.2 cents per points bringing the cost per night to an estimated $204 per night.
I think its a complete toss up in the city of San Francisco. If traveling with kids, I would definitely splurge a little and stay with an established brand on points vs trying to squeeze out the most of every dollar. The reviews for “cheap hotels” are pretty alarming and unless you are just getting into miles and points, booking with Hyatt seems like the best route.
The Windy City, is a place I frequently visited during my undergraduate days. The city has a wide select of hotels ranging from pure luxury(Waldorf Astoria) to budget friendly properties.
Using Hotels.com, the cheapest hotels average around $300 per night for 4 nights. These properties are centrally located in Downtown Chicago, giving you easy access to tourist attractions such as Magnificent Miles, the Bean, and Navy Pier.
On the other hand, Hyatt properties start at 15,000 points per night (roughly $180 in my valuations). Most properties in the central Chicago Area will run you 18,000 points per night. The paid rates for these same properties also vary greatly, with some properties costing upwards of $450.
Hilton rates are roughly the same. The cheapest nights start at 50,000 points per night with most “cheap” options in around 60,000 points per night. There’s plenty of options with Hilton and interestingly enough, most properties are between 60,000-70,000 points per night which could bring exceptional value.
Paid rates for Hilton Properties in Chicago.
There are some really great deals on both sides of the spectrum, with award nights with Hilton providing plenty of options. I think while points is definitely the better option with Hyatt (waived resort fees and potentially free parking), Hotels.com is a more than viable option. Hotels.com options in the Downtown Chicago area have solid reviews and in stark contrast to San Francisco, I would definitely consider booking a cheaper hotel using Hotels.com.
When is it better to use points versus paying cash for lower end hotels? I think this answer varies vastly due to differences in area and the overall type of travel you are. For travelers who like a set schedule and dislike change, booking with smaller hotel groups might not fit your needs. While Hotels.com is a great option for “cheap” hotels, I would recommend doing thorough research on the property to ensure that you are not disappointed upon arrival.