Why we prefer hotel points over free night certificates

Once you join a brand new hotel credit card, you could be eligible for a sign-up bonus. These sign-up bonuses usually encompass a set variety of factors whenever you spend a certain quantity inside a specified timeframe. Nonetheless, sometimes, you may even see sign-up bonuses that supply a set variety of free nights whenever you meet particular minimum spending requirements in your new bank card.

Some vacationers prefer a sign-up bonus of free night certificates. We want to earn resort factors after we join a brand new card and meet the minimal spending necessities. This is why.

Free night time certificates are price simply 1 night time

One free night time certificates may get me a tremendous night time on the Hilton Maldives Amingiri Resort & Spa — however it’s solely price one night time. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

A free night time certificates is what it appears like: a free night time. You will solely get one resort night time for every free night time certificates. You want 4 free night time certificates to remain someplace for 4 nights.

On the flip facet, you need to use factors for as many nights as you’ll be able to stretch them into. When you have 35,000 factors in your Marriott Bonvoy account and a free night time award price as much as 35,000 factors, you may redeem both for one night time in a room that prices 35,000 factors per night time.

Nonetheless, when you discover a resort throughout the road that prices simply 17,500 Marriott factors per night time, you may use your factors for 2 nights. In the meantime, your as much as 35,000-point free night award would solely provide you with one free night time.

Associated: 7 of the best hotel credit cards that come with an annual free night

Free night time certificates expire sooner

Free night time certificates often expire prior to factors. DAMIRCUDIC/GETTY IMAGES

Almost each airline and resort program has a factors expiration coverage. These whose factors by no means expire are within the minority. Nonetheless, many applications with expiration insurance policies have a strategy to extend the life of your points. This may very well be so simple as incomes or redeeming some factors in your account or utilizing a cobranded bank card from that program. Thus, you’ll be able to preserve your factors for the long run when you’re not prepared to make use of them now.

On the flip facet, free night time certificates virtually at all times have expiration dates that often can’t be extended. Many free night time certificates expire one 12 months after they’re earned, however some expire simply six months after you earn them.

This implies your free night time certificates will virtually actually expire earlier than your factors. As such, you could really feel stress to redeem the free nights in your account, even when it isn’t an excellent redemption.

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Associated: How to get your points and miles back after they expire

Free night time certificates are designed for breakage

I am going to unlikely e-book an evening on the InterContinental Phuket Resort in Thailand at 40,000 factors per night time, the utmost worth of my anniversary free night time certificates. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

“Breakage” is a time period that refers to advantages designed to not be redeemed for his or her full worth, padding the earnings of whoever points these advantages.

An ideal instance of this kind of profit is your monthly Uber credits from American Express. May these credit be provided as an annual lump sum? Definitely — and it could be a lot simpler for shoppers to make use of the complete worth of this perk. Nonetheless, doling the credit out month-to-month means shoppers are much less prone to keep in mind to make use of the funds, much less possible to make use of the complete quantity and extra prone to spend previous the free quantity.

Free night time certificates work equally. Some individuals will work onerous to maximise their free night time certificates, in search of out as a lot worth from them as attainable throughout every redemption. Nonetheless, most individuals don’t do that.

Many will redeem a free night time certificates for lower than its full worth as a result of it is obtainable, as a result of it is expiring quickly or as a result of there are no properties obtainable on the specified dates that price the complete worth of the certificates. Thus, free night time certificates are sometimes redeemed for lower than their full worth, creating “breakage” that helps loyalty program earnings.

Associated: When you should redeem free night certificates instead of hotel points

Additional free night time perks solely apply to factors


Marriott Bonvoy, Hilton Honors and IHG One Rewards have a perk the place you’ll be able to get a free night when paying with points for a keep of 4 or 5 nights.

With Marriott, you get the least costly night time comped when redeeming factors for a keep of 5 nights or longer. With IHG’s fourth night reward, choose IHG cardholders pay zero factors for each fourth night time when redeeming IHG factors for a keep of 4 nights or longer. Additionally, Hilton deducts the price of one night time from the common price of 5 award nights when Hilton elite members redeem Hilton points for a keep of 5 nights or extra.

Sadly, these policies don’t apply to free night redemptions. You can not use a number of free night time certificates after which obtain an additional free night time added to your keep.

Associated: How to maximize longer hotel stays by using a free night benefit

Factors are extra versatile

I am going to redeem factors for a keep on the Hyatt Place Melbourne / Palm Bay in Florida, however utilizing a Class 1-4 award would not present good worth. KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

Lodge factors are extra versatile than free night time certificates on condition that they’re much less prone to expire, can be utilized nonetheless you see match and may garner a free night time added to your stick with some applications. These are the the reason why we want incomes factors as an alternative of free night time certificates as a sign-up bonus.

If you wish to keep at a top-end property that prices 50,000 factors per night time, you’ll be able to spend 50,000 factors to remain there. You would simply as simply keep there for an evening with a free night time certificates price no less than 50,000 factors. Nonetheless, if you wish to stretch your factors, you may keep at a resort that prices lower than 10,000 factors per night time. This allows you to use your identical 50,000 factors to pay for 5 nights — presumably extra if that resort program has a perk the place you will get a fourth or fifth night time free when redeeming factors.

Sadly, you can’t stretch your free night time certificates to be price greater than only one night time every.

Instance bookings the place factors go additional

To drive house the purpose, let’s take a look at some latest redemptions we have made the place factors go additional than free night time certificates.

Ryan’s examples

I really like Mexico Metropolis, and the Centro Historico is the place you must keep in your subsequent journey. When you have a Hilton Amex free night certificate (legitimate at practically any Hilton property worldwide), you may redeem it for one night time at any of those three properties. You’d possible select the most costly possibility when doing so.


Nonetheless, paying with factors is a special story. When you have 50,000 factors, you may get one night time at Umbral or the Reforma property. With those self same 50,000 factors, you may keep two nights on the Hampton Inn & Suites property, which I really like attributable to its nice employees and superb inside.

The identical idea applies to your subsequent go to to Shanghai. Contemplate these two resorts, that are separated by simply three subway stops. It takes 5 minutes to get from one property to the opposite. When you have a free night certificate with Hyatt, you may spend one night time at both property. Factors are a special story, although. With the 15,000 factors required to remain on the Grand Hyatt Shanghai on the pattern night time we searched, you may spend three nights on the UrCove Shanghai Lujiazui Expo resort as an alternative.


Katie’s examples

Kuala Lumpur is a city where you can stay at luxury hotels for relatively cheap. Contemplate the next instance during which I may redeem an as much as 40,000 level free night time award for one night time on the St. Regis Kuala Lumpur or 4 Factors by Sheraton Kuala Lumpur, Chinatown. Alternatively, I may redeem 40,000 factors for an evening on the St. Regis or no less than six nights on the 4 Factors.


Or let’s assume I needed to redeem IHG points for a keep in Phuket, Thailand. I may redeem an anniversary free night worth up to 40,000 points for one night time at any of those three properties. However I may redeem 40,000 factors for 2 to a few nights at these resorts.


That is the worth of factors as an alternative of certificates: You need to use the factors as you see match, choosing fewer nights at dearer properties or extra nights at cheaper properties.

Backside line

We’ll select factors over free night time certificates any day of the week. Factors last more, are extra versatile and may be stretched into multiple free night time at a resort.

The following time you see a bank card providing “free nights” as its sign-up bonus, keep in mind that there are limitations to what you are able to do with these free night time certificates. In case you want incomes factors as an alternative of free night time certificates like us, think about ready for a proposal to earn factors to return earlier than signing up for a brand new card.

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