Is It Safe to Use a Hotel Room Safe? [2022]

Should you use a hotel safe or are you better off hiding your valuables somewhere else?

In this article, I’ll give a breakdown of just how secure hotel safes are (or aren’t) and give you some tips and considerations to think about.

Is it safe to use a hotel safe?

Generally, a hotel safe is a safer place to store your belongings than open areas in the hotel room but they are not 100% secure.

Below, I’ll cover a lot of the risks and other considerations you will want to think about when storing your belongings.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

hotel room safe
Hotel safes are not 100% secure but they do help protect your personal items.

Are hotel safes really needed?

You might first be wondering if hotel safes are really needed?

Well, I would say yes they are needed based on some of the data.

There are studies out there that show that one in three housekeeping workers confessed to seeing a coworker steal cash on the job.

The study also shows that 16% said they were guilty of taking jewelry out of a guest’s room during or after their stay and “more than 27% witnessed a co-worker pick up jewelry they ‘found while cleaning.'”

Those statistics are much higher than I imagined which means that getting your items stolen or “found” by housekeeping is not an anomaly.

Hotel housekeepers should not have direct access to your safe (that should be reserved for management) so this means that placing items in your safe should at the very least make your items harder to steal from housekeeping.

The other threat comes from “door pushers.” These are thieves known to frequent places like Las Vegas and they walk through hallways trying to find doors that are not locked or shut.

So your first line of protection against these people will be locking your door and putting your valuables in a safe will be another level of protection.

Related: 11 Ways to Get a Free Night Stay at a Hotel

No hotel safe is 100% reliable

Master codes/keys

Just about every hotel has a master code or a master key that allows the hotel staff to open up a locked safe. This is because many guests will inevitably forget or lose their combinations to unlock the safe.

Hotel staff employees may have access to this code and also can probably easily get into your hotel room.

What is even scarier is that sometimes hotels will not change the default override code, even though such codes can often be found on the web, on forums, etc.

This means that any random person or someone knowledgeable about lock picking could find the default code and potentially access your safe if they enter your room.

So it is really important to always operate with the mindset that somebody could get to your belongings, even if they are located in a safe.


It does not take long when researching to find multiple ways to crack or hack hotel safes.

Some of these methods require a bit more sophistication but others are pretty simple like using a pinhole to access a safe. Some experts have shown how to crack a safe with just a paperclip and pocket knife and it’s probably easier than you imagine.

It would be impossible to cover all of the different ways to crack a hotel safe in this article but the key take away is that many hotel safes can probably be hacked with minimal effort/resources.

Low batteries

Another risk that could occur is that the hotel safe is running on low batteries.

A low battery safe could be disastrous because if it dies it could prevent you from accessing the safe which could be a major inconvenience, especially if you are on a time crunch.

You will likely have to contact the hotel maintenance staff to assist you with opening up the safe and depending on the aptitude and familiarity of the maintenance staff, that could prove to be a very time-consuming ordeal.

Even if they have a master code, a dead safe could present unexpected issues so one drawback to using a hotel safe is that they could introduce additional headache.

Related: Ultimate Late Check-Out Guide for Hotel Stays

Testing the password strength of your safe

Before you ever place any object in a hotel safe, you might want to check to see if the default password has been changed.

On some popular safes such as Saflok safes, the default password might be “999999.”

So if you created a pass code of something like “312879,” you could then test to see if the safe will open with default passwords like 999999, 111111, 222222, etc.

Sometimes you might have to hold the lock button or hit a button before inputting the master password such as the “#” or “*”button twice.

For illustration, here’s an example of someone hacking a Safemark hotel safe.

To test this, you can simply find the manufacturer/model of the safe in your hotel room and then a quick Google search might yield results for the default password.

Belongings to put into the safe

There are a lot of common items that people like to put into hotel safes. I’ll cover a few of these below and present you with some alternative ways of carrying or storing these goods.

How to think about a hotel safe

Before jumping into the items that you would use in a safe, it’s a good idea to think about the reasoning for using or not using a safe.

Some people think of a safe as just a way of making it harder to access your valuables rather than a sure fire method of preventing anybody from getting to them.

To them, putting valuables like a passport or cash in the safe is just making it one step harder for housekeeping/common intruders to take their goods.

On the other hand, a safe is also a place where sophisticated thieves will know to look when it comes to taking valuables.

If they know the master codes, chances are they could get into your safe and out in seconds and may not want to mess around with searching other random areas of the room.

This means that you could be better off finding a really good hiding place for your valuables and relying on stealth for your security.

If you want to really take your security to the next level, you could always put “lesser” valuables in the safe to throw off a potential thief and have your true valuables hidden elsewhere in the room or on your person.

For example, if you had $10,000 in cash on you, you might put a few hundred bucks in the safe and the rest of the cash in some type of hidden compartment within your luggage or belongings.


A point of debate is whether or not you should place your passport in the hotel safe.

Some travelers prefer to keep their passport on them at all times. This allows them to know without a doubt where their passport is located and if they ever need to use it when out and about they can easily do so.

The drawback is that you could misplace it of course or it could get stolen if it is contained within a bag that gets taken from you.

If you’re not sure the best place for your passport, you can always consider getting a (legal) duplicate passport and keep one passport in each location when traveling.

Duplicate passports usually are only valid for a couple of years so this is something you would have to do on a recurring basis.


Jewelry is another common item that people think about putting in the safe.

It is not recommended to wear expensive or flashy jewelry when visiting certain destinations known for petty theft so the hotel safe is a logical place to put those belongings.

But my recommendation would be to just always avoid wearing your fancy jewelry while traveling.


Cash might be one of the most common items that travelers will put into a hotel safe. It’s also the most commonly stolen item by housekeeping according to the survey above.

For that reason, putting your cash in the hotel safe is usually a way to decrease the odds of someone stealing your cash.

I would generally avoid traveling with large amounts of cash because it is so much of a security risk and it is so easy to just rely on a credit/debit card.

With that said, cash can be hidden on your person pretty easily with certain types of lanyards or belts.

It might be a good idea to diversify where you store your cash so that you could have cash in the safe, hidden in your luggage, and on your person.

Laptops and electronics

A lot of people traveling with expensive laptops such as MacBook Pros or electronics like fancy Canon cameras, tablets, headphones, etc. might consider putting them into a hotel safe.

These are all worthwhile items to put in a safe but some of them will not always fit.

If you are not able to carry these with you in a backpack as you travel then you might also consider hiding them in your luggage bag.

Just make sure that you also hide the charger and cords so that you do not give thieves any hints as to what type of electronics might be in your room.

Reception area safe

Some hotels have hotel safes located in the lobby area or perhaps behind the check-in desk.

These might appear to be safer but the same risks might be involved when using these safes since hotel management and others will likely have access to these safes.

Hotel liability

Hotels are generally not liable for your lost goods.

Typically, they will have some sort of disclaimer posted somewhere that explains that they are not liable for items left in hotel rooms.

In some cases, this disclaimer could exclude objects stored in a hotel room safe but generally the disclaimer covers objects not placed in the safe.

If a hotel has a broad disclaimer then one of your only routes for getting a hotel to be liable is to prove some type of negligence. For example, you might be able to prove that a hotel room safe was defective.

There is often a lot of difficulty with proving that a hotel staff member stole an item so sometimes these cases can be uphill battles that may not be worth the time and energy required to pursue them, especially if you were talking about a lower amount of money or valuables.

For that reason, I would not rely on a hotel liability policy to get reinstated for your lost items. You are much better off being proactive and trying to wisely choose what items you bring with you and how you store them.

Remembering to check the hotel safe at check-out

A lot of travelers don’t like to use hotel safes because they forget to check the safe before they check out.

They may not remember that they placed valuables in the safe until they are boarding their plane at which point it is too late to run back to the hotel.

You can always set reminders on your smart phone to remind you to check the hotel safe around the time you were checking out but sometimes your checkout time might change or your reminders may not trigger properly.

So my favorite low-tech method for remembering to check the hotel safe is to tie a piece of string to the safe from your luggage bag.

This serves two valuable functions.

First, unless you completely forget to take your baggage with you, you will always be reminded to check the safe before you depart and pack up your bag.

Second, if you pay close attention to the placement of the string and even snap a photo, you will be able to tell if someone has entered your room and perhaps tampered with your safe.

My (anecdotal) personal experience

I have done extensive traveling over the past seven years and stayed in a lot of hotels in different types of countries (first world and not so first world).

I’ve used hotel safes on occasion and other times just placed my belongings in my luggage bags while I am away from the hotel room.

Other times, I have left items in plain sight on the nightstand or some other type of hotel room furniture.

I’ve never had an item stolen from a hotel.

Obviously, my experience is anecdotal but I just wanted to share that it is perfectly possible to do a lot of traveling and never encounter any issues with theft from your hotel room.

Of course, I should probably knock on wood now.

Hotel room safe FAQs

Can a hotel access your hotel room safe?

Yes, hotel staff members likely can access your hotel room safe by using a master code/key that can override your personal code.

Should I put cash in the hotel room safe?

Traveling with large amounts of cash is generally not a good idea and should be avoided. However, cash is one of the most commonly taken items by housekeeping so placing it in a safe could be a good idea.

Does housekeeping steal items from hotel rooms?

On occasion, yes. One survey revealed that 43% of housekeepers reported stealing personal items from hotel guests.

Can you have money stolen from a hotel safe?

Although it is not a likely occurrence, there are reports online of people having money stolen from the hotel safe.

Is my passport safe in the hotel room safe?

Your passport is usually safer in the hotel room safe than it would be just lying around the room. However, some people prefer to always keep their passport on their person when traveling.

Final word

A key take away here is that hotel safes can make it one step harder for people like housekeeping or intruders to take your items.

However, if someone has access to the default/master codes they will be able to access your safe and many hotel safes are not that difficult to hack.

So you should never think of a hotel safe as a 100% secure way of storing your goods.

Instead, you should put a lot of thought into what type of objects you need to travel with and what type of alternative storage methods you can use that might be more secure.

Ultimate Late Check-Out Guide for Hotel Stays [2022]

Sometimes you just need a little bit more time inside your hotel room. Maybe you’re staying at a five-star property with luxurious amenities you don’t want to depart from or maybe you just need a place to hang out and pass time until it gets closer to your flight departure time, but late check-out can be a life saver sometimes. 

In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about late check-out including how to request it and some special tips for getting it. 

What is late check-out?

Late check-out is when when a hotel allows you to stay in your hotel room after the normal check-out hours and for no additional charge. 

Typically, a hotel will have a check-in time at around 3pm and check-out time at 12pm for its standard policy but will allow guests to stay longer in certain circumstances. Keep reading below for how to find out about those special circumstances! 

Also, if you want to get guaranteed late check out with the right hotel credit card, click here to find out more details.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding you the best travel credit cards and promotions!

When to request late check-out

You can request late check-out at several different points and each has their own advantages and disadvantages. 

The time of booking

You can request late check-out at the time of your hotel booking. You can do this either by telling someone over the phone that you would like late check-out or by notating it in the hotel app or website in some cases.

Since you will usually be making a hotel booking several days, weeks, or even months out in advance there is usually no way for them to guarantee your late check-out (unless you have elite status or some other special circumstance).

An additional tactic that could work at this stage is emailing the hotel manager about your request (simply call the hotel for their email address). By writing a polite email emphasizing how much you are looking forward to the hotel stay, you could increase your odds of not only getting late check-out but also possibly an upgrade. 

Here’s an example of what the email could look like. 

Dear [name of manager],

I’m [an X elite member] currently scheduled to stay at the [amazing hotel] on xx/xx and my booking reference number is: xxxxxx. 

I’ve been anticipating staying at the [amazing hotel] for some time and am excited to experience it soon. [insert sentence re: special occasion here if applicable] 

I wanted to make the most out of my stay and so I thought that I would contact the hotel before I arrive and let them know how much I would appreciate late check-out if possible. [insert sentence re: specific need here if applicable] 


-High Maintenance Hotel Guest

P.s: Any complimentary upgrades would be greatly appreciated, too. 😉

You can craft the email however you see fit. The more specific the better when it comes to why you’re excited about the stay and want/need late check-out. But there’s no need to write some long-winded email — just writing in will help to put a special designation on your booking. 


You can also request late check-out at the time of check-in. In most cases, the hotel will probably tell you that they cannot guarantee late check-out until the day of check-out. But if you suspect that you will be in need of late check-out then it is a good idea to let them know. 

You can also consider tossing them a 10 spot or 20 spot but the fee for late check-out could be around $20 at some hotels, so you may be better off just paying that fee instead of going the pseudo-bribery route. 

Related: Is It Safe to Use a Hotel Safe?

During your stay

Some people simply request a late check-out during their stay. The advantage to doing this could be that you could check with a couple of different people at the front desk on different days just to emphasize the need for late check-out. So whenever they go to make the determination on your day of check-out they will recall you frequently asking them about the late check-out and might be more inclined to give it to you.

Obviously, you don’t want to take this to the extreme and become a nuisance to the staff but this is something that could work and is similar to how we have gotten upgrades by requesting them during our stay.

The day of check-out

The most effective time to request a late check-out is to call the front desk early in the morning the day of your check-out.

Sometimes a staff member can tell you instantly whether or not you will get late check-out but other times they will have to check with their manager who will then have to check on the inventory for the day before they can guarantee it for you. They usually get back with you pretty quickly. 

Related: Should You Tip Hotel Housekeeping?

How to request late check-out

If you really want late check out then you should have a legitimate reason for requesting late check-out. Just wanting to sleep in may not push the needle enough for you to secure your late check-out so consider other more convincing and specific explanations.

Here are some legitimate reasons for requesting late check-out:

  • You have a late departing flight/train
  • Your flight was unexpectedly delayed or cancelled
  • A meeting is expected to last much longer than anticipated
  • Your ground transportation was delayed or canceled
  • You are experiencing exhaustion
  • You’re traveling on a special occasion (anniversary, honey moon, etc.)
  • You want to eat at the hotel’s restaurant, try out the spa, etc. (anything that puts $ in their pocket)
  • Waiting for bad weather to pass
  • A tour/activity was canceled or postponed 

Be sure that when you call that you are very courteous and you work your charm to get on the good side of the staff member. Winning them over with politeness could be the most important factor for getting late check-out.

Tip: If you have stayed at that particular hotel on multiple occasions, that is worth mentioning when you request your check-out.

Tip: Certain days of the week are known for lower occupancy and can be the best times to request late check-out but the best days could depend on other factors like the location, peak season, and even if there’s a shortage of housekeeping. 

Related: Tips for Early Check-In at Hotels

What time to expect for late check-out?

If you’re an elite member, see the section below re: late check-out times. If you’re not elite, my advice is to ask them for late check-out “as late as possible.” (They will usually ask you for what time you need it to rather than initially offering you a specific time.)

Hotels can be pretty generous when it comes to giving you an extra hour after normal check-out hours but after that, it’s very YMMV for non-elites or VIPs. So if you need two extra hours, ask for three or four hours — they will often meet you in the middle. 

Related: When Do Hotels Charge Your Credit Card? 

Do not disturb

If you are granted late check-out you probably want to put a do not disturb sign on your door. That’s because a lot of times the housekeeping staff does not get the memo that you have late check-out and they may barge in with only a weak knock. A do not disturb sign might remind them someone could be in there. 

Expiring room keys

Many hotels will allow your room key to expire before your late check-out ends. So for example, your room key may no longer work after 12 PM even though you have late check-out until 3 PM. This means that if you are coming back to the hotel after that time you will need to renew your room keys.

When I return to a hotel after the standard check-out time, I usually head straight to the desk to verify that my room key still works instead of walking all the way to my hotel room only to find out that it does not work.

That also means that you will need to have your ID on you so that they can verify that it is your room so always walk around with your ID whenever you have a late check-out.

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

St. Regis hotel credit cards.

Elite status with the hotel program

The most sure fire method to get late check-out guaranteed to you is to get elite status with a hotel program. Even some of the lower tier statuses (that you can get automatically with credit cards) will offer you late check-out. The higher up you go on the elite status ladder, the more guaranteed and the later your late check-out can be.

For example, if you have Marriott Gold you can get late check-out at 2 PM but it is not guaranteed. However, if you have Marriott Platinum then you can get guaranteed late check-out at 4 PM.

Something to note here is that just because your elite status says you only can get late check-out up until a certain time like 2pm, that does not mean that you cannot get a later check-out. I recently got a late check-out for free up until 4 PM as a Hyatt Discoverist member (two hours later than what is offered) so it really just comes down to the discretion of the hotel and your reasons for needing an extended check-out.

Just be aware that at many resorts the late check-out may not be available or it might be very limited. But even in those cases many top luxury resorts will be willing to accommodate you in a different way. For example, when we stayed at the Conrad Maldives we were not able to get late check-out with our overwater Villa but instead they were able to move us to a Deluxe Beach Villa where we were able to spend a few hours relaxing. 

Here’s are some of the check-out times that you can expect to get with elite status. Note that exceptions may apply for certain brands and properties where late check-out is guaranteed. 


  • Silver: no specific time  (based on availability)
  • Gold: 2pm  (based on availability)
  • Platinum: 4pm (guaranteed)
  • Titanium: 4pm (guaranteed)
  • Ambassador: 4pm (guaranteed)

World of Hyatt

  • Discoverist: 2pm (subject to availability at some locations)
  • Explorist: 2pm (subject to availability at some locations)
  • Globalist: 4pm (subject to availability at some locations)

Hilton Honors

  • Silver: no specific time
  • Gold: no specific time (perhaps 1pm to 4pm)
  • Diamond: no specific time (perhaps 1pm to 4pm)

IHG Rewards Club

  • Club: n/a
  • Gold Elite: 2pm (subject to availability)
  • Platinum Elite: 2pm (subject to availability)
  • Spire Elite:  2pm (subject to availability)
  • Ambassador: 4pm 

Tip: While 4pm is the standard cut-off for late check-out, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be limited to 4pm all the time. Some hotels will allow you an even later check-out time — I’ve heard of several people who have gotten late check-out as late as 6pm!

Beach villa at the Conrad Maldives.

Luxury hotel programs

I’ve written about a lot of different luxury hotel programs like the Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts and the Luxury Hotels and Resorts Collection, as well as the program offered for Visa Signature members. With these programs you can often get late check-out, though it might also be subject to availability (with the exception being the American Express program). 

Special check-out policies

Some hotels allow you to spend a full 24 hours at their property. While rare (and perhaps most common at some airport hotels), this is fantastic for people who come in on late check-ins. 

If you can’t get late check-out…

Here are some alternatives to consider if you were not able to secure late check-out at your hotel.

Lounge access

If you have access to the hotel lounge because of your room or because of your elite status some hotels will allow you to hang out in the lounge until the time that you need to leave (assuming it is a reasonable time). If you can’t access the lounge, perhaps consider just hanging out at the bar or a restaurant.  

Ask the hotel to store your bags

If you can’t stay after the standard check-out time, the hotel will probably still be willing to hold onto your bags while you venture out. Many times they would do this for no fee and all you will really need to do is tip someone. 

Pay for a half-day

If you can’t get a complimentary extension of your check-out time you can always ask about paying for a late check-out or half-day rate. You may need to pay something like $20 or $50 for an extension (or more for a half day rate).

Final word

If you really value late check-out then getting elite status with a hotel program is the best way to go. But even then you want to make sure that you clearly communicate your real need for a late check-out to the front desk for the best results. 

AAA Hotel Discounts: Are They Worth It? [2021]

AAA’s inventory includes more than 27,000 hotels across the world and at these properties, you can get special discounts to help save you some on your travels.

But how much are these AAA Hotel Discounts and is it worth booking the AAA rates?

In this article, I will take a look at some sample bookings from major hotels like Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, etc. and show you what type of savings you can expect. I’ll also show you when it might not be worth it to book the AAA price.

AAA memberships overview

Before jumping in too deep about the different discount rates, I think it is a good idea to provide a refresher on AAA memberships.

The memberships can differ based on where you are located (which state) but you may find three different levels of memberships ranging from about $5 to $10 per month. (You can see the prices below for the state of Texas.)

AAA memberships are probably most well known for the benefits they offer when it comes to things like roadside assistance but they also can get you discounts on many forms of travel. You can find discounts for car rentals, cruises, and various forms of entertainment like Universal Studios or Disney. So be sure to look into the AAA savings that extend far beyond hotels.

Related: Check out our updated list of all of the top hotel credit cards to find out which cards have the best perks!

What are the AAA Hotel Discounts?

You can expect to receive a discount anywhere from 0% to 20% off the standard hotel rate when you book the AAA rate. 

I wanted to put this discount to the test so I did a lot of test bookings for various hotel programs and found the following discount rates:

  • Hilton: 0% to 10%
  • Hyatt: 0% to 5%
  • IHG: 3% to 10%
  • Marriott: 0% to 20%
  • Choice: 5% to 10%
  • Best Western International: 10%

I made sure that I compared the same type of nights to each other based on the cancellation policy.

For example, I compared the advanced purchase AAA rate to the advanced purchase standard rate. Therefore, the percentages above should give you an accurate break down of the range of discounts I found for my sample bookings. 

If you want to view the specific prices of the sample bookings then keep scrolling down and I have all of those prices broken down. I chose various hotels around the country just to mix things up so the selection was completely random.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Cheaper non-AAA rates?

One of the biggest surprises that I found is that sometimes you can get cheaper rates by booking the standard rate or the member rate.

The standard rate is the normal rate that you would book a room at that does not have a discount attached to it. This is usually the main price displayed on the hotel’s booking page (you might see something that states “prices starting at X”).

The member rate is the rate you get for being a member of the hotel’s particular loyalty program.

So for example if you signed up for Hilton Honors, you would be eligible for the Hilton Honors rate. You don’t have to have elite status to get this rate — all you have to do is sign up and be a member so it is an easy and free way to save. 

Most of the time, the member rate was somewhere between the AAA rate and the standard rate. But in some cases it was the same price or even cheaper than the AAA rate so again just be on the lookout for that. It would be a really bad decision to book a discounted rate that is actually more expensive.

Related: Is It Safe to Use a Hotel Safe?

How to book AAA rates

It’s really easy to book the AAA rates.

Whenever you search for a hotel room, you should look for a special drop-down menu that says something like “special rates.”

From there, you should be able to select AAA and then the rates that display should show you the AAA rates. This is where you may also see other types of discounts such as senior discounts and AARP discounts. Sometimes this is also where you can select to book with points.

To proceed with booking, you may be required to input your AAA number.

Also, it is possible that a hotel will want to see your AAA card whenever you check in so if you want to make sure you don’t run into any issues then have your card on hand. I’ve seen a lot of reports where people have never been asked to show the AAA card but I personally don’t like taking risks like that so I would make sure to have it. 

Hilton AAA discounts

Something to consider when it comes to Hilton AAA discounts is that you can save even more with the Hilton MVP discount codes. You need to belong to some type of sports organization but it is very easy to qualify so check that out if you are really into savings.

Hampton Inn Ft. Lauderdale/Downtown Las Olas Area

  • Regular price: $236
  • AAA price: $212
  • Discounted rate: 10% 

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Philadelphia Center City

  • Regular price: $153 (Hilton Honors rate $148)
  • AAA price: $145
  • Discounted rate: 5%

Here is a good example of the member price falling right in between the regular price and the AAA price.

Homewood Suites by Hilton Minneapolis- St. Louis Park at West End

  • Regular price: $197 (Hilton Honors rate $193)
  • AAA price: $197
  • Discounted rate: 0% (Possibly a negative discount)

This booking is one of those situations where the discounted member rate is below the AAA price!

Homewood Suites by Hilton Oklahoma City-Bricktown, OK

  • Regular price: $144 (Hilton Honors rate $139)
  • AAA price: $133
  • Discounted rate: 8%

The Porter Portland, Curio Collection by Hilton

  • Regular price: $169 (Hilton Honors rate $163)
  • AAA price: $152
  • Discounted rate: 10%

Hyatt AAA discounts

Out of all of the hotel programs that I tested, Hyatt had the lowest discounted rate. I don’t know if it was just the properties I found, but the discounts were very unimpressive — usually falling below 5%.

Hyatt House Charlotte/Center City

  • Regular price: $218 ($211 member rate)
  • AAA price: $211
  • Discounted rate: 3%

Hyatt Place Las Vegas

  • Regular price: $169
  • AAA price: $167
  • Discounted rate: 1%

Hyatt Centric Brickell Miami

  • Regular price: $297
  • AAA price: $297
  • Discounted rate: 0%

Grand Hyatt Seattle

  • Regular price: $297 ($290 member rate)
  • AAA price: $297
  • Discounted rate: 0% (Possibly a negative discount)

Again, here is another instance of a potential “negative discount.”

Hyatt Regency New Orleans

  • Regular price: $279
  • AAA price: $266
  • Discounted rate: 5%

IHG AAA discounts

The IHG bookings were pretty solid and usually when I found a member rate it was between the regular price and AAA price or it was even with the AAA price. So when it comes to IHG, I would feel pretty good about the AAA discount prices.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Phoenix Downtown – Ballpark

  • Regular price: $342
  • AAA price: $334
  • Discounted rate: 3%

Holiday Inn Express El Paso-Central

  • Regular price: $169 ($160 member rate)
  • AAA price: $153
  • Discounted rate: 10%

Hotel Indigo: St. Louis – Downtown

  • Regular price: $149 ($141 member rate)
  • AAA price: $141
  • Discounted rate: 5%

Kimpton: Nine Zero Hotel

  • Regular price: $435
  • AAA price: $391
  • Discounted rate: 10% 

Holiday Inn Express & Suites: Atlanta Downtown

  • Regular price: $209
  • AAA price: $199
  • Discounted rate: 5%

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

Marriott AAA discounts

My Marriott bookings showed me one of the largest discounts at 20%. I’m pretty sure this is the higher end of the AAA discount so you can’t expect to find it very often but it was good to find a 20% discounted rate in the real world.

Salt Lake City Marriott City Center

  • Regular price: $289
  • AAA price: $260
  • Discounted rate: 10%

Residence Inn Miami Beach South Beach

  • Regular price: $429
  • AAA price: $347
  • Discounted rate: 20% 

JW Marriott Houston Downtown

  • Regular price: $209
  • AAA price: $188
  • Discounted rate: 10%

Courtyard San Francisco Union Square

  • Regular price: $329
  • AAA price: $296
  • Discounted rate: 10% 

Residence Inn Chicago Downtown/loop

  • Regular price: $199
  • AAA price: $199
  • Discounted rate: 0% 

Choice Hotels

Most of the Choice Hotels I found had a 10% discount which was pretty consistent.

Clarion Hotel Nashville Downtown – Stadium

  • Regular price: $196
  • AAA price: $186
  • Discounted rate: 5% 

Comfort Suites – South Austin

  • Regular price: $134
  • AAA price: $149
  • Discounted rate: 10%

Cambria Hotel Omaha Downtown

  • Regular price: $129
  • AAA price: $116
  • Discounted rate: 10%

Comfort Inn & Suites

  • Regular price: $194
  • AAA price: $175
  • Discounted rate: 10%

Comfort Suites Alamo/River Walk

  • Regular price: $199
  • AAA price: $179
  • Discounted rate: 10% 

Best Western International

Best Western Plus Lawnfield Inn & Suites Mentor Cleveland

  • Regular price: $129
  • AAA price: $116
  • Discounted rate: 10% 

Best Western Plus Blue Angel Inn Pensacola, Florida

  • Regular price: $139
  • AAA price: $125
  • Discounted rate: 10% 

Final word

As you can see the AAA discount can range dramatically and in some cases you might receive 20% off your hotel stay. In other cases though the discount savings are not so clear cut. You may only be saving a couple percentage points and in a few cases you might even be better off booking the standard hotel rate, especially if you are a member of that elite program. 

So I think it is worth looking into AAA discounts but you definitely should check to see if the AAA discount is actually saving you money.

When Should You Buy Hyatt Points? (Bonuses 25% to 40%) [2020]

Hyatt points are some of the most popular hotel points to purchase because of their great value. But you have a set limit on how many points you can purchase each year (which might change) and throughout the year bonuses and discounts come so you want to make sure that you are purchasing Hyatt points at the most opportune time.

In this article, I will tell you everything you need to know about buying Hyatt points including what type of discounts you can expect.

Related: Check out our updated list of all of the top hotel credit cards to find out which cards have the best perks!

How to buy Hyatt points

You can easily purchase Hyatt points online here.

Simply click on “Purchase Bonus Points” under “Purchase, Share, & Gift Points” and that will kick off the process. You’ll need to have your World of Hyatt number handy when making the transaction.

Once you proceed to the payment page, you will see the total number of Hyatt points you will have after your purchase.

It’s worth noting that you are not purchasing points directly from Hyatt but instead the transaction is completed by Also, purchased points are not refundable and transactions are non-reversible.

You will need to purchase your Hyatt bonus points in increments of 1,000 and you will be allowed to purchase up to 55,000 points each calendar year. After you purchase your points, those points should post within 48 hours and will be ready to be used.

Hyatt has increased the purchase limit up to 110,000 points before so it’s possible that in some years you can purchase more (but you may need to be targeted).

Hyatt also allows you to transfer points between people so you could purchase the maximum amount of points with two accounts and then simply transfer points over from one account to the other.

Note that the transfer process is still pretty old-school as you have to fill out a paper form and mail or scan it in and then wait for them to process your request. (You’ll need the signatures of both parties involved.)

Also, it states that a member may combine the necessary number of points from their World of Hyatt account with those in another World of Hyatt account in order to have a sufficient number of points to redeem a particular award.

So basically you have to use those points for a specific redemption (but that may not always be enforced).

By the way, if you’re looking for some great ways to use your Hyatt points be sure to check out our article on the top category one through four properties. Also, we have an article on the top Hyatt category seven properties which is where you will find a lot of the most luxurious hotels in the Hyatt portfolio.

Hyatt Ziva Cabo.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Does purchasing Hyatt points code as travel?

You might be wondering if your purchase of Hyatt points will code as travel since after all you are purchasing travel currency. Well, unfortunately the answer to that is probably no it will not code as travel (though purchases with some cards did trigger travel in the past before).

So your best bet is to use a card that has good bonus spend on every day purchases like the Chase Freedom Unlimited. That card would earn 1.5X on your Hyatt point purchases and then you could transfer those points over to Hyatt for even more Hyatt points.

And if you are trying to earn even more Hyatt points then you should consider the World of Hyatt Credit Card

Typically, the World of Hyatt Card will offer a welcome bonus ranging from 50,000 to 60,000 points. The welcome bonus is usually structured in a way that offers you a bonus for a lower spend amount and then requires you to spend more money within a six-month period to get the full bonus.

For example, check out two welcome bonuses that we have seen on this card below:

60,000 point offer

  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Plus, earn an additional 20,000 Bonus Points after you spend $6,000 total on purchases within the first 6 months of account opening

50,000 point offer

  • Earn 25,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Plus, earn an additional 25,000 Bonus Points after you spend $6,000 total on purchases within the first 6 months of account opening.

You can also get 4X spent with your card at Hyatt hotels. 

What are Hyatt points worth?

When trying to decide whether or not you should purchase travel points of any kind it is always wise to start with a baseline valuation.

In this case, we can use a WalletFlo Hyatt valuation of 1.57 cents per point. (This means that you would expect to get 1.57 cents in value for every Hyatt point that you use.)

It’s worth pointing out that this valuation is much higher than the valuation for other hotel points. For example, many people value Hilton points at about .5 cents per point. So Hilton points are nearly 3 times less valuable than Hyatt points.

This is why it is typically recommended to only transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt and not other hotel partners like IHG or Marriott because they don’t offer the same amount of value.

How much can you buy Hyatt points for?

At a standard rate, you can purchase Hyatt points for 2.4 cents per point. Below are some of the purchase rates:

  • 1,000 Bonus Points: $24.00 
  • 2,000 Bonus Points: $48.00  
  • 3,000 Bonus Points: $72.00 
  • 4,000 Bonus Points: $96.00 
  • 5,000 Bonus Points: $120.00 
  • 10,000 Bonus Points: $240.00 
  • 15,000 Bonus Points: $360.00 
  • 20,000 Bonus Points: $480.00 
  • 25,000 Bonus Points: $600.00 
  • 30,000 Bonus Points: $720.00 
  • 35,000 Bonus Points: $840.00
  • 40,000 Bonus Points: $960.00 
  • 45,000 Bonus Points: $1,080.00
  • 50,000 Bonus Points: $1,200.00 
  • 55,000 Bonus Points: $1,320.00

Obviously, 2.4 cents is more expensive than 1.57 cents so you will be purchasing points for more than they are worth.

However, there are a couple of things to say about this.

First, often times when you purchase points it is to top off a redemption and most people agree that getting a sub par value on purchased points for a topped off award is worth it because it means being able to make a redemption that you probably are very interested in making.

For example, you might only be 5,000 points short to complete a three night stay at an awesome property like the Park Hyatt Bangkok and by purchasing 5,000 points for $120 you can enjoy that redemption. 

Second, sometimes you can get outrageous value for your Hyatt points and it’s possible that you could get more than 2.4 cents in value. For example if you were to travel to the Kentucky Derby and you wanted to stay in a Hyatt hotel, those rooms go for very high prices and your cents per point could come out to well above 2.4 cents. So in those cases, purchasing points is actually cheaper than paying cash.

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

Buying Hyatt points for cheap (25% to 40% discounts)

At various times throughout the year, Hyatt will offer special bonus discounts when purchasing points.

For example, we recently saw a 25% discount when purchasing 5,000 points or more. This allowed people to purchase Hyatt points at a rate of 1.8 cents each.  

The big bonus you want to be on the lookout for with higher points is the 40% discount.  You may need to purchase at least 10,000 Hyatt points to trigger this discount but 40% is a super discount and allows you to purchase Hyatt points at a rate of 1.71 cents per point.

That is the type of deal where it could make sense to proactively purchase points even when you have no plans for booking a stay. These deals come around very frequently so you usually don’t have to wait around that long for a Hyatt points purchase discount.

Final word

Purchasing Hyatt points for optimal value is all about timing and getting those 25% to 40% discounts. If you can purchase Hyatt points at a rate of 1.71 cents per point you might even proactively purchase points but I usually recommend people to just hold off until they at least have a redemption in mind. 

12 Ways to Get a Free Night Stay at a Hotel [2020]

There are a lot of different methods for getting a free hotel stay. These range from signing up for certain credit cards to catching the right promotions and even building up your own travel-related media platform.

This article will discuss 12 different ways to get a free night stay at a hotel.

Interested in finding out the top travel credit cards for this month? Click here to check them out!

How to get free night stays at hotel

  • Hotel credit cards
  • Cash back credit cards
  • 5th night free
  • 4th night free
  • 3rd night free
  • 2 nights free
  • Utilize OTAs (online travel agencies)
  • Hotel promotions
  • Travel portals
  • Timeshare presentations
  • Be an “influencer”
  • Negotiate

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

1. Hotel credit cards

The most sure-fire method for getting free hotel stays is to utilize credit card rewards.

You can get free nights via credit cards by earning points or by earning free night certificates. Many cards will give you free night certificates each year just for paying your annual fee like the new IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card.

Other credit cards that offer you annual free night certificates are the World of Hyatt credit card, the Marriott Rewards credit card, and the Hilton Aspire. These free nights might be capped to certain categories, like the Marriott free nights at 35,000 points but you can still get great value with these hotels. 

The Hyatt and Marriott cards come with lower annual fees but the Aspire will get you a free weekend night that can be used at any Hilton property.

Many of these hotel cards offer referrals so you can earn additional hotel points when others are approved that used your links. You can read more about how these work here.

2. Cash back credit cards

If you don’t want to hassle with points or free night certificates then using cash back credit cards or travel statement credit cards is a great way to get a free hotel stay.

We used the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card which currently offers a $500 sign-up bonus.

You can use that travel credit to cover any hotel stay and it won’t be subject to black-out dates or award inventory. The Venture also now earns 10X on purchases made at so there’s additional opportunities for big savings.

Using the Venture at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel was one of my favorite redemptions.

3. 5th night free

Hotel loyalty programs like Hilton and Marriott provide you with the 5th night free when you book five consecutive award nights. This is a way to greatly increase the value of your points, and I’ve used the 5th night free for some high value redemptions like the Hilton Playa del Carmen.

Obviously you’ll need a decent amount of points to cover 4 nights but that’s when the credit cards come in handy with their sign-up bonuses.

Related: Is It Safe to Use a Hotel Safe?

4. 4th night free

Sometimes it’s not ideal to stay in one location for five nights so you can go for the fourth night free instead.

The Citi Prestige offers the 4th night free when you use your card to book hotels through its portal. This perk can be used on any hotel found through the portal but can only be used two times per year now. This is one of the most valuable hotel benefits out of any credit card since you can easily save hundreds of dollars on a four night hotel booking.

5. 3rd night free

Is it possible to get a third night free? 

The answer is yes, but you need to know where to look.

The Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts program offers special promos for some amazing properties where you can get the third night for free. In addition to getting the third night free, you’ll also get a lot of special perks like free breakfast, upgrades, and credits to use at the resorts. You can read more about that valuable program here. 

6. 2 nights free

It’s even possible to sometimes get two nights free when you make a booking.

The program that offers this is called the Relais & Châteaux and it’s a collection of over 500 luxury properties located all around the world. Most of the locations are found in Europe but you can find them in the US and in other places like Asia and South America.

If you find the right deal, you can get two free nights whenever you make a seven night booking. This is one of the only programs that I’ve seen offering this kind of double free night and it could be very lucrative given the price of some of these hotels. Find out more about the program here.

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

7. Utilize OTAs (online travel agencies)

OTAs (online travel agencies) are actually great ways to earn free hotel nights. You can go with a program like Expedia and earn rewards or programs like that give you the 10th night free based on the average cost of your prior 9 stays.

You can also go with sites like You’ll be able to earn cash back in high amounts that will have you earning free nights in a hurry! For example, I stayed at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas and received 40% back on my stay. That’s unheard of.

If you’re serious about earning a free hotel stay via an OTA, I highly recommend to check out

8. Hotel promotions

Catching the right hotel promotions can be a great way to get a free hotel stay.

Marriott started a promotion for the 2017 NFL football season allowing you to earn 1,000 free Marriott points every week just by following them on social media and tweeting out answers to football related questions.

And Wyndham offers promotions like this one where you can earn one free night (good even for all-inclusive properties) by completing two stays (even if they were at super-cheap motels).

You just need to stay tuned in to blogs like this one and all of the others to see when these promos are happening.

9. Travel portals

Many of the major credit card issuers have travel portals where you can use your points to book hotel stays without having to pay cash.

One of the best travel portals is the Chase Travel Portal which allows you to redeem points at a rate of 1.5 cents per point if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

That rate is better than just about any travel portal out there. You won’t always get your elite benefits honored when booking through these portals but I have had them honored in the past. 

10. Timeshare presentations

This is something I’ve never personally done, so I won’t pretend to be an expert.

But you can often find special promotions going on that allow you to receive free travel perks by sitting through a time share presentation. You need to be very careful that you know what you’re getting yourself into when attending these, but they can lead to free hotel nights.

  • Read more about timeshare presentations and how to get free hotel stays here.

11. Be an “influencer”

This is probably the hardest to accomplish. You can start to build an online presence as a travel blogger, vlogger, etc. Once you can demonstrate that you have a certain reach online (and quality content to go along with that), you can reach out to hotels about receiving comped stays.

Typically, you’ll need to be somewhat established in the field to be considered an “influencer” (yes, I don’t care for the term either). You’ll need to have followers, features, awards, or some type of notable element to your brand so the hotel knows they’re not wasting their time. Also, this method works best on newer hotel properties that can use the additional exposure upon opening.

Just pray that this doesn’t backfire like it did recently for one unfortunate blogger.

12. Negotiate

When something goes wrong with your booking or your stay, don’t be afraid to voice your displeasure and to request compensation. I just wrote about a guy who received 2 additional free nights, 100,000 additional points, and elite status for two years with IHG all because IHG canceled his mistake fare booking.

Obviously, you never know what you might get with this method and you need to remain reasonable. However, you never know what type of perks you might get offered just by asking when something goes awry with your hotel stay.

Final word

Knowing how to get a free night stay at a hotel comes down to just a few key things. Generally, signing up for the right credit card is the best and most surefire method for getting free night stays. But signing up for promotions, utilizing OTAs,  and knowing how to leverage your situation are also ways to get a free night.

What is Hilton MVP and How Does it Work? (20% off) [VIDEO 2020]

Hilton MVP is a special discount that can be applied at specific Hilton properties in certain regions and also be leveraged for hotel elite status. A lot of people are not aware of this discount even though many people are eligible to use it. I’ll share this one with the UponArriving audience but you have to keep this one quiet so it doesn’t go dead.

Interested in finding out the top travel credit cards for this month? Click here to check them out! 

What is Hilton MVP?

Hilton MVP (also called Hilton Family MVP Reservations) is a special discount program applied to specific properties throughout the US, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, and other countries in Latin America. These Hilton MVP rate discounts are usually at or around 20% and are often better than the AAA discounts.

Just take a look at the rates below. Notice how the MVP portal price is almost $20 cheaper than the AAA rate.

Hilton MVP
The Hilton MVP rate discount showing close to 20% off at this hotel with a price lower than the AAA rate.

How does Hilton MVP work?

The first thing that you need to do is find a discount code.

Below are Hilton MVP 2020 codes. Notice that they are different depending on the property that you’re trying to book. Keep in mind that these change every so often (I’ll try to keep this updated when those changes occur).

  • Hampton Inn, Embassy Suites, Homewood Suites, Doubletree, etc. 0561135262
  • Hilton Garden Inn and Hilton 1135262

Thanks to Flyertalk for the codes.

Using the Hilton MVP codes

There are three different methods for getting the Hilton MVP discount to work with the MVP codes.

Searching through the Hilton MVP portal

Search through the official Hilton MVP Portal on Hilton’s website. You’ll see where you can search for hotels in the top right.

Hilton MVP

It’s also worth noting that this page has a challenge for getting to Hilton Gold that requires only 4 stays! This is the same hotel status that you get with the Amex Platinum.

You’re also eligible to achieve Hilton Honors™ Gold status in just 4 stays in 90 days. Register now and learn more about this exclusive offer.

That is a terrific offer as Hilton Honors Gold status can offer you a lot of valuable benefits like free breakfasts, upgrades, late check-out, and even sometimes hotel lounge access. I’ve never done a status challenge like this before but note that the terms and conditions state the following:

member must be an athletic administrator, athlete, or affiliated with a sports entity, sports related company, sports group or event and must complete four qualifying stays within 90 days of registration or enrollment.

So you need to have some some type of Hilton MVP sports affiliation.

(More on that below.)

Using the Hilton MVP code for the app

You can also enter the discount code in the Hilton App.

Simply log in to your app and then select “Add Special Rate Code” from the home page and you’ll be taken to the screen below to where you can input the same codes as above.

Once the code has been entered, you’ll see the MVP price show when looking at eligible hotels.

Hilton MVP

Entering corporate code on Hilton MVP booking site

Hilton MVP works just like putting in any other special discount code. You simply select “Special Rates” as seen below. You’ll then be prompted to enter a code. You’ll want to enter in the relevant MVP code for the Corporate Account. 

Once you enter the code, you’ll see the MVP rate show up if the property is eligible.

Note that you can use the Hilton MVP code even on rooms above the standard rate like this junior suite pictured below.

Who can join Hilton MVP?

Hilton states that:

You must be an athletic administrator, athlete, or affiliated with a sports entity, sports-related company, sports group or event to be eligible. You will be asked to show credentials, such as an official business card designated with your team logo, etc.

So in order to utilize these discount codes you need to be part of an actual sports entity, sports group, sports event, or sports-related company.

In practice, many people find that hotels don’t require you to show any affiliation. They point to the terms that can be found on some hotels regarding the MVP rate which state:

Special Rate. Hilton Honors number required when booking. Subject to availability restrictions at each Hotel. Restrictions: Must be requested. Do not offer. Hilton Honors number/card required when booking. 20% off BAR. Features: Special rate. Subject to hotel availability, length of stay restrictions, blackout dates may apply.

Those terms don’t state anything about being a part of a sports team or sports-related company. However, I like to play by the rules and be safe so for people like myself, they can join the US Golf Association for $25. You can sign-up to join right here. I believe $10 memberships were available for some time though I’m not sure that they are still available (if you find those let me know). 

In the end you’ll have to use your best judgment as to what you think is the right way to go about getting this discount.

Note: the “Team USA” rate code has been discontinued.

H/T: Flyertalk.

Final word on Hilton Honors MVP

Hilton MVP is a great way to save money on Hilton hotel bookings and many people who don’t even realize they are eligible for the discount. I recommend going the safe route and enrolling in some type of sports association (or getting out and actually playing sports) but you should use your best judgment to dictate your own course of action.

Can You Still Get Marriott Elite Benefits When Booking Through an OTA? [2019]

I’m one of those travelers who is open to booking hotel stays with OTAs on occasion. I usually prefer not to but sometimes it just makes sense given my point balances, award pricing, availability, and my schedule. And sometimes I just like to test things out. 

Marriott Elite Benefits for OTA Bookings? 

For the longest time Marriott was one of the best hotels to stay at when booking through an OTA. That is because they always honored my elite benefits even when the stay was booked through an OTA. But after the recent merger with SPG, Marriott quietly removed membership tier benefits from online travel agency bookings. 

This was a major bummer to me but I still wanted to go ahead and give it a test to see what would happen if I booked a stay at a Marriott property. So I went ahead and used Ultimate Rewards to make a booking through the Chase Travel Portal (basically Expedia) at the St. Regis Houston — one of the top luxury hotels in the city.

I redeemed 28,238 Ultimate Rewards for a Deluxe room that would’ve cost $423.57/night. After I made a booking, I called into the hotel to add my Marriott Bonvoy number. I am currently a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium elite member although I definitely am not sure how I’ve maintained that status (but that’s another story). 

Anyway, whenever I got to the hotel I once again confirmed that my elite information was attached to my reservation. For some reason, it had not been added so I had to re-add my information. And after they verified my elite status they went ahead and found me and upgraded me to a Junior suite ($600/night) and then confirmed that I would receive other benefits like free breakfast and 4pm late check out. 

So just like that I had received Marriott elite benefits even though I’d booked through an OTA.

St. Regis Houston junior suite.

Final Word 

This just just further confirms to me that this type of determination is hotel specific, regardless of what the terms and conditions might state. And while there is no guarantee that you will receive your elite benefits when booking through an OTA I bet that the odds are higher than most people think they are (assuming you actively add your elite number and ask about them while working a little bit of charm). 

11 Reasons Why I Love Marriott Rewards

Marriott Rewards is one of my favorite hotel loyalty programs for a number of reasons. It’s not difficult to climb the ranks of Marriott elite tiers with credit cards and status challenges; the perks of Gold and Platinum status are solid, and there are various ways to capitalize on value with the program through earning and burning. So here are 11 reasons why love Marriott Rewards.

1) Marriott Status = SPG status

Because of the Marriott SPG merger, your status with Marriott is matched with your status with SPG. So if you obtain Marriott Gold you get SPG Gold, if you obtain Marriott Platinum you get SPG Platinum. (And vice versa.) This adds a lot of value to both programs and one reason why I’m such a big fan of both of them.

The W Las Vegas, an SPG property.

2) Marriott Gold is easy to obtain (with credit cards)

Marriott Gold is one of the hardest mid-tiers to obtain with stays and nights. For example, while it takes 40 nights to receive HHonors Gold and 25 nights to receive SPG Gold, you must complete 50 nights to earn Marriott Gold Elite status.

However, Marriott Gold is very easy to obtain with credit cards. 

  • The Ritz-Carlton Rewards card offers automatic Gold elite status for the first year (you’ll have to spend $10,000 in a year to receive it for the following years).
  • The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card offers Silver status but also offers ways to earn elite credits toward Gold and you can earn Gold status by spending $50,000 in a year. (If you’re only able to obtain silver status then you can always contact Marriott and inquire about a status challenge to get to Gold)
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express offer you Hilton Gold, SPG Gold (and therefore Marriott/Ritz-Carlton Gold)
  • Finally, if you are a MileagePlus Premier Gold member. Through the RewardsPlus Program, you’ll be given complimentary Gold status with Marriott.   

Marriott Marquis Houston.

3) Marriott Gold is valuable

With Marriott Gold Elite Status you’ll receive the following perks:

  • Guaranteed lounge access/breakfast for members and one guest
  • Complimentary upgrades may include rooms with desirable views, rooms on high floors, corner rooms, rooms with special amenities, rooms on Executive Floors, or suites.
  • Complimentary high-speed internet
  • Check out as late as 4pm
  • Book 5 consecutive nights and the 5th night is free (this perk is available to all Marriott status levels but is worth mentioning).
  • Gold Elite members are credited with a 25% bonus on base points earned during stays.

With these benefits, you’re able to obtain a lot of additional value when you stay at Marriott properties. We recently used Brad’s free-night certificate to stay at the JW Marriott at the Houston Galleria and with Brad’s Gold Status, we received an upgrade, an amazing free breakfast (worth $50), free high-speed wifi, and late checkout.

JW Marriott Houston Galleria.

4) Marriott Platinum is easy to obtain (with credit cards and status challenge)

Marriott Platinum status can be easily obtained if you already have Gold status from a credit card. All you have to do is enroll in a Marriott Platinum status challenge and make 9 stays. This sounds like a lot but if you live in a big city and can utilize a promo or two, it’s possible to earn Platinum Status for as cheap as $318 when you factor in the value received through points and discounts. Because Marriott has so many properties, it’s often not difficult to find a cheaper property near you to help you finish these stays.

5) Marriott Platinum is valuable

With Marriott Platinum Elite Status you’ll receive all of the above perks for Gold Elite members plus the following perks:

  • Guaranteed lounge access/breakfast for members and one guest
  • Complimentary upgrades may include rooms with desirable views, rooms on high floors, corner rooms, rooms with special amenities, rooms on Executive Floors, or suites.
  • Dedicated phone line for Platinum members
  • Guaranteed room availability for reservations booked at least 48 hours prior to arrival available at all participating Marriott hotel brands except Marriott Vacation Club
  • Guaranteed arrival gift and if you’re not given one you’re entitled to up to $100 in guest compensation.
  • Platinum Elite members are credited with a 50% bonus on base points earned during stays

These benefits aren’t a tremendous leap up from Marriott Gold. Since I’ve been a Platinum Member, however, I’ve had a much better experience with getting upgraded to suites, such as on a recent stay at a Marriott Renaissance in Phoenix.

Marriott Renaissance Hotel Phoenix Suite.

The big difference in benefits for Platinum members is that through United/Marriott RewardsPlus Program, you’ll be given complimentary United MileagePlus Premier Silver status when you reach Platinum status with Marriott.

United Silver offers a number of different benefits which I cover in this article. The most worthwhile benefit is probably getting upgraded from economy to economy plus. This is not 100% guaranteed on each flight but in practice, you often receive the upgrades. You’re also eligible for upgrades to business/first (much more rare) and get other bennies like priority check-in, boarding, security, access to more award space, and waived or minimized fees for changes in booking. If you fly United a lot and would regularly purchase economy plus upgrades, then Platinum status can be worth pursuing on that basis alone.

United business class on a Boeing 767.

And don’t forget, you’ll also get SPG Platinum Elite status which comes with a whole host of other benefits

6) Marriott’s footprint is gigantic

Marriott’s footprint is absolutely huge and will only be growing with the SPG merger. In fact, it will now have 30 hotel brands under the Marriott umbrella to create the largest hotel chain in the world with more than 5,800 properties and 1.1 million rooms in more than 110 countries. This makes it easier than ever to earn and use points when traveling across the globe and distinguishes it from other programs like Hyatt where it’s harder to come across their properties.

7) Marriott is one of the most rewarding loyalty programs

I compared the earning rates of several major hotel chains to see which ones earn you the most value by earning points when staying with them. I simply added up how many points you’d earn on stays and then factored in how much those points would be worth to compare programs like IHG, Marriott, SPG, and Hilton.

Marriott had the best earning rate for guests without any elite status and also had the #1 return in value in points when booking stays on the hotel co-branded credit card with mid-tier status. This means that in terms of % received back with your stays, Marriott is arguably the most rewarding loyalty program.  

8) Marriott is okay with your OTA bookings

You won’t earn Marriott points when you book through online travel agencies (OTAs) but you can still get your elite status perks honored. I’ve booked a number of Marriott stays through the new OTA and have still received upgrades to suites, free breakfast, etc. Many other programs like Hilton and IHG are known for not honoring these perks so this is a major plus for Marriott.

9) Transfer partner of Chase

Marriott is a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards. While you typically get the best hotel value for your Ultimate Rewards when you transfer them to Hyatt, you can still get decent value for your points when transferred to Marriott, as redemptions often earn you .7 to .8 cents per point or more. So if you ever need to top off your Marriott points, it’s extremely easy to do so by earning points on Chase cards.

10) Strong co-branded credit cards

Chase issues two Marriott credit cards: a personal version and a business version (the latter is NOT subject to 5/24 but the former is).The Marriott cards come with bonuses as high as 100,000 at times and offer a free anniversary night, allowing you to earn an instant boost for your Marriott account. In addition, JP Morgan Chase also issues the premium Ritz-Carlton card which sometimes come with three free nights as a sign-up bonus.

And finally you can convert your SPG points to Marriott points at a 1:3 ratio so there are even more possibilities for earning Marriott points.

11) Marriott Flight and hotel Packages

Marriott allows you to convert Marriott points into these flight and hotel packages that allow you to maximize the value of your Marriott Rewards points. For example, you can convert 270,000 Marriott points into 132,000 United miles plus 7 nights a category 1-5 hotel.

If you value Marriott points at .7 cents per point, then your starting point for 270,000 points is $1,890 worth of Marriott points.

If you value United points at 1.5 cents per point than you’re getting $1,980 worth of United miles in exchange for $1,890 worth of Marriott points. And that’s not even factoring in the 7 free nights, which could easily be worth another $1,000+. So these flight and hotel packages can be great ways to cash in on the value of your Marriott points.

Final word

We all have our preferences for hotel loyalty programs. Some love stronger point values and confirmed suite upgrades of programs like Hyatt while others might prefer a program like Marriott with strengths in other departments. Personally, I love Marriott Rewards and have enjoyed being a Platinum Member with them and have no intention of giving that up any time soon.

How to Pool Hilton Honors Points

In April of 2017, Hilton released one of the best changes to its Hilton Honors program: “points pooling.” Many hotel loyalty programs force you to jump through hoops to transfer points or restrict who you can transfer points to (i.e., only family or household members).

Other times you’re forced to pay expensive transfer fees or deal with low caps on the number of points you can transfer in a year. Thankfully, Hilton Honors has made some great strides when it comes to sharing points and the process is very straight forward.

There are a few rules for pooling for points that you should be aware of:

Rule for pooling points

  • Hilton Honors members can combine their points with up to 10 family and friends for no cost. (That means that a total of 11 individuals can pool their points together.)
  • There is no limit to the number of pools you can be a member to.
  • You can use pooled points for any type of award (even for things other than hotel stays).
  • You can transfer a minimum of 1,000 points and a maximum of 500,000 Points into a pool in a calendar year.
  • A member can receive up to 2 million points in a calendar year.
  • To use points pooling, you must be an active member, be in the program for 30 days, and have a minimum Points balance of 1,000 Points.
  • The transferred or pooled points will be available for use at the time of transfer, but allow up to 24 hours for pooled points to show up when you log in to your account.

This is a tremendous perk that makes earning enough points for your redemptions much easier. The ability to receive up to 2 million points is well above what some other hotel programs allow and the fact that you can share points with both family and friends makes this a true no “non-sense” feature where you don’t have to get into faxing proof of residency and other annoying and time-consuming things.

The one thing that might trip some people up is that their account needs to be active for 30 days and have a minimum points balance of 1,000 points. It’s not too difficult to earn 1,000 Hilton Honors points but these requirements are definitely something to be aware of.

How do you pool Hilton Honors points?

On that page, you’ll see fields to enter up to 10 email addresses and names. You do not have to input their Hilton Honors number.

Once you’ve entered the email addressed, click on “Create my pool and send invitations.” You should receive a confirmation email that your invitation has been sent and the recipients should receive an email (within minutes) that contains a link to the sign-in page for points pooling.  At that point, the recipient of the invitation will be prompted to transfer their points to you. On a mobile device, the screen will look like this:

However, if you want to transfer your points to that person you just invited just have them disregard that prompt and log off after they sign-in, since your accounts will now be linked and ready for pooling. Then you just need to go to “Transfer” which you’ll find on the left side of the webpage, as seen below.

You can also access the transfer screen by clicking on “Points” on the Hilton homepage and then clicking on “Buy, Gift, Pool & Transfer” on the left sidebar. Once there, click “Transfer” and you should be taken to the transfer screen. (Note: this page has given me errors a number of times so it might still be a little bit glitchy since it just rolled out.)

Once there, you’ll be prompted to enter their information like their name, email address, and Hilton Honors account number.

The transfer should be instant but as stated it could take up to 24 hours to process.

Final word

I didn’t like that Hilton decided to do away with its published award charts but the addition of points pooling was definitely a plus. This is going to make it much easier to accumulate the necessary number of points for a lot of people and it helps that it’s so simple to use.