Should You Use Your Points on Hotels or Flights

Should You Use Your Points on Hotels or Flights

Using points towards a flight or on hotel stays is a pretty common debate in the points world and one that I feel doesn’t have a “correct” answer. Of course, the easy answer is BOTH! But realistically that’s not possible for the majority of people so I believe it really comes down to the individual’s preferences and situation. I’ll preface this by saying that I’m obviously biased towards flights but in this article, I want to lay out the pros of hotels and flights and why I personally prefer using my points on great business class/first class flights instead of hotels.

Pros of Business/First Class Flights

I already went in depth on why I love flying business/first class in another article so I’ll just give a quick summary of those reasons here.

Roomier and More Private Seats

One of the best perks of these flights is having more room to yourself with lie flat seats that allow you to get quality sleep!

Private Suite On Singapore Airlines

Enhanced Service

This is something that can be hit or miss but having attentive service really makes a flight special and that much more enjoyable.

Delicious Food

For all the foodies out there, this is a big selling point as some airlines serve really terrific food that can even rival what you would be served in a proper restaurant.

Singapore Airlines First class serving one of the best steaks I’ve ever had

Lounge Access

There are some really fantastic business/first class lounges in the world and getting access to them with your airline ticket is a really underrated perk.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse in JFK Airport

Priority Lines

Being able to have a dedicated line at check-in, security, and boarding is a really nice benefit that makes transiting through an airport a breeze.

Dedicated Check-In Line For Business Class

Pros of Hotel Stays


Most if not all hotels offer some sort of amenities. These can range wildly between properties but for the mid tier to luxury properties, you can usually count on there being some combination of a gym, on-site restaurant, spa, or pool. Being able to relax at a pool and go enjoy complimentary breakfast are great perks that lots of people look for when going on vacation and they can really make the stay that much more enjoyable.

Grand Hyatt Tokyo Pool

Good Location

Often times, hotels will be situated in prime locations in the heart of a city or near lots of public transit. Being able to stay in such a central location offers lots of benefits like making it convenient to go anywhere with nearby public transit, safety since you will usually be in a better part of town, and cutting down on commute time to tourist areas.

Lots of Transit and Tourist Attractions Around the Park Hyatt Sydney

Clean Rooms and Management

With hotels, you know that you’re going to be getting a clean room and have any needs taken care of by the hotel staff. With accommodations like Airbnbs, it’s hit or miss how clean a place will be and you will usually have to deal by yourself with anything that comes up during your stay. Having the peace of mind knowing that you’ll get a room that’s well taken care of and have any needs tended to is a great benefit that hotels provide.

In addition to this, having your bed done and new sheets laid for you every other day is something that is easily taken for granted but is still a very valuable benefit. It’s always a pleasure to come back to a clean, organized room and this isn’t something you would get if you’re doing Airbnb stays. Also if you’re in the mood to splurge, ordering room service for meals is a fun experience that really helps create a memorable experience.

JW Frankfurt Presidential Suite Bedroom

Why I Personally Don’t Prefer Hotel Redemptions

In light of all these great reasons that make hotel stays amazing, I still usually find myself preferring to spend my points on flights…and here’s why.

Flights Cost More To Experience

If you had to pay cash out of pocket and couldn’t leverage points, there’s just a much higher financial barrier of entry for those amazing business/first class flights than there is for high end hotels. For example, let’s say that you want to experience Emirates’ amazing first class on their A380 which features an onboard shower and bar.

One of the cheapest ways to do this is to fly between Jeddah and Dubai. This is a short domestic flight within the United Arab Emirates that is only 2 hours and 45 minutes long. However, this short haul flight will still cost you around $2,300 USD! $2,300 is a pretty hefty price but that doesn’t even include the travel costs and the feasibility of flying all the way to the Middle East. Assuming that most readers are based in the US, it is safe to say that almost none of us will be flying to the Middle East and have the opportunity to even try this flight.

But even if you were willing to take this flight, 3 hours is a very short amount of time and not enough to truly enjoy that first class experience. If you want to fly one of Emirates’ long haul flights like their route between Los Angeles and Dubai, which is 16 hours long, it’ll cost you $15,000 USD! This insanely high price tag can only be afforded by a select few and average people with median incomes can only dream of ever flying such a product.

Insane Price Of A One Way Emirates First Class Ticket From Los Angeles to Dubai

This is why I love using my points on these incredible flight experiences that I would normally not be able to afford.

Compare all of these prices with the Grand Wailea Waldorf Astoria resort in Hawaii, which is one of the most expensive hotels you can book with points. One night at this resort can run you from $900 to $4800 depending on the room and time of year you’re staying. This is still a very expensive outing but compared to Emirates’ long haul first class, it’s a much more affordable and accessible option. For $900 you can “try” this luxurious hotel for a night and not really have too much trouble getting there from anywhere in the US. Compare that with “trying” Emirates first class which is not only more expensive but much more difficult to access from the US. This is one reason why I’d rather spend my points on flight experiences that are much more expensive and harder to come by over nice hotel stays.

I’m Never In the Room Except to Sleep

Another reason I prefer spending points on flights over hotel stays is that whenever I’m traveling, I’m usually out and about exploring the city. I set out for the day pretty early and come back pretty late at night. The only time I’m really in the room is to get some sleep. For those 8 hours, I don’t really need a grand suite or large room. A simple roof over my head and a bed is perfectly fine with me.

While nice hotel amenities are definitely a treat, similar to the above reason, I’m just really never around to use them. My time is spent hanging out in the city, eating local food, and experiencing local sights.

Flights Are Necessary To Get You There

The last reason I prefer flights over hotels is just simply because there’s no way around the flight. For long trips, you have to sit on a plane to get to your destination and your experience for the duration of the flight varies drastically depending on the cabin you’re in. Most people would agree that business class vs economy is a very different experience and flying in business class can make this necessary flight much more enjoyable. This is especially true on those long haul 10+ hour flights where you really come to appreciate a lie flat bed.

Similar to the plane example above, your experience between a hostel versus a luxury hotel will differ drastically. However, for me, this drastic difference in experience is not really felt at all since all I’m really looking for is a place to sleep. I don’t use the hotel amenities so to me, there is little difference between a bed in a hotel vs a bed in an Airbnb. Granted there can be some really horrible Airbnbs but most of the time, these Airbnbs provide the basic necessities to get a good night’s rest and that’s good enough with me. Since I don’t have an unlimited source of points, I’d prefer to save my points for getting a really great experience on a flight that I had to take anyways.

When Do I Think Hotels Are Better Redemptions

Before you absolutely rip me to shreds for saying I like flights better than hotels, I do think there are some scenarios where it makes sense to use your points for a hotel stay. Let’s get into them.

You Have Status With The Hotel Chain

One of the best things about hotels is that they can upgrade you complementarily to a larger, more luxurious room. If you have a top tier status like Hyatt Globalist that makes it very likely for you to be upgraded during your stay, I think it’s pretty worth it to book hotel award nights with points if you value the upgrade. This is a pretty big selling point for picking hotel awards over flight awards since only a few airlines offer complimentary flight award upgrades on long haul international flights.

Having status also grants you extra benefits like complimentary meals or access to a lounge if the property has one, which is always a nice perk to have.

You’re Traveling Domestically Within the US

To be blunt, the domestic business/first class flights within the US are not very exciting. Trans-continental flights like Los Angeles to New York are at most 6 hours and the US domestic first class products are just not that competitive compared to other international airlines. There are a few exceptions like AA’s flagship first on their SFO<>JFK route, Delta One, and JetBlue Mint, that are decent but other than that everything else leaves a lot to be desired.

On the other hand, there are some pretty incredible hotels in the US that are bookable with points. Here are a few examples:

  • Park Hyatt New York
  • Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay
  • Miraval Arizona
Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay

If you’re mainly traveling within the US and want a really memorable experience bookable with points, it’s a great idea to splurge on one of these high end US hotels.

You’re Traveling With A Young Family

Finding more than 2 award seats on the same flight is usually a pretty difficult endeavor. Often times it’s easier to find hotels with large rooms that can accommodate a family. Plus, if you have status and can get upgraded into a suite or larger room, that’s just even more space for you and your family to enjoy. For younger kids, they’ll probably appreciate having a larger room to play in compared to having a comfier seat. Plus all of the great parts of a premium cabin like food and alcohol can’t be enjoyed to their fullest extent by children.

JW Frankfurt Living Room

You Value Great Amenities

Many hotels offer a variety of amenities like a gym, pool, spa, or restaurant, to name a few. If you’re the sort of traveler who really looks for these and gets a lot of value out of them, it makes total sense to book hotel award stays. For the high end properties, there are some really fantastic dining experiences you can enjoy at their restaurant like the Kohaku bar at the Park Hyatt Kyoto.

Other high end properties like the Ritz Carlton in Bali offer a super luxurious spa treatment that looks incredible.

Ritz Carlton Bali Spa

You’re Staying At A Resort

For those travel destinations like Cancun or popuplar ski cities such as Park City where the resort is one of the main attractions, it makes a lot of sense to use your points to book some nights at the resort. These resorts can come with some pretty epic experiences like how the St Regis Deer Valley, part of the Marriott Bonvoy family, allows guests to ski in and out directly from the hotel to the ski resort. Being able to enjoy some great resorts and their unique experiences on points is a great way to redeem your points and one that won’t leave you disappointed.

St. Regis Deer Valley

You’ve Doing A Short Stay At A Cheap Property

My last reason for when it makes sense to pick a hotel over a flight is when you’ve found a cheap rate for a short stay. Hyatt is a popular choice among award travelers because they’re a transfer partner with Chase and it’s easy to get terrific value from UR when transferring to Hyatt. Even after the latest Hyatt devaluation, it’s not hard to find stays at Hyatt properties with at least 2 CPP. Hyatt category 1 properties are extremely cheap at just 3,500 for off night stays and usually are at least 2 CPP in value.

If you’re doing a quick 1 or 2 night stay, spending 10,000 points while getting 2 CPP for those points is a terrific way of getting value for your points without breaking the bank. 10,000 points are relatively easy to earn back so it’s a solid choice for point redemption.

Cheap Rates at the Hyatt Regency Oryx Doha


This has been a topic that I’ve personally been thinking about a lot recently. Once again I’m not saying that choosing to redeem your points on hotel stays is wrong. It’s just that for me personally, I find that spending my points on flights is a better fit for the kind of traveler I am. I’m super curious to hear which side you guys are on and would love to hear your thoughts and perspectives!

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