How I saved $1,900 on hotels in Paris — reader success story

Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Soonho, who paired a buy points promotion with one of his credit card benefits to save on an upcoming hotel stay:

A couple of weeks ago, I was planning for a four-day vacation in Paris for my wife and her family. Hotel prices were pretty daunting, especially as we needed two rooms (one for two people and one for three people). I recently got my IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card (sadly just before they released the new promotion), so I decided to look into IHG brands in the area.

Luckily, I found that the Holiday Inn Paris – Montmartre had award nights for 30,000 points per night for each room. With the fourth night free thanks to my IHG card, that meant I needed 180,000 points total, so I took the offer to buy points with a 100% bonus (on the last day it was available) to purchase 120,000 points for $600. I then used the points I had left from my card’s welcome bonus to cover the difference.

All told, I spent $600 for two rooms during a four-day stay that would have cost me almost $2,500 for the same place and time! I’m not sure if that was the *best* deal I could have gotten, but it worked out well for us either way.

Points and miles purchases are rarely a good deal without a promotional bonus, but there are other factors to consider when you’re looking to buy. In particular, the ability to book an award that includes a free night alters the calculation dramatically. Getting a fourth night free instantly boosts the return on your purchase by at least 33%, and that’s only if you’re starting with a zero balance. Since Soonho started off with 60,000 points, his return was increased by an even greater 50%, as buying 120,000 points netted him 180,000 points worth of value. The same logic applies to awards with a fifth night free benefit, which boosts your return by at least 25% — that’s enough to make a good deal great (or a bad deal passable).

Soonho says he spent $600 to get $2,500 worth of value, but that ignores the 60,000 points he already had on hand (worth $300 based on TPG’s latest valuations). A more precise way to assess his award redemption is to treat his points purchase like a surcharge, subtract the amount spent from the total value received, and then calculate the redemption value of his points based on that lower figure. From that perspective, Soonho spent 180,000 points to get $1,900 worth of value ($2,500 minus $600); that yields a redemption value of over 1 cent per point, or more than double what TPG considers average.

Related: How to get elite status perks for multiple hotel rooms

I love this story and I want to hear more like it! In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending Soonho a gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own award travel success stories to [email protected]; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes. If your story is published, we’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. Due to the volume of submissions, we can’t respond to each story individually, but we’ll be in touch if yours is selected.

Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Featured photo by Alexander Spatari/Getty Images.