I Can’t Decide Whether To Redeem Points Or A Free Night Award

I Can’t Decide Whether To Redeem Points Or A Free Night Award

44

Those of us in the points world are usually pretty good at maximizing value. The issue is that sometimes figuring out what’s the best value isn’t so straightforward. I figured I’d share a redemption decision I’m struggling with, both because I’m curious to hear what OMAAT readers think, and because maybe some may find my thought process to be useful.

I plan on staying at the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah

I’ll soon be visiting Dubai for a couple of nights, while enroute to the Maldives (where I’ll finally be checking out the Waldorf Astoria Maldives, which is a points reservation I locked in a long time ago).

While I’ve been to Dubai a countless number of times, I’m trying to review a new points hotel, and I think the Waldorf Astoria Palm Jumeirah is probably the most interesting option. While I’m not necessarily a huge Palm Jumeirah fan, this seems to be a legitimate luxury property, and it has also been around for a long time (some of the last few points hotels I’ve reviewed in Dubai have rebranded, limiting the usefulness of those reviews).

Paid rates at the Waldorf Astoria are expensive, and start at ~$700 per night, not including taxes & fees. So being able to redeem 80,000 Hilton Honors points per night (which I value at ~0.5 cents each), is a good deal by comparison.

Before I get into the conundrum, a couple of questions and thoughts:

  • Is there another luxury points hotels y’all would rather see me review? Like I said, I’m not obsessed with Palm Jumeirah, and prefer to be closer to downtown
  • The Waldorf Astoria has the Pearl Club, which is the property’s club lounge, but elite members don’t get access to it; anyone have recent experiences with paid upgrades at check-in (I’ve heard they charge 500 AED at check-in, but a lot more in advance)?

Should I redeem 80K points or a free night award?

Here’s the value decision that I’m struggling to make. I can book this hotel either with 80,000 points or a free night certificate, issued with Hilton’s co-branded credit cards. For context, Ford and I each have two of these certificates right now, valid roughly through the end of 2022.

A few thoughts about why I’m struggling with whether I should redeem points or a free night award:

  • The free night certificate could potentially be used at a property costing up to 150,000 points per night, so there’s lots more value to be had, since I’m “only” redeeming at a property costing 80,000 points per night
  • At the same time, my points won’t ever expire (with some account activity), while these certificates will expire in around nine months
  • While there are more expensive properties I could redeem at, how many am I realistically going to visit this year? I’m already staying at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives, I’ve stayed at the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos, Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam, Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, etc.
  • Any redemption with this free night certificate would be way above the acquisition cost, which is very low thanks to the huge value of the Hilton Aspire Card

I always struggle with putting a points value to free night certificates like these. As I think about it, 80,000 points might just be right around what I value these free night awards. If this stay cost 65,000 points per night, I’d definitely redeem points. If this stay cost 95,000 points per night, I’d definitely redeem the certificate. Yet the 80,000 points requirement leaves me conflicted.

Bottom line

At times it can be tough to decide whether it’s a better deal to redeem points or a free night certificate for a hotel stay. Usually I’m pretty decisive with this stuff, but an upcoming stay at the Waldorf Astoria Dubai is leaving me conflicted, as I’m not sure whether to redeem 80,000 points or a free night award.

I guess my biggest takeaway here is that I probably value a Hilton free night award at somewhere around 80,000 points, because that’s the point at which I can’t decide one way or another.

How do you decide whether to redeem points or a free night award? What would you do in this situation?

Conversations (44)
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  1. iamhere Guest

    I think this decision is simple. As the certificate expires this year are you likely to use it for a points redemption that is more expensive (in points). If not, then use the certificate. If so, then don't. However, if you don't and then discover that you should have used it because you will not then that's not a good position to be in.

  2. beachfan Guest

    I would do the cert - unless you never stay 5 nights to get the 5th night free, or you know you will be staying at a 150k point place for less than 5 nights.

  3. Rasm Guest

    I would vote for a review of the WA DIFC instead

    1. D3kingg Guest

      @Rasm

      I second that. But Ben is going to stay at the Jumeriah Beach Waldorf Astoria it’s obvious besides they’re continuing onto Maldives.

  4. Will Guest

    Ben, you should choose the Waldorf Astoria DIFC instead! Way better experience overall

  5. Craig Guest

    Due to COVID and changes to my usual travel patterns, I am sitting on 4 certificates that will expire between now and the end of August (2 marriott; 2 Hilton). I'm probably going to use them close to home so they don't go to waste (don't want to spend money on a trip just to use them).
    Given my situation, I will be sure to use my certificates whenever I can going forward.

  6. Mark P Member

    The only reason to use points at this property instead of certs is if you wanted to stay 5 nights and get the 5th night free. Otherwise, I'd consider it a great use of certs.

  7. Kyle Guest

    Need to review Mango Beach House - Seychelles.

  8. Pags Guest

    Use the points. They can always devalue the points where as the certs as of now do not get devalued. If they change from 80 to 100k you can still use the certs there is no cap

  9. Rico Gold

    As someone who just had a Hyatt cert expire (I thought I'd get the points, but that ended last year) and is about to have an IHG cert expire in a couple weeks (also points no longer being offered for Chase night from 2020), I say use the cert.

    I'm sick about the Hyatt night since I used another Hyatt cert last month and had I known the 10K point courtesy ended I would have stayed another night.

  10. STEFFL Member

    use your certificate!
    the hotel is nice, a bit aged and not as good as it was pre Covid . . . and the beach stuff really somehow used up by now (no frozen fruits durung the day, no free ice cream, but still NICE beach service and very nice rooms as well as Toiletries are by Salvatore Ferragamo in the bathroom, showers and even the bedets . . .very nice!
    NO CNN...

    use your certificate!
    the hotel is nice, a bit aged and not as good as it was pre Covid . . . and the beach stuff really somehow used up by now (no frozen fruits durung the day, no free ice cream, but still NICE beach service and very nice rooms as well as Toiletries are by Salvatore Ferragamo in the bathroom, showers and even the bedets . . .very nice!
    NO CNN on TV, only BBC as News staion but teh Spas is nice, the Breakfast Buffet with all kinds of coffees and teas . . . UNBEATABLE even iwth a separate Pork section!!
    The Hotel is NOT as full as in the past years, due to the missing mass of Russian Guests, but still well booked and worth the money for the view and the location.
    Just returned last week again after my 3rd time there, used also my Certificates (3 of them) well invested i thought, as you pay NO taxes no service charge and for the official rates theer, it's an OK convertion, depending when you wanna go, i was there at HIGH season and just starting Ramadan . . . it was perfect for the rate that the STANDARD room would have cost. (USD875,-/night) upgrade was given als Diamond to a Skyline View Room, which was not really Skyline view, but OK!
    Value with expiring certificates, well done!
    DO IT! (plus, it sounds like you're trying to stay more then 3 night, so don't forget, next year they are only good agaihn for Fri, Sat, Sun NIGHTS!!) ;-)
    The view from teh Beach and over to the Atlantis Hotel when the Sun sets, NO other hotel has that luxury!!! Anantara next door, totally overpriced and not the same service, Rixos All Inclusive . . . not your thing! (... and BOTH non points hotels!)

  11. Levi Gold

    To me, the rough calculus should be:

    What's the expected highest point value per night for stay that I could use the cert on before it expires (so standard room and a stay of not-5 nights for Hilton (and weekends in the future, but unless and until the corporate/leisure balance returns to 2019, Hilton will probably allow certs to be redeemed on weekdays) and within point bounds for other programs, etc.)? By using the cert...

    To me, the rough calculus should be:

    What's the expected highest point value per night for stay that I could use the cert on before it expires (so standard room and a stay of not-5 nights for Hilton (and weekends in the future, but unless and until the corporate/leisure balance returns to 2019, Hilton will probably allow certs to be redeemed on weekdays) and within point bounds for other programs, etc.)? By using the cert now, you're saving the amount of points for the current redemption but effectively spending the difference between the answer to the previous question and the points for the current redemption.

    So that implies that if the points rate is less than half of that anticipated maximum, definitely don't use the cert and if it's above that, then using the cert is absolutely defensible.

    This suggests that if you have a choice between cert and more than 75k points, use the cert. But if your max would be 95k, then a 50k bird in the hand wins.

    1. Levi Gold

      If you don't have a great idea of where you might be staying (and thus the point values) before the certificate expires, then this decision is roughly analogous to the Secretary problem in decision theory (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secretary_problem), assuming that you have a rough idea of how many certificate-possible nights you will have before the certificate expires. From this perspective the current best known solution is to not use the certificate for the first 37% of...

      If you don't have a great idea of where you might be staying (and thus the point values) before the certificate expires, then this decision is roughly analogous to the Secretary problem in decision theory (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secretary_problem), assuming that you have a rough idea of how many certificate-possible nights you will have before the certificate expires. From this perspective the current best known solution is to not use the certificate for the first 37% of possible nights, but track the point values of those stays. Then after the 37%, use the certificate for the first night which has a greater point value than the maximum in the 37% (and if you expect a night to be the last night you could use the certificate, then use it then). So if you expect to have 15 nights where you could use the certificate, don't use the certificate until at least the 6th night and you maximize the chance of (effectively) getting the most free points from the certificate.

  12. Golfball Guest

    Certificate. Do it!!

  13. NK3 Member

    Not really interested in this hotel. But I can think of other luxury/upscale properties to use your certs that I would be more interested in:
    -Zemi Beach House
    -Conrad Punta Mita
    -Roku Kyoto LXR (if Japan ever opens up)

  14. John Ryan Guest

    I’d say either do the Waldorf with points, the Andaz on the palm, the Hyatt centric, or the Habtoor palace. They’re all good and new, so you’d be one of the first people to review it.

  15. Clem Diamond

    I would absolutely redeem the free night certs. It can be hard enough to find good value, and in this instance it is still good value. Yes you could technically get more out of it but we also still don't know what the COVID and travel conditions will be by the end of 2022, so my philosophy is to use up all my free night certs as soon as I can as long as the value is there.

  16. Tammy Lau Guest

    I stay at waldorf astoria the palm last September since I have $250 Hilton credit to burn. The paid rate at that time was around $250!!! However, I absolutely regretted staying there as it's too far out from ANYTHING. The property itself is nothing special , very standard. there's basically nothing to do there ( although I only stay for one night) and the beach didnt face those cool dubai building like five palm Jumeriah...

    I stay at waldorf astoria the palm last September since I have $250 Hilton credit to burn. The paid rate at that time was around $250!!! However, I absolutely regretted staying there as it's too far out from ANYTHING. The property itself is nothing special , very standard. there's basically nothing to do there ( although I only stay for one night) and the beach didnt face those cool dubai building like five palm Jumeriah . The club lounge trust me, it's nothing special!. I should have stay at hilton Jumeriah beach . It's super close to blue water bay and the walk to there is so beautiful. Or I should have stay at downtown.

  17. Peter Guest

    I stayed at the Waldorf Palm last fall.
    The Pearl Lounge is offered at check in for 450 AED per day per room. It is definitely worth it. I would.
    The Conrad used to be my favorite hotel, but the service gets worse every year.
    Used the coupons

    1. Tammy Lau Guest

      Yep, Club lounge is not worth it! Glad they let me in just to have look. I will never pay to get club access at WA the palm. there's tons of much much better hotels in Dubai.

  18. ICD Guest

    Had this dilemma with a one night stay at a WA in March. 80k points or a free night cert that expires June 30. What if I want to go to a 120k property and I’m burning the free night at an 80k? Deciding factor, in addition to the impending expiry, was the 5th night free on points. Save the points for 5 night stay; use the cert for a one night. Did I make the right call?

    1. JP Guest

      I'm with Vinny. Andaz review would be great as Hyatt globalist

  19. D3kingg Guest

    I’d rather see a Waldorf Astoria Dubai Business District review which is also 80,000 pts per night. I’m going to Dubai in the fall and staying at Conrad Dubai for 55,000 pts per night. Never stayed at a Conrad or Waldorf Astoria before but I’m thinking about switching to the Waldorf Astoria .
    I can see you wanting to stay at the Waldorf Astoria Palm Jumeriah Beach as a Floridian.
    Hopefully by July...

    I’d rather see a Waldorf Astoria Dubai Business District review which is also 80,000 pts per night. I’m going to Dubai in the fall and staying at Conrad Dubai for 55,000 pts per night. Never stayed at a Conrad or Waldorf Astoria before but I’m thinking about switching to the Waldorf Astoria .
    I can see you wanting to stay at the Waldorf Astoria Palm Jumeriah Beach as a Floridian.
    Hopefully by July I will be out of AMEX bonus jail and be able to pick up the AMEX Hilton Aspire card. I am closing my AMEX Gold in August.

    1. Jason Guest

      I've stayed at the Conrad Dubai a few times and really really loved it. Admittedly it's been a few years, but rooms are comfortable, breakfast and other food good, pool scene is great (if you have time) and the club floor / lounge is wonderful. Decent location near downtown. I really liked the hotel.

  20. AA70 Gold

    I typically use certificates if the points value the certificate gets me is close to the points cost of night. Ex- I used 2 Marriott 35K certificates for a stay in Flagstaff that was going for 33K a night or $290 in cash. Still getting outsized value.

    However I used points for a stay at the Aloft SEA going for 25K when booked or $210 in cash.

  21. Euro Member

    I would say either at this Waldorf you are looking at or the one in downtown Dubai, the Financial Center one, or the LXR (I am not recommending the Curio V-formerly-known-as-W hotel since you said you were not a fan of W Hotels), and use the certificate.

    Like several others have said, it is the "what chance will you have of getting an even MORE valuable redemption." Plus even if theoretically that "MORE valuable" redemption...

    I would say either at this Waldorf you are looking at or the one in downtown Dubai, the Financial Center one, or the LXR (I am not recommending the Curio V-formerly-known-as-W hotel since you said you were not a fan of W Hotels), and use the certificate.

    Like several others have said, it is the "what chance will you have of getting an even MORE valuable redemption." Plus even if theoretically that "MORE valuable" redemption is possible, will that hotel have standard room availability or will Hilton either play games or have others already gobbled up the availability?

    Otherwise, not a Hilton, but if I were to ask for a hotel review... what about the new St Regis? Otherwise I'm not sure how far along the renovations are with the Park Hyatt.

    1. D3kingg Guest

      @EURO

      Is Conrad Dubai good ? I hear Waldorf Astoria is much better.

    2. Euro Member

      Have not stayed at it before (It'll be my first time to Dubai next month) but have heard that a long time ago it was not very good but has been improving over the last few years to be pretty good.

      Waldorf Astoria I hope is a lot better, the price is much higher (cash and points), and I think is a lot newer.

    3. WNichols Guest

      Stayed at the Conrad Dubai in November. The hotel is great, the service is consistent, the rooms are very nice, and the food is excellent. It is an easy drive from the airport, and close to the train station.

  22. Klaus Guest

    Hello Ben,
    Do not use the certificates. Then you have a good reason to plan your next travel. It’s not like you have daytime job or so

  23. EJ Guest

    Letting a certificate that valuable expire would be the worst thing to do. You never know what the rest of this year will bring. Just use the certificate and save your points!

  24. Eskimo Guest

    You are a travel blogger, not a full-time employee with limited or fixed day off.

    The answer is very simple. Redeem the points right now. Book your next trip somewhere else to redeem those 95k-150k points. Review those properties.

    There might be a very limited number of 150k properties but I'm sure there is more than enough 95k places to go for the next few years.

    Could be as simple as treat your mom with...

    You are a travel blogger, not a full-time employee with limited or fixed day off.

    The answer is very simple. Redeem the points right now. Book your next trip somewhere else to redeem those 95k-150k points. Review those properties.

    There might be a very limited number of 150k properties but I'm sure there is more than enough 95k places to go for the next few years.

    Could be as simple as treat your mom with some 95k+ stay around FL.

    Looking forward to all those reviews.

  25. Morgan Diamond

    Use the certificates

  26. Micah Guest

    Would like to see your review on the St Regis at the Palm!

    1. Jimmy’s Travel Report Gold

      Second this request. I’m curious how the St. Regis stacks up.

  27. David Guest

    Use the certificates. They expire and while you might get better value elsewhere, unless you have plans now, best to use the certs before they expire.

  28. JB Guest

    Just curious, have you reviewed the Grand Hyatt Dubai before? (It's a very short drive from DXB)

  29. DM Guest

    I try to stay 5 nights at any Marriott or Hilton Hotel to maximize the points redemption and use the 5th night free benefit (I usually travel with a young family, so moving hotels is really inconvenient). As a result, for me, those 80k points are actually 100k and hence I’d use the certificate.

    Keep in mind a few other things -

    1. The certificates are good only for standard rooms while points can be...

    I try to stay 5 nights at any Marriott or Hilton Hotel to maximize the points redemption and use the 5th night free benefit (I usually travel with a young family, so moving hotels is really inconvenient). As a result, for me, those 80k points are actually 100k and hence I’d use the certificate.

    Keep in mind a few other things -

    1. The certificates are good only for standard rooms while points can be used even for premium room reward, so I value 80k points more than the certificates.
    2. Based on your travel patterns (mostly stays at Hyatt or Marriott luxury hotels) and the kind of hotels you have been reviewing lately (Four Seasons, etc.), I’d think you’ll have very few luxury Hilton properties to stay at during the year to burn these 4 certificates

    There is no right or wrong answer to this (as you already know), so the best approach would be take the instrument that’s expiring sooner out of equation (as long as redemption value is reasonable of course!)

  30. Mike Guest

    Stay at the over the top LXR hotel in Dubai and tell us what you think haha

    1. DM Guest

      Or take the AA direct flight to Anguilla (the only direct flight to the island from US) from Miami and redeem these certs ar Zemi! It’s an incredible property!

    2. Mike Guest

      Actually, maybe redeem at the WA Financial Centre one. You’re going to be on beaches in the Maldives so why not get a nice taste of urban life beforehand. Not many ppl have reviewed that one so it’s more unique

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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John Guest

A bird in the hand ….. use the certs

1
STEFFL Member

use your certificate! the hotel is nice, a bit aged and not as good as it was pre Covid . . . and the beach stuff really somehow used up by now (no frozen fruits durung the day, no free ice cream, but still NICE beach service and very nice rooms as well as Toiletries are by Salvatore Ferragamo in the bathroom, showers and even the bedets . . .very nice! NO CNN on TV, only BBC as News staion but teh Spas is nice, the Breakfast Buffet with all kinds of coffees and teas . . . UNBEATABLE even iwth a separate Pork section!! The Hotel is NOT as full as in the past years, due to the missing mass of Russian Guests, but still well booked and worth the money for the view and the location. Just returned last week again after my 3rd time there, used also my Certificates (3 of them) well invested i thought, as you pay NO taxes no service charge and for the official rates theer, it's an OK convertion, depending when you wanna go, i was there at HIGH season and just starting Ramadan . . . it was perfect for the rate that the STANDARD room would have cost. (USD875,-/night) upgrade was given als Diamond to a Skyline View Room, which was not really Skyline view, but OK! Value with expiring certificates, well done! DO IT! (plus, it sounds like you're trying to stay more then 3 night, so don't forget, next year they are only good agaihn for Fri, Sat, Sun NIGHTS!!) ;-) The view from teh Beach and over to the Atlantis Hotel when the Sun sets, NO other hotel has that luxury!!! Anantara next door, totally overpriced and not the same service, Rixos All Inclusive . . . not your thing! (... and BOTH non points hotels!)

1
David Guest

Use the certificates. They expire and while you might get better value elsewhere, unless you have plans now, best to use the certs before they expire.

1
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