Should You Earn Hotel Points if You Don’t Usually Stay at Hotels?


Recently I’ve published a few posts about how to stay at nice hotels without paying for them. Among other things, you can learn:

Note: The IHG card mentioned in the envelope stuffing post is still available, but the actual envelope stuffing opportunity has now ended. Stay tuned for another adventure!

A lot of readers have taken advantage of these deals and are busy earning lots of free stays. Others, though, question whether it’s “worth it” if you don’t usually stay in hotels.


This email from a reader in New Jersey is a great example:

“Hey Chris, I was thinking about getting either the Starwood Preferred Guest card or the IHG Card. However, I wonder if it’s a good idea for me. I almost never stay in hotels! I much prefer independent lodging through Airbnb or hostels or even camping. Once in a while, I’ll admit that it’s great to stay somewhere more comfortable, but most of the time I want to stick with being a budget traveler.

Airline cards, on the other hand, have been great. We got the British Airways Signature Card a while back and used it to fly to Europe (making sure to book flights on AA to avoid the high fuel surcharges, per your recommendation). But for hotel cards, what am I missing?”

And here’s the short version of my response: is it worth it even if you don’t stay in hotels very often? Sure! And you don’t have to “compromise” in any way, because you can still do what you normally do most of the time.

Years ago, I almost never stayed in hotels. As I tramped around the world, especially in the early days, I mostly stayed in hostels and guesthouses. I also slept on the floor of far too many airports, crashed with friends, or just showed up in cities with nowhere to stay and managed to figure it out.

Even so, once in a while, I’d enjoy a nice respite from the usual lodging and stay in a decent hotel. And it felt so fun!

I remember one time in particular in the very beginning of my travels. I’d been in Eastern Europe, going from Hungary to the Czech Republic, staying in hostels and taking public transportation everywhere. For one night (only one night!) I’d been able to snag a stay at the Prague Marriott on Priceline.


At the time I had no hotel status and didn’t even know how that worked. I’d yet to realize the benefit of free breakfast and club lounges. Since I’d booked on Priceline, I was given a standard room with no upgrades … and it was amazing! I felt so happy. I don’t think I jumped on the hotel bed, but I might as well have.

The next day I went back to staying in hostels, and it was totally fine. I was happy no matter the circumstances—but still, the fact that I was able to choose a hotel at a time when I needed it felt very empowering.

That’s what hotel points can do for you. You like Airbnb—no problem. You prefer Couchsurfing or hostels—great. But why not have the opportunity to stay in a hotel that would otherwise cost hundreds of dollars a night?

These days, it’s very easy to get these opportunities. That’s why hotel points can be so valuable.


(Note: points earned from the Chase Sapphire Preferred card can be transferred to Hyatt, IHG, Marriott—in addition to numerous airline partners.)


Images: 1, 2, 3

Subscribe now and you’ll get the best posts of all time.