Ultimate Guide to Big Travel With American Express Membership Rewards Points Part 13: Hotels
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You get lots of travel flexibility with AMEX Membership Rewards points. Because if you don’t have set travel plans for a future trip, these transferable points give you travel options when you’re ready to book.
Now I’ll explain how you can use AMEX Membership Rewards points for free stays at hotel transfer partners, including at hotel chains that are not direct partners!
I’ll show you the best ways to use AMEX Membership Rewards Points for hotels!
The Ultimate Guide to American Express Membership Rewards Points:
- Part 1 – Transfer Partners
- Part 2 – How to Transfer Points
- Part 3 – Best Ways to Fly Within Continental US
- Part 4 – Best Ways to Fly to Hawaii
- Part 5 – Best Ways to Fly to Canada & Alaska
- Part 6 – Best Ways to Fly to Caribbean & Mexico
- Part 7 – Europe
- Part 8 – India & Middle East
- Part 9 – Africa
- Part 10 – South America
- Part 11 – Asia
- Part 12 – Australia & New Zealand
- Part 13 – Hotels
American Express Membership Rewards Points for Hotels
Admittedly, you’ll generally do better using your AMEX Membership Rewards points with airline partners versus hotel partners.
But for folks looking to save money on hotel stays, transferring points to an AMEX hotel partner might make sense! Or if you’re looking to take advantage of elite status perks at one of the hotel chains.
There are 3 direct AMEX hotel transfer partners. And each one has a different transfer ratio.[table id=279 responsive=scroll responsive_breakpoint=phone /]
And now that the Marriott and Starwood merger is complete, you can indirectly transfer AMEX Membership Rewards to Marriott or Ritz-Carlton, at effectively a 1:1 ratio!
Both of these tools can save you time finding available award nights. And you can use TripAdvisor as a supplement to these tools to check out reviews & photos from guests who’ve stayed at the hotels before.
Here’s how you can use AMEX Membership Rewards points to get free hotel stays.
The transfer ratio from AMEX Membership Rewards points to Starwood is not favorable. You get 1 Starwood point for every 3 AMEX Membership Rewards points you transfer.
But you can then convert 1 Starwood point to 3 Marriott or Ritz-Carlton points now that the hotel chains are part of the same company.Marriott hotels include:
- AC Hotels by Marriott
- Autograph Collection Hotels
- Bulgari Hotels
- Courtyard by Marriott
- Delta Hotels
- Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott
- Gaylord Hotels
- JW Marriott
- Marriott Executive Apartments
- Marriott Hotels
- Marriott Vacation Club
- Moxy Hotels
- Protea Hotels
- Renaissance Hotels
- Residence Inn by Marriott
- Springhill Suites by Marriott
- TownePlace Suites by Marriott
And Starwood hotels include:
Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and Starwood each use a different award chart. The number of points you’ll need for a free night depends on the category or tier of the hotel.
For example, the cost of a regular award night at Marriott hotels ranges from 7,500 to 45,000 Marriott points per night.
Ritz-Carlton has 5 tiers of hotels. And the cost of a free night ranges from 30,000 to 70,000 Ritz-Carlton points.
Meanwhile, a free night at Starwood hotels costs 2,000 to 35,000 Starwood points per night.
Let’s look at an example of hotels in the Caribbean assuming you have 60,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points.
With the different transfer ratios, 60,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points are worth:
- 20,000 Starwood points
- 60,000 Marriott or Ritz-Carlton points
Or you could use 60,000 Marriott points to stay 2 nights at the JW Marriott Hotel Santo Domingo, which is a Category 6 hotel. Paying cash for 2 nights would cost ~$370.
And with 20,000 Starwood points, you can stay at The Westin Los Cabos Resort Villas & Spa, which is a Category 6 hotel. The same sample night I found would cost ~$350 if you paid cash.
So even though the transfer ratio to Starwood is less favorable, free nights at Starwood hotels require fewer points than Marriott or Ritz-Carlton hotels. And in this previous example, using 60,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points at a Starwood hotel gets you the most savings.
Each case will be different. So I recommend running the numbers to make sure you’re getting the best deal!
Remember you can also use points to take advantage of special hotel programs like:
For ideas on using points for free nights at Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, or Starwood hotels, you can check out these previous posts:
- 5 Best Beaches With Ritz-Carlton Hotels
- 5 Luxurious Ritz-Carlton Hotels in Asia
- 5 Top Hotels in Australia & South Asia
- 5 Fantastic Marriott Hotels in Europe
- 5 Outstanding Ritz-Carlton Hotels in the Caribbean & Mexico
- 5 Luxurious Starwood Hotels in Asia & Australia
- 5 Top European Hotels to Book With Starwood Points
- 5 of the Best US Beaches With Starwood Hotels
- 5 Fantastic Starwood Hotels in Central & South America
And consider there are more ways to use Starwood or Marriott points besides free hotel nights.
For example, you can transfer Starwood points to lots of great airline partners. And you get a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 Starwood points you transfer!
The transfer ratio from AMEX Membership Rewards points to Hilton is 2:3. This means you’ll get 3 Hilton points for every 2 AMEX Membership Rewards points.
While this might seem like a good ratio, consider free nights at Hilton hotels, especially at the higher end, tend to require a lot of points.
Hilton no longer has an award chart. But the price of award stays at each hotel should not exceed the previous maximum from the old award chart below.Hilton hotels include:
- Embassy Suites
- Hampton Inn
- Hilton Garden Inn
- Hilton Grand Vacations
- Homewood Suites
- Tapestry Collection
- Waldorf Astoria
For example, a free night at the luxurious Conrad Tokyo typically costs 95,000 Hilton points. So you’d have to transfer ~64,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points to book a free night. Paying cash for a night would cost ~$450.
But ~64,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points are easily worth more than $450. For example, that’s enough to book a round-trip Business Class award flight from the US to Hawaii using Singapore Airlines miles.
Here are posts about amazing Hilton hotels you can stay at using points:
- 5 Beautiful Hilton Caribbean Hotels
- 5 Great Hilton Hotels for Family Travel
- 5 Hilton Hotels for Friends Traveling Together
- 5 Spectacular Hilton Hotels in Asia
- 5 Outstanding Hilton Hotels in the Caribbean & Mexico
- 5 Great Hilton Hotels in Europe
3. Choice HotelsChoice Hotels are usually inexpensive, so you won’t often get a good value using your AMEX Membership Rewards points for a free night.
But you still have the option to transfer points to the hotel partner at a 1:1 ratio. Free nights at the hotel chain cost between 6,000 and 35,000 Choice points, except in Australia and New Zealand where award nights can cost up to 75,000 Choice points.Choice Hotels include:
- Ascend Collection
- Cambria Suites
- Comfort Inn
- Comfort Suites
- MainStay Suites
- Quality Inn
- Rodeway Inn
- Sleep Inn
Choice Hotels does NOT publish an award chart. And the price at a hotel can vary by night. So you’ll have to search specific hotels and dates to find the cost of an award night.
Enter your destination and desired travel dates and select “Choice Privileges Reward Night”.
For example, I searched for hotels in New York City.
A free night at the Cambria Hotel & Suites New York – Chelsea costs 30,000 Choice points. You’d pay ~$250 out of pocket if you booked the same night.
This means you’re getting less than 1 cent per point in value for you AMEX Membership Rewards points ($250 cost of room night / 30,000 points). That’s NOT a good deal!
But if you have lots of AMEX Membership Rewards points to spare or can find an award night that gets you good value, transferring points to Choice Hotels might make sense!
For example, you can find good deals using Choice points for free stays at certain destinations in Europe.
I searched for free nights at the Clarion Hotel Sign in Stockholm, Sweden. An award night costs 10,000 Choice points for a night that would otherwise cost ~$205 if you paid cash. That’s a good deal!
4. Pay With Points
You can also use Pay With Points to redeem AMEX Membership Rewards points for hotel stays through the AMEX travel website.
But it’s usually NOT a good deal, because your points are only worth ~0.7 cents each this way.
For example, I found one night at The Godfrey Hotel Chicago, which costs $242 or ~35,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points.
Some folks might consider using Pay With Points if you find a cheap night that wouldn’t require a lot of points. Using points means you won’t have any out of pocket expense.
- 1 Choice point for every 1 AMEX Membership Rewards point
- 1 Starwood point for every 3 AMEX Membership Rewards points
- 2 Hilton points for every 3 AMEX Membership Rewards points
And now that the Marriott and Starwood merger is complete, you can indirectly transfer AMEX Membership Rewards to Marriott or Ritz-Carlton, at essentially a 1:1 ratio!
You’ll generally get more value for your AMEX Membership Rewards points by using them with airline partners.
But you could use AMEX Membership Rewards points for free nights at hotels like The Ritz-Carlton San Juan, which can cost ~$550 per night.
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