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Maximize Your Next Hotel Stay: How to Optimize for Perks, Points & Unlock Other Secret Benefits

Maximize Your Next Hotel Stay: How to Optimize for Perks, Points & Unlock Other Secret Benefits

I always want to optimize the value I am getting from my hotel stay, whether it is in terms of overall cost, value of points being used, or other perks like free breakfast, room upgrades, special offers for free nights, or other promotions that may be available.

NOTE: Most of the information in this article originally appeared over on my weekly newsletter, The Family Travel Bulletin.  Subscribe below for weekly updates delivered to your inbox every Friday in 2023.

When booking a hotel stay, there are a lot of options, sometimes too many to sift through. It's important to consider several factors to ensure you get the best value for your money.

How I Book my Hotel Stays to Optimize for Perks, Points & Unlock Other Secret Benefits

Here are things to consider when booking family trips for maximum value to optimize the perks you receive and unlock many other benefits:

Use Points to Book Your Stay

Determine if using hotel points (or transferrable Chase/Amex points) is available for your dates.

Paying for Your Stay: Optimize & Maximize Your Benefits

If you are not using points and paying for your stay, optimize and maximize the value of your next hotel stay, by considering these things:

  • I recommend always booking direct (or through a travel advisor who books direct) for the best rates, access to special promotions/offers and to ensure you get elite status night credit and points for your stay (if that is important to you)
  • Consider booking at the same hotel brand (Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, IHG, etc) if you have hotel loyalty program status that unlocks benefits like breakfast, room upgrades, etc.
    • Depending on where you’re traveling, not every hotel chain has a property under its brand umbrella in every location, i.e., Hyatt has a relatively smaller footprint that Marriott and IHG and less hotels in international locations.

I have Marriott Bonvoy Titanium status that gets us free breakfast at almost every Marriott hotel brand we stay at, club lounge access (if available), welcome amenities, room upgrades (better view, larger room, suite upgrades), extra points, late checkout and many other perks.

Use the Right Credit Card to Book Your Hotel Stay

Book with the right credit card to maximize the return on your stay.

  • I use my Amex Bonvoy Brilliant or Chase Ritz-Carlton Card to ensure I maximize the points I receive for hotel stays. For non-Marriott hotel stays, I would use the hotel branded credit card (if I have it) or the Amex Green Card (3x for travel spend)

If you don’t have hotel loyalty status to unlock extra benefits, consider signing up for a credit card that offers it for just for having it (or spending enough on certain cards yearly).

Examples include:

  • Hilton Honors Amex Aspire Card: Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status with your Hilton Honors Aspire Card
  • American Express Bonvoy Brilliant Card: Enjoy complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Platinum status with your Card

Book Through a Credit Card Hotel Collection

If you don’t care about hotel loyalty program status your next best option is to consider one of the following programs listed below that can offer free breakfast, hotel credits, room upgrades and other special offers.  The only caveat is that not all hotels are included (tend to be upper midscale and luxury brands) and you have the right credit card, i.e., a Visa Signature card, Amex Platinum or other participating credit card depending on the hotel collection. 

  • The Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection
  • Mastercard Luxury Hotel & Resorts Portfolio
  • The Hotel Collection from AMEX (offers similar benefits, but not as extensive as Amex FHR)
  • The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection program from Chase Bank
  • The Premier Collection from Capital One Travel
  • American Express Fine Hotels + Resorts (Platinum card benefit)

Book Through a Travel Advisor 

Book through the right Travel Advisor to unlock free breakfast, hotel credits and a suite of many other benefits, as well as special non-public offers like free nights or special savings.  

Examples of hotel programs that only affiliated travel advisors have access to include:

  • Virtuoso Travel
  • Marriott STARS
  • Marriott Luminous
  • Hyatt Prive
  • Bemond Bellini

There are many other advisor only programs, depending on the particular hotel brand.

I plan on discussing more about each of these programs in detail in the coming weeks - stay tuned!