Some more (better??) data on hotel point values

Yesterday I posted some charts showing off a bit of the data I’ve collected on hotel program point values compared across eight brands. I also asked what other information from that data set might be of interest. And, well, y’all are very interested. Some of the requests were easier than others so I’ve updated the data sets on the Hotel Hustle Data Visualization page and I’m including the snapshots here.

One of the requests was to show median rather than mean for the point values. That turns out to be easy enough. So now the top chart shows both. In most cases the two are sufficiently close together that it doesn’t really render well in the graph but for SPG you can see the spread. The median values are generally 8-14% below the mean within each brand.


Another request was to show the 25th & 75th percentile numbers. Once you’re calculating the median value the others are reasonably easy to get at as well. So I’ve added a second chart showing them.


This data suggests that Marriott and Hyatt have the widest variability in point value relative to the median.

And, as I noted in the other post, I’ll continue to point out that the accrual rates for the different programs vary significantly so it is not possible to look only at these charts and say that points in one program are better or worse than points in another program. People have different approaches to accrual such that I’m not sure a completely fair comparison can be drawn, but generally speaking the points with higher values on the chart are also harder to accumulate. And if a program doesn’t have a hotel where you want to go then it doesn’t matter anyways.

Lots of variables. Lots of data. Lots of fun.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Hey Seth, I have thoughts on the practical application of your data for loyalty members that I would like to write up for Loyalty Traveler.

    May I copy your point value tables (with due credit and link) to include in my article on how your data has practical applications in determining if you are getting good redemption value from points?

    For example, when I see a median value of 0.364 for Club Carlson points, my head spins thinking 50% of hotel reward nights give that low of value.

    That is 50,000 points for a $182 room.

    I look at the values and think that out of dozens of reward nights in the past two years, I rarely fall below the 75% level for point value in any of these hotel chains.

    For example, the maximum point value for Choice Privileges is 3.258 cents/point and 75th percentile is .821.

    In Norway in Sep. 2014, I redeemed 16,000 points for a $500 Clarion Collection hotel in Bergen which is nearly the maximum value you show for Choice Privileges points.
    (3.258 cents/point x 16,000 points = $521.

    At the 75% of 0.821, spending 16,000 points is a $131 room. In Norway, Choice Privileges points will nearly always far exceed the 75 percentile redemption value.

    I redeemed 216,000 points for 12 nights in Norway with a redemption value approaching $6,000 based on the rates for the room category I stayed.

    In London last month I spent 170,000 Club Carlson points for $2,800 in room rates.
    75th percentile redemption value at .517 cents/point is $879 in hotel room value.
    In London the value of my points was 1.65 cents/point for the six nights I stayed as a Club Carlson Visa member with a free night on each two-night stay.

    Your maximum value for Club Carlson points is 3.031 which is $5,152 in hotel room rate. My London redemption far exceeds the 75th percentile, but apparently there are even more lucrative uses of Club Carlson points.

    1. Thanks for including the medians and 25 and 75 percentiles. (I was one of the commenters who asked for such data.) Already the plots are quite useful, since it enables one to associate an estimated cost to a hotel redemptions. This is data that, I think, heretofore was only available to the individual programs.

      A next step might be to normalize each of the distributions and plot them relative to their medians. This would be useful to identify very good (and very bad) redemptions, as for example the Club Carlson property that Ric G. is wondering about above that is ~10 times the median. And intriguingly, some of the other hotel chains have tails that are even longer than Club Carlson, therefore indicating that redemptions may represent even more outsize value may exist.

      Of course, as other commenters pointed out yesterday, comparing point values across programs relies on additional assumptions since the cost to acquire each point currency varies from program to program, and also from person to person. But I can envision a tool where, after users have assigned a value of each program’s points (can some WATT users can already do this?), an estimate of the “true” dollar amount of a particular redemption can be attained, which would significantly assist in answering the age-old “should I spend points or cash” question.

  2. Thanks for this, it reinforces my inclination to focus any credit card-based acquisition on Carlson and Hyatt points, and that the SPG Amex is a waste of time. Carlson card because of the 5x+BOGO. Hyatt not via their card but the Chase UR family instead (2x-5x).

    1. It is worth noting that much of the love for the SPG AmEx card is based on the ability to transfer points to airline programs. That may or may not really increase the value a lot but it is part of the calculations. And one I’ve ignored in this math, just like I’ve ignored the Marriott Fly & Stay awards. I cannot cover everything so I had to draw the line somewhere.

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