Manufacturing free nights (Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott)

45

Many of us aren’t currently doing much traveling, but we are still earning points through credit card spend. This brings up the question of which cards to use and which types of rewards to focus on.  Nick recently took a look at some current hotel credit card promotions and answered the question of whether it was better to earn 12X Hilton points or 6X Marriott.  In this post, I stepped back to look at normal non-promotional card earnings.  Specifically, I wanted to see how much credit card spend is normally required to earn free nights at various hotel chains.  To keep things simple, I tackled this question only for Hyatt, Hilton, and Marriott.

What’s New

The original version of this post was published on May 14th 2018.  Since then there have been significant changes to credit card bonuses, and I’ve re-thought how to identify mid-tier hotels.  Most importantly, the new version considers the fact that points can be transferred from Amex Membership Rewards to Hilton (1 to 2) or to Marriott (1 to 1).  Here are the specific changes and additions to this post:

  • Updated card names (previously listed Starwood Preferred Guest cards, for example)
  • Removed old Hyatt Visa Signature card and added World of Hyatt card
  • Added Chase Ink Unlimited card.
  • Added a number of Amex Membership Rewards cards.  With the Blue Business Plus offering 2X everywhere (up to $50K spend), and the Amex Gold Card offering up to 4X, the new numbers in this post are very different from before.
  • Changed the mid-tier hotel targets.  Previously I estimated the number of points required for a mid-tier hotel by using our Reasonable Redemption Values and an average hotel night cost.  In the new version, I picked a mid-tier category that is actually available on the award charts (or, in Hilton’s case, is a common award cost).

Credit Card Options

The following credit cards can be used to earn points in each hotel program:

Hyatt Point Earning Cards

Card Info Name and Earning Rate (no offer)
Chase World of Hyatt Business Credit Card
Base
Brand
Earning rate: ⚬ 2X in the top 3 of 8 spending categories each calendar quarter through 12/31/22 and then the top 2 of 8 spending categories in 2023 and beyond. Eligible categories include dining; airline tickets purchased directly with the airline; car rental agencies; local transit and commuting; gas stations; internet, cable and phone services; social media and search engine advertising; and shipping ⚬ 4X Hyatt
Chase World of Hyatt Credit Card
Base
Travel
Dine
Brand
Earning rate: ⚬ 2X restaurants / cafes / coffee shops, airlines, local transit, fitness clubs and gym memberships ⚬ 4X Hyatt

Cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points are included next because Chase points can be transferred one to one to Hyatt as long as you have one of the cards with a fee.  In other words, you can earn 5X rewards with the no-fee Freedom and/or Ink Business Cash card and then move those points to a card with a fee (Sapphire Reserve, for example), then transfer to Hyatt:

Card Info Name and Earning Rate (no offer)
Chase Freedom Flex
Base
Dine
Shop
Other
Earning rate: 5x travel booked through Chase ⚬ 5X Lyft through March 2025 ⚬ 3x dining ⚬ 3x drugstores ⚬ 5X in rotating categories on up to $1,500 spend per quarter. 2022 Q2: 5x Amazon and select streaming services
Chase Freedom Unlimited
Base
Travel
Dine
Other
Earning rate: 5x travel booked through Chase ⚬ 5X Lyft through March 2025 ⚬ 3x dining ⚬ 3x drugstores ⚬ 1.5X everywhere else
Chase Ink Business Preferred Card
Base
Travel
Phone
Biz
Other
Earning rate: 3X travel, shipping, internet, cable, phone, and advertising with social media sites (up to $150K spend per year) ⚬ 5X Lyft through March 2025
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Base
Travel
Dine
Other
Earning rate: 5X Travel booked through Chase (2X all other travel) ⚬ 3X Dining ⚬ 3X Select streaming services ⚬ 3X Online grocery ⚬ 5X Lyft (through March 2025)
Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
Base
Travel
Dine
Other
Earning rate: 10X hotels & car rentals booked through Chase ⚬ 10X Chase Dining ⚬ 5X flights booked through Chase ⚬ 3X Travel and Dining ⚬ 10X Lyft (through March 2025)
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
Base
Dine
Gas
Phone
Office
Other
Earning rate: 5X office supplies ⚬ 5X cellular/landline/cable (on up to $25,000 in total purchases in 5x categories annually) ⚬ 2X on the first $25K in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each cardmember year ⚬ 5X Lyft through March 2025
Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card
Base
Other
Earning rate: 1.5X on all purchases ⚬ 5X Lyft through through March 2025

Hyatt Best Options for Spend

  • No Category
    • 1.5X: Freedom Unlimited or Ink Business Unlimited
  • Gas
    • 2X: Ink Business Cash
  • Office Supply Stores
    • 5X: Ink Business Cash (Up to $25K/year)
  • Dining
    • 3X: Sapphire Reserve
    • 2X: Hyatt, Sapphire Preferred, Ink Business Cash
  • Travel
    • 3X: Sapphire Reserve, Ink Business Preferred (Up to $150K/year 3X categories)
    • 2X: Hyatt, Sapphire Preferred
  • Rotating Categories
    • 5X: Freedom (Up to $1,500 per quarter)

Hilton Point Earning Cards

Card Info Name and Earning Rate (no offer)
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
Base
Travel
Dine
Brand
Earning rate: ⚬ 14X Hilton spend ⚬ 7X US restaurants, flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, select car rental companies ⚬ 3X on all other eligible purchases ⚬ Terms & Limitations Apply.
Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
Base
Travel
Dine
Gas
Phone
Biz
Brand
Other
Earning rate: ⚬ 12X Hilton spend ⚬ 6X on Select Business & Travel Purchases (flights booked directly with airlines or Amex Travel; car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies; US restaurants; US gas stations; wireless telephone services purchased directly from US service provider; US shipping purchases) ⚬ 3X on all other eligible purchases
Hilton Honors American Express Card
Base
Dine
Gas
Grocery
Brand
Earning rate: ⚬ 7X Hilton spend ⚬ 5X US restaurants, US Supermarkets, and US gas stations ⚬ 3X on all other eligible purchases
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
Base
Dine
Gas
Grocery
Brand
Earning rate: ⚬ 12X Hilton spend ⚬ 6X U.S. restaurants, US Supermarkets, and US gas stations ⚬ 3X on all other eligible purchases

Cards that earn Amex Membership Rewards points are included next because Amex points transfer 1 to 2 to Hilton (and sometimes more when Amex offers a transfer bonus).  To calculate the number of Hilton points earned with each card, simply double the card’s earning rate.  For example, the Amex Gold Card earns 4X points at restaurants and so you can say that it earns 8X Hilton points at restaurants:

Card Info Name and Earning Rate (no offer)
American Express® Business Gold Card
Base
Travel
Dine
Gas
Biz
Earning rate: Earn 4X on the two categories where your business spends the most each billing cycle from the following categories: ⚬ US purchases at restaurants ⚬ Airfare purchased directly from airlines ⚬ U.S. purchases for advertising in select media ⚬ U.S. purchases at gas stations ⚬ U.S. purchases for shipping ⚬ U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers. 4X applies to first $150,000 in combined purchases in your two categories each calendar year, 1X point per dollar thereafter and on other purchases. Terms apply.
American Express® Gold Card
Base
Travel
Dine
Grocery
Earning rate: 3X points for flights booked with airlines or on amextravel.com ⚬ 4x points at US Supermarkets (up to $25K in purchases, then 1x) ⚬ 4x at restaurants worldwide ⚬ 1X points on other purchases. Terms apply. (Rates & Fees)
American Express® Green Card
Base
Travel
Dine
Earning rate: ⚬ 3X on travel & transit (including flights, hotels, taxis, and rideshares) ⚬ 3X dining ⚬ 1X points on other purchases. Terms apply. See
The Amex EveryDay Preferred Card (with 30 purchases per billing cycle)
Base
Gas
Grocery
Earning rate: Earn 50% more points: Use your Card 30 or more times on purchases in a billing period and get 50% more points on those purchases less returns and credits. With 30 or more purchases, earn: 4.5x points at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1.5x) ⚬ 3x points at US gas stations ⚬ 1.5x points on other purchases.
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
Base
Earning rate: 2X Membership Rewards points on all purchases, up to $50K spend per calendar year (then 1X thereafter). Terms apply. (Rates & Fees)
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Base
Travel
Earning rate: 5X points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel ⚬ 5X points for prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel

Hilton Best Options for Spend

  • No Category
    • 4X: Blue Business Plus (2X Amex, Up to $50K/year)
    • 3X: Everyday Preferred w/ 30 purchases per billing cycle (1.5X Amex)
    • 3X: Any Hilton card
  • Grocery (US supermarkets only)
    • 9X: Everyday Preferred w/ 30 purchases per billing cycle (4.5X Amex, up to $6K/year, then 1.5X)
    • 8X: Amex Gold (4X Amex, up to $25K/year, then 1X)
    • 6X: Hilton Surpass
  • Gas (US gas stations only)
    • 8X: Business Gold (4X Amex)
    • 6X: Everyday Preferred w/ 30 purchases per billing cycle (3X Amex)
    • 6X: Hilton Business card, Hilton Surpass
  •  Dining
    • 8X: Gold Card (4X Amex)
    • 7X: Aspire
  • Travel (airfare + hotels booked through Amex Travel)
    • 10X: Platinum Cards (5X Amex)
    • 8X: Business Gold (4X Amex)
    • 7X: Hilton Aspire

Marriott Point Earning Cards

Card Info Name and Earning Rate (no offer)
Chase Marriott Bonvoy Premier
Base
Travel
Dine
Brand
Earning rate: ⚬ 2X airline, car rental, & restaurants ⚬ 5X Marriott.
Chase Ritz Carlton Rewards Visa Infinite
Base
Travel
Dine
Brand
Earning rate: ⚬ 6X Ritz & Marriott.⚬ 3X airline tickets purchased directly with the airline, at car rental agencies and at restaurants ⚬ 2X everywhere else
Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card
Base
Travel
Brand
Earning rate: ⚬ 3X Marriott Bonvoy ⚬ 2X travel ⚬ 1X everywhere else
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card
Base
Dine
Gas
Grocery
Brand
Earning rate: ⚬ 6X Marriott Bonvoy ⚬ 3X gas stations, grocery stores, and dining on up to $6K in combined purchases each year ⚬ 2X everywhere else
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
Base
Travel
Dine
Brand
Earning rate: 3X airfare charged by airline; 3X US restaurants, 6X Marriott; 2X on all other eligible purchases
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
Base
Dine
Gas
Phone
Biz
Brand
Earning rate: 6x at Marriott Bonvoy properties ⚬ 4x U.S. restaurants, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased from U.S. suppliers and on U.S. purchases for shipping ⚬ 2x on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply. (Rates & Fees)
Marriott Bonvoy Premier Plus Business
Base
Gas
Phone
Biz
Brand
Earning rate: 6X Marriott ⚬ 4X dining, internet, cable and phone service ⚬ 4X gas stations and shipping ⚬ 2X everywhere else.
Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card
Base
Brand
Earning rate: 6X Marriott ⚬ 2X on all other eligible purchases

As with Hyatt, Chase Ultimate Rewards cards can be used to earn Marriott points (but in this case I don’t particularly recommend it). And, like Hilton, points can be transferred from Amex Membership Rewards to Marriott (but only 1 to 1 unless a transfer bonus is in effect).  I don’t recommend transferring points from these programs to Marriott since you’ll generally lose value in doing so, but this post would be incomplete without considering it.  You can see the eligible Chase Ultimate Rewards cards in the Hyatt section above, and the relevant Amex Membership Rewards cards in the Hilton section above.

Marriott Best Options for Spend

  • No Category
    • 2X: Blue Business Plus (Up to $50K/year)
    • 2X: Most Marriott cards
  • Grocery (US supermarkets only)
    • 4.5X: Everyday Preferred w/ 30 purchases per billing cycle (Up to $6K/year, then 1.5X)
    • 4X: Amex Gold (Up to $25K/year, then 1X)
  • Gas
    • 4X: Amex Business Gold (US gas stations only)
    • 4X: Bonvoy Premier Plus Business, Bonvoy Business Amex (US gas stations)
  • Office Supply Stores
    • 5X: Ink Business Cash (Up to $25K/year)
  • Dining
    • 4X: Gold Card
    • 4X: Bonvoy Business Amex (US restaurants)
  • Travel
    • 5X: Amex Platinum Cards (airfare + hotels booked through Amex Travel)
    • 4X: Amex Business Gold (airfare + hotels booked through Amex Travel)
    • 3X: Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Ink Business Preferred (Up to $150K/year 3X categories)
    • 3X: Ritz, Bonvoy Brilliant Amex (airfare charged by airline)
  • Rotating Categories
    • 5X: Freedom (Up to $1,500 per quarter)

Points Required for Free Nights

The following table shows the number of points required for a free night with each hotel chain:

Hotel Type
Marriott Hyatt Hilton
Bottom Category Off-Peak 5,000 3,500 10,000
Mid Category Standard 35,000 15,000 50,000
Top Category Peak 100,000 45,000 95,000

Let me explain…

  • Hyatt will be adding peak and off-peak rates starting in 2021.  I used the award prices expected to kick in then.
  • Hyatt has some specialty properties that price even higher than 45,000 points per night (Mirival resorts, for example, cost 65,000 points per night for 2 adults).  On the other hand, most of their best properties top out at 30K standard and 35K peak.  So, one can easily make a convincing argument that I picked a top category peak price that was either too high or too low.  I picked 45K because I expect that more Hyatt properties will move into this category in the next year or two.
  • Hilton doesn’t technically have an award chart nor peak/off-peak pricing per se, so I used the “usual” award prices for standard awards.  On the bottom end, there exist some Hilton hotels priced at only 5,000 points per night, but those are extremely rare.  Instead, I went with 10,000 as the bottom.  On the top end, there is at least one property in which standard prices are above 95,000 (Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi), but most of the best properties top out at 95K standard.  Use Hilton’s Points Explorer (found here) to get an idea of what a property might cost.
  • I somewhat arbitrarily picked a mid tier category for each brand.  In my experience, 35K Marriott hotels are roughly equivalent to 15K Hyatts and 50K Hiltons.

Credit card spend required for free nights

Using the best available credit card for each type of spend, let’s look at what how much credit card spend will get you a free night:

Base Spend (No Category Bonus)

This chart shows the results of credit card spend at places that don’t offer category bonuses on any of the hotel cards listed above. Examples of such spend include shopping malls, drugstores, miscellaneous online shopping, tax payments, etc.

Hotel Type
Marriott
Hyatt Hilton
Spend Multiplier 2X 1.5X 4X
Bottom Category Off-Peak $2,500 $2,333 $2,500
Mid Category Standard $17,500 $10,000 $12,500
Top Category Peak $50,000 $30,000 $23,750

At the bottom end, the chains are roughly equal.  For mid-tier hotels, Hyatt has the edge with Hilton close behind.  And for top tier hotels, Hilton has the edge with Hyatt close behind.

Supermarket Spend

This chart shows credit card spend using the best available card at supermarkets. This does not account for the fact that the Chase Freedom card sometimes offers 5X at supermarkets.

Hotel Type
Marriott
Hyatt Hilton
Spend Multiplier 4X 1.5X 8X
Bottom Category Off-Peak $1,250 $2,333 $1,250
Mid Category Standard $8,750 $10,000 $6,250
Top Category Peak $25,000 $30,000 $11,875

Hilton appears to be a very good choice for mid category hotels and an outstanding choice for top category hotels.

Note that for Marriott and Hilton, I assumed the use of the Amex Gold card which offers 4X at US Supermarkets on up to $25K spend per year.  Technically, you can do even better with the Everyday Preferred card which can earn up to 4.5 points per dollar (9X Hilton), but that is capped at $6,000 spend per year so it is only practical for manufacturing bottom category free nights.

Gas Station Spend

This chart shows credit card spend using the best available card at gas stations (US only for Hilton). This does not account for the fact that the Chase Freedom card sometimes offers 5X at gas stations.

Hotel Type
Marriott
Hyatt Hilton
Spend Multiplier 4X 2X 8X
Bottom Category Off-Peak $1,250 $1,750 $1,250
Mid Category Standard $8,750 $7,500 $6,250
Top Category Peak $25,000 $22,500 $11,875

Hilton is again looking good in the middle and great at the top end.  One caveat: some stores that code as gas stations with Visa/Mastercards do not necessarily code that way with Amex cards (Marriott & Hilton).

Office Supply Spend

This chart shows credit card spend using the best available card to pay at office supply stores (e.g. Staples, Office Depot, etc.).

Hotel Type
Marriott
Hyatt Hilton
Spend Multiplier 5X 5X 4X
Bottom Category Off-Peak $1,000 $700 $2,500
Mid Category Standard $7,000 $3,000 $12,500
Top Category Peak $20,000 $9,000 $23,750

Wow.  Thanks to the Ink Business Cash card and Hyatt’s better award chart, Hyatt stays require far less spend than Marriott or Hilton at office supply stores.

Accounting for 4th Night Free

It’s worth noting that Hyatt does not offer a 5th night free on award stays whereas Marriott and Hilton do.  If you assume that you will always spend 5 nights at hotels on award stays (seems unlikely to me!), then you can multiply all of the Marriott and Hilton spend totals above by .8 to get a more fair comparison.  For example, here’s the base spend (no category bonus) chart again after correcting for 5th night free:

Hotel Type
Marriott
Hyatt Hilton
Spend Multiplier 2X 1.5X 4X
Assume 5th Night Free? Yes No Yes
Bottom Category Off-Peak $2,000 $2,333 $2,000
Mid Category Standard $14,000 $10,000 $10,000
Top Category Peak $40,000 $30,000 $19,000

Now Marriott and Hilton look slightly better than Hyatt at the bottom, Hilton catches up to Hyatt in the middle, and Hilton pulls further away from the competition at the high end.

Let’s now look at this again with supermarket spend:

Hotel Type
Marriott
Hyatt Hilton
Spend Multiplier 4X 1.5X 8X
Assume 5th Night Free? Yes No Yes
Bottom Category Off-Peak $1,000 $2,333 $1,000
Mid Category Standard $7,000 $10,000 $5,000
Top Category Peak $20,000 $30,000 $9,500

Hilton was already looking great with supermarket spend, but when accounting for 5th night free awards, Hilton looks even better.

And let’s see if Hyatt can maintain its superiority for office supply spend:

Hotel Type
Marriott
Hyatt Hilton
Spend Multiplier 5X 5X 4X
Assume 5th Night Free? Yes No Yes
Bottom Category Off-Peak $800 $700 $2,000
Mid Category Standard $5,600 $3,000 $10,000
Top Category Peak $16,000 $9,000 $19,000

Hyatt still looks good with office supply spend despite not offering 5th night free awards.

Methodology Issues

This post does not take into account varying annual fees or category bonus caps.  For example, a lot of the advantage Hilton has over the competition has to do with the great category bonuses on the Amex Gold Card.  But the Gold Card only earns 4X at US Supermarkets on the first $25K of supermarket spend each calendar year.  And it has a significant annual fee ($250 at the time of this writing).

Another big miss in the methodology is that there is no consideration of earning cash back and using that to book nights.  Nor is there consideration of using Chase points, for example, to book nights through Chase’s travel portal.

A related miss is the fact that Hilton points can often be bought for half a cent each when Hilton offers a point sale (which they do often).  If we took this into account, Hilton would look even better.  At office supply stores, for example, you’d be able to earn 5X Chase points and covert that to 5% cash back and then to 10X Hilton points (by buying points for a half cent each).  Another play is to get the Schwab Platinum card which allows cashing out Amex points at 1.25 cents each.  When you combine this card with bonus categories on other Amex Membership Rewards cards, you can indirectly earn even bigger Hilton multiples.  For example, you can turn 2X everywhere into 2.5% back everywhere, which becomes 5X Hilton points everywhere!  Or, you can turn 4X supermarket spend into 5% back, which becomes 10X Hilton points at supermarkets.

Conclusion

If you have the Chase Ink Cash card, which offers 5X at office supply stores (up to $25K spend per year), and if you spend a lot at those stores, then that’s a fantastic way to earn Hyatt stays.  The same can be said for earning 5X with Chase Freedom’s rotating categories.  In either case, you need to have a Chase Ultimate Rewards card with an annual fee in your household so that you can move the points to that card and then to Hyatt to book your awards.

With almost any other category of spend, you’re probably better off looking to earn Hilton stays.  A lot of this is driven by the fact that Amex Membership Rewards points transfer 1 to 2 to Hilton and that Amex has some great category bonuses on their cards.  For example, the Blue Business Plus card earns 2X Amex points everywhere (4X Hilton) on your first $50K of spend each calendar year.  Similarly the Amex Gold card earns 4X Amex points at US Supermarkets (8X Hilton) on your first $25K of spend each calendar year.

All of that said, transferring Amex points to Hilton is not a recommended approach except when Amex offers a big transfer bonus.  Since Hilton regularly sells points for only a half cent each, transferring Amex points 1 to 2 to Hilton gives you only 1 cent per Amex point value.  That’s not very good compared to outsized value that is possible when transferring to certain airline programs for sweetspot awards.

 

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Mark D

New Wyndham card looks really good against these for gas

Jeff

This is timely since I just received an Amex Hilton aspire offer in the mail today. 175k points with $4k spend. I don’t have a hotel card currently. Seems pretty good, but from the article it seems that Hilton points are cheap so maybe 175k is not that great. Thoughts?

Jeff

Sorry it was Hilton Surpass not aspire offer that I received.

K h

What about the second free night for Hyatt when you spend 15,000 on the card in 12 months? Maybe I’m wrong to prioritize that before putting spend on other cards? So many things to take into account, makes my head spin..

HChris

Great comparison Greg! Just like me, you sure do love to use all kinds of variable calculations on which your arguments are based on.

I found one little thing I wanted to point out. You mentioned how the top category for now two resorts is more than 95k. It is not a very well known fact, but the lowest Hilton category is actually 5,000 points per night and not 10k. However, I fully accept your 10k as calculative basis (as you also took 95k and not 120k as high tier peak), because the 5k hotels are in Turkey, Egypt and a single Garden Inn next to the airport in Bali. So not exactly easy to redeem for U.S. based Hilton loyalists. However, maybe you want to think about mentioning that as well under the “Points Required for Free Nights” section.

Kid Kredit

What a super article. I love this kind of deep-dive number crunch article.

CJ

Love you site …..I also live in hotels for the last 9 years full time …yes love Stephen page ……..one thing you may have not taking into consideration is that Hilton has 0 cat 1 properties in USA and they only have 15 cat 2 properties
Where Marriott has 272 cat 1 and 1162 cat 2 and also 2468 cat 3 which are all below a Hilton cat 3
So your math looks good on paper but not in Reality when comparing cat 1 or cat 2 between Hilton and Marriott
If I’m in one of those countries where I find a Hilton category 1 I’ll just buy points to get a 5 night stay for 20.00 a night

JustSaying

I am more interested in now so that makes Hyatt far superior at the top tier. With COVID manufacturing for the future seems ill advised unless you have a crystal ball into the future!

JustSaying

I’m more interested in now! That makes Hyatt far superior at the top tier. With COVID-19 manufacturing for the future seems ill advised unless you have a crystal ball into the future.

Bob

Under Hilton, the AMEX Everyday Preferred Card (w/30 transactions a month) earns 4.5 MR points per $1 spent on groceries – making it 9x for Hilton points. You seem to have included EDP in the gas station spend category, but not groceries. For Marriott, you eliminated the EDP altogether.

Harry

Nice article,I have began researching this also.
Presently have free nights at all 3 plus IHG! But recent changes at Marriot have given me pause. Booked pre trip hotel at Westin beach in ft lauderdale for Jan at 35k , looked to also book later in February 120k!!!!!!! Not happening! Bye bye Marriot!!!

[…] nights and Greg wrote a post comparing the cost of manufacturing free nights via credit card (See: Manufacturing free nights (Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott)). In that post, he included the following chart showing the number of points required for a free […]

ineverms

Since we are taking into consideration non cobranded annual fee cards with transferable points, supermarket spend on Marriott can be at 4x considering the Amex Gold (personal MR card) earns 4x. Also, the gas station spend can be 8x using the biz gold if the transferring of points to Hilton are done during non promo dates.

Miles Ahead

Just came across this article. Of course not with the World of Hyatt card and 15k spend for free night and 2x spend on that card in a number of categories, it changes the equation for Hyatt MS.
But re Hilton, this is why I don’t get all the hype around the Hilton Aspire. You lay out $450 and yes, in a very, very, very restrictive manner “can” recover your $450+. Or you could MS 40k spend to get your diamond status and then have 240k hh points to do as you please- very close to enough points in your pocket for 5 nights at your top tier, where having Diamond might actually be useful. All this for slightly more out of pocket for MSing at grocery store , plus of course $95, but also add in the free night you get for spending 15k.
So for someone willing to MS why would you choose the Aspire over Ascend?

[…] rewarding (Greg’s take was a bit different than mine) and then Greg ran the math on how Hilton’s not even a bad deal in terms of manufacturing free nights in some instances. However, I wrote a post a year ago about Hilton’s poor math skills when it […]

[…] earn free nights with Marriott, Hyatt, and Hilton (based on the new Marriott chart) — see: Manufacturing free nights (Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott). Under almost every condition Greg considered — from unbonused spend to grocery store spend […]

Brett W

With recent Staples deal for no fee VGCs I was able to net 30,000 UR points, which having just spent a honeymoon at Park Hyatt Maldives at 25,000 UR –> Hyatt Points per night, just tickled me to death. Easily the best brand for free nights.

Belinda

Oh wow…now I just noticed from your analysis no bonus on grocery store on aspire car? Just 3 points?!??? I just upgraded. So I need to be sure to have my bcp with me at all times. What a ripoff. But like you said that card has tremendous value otherwise. I’m actually really excited to get it in the mail. I’m particularly happy about the new no foreign transaction fee…that irked me every time I had to pay it!

[…] Manufacturing free nights (Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott) – Frequent Miler […]

Shadrach

Location, location, location. Marriott and Hilton rule when it comes to number of hotels and locations. That is why I manufacture free nights with Hilton and been doing it for years and don’t see anything changing the plan.

MarkG

So…bottom line…If I want to get a free Marriott night I will have to use a 2% cash back card …

A B

Why not also add a hotel spend category for those of us that mattress run?

Yuri

You forgot to mention 2 good cards from Amex:
EDP: 9x HH or 4.5x Marriott on groceries
6x HH or 3x Marriott on gas
BBP: 4x HH or 2x Marriott on everything.

A B

Not the best use of those cards, but good point.

Yuri

The same is true for all Chase UR cards mentioned here

PM1

Awesome article! I was too lazy to do this calculation but now I know. Hyatt is the easiest option for me. 🙂

Lukas

AMEX RAT team doesn’t have an issue with Hilton CC supermarket spend and gives out points like candy?

HoKo

I was wondering this as well. Are people successfully doing grocery store MS on Ascend cards without issues? Weren’t there articles in the past 12-18 months about amex not giving points at all for GC purchases?

Vic

Not Hilton, but FWIW, I’ve met 3 SPG Biz MSR ($7k x 3) for other players in the household. All bonus posted. I feel Hilton should be safe for now.
I’m not doing MR cards in supermarkets.

dave

You have Hyatt as 1.5 on unbonused spend.

Mike

Chase Freedom Unlimited paired with a premium Chase card results in you getting 1.5 Hyatt points per dollar on unbonused spend

Farnorthtrader

One minor quibble, that you use the peak pricing for the Hilton top category (95,000) but use only the standard pricing for Marriott. My experience has been that particularly the top category at Hilton has been available at 80,000, however, I think the appropriate comparison would be for peak pricing for both. After all, peak pricing is peak pricing for a reason, that is when people will most likely be redeeming their points.
One additional caveat, which I have not seen discussed (although I may have missed it), Hilton and Hyatt offer last standard room availability, Marriott does not currently and I have not seen it noted that this is going to change. Marriotts have to offer at least one room every night, but don’t have to offer every standard room for points.

Leo

Very good point!

Dan

For the last year and a half, I’ve used the chase travel mall to book hotels and car rentals. When Hyatt properties have been available, I have never found anything on the chase mall to be a lower point value. Hyatt always seems to have the best deal with a transfer for Hyatt place.

I suppose it’s possible you might find a roach motel on the chase mall for less than 8k points per nights, but that’s tough as the chase mall adds taxes to all hotel stays and the place won’t be as nice as Hyatt place.

WR2

I just skimmed, but I think you neglected to mention the free nights after $15k on Hilton business and Ascend, as well as to a lesser extent a 2nd free night on Aspire at $60k. I think these need to be factored in if you are talking about MSing free nights.