Use your loyalty points to get poolside at a tropical resort

As you check in at the Hyatt Atlanta-Midtown for the 5th time this year, you might be thinking that you would rather be standing at the reception desk for the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme. If you are frequently on the road for business, your loyalty points are probably piling up. Take a look at these tips for taking yourself or your family somewhere nice this summer for free, or nearly free.

Decide on Your Goals

The first thing to determine is where you want to go. Are you planning a blow-out trip, or would you rather spread your vacation days over several long weekends away? The trick to getting the most bang for your buck when spending your rewards points is to use your free nights in places where hotel rooms are quite expensive – often major cities like London or San Francisco. Marriott Rewards members can maximize their points by using them for a week in paradise at the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas.

Boost your Loyalty Balance

Long-time loyalty club members often play the credit card game for big gains. Some will open multiple new credit cards every year in order to get valuable sign-up bonuses. Look at credit card offers with enticements like 50,000 or more points or free hotel nights. If you’re part of a couple, you could both open a card for an especially good deal so that you both get the sign-up bonus – rack up 100,000 points instead of 50,000 or four free nights instead of two. Many travelers that collect points believe that the Chase Sapphire Reserve Starwood card has the most valuable hotel point redemption available. Another Chase card, the Sapphire Preferred gives two points for every dollar spent on travel and dining, and each point is multiplied by 25% when you redeem it for travel. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward hotel rates, car rentals or cruise fares. Offers vary and terms change, so you’ll have to check the fine print.

Kids Stay Free

Stretch your vacation budget even further with a family-friendly hotel. Check out these resort hotels that welcome families with a “kids stay free” policy:

• Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island of Hawaii: kids 18 & younger stay free
• Hilton Hawaiian Village - Waikiki Beach Resort on Oahu - kids 17 & younger stay free
• Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - kids 12 & younger stay free

Beyond the Room

Marriott will become the largest hotel company in the world, with over 6,500 properties, after the completion of its merger with Starwood and Ritz-Carlton this August. Marriott Rewards members will be able to earn & redeem points not only for rooms, but also ‘experiences’. Their new Moments portal has offerings in the Culinary, Lifestyle, Sports and Entertainment categories. Buyers can bid points on cooking classes with master chefs, seats at major music & sports events or a ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ day in New York City.

No matter your preferences, start planning how you will use your points today. Loyalty programs generally devalue their points over time, so they sooner you use them the better.

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