The U.S. isnâ€™t always where you can get the biggest bang for your points when it comes time to redeem.
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If you are willing to earn your points here and then use them elsewhere where the cost of living and traveling is lower, you can have the best of both worlds by stretching your miles and points around the globe.
Traveling within Thailand can be very affordable whether spending dollars or points, which is why nearly every budget travel guide ever written includes a section on Thailand.
For example, you can book a private hotel room from $10 per day and stay in resorts such as the Le Meridien Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand starting at 7,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points per night. For comparison’s sake, a similar resort somewhere like Maui would likely cost 25,000 SPG points per night.
If you crave a bit more city action while in Thailand, you can book the Aloft Bangkok starting at 3,000 SPG points per night and then take one of the hotel’s free tuk tuk shuttles to the Skytrain station and be off to your next destination in a flash.
My favorite hotel redemption last year was the Andaz Costa Rica at a cost of just 15,000 Hyatt points per night. As a Category 4 Hyatt property, you can even use a Category 1-4 award night that you earn each year just by having The Hyatt Credit Card from Chase. Most Andaz Resorts around the world cost 20,000 to 25,000 points per night, so this one is a steal at just 15,000 points with waived resort fees on award stays.
This beautiful Costa Rican resort has multiple infinity-edge pools, an included kids’ club with indoor fort and the very best barista class you will ever take. I promise it will change the way you drink coffee forever.
When you stay here, you also get included access to a separate beach club. To save on meals, take the free hotel shuttle to a place called The Dive Bar where there are rotating half-price specials each night as well as happy-hour deals that will keep you well within your budget.
If you have ever wanted to visit Egypt, you are in for a points-fueled treat as it has some beautiful resorts you can book using just a handful of hotel points.
For example, the Radisson Blu El Quseir can be booked for 15,000 Radisson Rewards points per night. That is already an insane deal for a gorgeous beachfront resort with multiple pools, but all rooms include not only a breakfast buffet, but also a dinner buffet!
If you would like to use Hilton Honors points in Egypt, there are options starting at just 5,000 points per night. One Hilton property that regularly receives good reviews is the Hilton Marsa Alam Nubian Resort. This resort reportedly has great snorkeling just off the beach and even an all-inclusive option.
The Marsa Alam Nubian Resort will cost you 20,000 Hilton Honors points per night, which means you can turn the 100,000-point sign-up bonus from the Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express into a five-night beachfront vacation! Contrast that to some other Hilton properties at the top end of the award chart that cost 95,000 points per night, and you can see how Egypt is a huge value on points.
In the Dominican Republic, you can stay at the beachfront Westin Resort in Punta Cana for 10,000 Starwood points per night, or an average of 8,000 SPG points per night if you stay five nights. Similar Westin beachfront resorts cost a minimum of double that number of points per night!
If you just need a place close to the airport to lay your head for a night or two while in the Dominican Republic, you can secure the Four Points Punta Cana Village starting at 3,000 SPG points per night – and that even includes breakfast!
It is truly amazing how far you can stretch your points if you expand the limits of where you are willing to travel beyond the borders of the United States. You will often discover that properties that would cost 30,000 to 40,000 points per night in the U.S. are comparable to properties that are available for just 5,000 to 10,000 points per night in some countries.