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Tips for football fans on maximizing hotel rewards points

By  |  Published: September 7, 2017

Summer Hull
Personal Finance Writer
Summer Hull writes the weekly "Get to the Points" column for CreditCards.com

Get to the Points

Football season is here, and whether there is a professional team you like to support or you enjoy the atmosphere of a great college rivalry game, watching a game on TV doesn’t come close to the experience of seeing it all in person.

Personally, I am partial to the music, parade and pageantry that accompanies a Notre Dame home football game in South Bend, Indiana, as the leaves begin to turn and the air is crisp and cool. My husband’s favorite trip is one that involves watching the Kansas City Chiefs play anyone, anywhere, anytime.

We have been lucky enough to take several trips to see both the Fighting Irish as well as the Chiefs, and we are usually able to do it with very little out-of-pocket hotel costs by using our hotel points.

As I’m sure many of you know, hotels near the stadiums usually increase their rates due to high demand on football weekends, but with most hotel loyalty programs, the points rates are static regardless of the cash rates. Remember, even if you don’t have many points in your hotel accounts now, the various co-branded hotel credit cards can rectify that problem pretty quickly.

To give you some ideas of how you can use your hotel points to take in a football game from the stands, here are some points-friendly hotel options close to three iconic football stadiums.

Skip the parking lots and walk to Arrowhead Stadium
If you enjoy the Kansas City Chiefs as my husband does, or even if you want to root for the away team, you can skip the stadium parking lots and stay within walking distance to Arrowhead Stadium with just 3,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points per night that you can earn from the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card or elsewhere.

The Four Points by Sheraton Kansas City Sports Complex hotel charges 3,000 SPG points per night on the weekends or 4,000 points during the week. This points rate doesn’t change just because rates may jump to $200 per night or higher when there is a home Chiefs game. I see many home game nights still available this season for just 3,000 SPG points, which is an incredible deal.

Cheer, cheer for Old Notre Dame in Indiana
A home football weekend in Notre Dame is enjoyable even if you don’t actually like football. From the pep rally to trumpets in the dome to the march and the stadium, it is an action-filled affair. The Notre Dame Stadium holds more than 80,000 people, and many of them spend the whole weekend at nearby hotels, so demand is very high and availability can be tight.

However, if you get lucky or book far enough in advance, you can stay close to the stadium in South Bend at the Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites South Bend for 25,000 IHG points per night or you can use just 3,000 Wyndham Reward points plus a cash co-pay starting around $55 per night to stay at a property such as the Super 8 South Bend or the Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham South Bend at Notre Dame.

A brand new Aloft South Bend is opening in late September 2017, so that will be a new option available in South Bend for just 7,000 Starwood points per night. Likely because it has not yet opened, I currently see award availability at this hotel for Notre Dame football weekends when other hotels are already sold out.

If you can’t find anything available in South Bend, keep in mind that Mishawaka is a short drive away and you will find more chain hotel options there such as the Hyatt Place South Bend/Mishawaka for just 12,000 points per night. If you are low on Hyatt points, you can even transfer them into Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio from cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Bundle up for a game at Lambeau Field
One of the most iconic football stadiums in the country is Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Home to the Green Bay Packers, this open-air stadium is easily at or below freezing as you get into the latter part of the football season, and snow is a very real possibility. If you want to save your money for new hats and scarves instead of blowing it all on your hotel room, one of the closest hotel options, Spring Hill Suites Green Bay, can be booked for 30,000 Marriott Reward points per night. You can also choose to transfer 10,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points per night to Marriott Rewards at 1:3 ratio if you prefer.

Heading to a big football game may not be an inexpensive adventure, but you can keep costs down and still stay very close to the stadium by putting your hotel points to very good use.

See related: How to get free stays and perks faster with hotel rewards, Hotel rewards: Go for free nights, not points

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Updated: 09-21-2017

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