Trying to Explain Value of Points to a Normal Person

In April, we are planning on visiting some relatives in North Florida. Originally, I reserved a Holiday Inn Express located only ten minutes away from their home. The price is a bit steep at 20,000 points per night, and we need two rooms since my in-laws are coming as well.

I really hated the idea of burning 80,000 points for two nights, but I don’t like hoarding them either. This family lives in a small town, and there are literally no VRBO or similar rental options.  The only silver lining is the fact that we would get 10% rebate due to having a co-branded IHG MasterCard. So, the real cost would  actually be 72,000 points.

But then my husband and I each got US Bank Club Carlson Signature Visa. Could we do better using that program instead? To my delight, there was a Country Inn and Suites property in the area, and the rate was 28,000 points per night (with the last night being free).

We could each  book a room from our respective accounts, so the total cost would be 56,000 points.  Trip Advisor reviews are great, and the room rate includes hot breakfast. So, it was the case of using  56,000 Club Carlson points vs. 72,000 IHG points. No-brainer, right?

Well, the problem is, Country Inn and Suites property is located 25 minutes away vs. 10 minutes  for HI Express. Still, I’ve decided that it would be worth it to go with Club Carlson property. Convincing my mother-in-law was another story. Here is the conversation:

HER: But I really like HI Express! I’ve stayed there before and enjoyed it. Not to mention, it’s closer.

ME: I understand. Let me explain why this makes more sense. We plan to spend the first night at the hotel without visiting the family. It’s closer to our home, so there will be  no extra driving  involved.

When we go there the next day, we will follow the route we would have anyway. Even if we do decide to see them on the third day, it would add 30 extra minutes to our commute. I realize it’s not ideal, but let me list some compelling reasons:

1. Considering the fact that I value IHG point at 0.5 cents and Club Carlson point at 0.35 cents, it means we are looking at $360 vs. $196. IMO it’s worth it to drive extra 30 minutes to save $164. We are not rolling in dough, y’all!

2. IHG has much better US coverage than Club Carlson. We can usually find their properties anywhere we decide to go for vacation. So it makes sense to preserve that currency instead of Club Carlson points.

3. Club Carlson points are much easier to earn via everyday spending. You get 5 points on everything vs. Chase IHG card that only earns 1 point per dollar, 2 on several bonus categories. Sure, IHG has lucrative promos now and again, but last time, our set of offers was “weak sauce.”

If I ever stop this churning game (unlikely), I could always use Club Carlson card for everyday spend and rack up points quickly. Of course, the sign-up bonus on IHG credit card can now be earned every 24 months, but I have other Chase offers in mind for the foreseeable future.

4. The Club Carlson Visa “second night free” benefit could go away or be diluted. They may require you to stay 3 nights to get it. Here we have a perfect situation since we are staying 2 nights. It would be a shame not to capitalize on it!

5. The most important reason of all: Country Inn and Suites has an indoor pool.

HER: But I really like HI Express! I’ve stayed there before and enjoyed it. Not to mention, it’s closer.


Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

In case you are wondering, I’m having an “African-American” theme this week.  I realize, it would make way more sense to do it in February, but one of my specialties is “yesterday’s news.” Not to mention,  this hobby could sure use more ethnic diversity.

When I attended FTU in 2013, aside from Kendra and one Parsi/Indian-looking fellow with a bow tie, the audience could only be described as “fifty shades of white.” Not that there is anything wrong with being white!

thumbs up

 Image courtesy of stockimages at

Bottom line

And that’s how normal people think. I’m not talking about the post, I’m obviously nothing close to normal. I mean this hobby. If you have the points, why inconvenience yourself? In the end, my mother-in-law did agree with my plan, so we’ll be staying in Club Carlson property after all. If anything goes wrong, I’m in big trouble.

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4 thoughts on “Trying to Explain Value of Points to a Normal Person

    • Walkhikebike, thanks for letting me know about the breakfast. I really look forward to trying out Country Inn and Suites, never stayed in one before. This hotel gets great reviews too. And I agree, the price of IHG property is a bit high. Unfortunately, other choices in that town consisted of sketchy motels.


    • Sebastian, yes, you do have to have it open. This benefit is only valid for cardholders. In fact, the terms state that the owner of the card has to stay in the hotel. That said, it also applies to authorized users. I added my mom, and was able to book a stay in her name over the phone. The second night was free.
      It doesn’t cost anything to add an additional AU, so in theory, you can put most of your family members on the card if you choose to do so. I don’t believe you have to show the credit card at check-in, but I could be wrong.


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