If you are new to miles and points hobby, one thing I strongly recommend is getting familiar with various tools that are available to you for free. They can save you tremendous amount of time, which you can, in turn, spend on more important things. These tools can be extremely handy when you plan on booking a hotel in an area that you are not familiar with.
However, I would like to caution you against blindly trusting the results because mistakes do happen. Occasionally, a property will switch categories and become cheaper on points, but award tool doesn’t yet have the updated information.
Also, new hotels may not show up for sometime. So, I recommend you view these tools as a starting point, but always do further research. And of course, it goes without saying that burning hotel points isn’t always the best option.
Today I want to compare Awardmapper, Pointimize and HotelHustle tools. One of my readers actually requested that I do some digging, hence this post. I know a few of you are planning a trip to Maui. So, I’ll go ahead and use this destination as my guinea pig. Without further ado:
You can’t search availability, but the map will show you a large area, as well as most properties bookable on points. Be aware, in the past I have found mistakes. When I put in Maui, a total of 14 properties were listed on the right:
You can zoom in and out, and also select the chain you are interested in on the left (or unselect it). I was surprised to see that Wyndham program is represented on Maui (a new discovery!)
Introducing Days Inn Maui Oceanfront It’s not a fancy hotel and rooms bookable on points have double occupancy. Still, it looks like a solid deal for only 15,000 points.
Be aware, Awardmapper doesn’t show Fairmont properties, and Maui happens to have one: Fairmont Kea Lani All in all, I still think it’s a decent resource. Sure, it would be nice if it showed award availability, but since it’s free, I can’t really complain.
I like the fact that when you zoom out, it shows award options on a large scale, a unique feature. Here is an example of Florida:
This can come in handy if you are doing a road trip.
Pros: Shows large area and its hotel options, has a “zoom in/zoom out” feature, displays most major chains.
Cons: No option to search actual award availability, occasional mistakes.
This is a relatively new tool. In fact, I didn’t even know about it till the reader has mentioned it to me recently. Let’s check it out:
As you can see, there is an option to check actual availability, which is a plus. However, this tool only lists 5 properties for Maui. I checked several dates, and those are the results each and every time. There are no Hilton, Ritz-Carlton, Choice or Wyndham properties listed.
I’m not at all impressed with Pointimize tool when it comes to searching for hotel awards. My guess is that they have an agreement with certain properties and receive a commission if a reader books one of them. As you can see, there is an option to reserve rooms via paid rate.
That’s not wrong, of course, everyone has a right to monetize their site. I can only imagine how much work goes into these tools. Still, as a reader, you can definitely do MUCH better. No matter how you look at it, five out of fourteen properties just isn’t a very good percentage.
Out of curiosity, I searched availability for Orlando and the site listed four properties. Not good. Maybe it’s a fluke, and you’ll have better success than me, but I doubt it.
Update: Reader Clint did a search for Orlando and most chain properties were listed. I looked at it myself and he is absolutely right. This was not the case when I checked it yesterday, but perhaps it was a temporary bug.
Pros: Shows award availability.
Cons: Slim pickings when it comes to properties’ listings, the site appears to be biased.
This is actually my favorite tool of all. HotelHustle is Awardmapper on steroids. The tool is superb, just about perfect. It shows results on the map, has the most extensive hotel listing, and displays real-time award availability. It also lists paid rates and CPP (cents per point) you’ll get on your award redemption.
There is even an option to set up alerts to let you know when the property becomes available via points. There are a couple of quirks, though. When I put in “Maui” in search, here is the message I got:
It’s not a big deal, just something to be aware of. Once I put in “Lahaina,” the results were displayed:
There were a few hotels from neighboring islands mixed in with local results. In order to avoid this issue, just change the radius search on the left.
A neat thing about this tool is that it displays award availability, paid rate and CPP value all in one spot. You can click on property’s name, and it will take you to its respective website. Just like Awardmapper, it doesn’t show Fairmont hotels, so keep that in mind.
HotelHustle appears to be more up-to-date than Awardmapper. For example, there was a relatively new Hilton property listed via first tool: Ho’olei at Grand Wailea
It’s crazy expensive on points, as some dates will set you back 239,000 HHonors points per night, ouch! Still, it’s nice to know that HotelHustle is trustworthy when it comes to listing new properties. I remember when I found out that there is now a Hilton hotel in Minsk (Belarus), it did show up on HotelHustle but not on Awardmapper.
There is one area, however, where Awardmapper has a slight advantage. Here is an example when you put “Orlando” in search using HotelHustle and then zoom out:
See my screenshot of Awardmapper’s zoom-out feature for comparison. This isn’t a big deal because most people will only want to focus on one specific area, but just something to keep in mind.
My reader Clint has also added his observation:
“One advantage of AwardMapper vs. HotelHustle is that AM saves your selected hotel chains while HH automatically reselects all hotel chains with EVERY SINGLE SEARCH, even a change in dates. “
Aslo, reader Uri has mentioned that HotelHustle doesn’t track Best Western, something I’ve missed in my initial analysis.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, a neat feature is the ability to set up alerts when your property becomes available on points. Drew at Travelisfree has a post on it which I recommend you read.
If you choose to sign up for alerts, you’ll get the first 5 free, and for $2.99 per month, you can get up to 30. It’s incredibly generous of Seth at Wandering Aramean blog to allow all of the fantastic features (plus 5 alerts) to be accessed for free.
Let me also refer you to several posts on HotelHustle written by the founder himself:
I also wanted to point out that when I started writing this article, HotelHustle tool was down. I reached out to Seth via Twitter and let him know about it. He responded within minutes and started working on fixing it right away. The tool was once again functional within 30 minutes. So, I recommend if you have an issue with it, simply reach out via Twitter or contact him via email.
Pros: Shows award availability, most up-to-date tool, lists all major chains except Fairmont, hands-on approach from Seth.
Cons: Covers smaller area compared to Awardmapper, insists on using city names/ airport codes.
At this point, HotelHustle tool is the winner, hands down. AwardMapper simply pales in comparison, but can still be helpful at times. Pointimize has a long way to go before it becomes a viable competitor in this space. Still, I do recommend you always do your own research because no tool is 100% perfect. They are like miles and points bloggers in this respect.
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