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There’s always a sense of satisfaction when you use points for a hotel redemption. This is especially true when you find yourself facing excruciatingly high cash prices. But what happens when there are plenty of boutique options with nary a Hilton in sight?
Happily for travelers, there are still ways to redeem points for boutique hotels. Let’s take a look at how to use points on boutique hotels through travel portals and statement credits and the different hotel loyalty programs that offer boutique hotel partnerships.
Booking through a travel portal
Perhaps the simplest method for redeeming points toward a boutique hotel involves booking through your card issuer's travel portal. Many major credit cards feature their own individual travel portals, including Capital One, Citi, Chase and American Express.
However, not all travel portals and credit cards will offer equal value, and you’ll want to double-check this before booking. For example, those who have the Chase Sapphire Reserve® can redeem their Chase Ultimate Rewards® points for boutique hotels at a value of about 1.5 cents each through Chase’s travel portal, though this is on the higher end compared to other card issuers.
One of the best features you’ll find when looking to redeem your points through a travel portal comes from the Citi Prestige® Card. Although this card is no longer open to new applicants, those who currently hold the card can enjoy their fourth night free on most hotel stays booked through the Citi travel portal. This benefit can be used twice per year and can even be used when redeeming points toward your stay.
Using a card like the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card when booking hotels through the Capital One travel portal will earn you up to 10 miles per dollar spent.
Redeeming points as a statement credit against travel purchases
Some credit cards allow you to redeem points for statement credits against travel charges that you’ve put on the card. It can be especially valuable to use the feature for bookings made with boutique hotels, as there are few restrictions for these redemptions.
Several different credit cards offer the ability to redeem points as a statement credit after you’ve made a travel purchase, including:
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card: Redeem points for a flat value of 1 cent per point toward any purchases.
Citi Double Cash® Card: Redeem Citi ThankYou points at a rate of 1 cent each with this card, which earns 1% cash back on all purchases, then another 1% back when you pay them off. Plus, through the end of 2024, cardholders can get 5% cash back on hotel, car rentals and attractions booked through the Citi Travel portal.
The most valuable part of using a statement credit purchase eraser to book a boutique hotel involves the ability to triple dip on your rewards. You'll earn points on the booking you’ve made, and you can also stack shopping portals and website loyalty programs to maximize your earnings.
Let’s say you’re looking to book a hotel in Dubrovnik, Croatia using your Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. You’ve chosen to book through Hotels.com thanks to its loyalty program, which will reward you with a free night for every 10 nights that you stay. (Note this program will be discontinued in late 2023.)
By opting to go through the Rakuten shopping portal to access Hotels.com, you’ll also receive 1% cash back for your purchase.
Finally, since you’re paying with the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, you’re earning 2 Capital One Miles per dollar spent.
Altogether, you’re earning through Hotels.com, Rakuten and Capital One with a single boutique hotel booking — and you can still opt to redeem your Capital One Miles against your purchase.
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now
Redeeming with your hotel chain
Hotel chains have done a lot in recent years to pump up their portfolios. This includes new acquisitions and partnerships, both of which help travelers find new places to stay.
Marriott features the Autograph Collection, which is a 200-plus strong portfolio of boutique and luxury hotels located around the world. The Curio Collection, Hilton’s answer to Marriott, includes over 130 boutique properties. You can earn and redeem points at all of these locations, making it very easy to find reward redemptions.
Hyatt and IHG, meanwhile, have partnered with several different boutique collections in order to offer their members a wide variety of hotels.
Hyatt’s partnership with the Small Luxury Hotels of the World is unique in that it offers elite-like benefits to bookings based on availability, including early check-in, late checkout, complimentary breakfast and a room upgrade. Although not every SLH hotel is eligible for bookings using Hyatt points, around 350 of the 500-plus properties are.
IHG has created a few different partnerships in order to fill the boutique portfolio gap. This includes luxury boutique properties owned and operated by Mr and Mrs Smith (note that Hyatt has announced an acquisition of Mr and Mrs Smith expected to finalize in the second quarter of 2023).
» Learn more: Top Marriott boutique hotels you can book with points
If you want to redeem points for a boutique hotel
There are plenty of reasons why you’d want to book a boutique hotel, especially if you’re looking for a smaller, more personalized touch during your vacation.
But boutique doesn’t mean you’ll need to pay cash; there are plenty of ways for savvy travelers to redeem points for boutique hotels. This includes using your card issuer’s travel portal, taking advantage of a credit card with a purchase eraser feature and booking with a major hotel chain’s own boutique hotel offerings or partnerships.
The information related to Citi Prestige® Card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card