At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.
As the holidays quickly approach, people are finalizing their gift lists. Instead of opening your wallet, why not look for alternative ways to pay for gifts? Hotel loyalty points are becoming increasingly popular for those looking to spend points on hard-to-replicate experiences rather than redeeming them for free nights.
Let’s take a look at how Hilton Honors, Marriott Bonvoy and World of Hyatt might just make you the holiday hero this year.
Get your music and dance groove on
Marriott Bonvoy Moments has quite a few backstage experiences that could make the perfect gift for that hard-to-please person on your list. Billy Joel, the Jonas Brothers and Celine Dion are just some of the big names that members can bid points to see at concerts around the world. They come with premium seats, and many tack on free food and drinks as part of the experience, too.
There are a variety of auctions available that change constantly, so there’s always the opportunity to stuff stockings with great concert tickets.
» Learn more: 9 quirky travel experiences under $150
Celebrate New Year’s Eve in style
How about unlimited champagne, a massage for two and tickets to the DJ-fueled New Year’s Eve bash at the W Amsterdam? The package comes with one-night hotel stay, a 100-euro food and beverage credit and a VIP table at the party with a bottle of your choice. The top-floor terrace party will feature live music and views of the city’s many fireworks displays.
Stay in a luxury duplex suite at the Hongta Hotel in Shanghai on Dec. 31. The hotel’s chef will conduct an Italian masterclass for you and your guests, but the food doesn’t end there. An eight-course Shanghainese dinner as well as a private mini-concert in the suite’s living area are part of the package, too.
Celebrate music’s biggest night
Hilton Honors Experiences let members use points to celebrate with their favorite musicians at the Red Light Management Grammy After Party or rock on in real time at Steven Tyler's Grammy Awards Viewing Party.
Rejuvenate the mind and soul
World of Hyatt’s FIND platform offers lots of great health and wellness redemptions. It has yoga, Muay Thai and hiking experiences that can be redeemed for points in addition to spa experiences at well-known venues.
Wiping away stress with World of Hyatt points can also be easy while learning the craft of bonsai under the aegis of a bonsai master. It takes just over 10,000 World of Hyatt points to practice inner healing and Zen on a Cambodian biking tour visiting ancient Buddhist pagodas before a private ceremonial blessing by Theravada monks.
Surprisingly, many of these experiences are not too expensive since they cost a flat amount of points versus being sold via auction.
» Learn more: World of Hyatt: The complete guide
Tickle your tastebuds
Marriott Bonvoy members can redeem points for multicourse food and wine pairing dinners around the world. These include a meal in San Francisco at Saison or dinner with several famous chefs in Chicago during the Wake Up World Chef Series.
The whiskey weekend in Edinburgh from Marriott Bonvoy Moments includes a seven-course whiskey tasting dinner, full-day distillery tour and two nights at the Islay Suite at The Glasshouse. This two-person package is a great gift for fans of whiskey and Scotland in springtime.
Another adventure for Hilton Honors members is the winemaking experience in the Algarve region of Portugal, where two nights at the Conrad Algarve is paired with spa treatments and wine tasting.
Try something adventurous and new
Create a bubble soccer birthday party for your kids using World of Hyatt points, or sign up for personal soccer, Muay Thai boxing or Jiu Jitsu lessons from experts.
Nothing could be more exciting for Manchester United fans than watching the team play from box seats in the M Club Lounge at Old Trafford. One of Marriott Bonvoy Moments’ most spectacular redemption opportunities last year was the sleepover package in the Super Bowl stadium the night before kickoff. For 3.2 million points, the auction winners enjoyed an impressive stadium suite complete with food and beverage spreads and plenty of NFL goodies.
For some World of Hyatt members, nothing could be more adventurous (or even romantic) than taking a private couples’ tango lesson in New York. If you’re doing a little advance planning for Valentine’s Day, that sounds like a winner.
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 2020, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards Visa® credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Find the best travel credit card for you 5 predictions for reward travel in 2020 How to maximize your points and miles this holiday season