Using points for a ski resort vacation

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

Get to the Points

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I grew
up in a ski- and mountain-loving family. The only problem with our love for
snowcapped mountains was that we lived on the Gulf Coast in East Texas. To
solve this geographical dilemma, my parents would load my sister and I in the
back of our Honda Accord with pillows and blankets and drive all night until we
reached mountains in Colorado or New Mexico.

We did this usually once or twice
a ski season as I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s. As a result, I developed a love
for the powder, even though it virtually never snowed in my hometown.

To
continue to enjoy my ski hobby, and in the hopes of passing down to my own two daughters that same love
of strapping on skis and cruising down the mountain, we
take family ski vacations usually twice a year, just as I did as a child.

However,
our ski trips now are usually a little more luxurious than those of my
childhood, thanks to miles and points. We often use our airline miles to fly to
the mountains instead of driving, and we are able to use hotel points to stay
right on the mountain, something that otherwise would be completely
unaffordable.

The average price of a hotel room during ski season can be $400-$500
per night,
depending on the mountain you are visiting.

For a
four- or five-night stay, you are now talking about thousands of dollars, on
average, just to stay near a ski mountain. To stay on the mountain itself can
obviously cost even more, unless, of course, you are putting your hotel and
credit card points to very good use.

Since most hotel loyalty programs allow
you to book a room with points if the room is for sale with cash, you can get a
tremendous return by using points for on-mountain hotels during ski season.

Stay on the Aspen Snowmass
mountain using SPG points

On
average, the Aspen family of resorts is one of the most expensive in terms of
lodging, but for as few as 12,000 SPG points per night, you can book a room at
the on-mountain Westin Snowmass.

The deal gets even better because with Starwood you get the
fifth award night free on five-night stays. This makes your per-night award
cost as low as 9,600 SPG points per night using points that you can earn with
your SPG American Express card.

Without points, paid rates at this on-mountain resort can reach
around $1,000 per night during peak weekends during ski season.

Sleep steps from the lifts in Beaver Creek via Hyatt points

If you
have World of Hyatt points or Chase Ultimate Reward points from cards like the
Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve that you can transfer 1:1 to
Hyatt, then you can spend 30,000 of them per night to stay at the luxurious Park Hyatt Beaver Creek that is literally throwing
distance to the Beaver Creek lifts and ski school.

Paid rates in the winter at
this hotel are easily in the $700-$1,000 range per night.

If you stay at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, be
sure to budget some of the money you are saving on the room for a spa visit, as
its Allegria Spa has a Roman bath-inspired water ritual where the
alternating hot and cold water treatments are a perfect way to end a day on the
slopes.

Stay at the base of Whistler
for under 10,000 SPG points per night

The Westin Whistler is
just a couple of hundred feet away from the main Whistler Gondola and Whistler Ski
School, putting you as close as you can be to the amazing Whistler Blackcomb
ski action. Those mountains enjoy an average of 37 feet of snow each year, making them excellent choices
for reliable ski conditions about two hours north of Vancouver.

We
skied as a family there over the winter break this year and paid 9,600 SPG
points per night on a five-night stay while rooms were selling for $800 per
night.

Kids ski free when you use
points at the Hyatt Place Keystone

The
Hyatt Place Keystone opened in late 2017 and is near the base
of Keystone in Colorado. Keystone offers family-centric ski vacations and excels at making things fun and easy by offering everything from complimentary red
wagons to haul kids’ gear, an on-mountain ice fort and an exceptional ski-and-ride program for kids.

This
hotel is 15,000 Hyatt points per night and offers a free hot breakfast
to everyone. Better yet: When you stay two nights or longer,
kids ski free!

Be near Summit County
ski resorts with Wyndham Rewards

It’s not just higher-end programs and properties that can get you close to the
mountains. Wyndham Rewards has a popular ski property in its ranks via
the Super 8 Dillon/Breckenridge off I-70 in Colorado. You
can stay here for 15,000 Wyndham Reward points per night and be a short driving
distance to Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper Mountain and more. 

Thanks
to hotel points, as well as credit card rewards points that can be transferred
to hotel programs, you can put together an amazing ski trip without spending
hundreds or thousands on hotel accommodations. You can stay on or near the
mountains in Colorado, Utah, Canada, Norway or Switzerland just by putting your
points to work.

See related: What the Chase 5/24 rule is and how it works, Hot, new rewards cards to debut in 2018




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