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  • Credit card rewards can help you book free stays at great luxury hotels.
  • Even if your room rate is free, you could still pay thousands of dollars during what was supposed to be a budget stay.
  • I bring a collapsible electric kettle and a FlasKap to save hundreds of dollars during my stay.
  • Read the Insider’s guide to the best hotel credit cards.

A big reason many of us dive into the world of credit card rewards is because we want to do fun things that our finances wouldn’t otherwise allow. For some, that just means traveling more often. For others, it means greatly improving the quality of the few trips you can take each year.

Here’s the thing: when you use points to book free stays at luxury hotels, you’re often still subject to all the other exorbitant expenses the hotel has to offer. You might be paying zero dollars per night, but the expenses can still add up:

  • The luxury hotel houses luxury restaurants. Food and beverages can cost upwards of $100 per person per meal.
  • You might have booked an activity-specific hotel, like a ski resort where lift tickets and equipment rentals are outrageous.
  • The location requires an expensive airport transfer. Hotels in the Maldives and Bora Bora often require a round trip speedboat or seaplane transfer of $500+ per person.

In other words, even though you can stay at the hotel for free, you could still end up with a bill for thousands of dollars at checkout. For this reason, even a free hotel stay may still be unattainable for many of us.

There are two devices that both cost $34 that I use to further cut down on hotel stays like this: a collapsible electric kettle and the FlasKap. Without them, I couldn’t visit luxury hotels so often.

Read more: The best rewards credit cards of 2022

Free stays at luxury hotels can still get expensive

Regular APR

16.24% – 23.24% variable

Recommended credit score

good to excellent

Regular APR

16.24% – 23.24% variable

Recommended credit score

good to excellent

More information
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. It’s $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy perks like a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards resort credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, and more.
  • Earn 25% more value when you redeem airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 for one trip.
  • With Pay Yourself Back(SM), your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Baggage Insurance and more.

By opening one of the best hotel credit cards, earning hotel points is largely effortless — and they’re among the most powerful tools in your arsenal for bulldozing your long to-do list. To do. Here are some examples.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® card comes with 80,000 bonus points above normal after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. You can transfer these points instantly to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio. After meeting the minimum spend requirement, you’ll have almost enough points to book three nights at the Park Hyatt Maldives, which sells for over $800 per night.

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card currently offers 3 free nights (each worth up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. You can use it for five-star hotels like the JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa – a hotel on its own island in the Venice Lagoon. The hotel regularly costs $600+ per night.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

comes with 100,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 in your first 6 months of card membership. You can transfer Amex Points to Hilton in a 2:1 ratio, which means this bonus is worth 200,000 Hilton Points. After reaching the minimum spend, you would have almost exactly the number of points needed for three nights at a hotel such as the DoubleTree by Hilton Seychelles – Allamanda Resort and Spa in the middle of the Indian Ocean. This hotel sells for $400+ per night.

Here are two items you should take with you when visiting properties like these if you are on a budget.

A collapsible electric kettle is the perfect companion for miles and points

Foldable travel kettle.

Joseph Hostetler/Initiate

At many resorts, you can’t just walk into town for a cheap meal. Some properties tend to isolate you from the local culture and therefore do not allow you to eat like the locals.

For example, if you visit a luxury resort in the Maldives, you’ll be captive to an island of breathtaking beauty with 90 miles of ocean separating you from the inexpensive meals the locals enjoy.

Read more: I’m never using points to stay in the Maldives again – here’s why I changed my approach to booking this must-see destination

In a hotel like this, a $34 travel kettle alone can bring hotels like this into the realm of possibility for any budget – depending on how often you’re willing to travel. ‘utilize.

A big bag of quality dehydrated camping food usually costs less than $10 and (in my experience) feeds two people. I know, it doesn’t sound idyllic eating camping food in a fancy hotel. But I’ve brought dehydrated meals to swanky places like St. Regis Maldives, Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, and Andaz Maui without remorse. Rooms at these hotels regularly cost between $1,000 and $2,000 per night — and even though I was able to get the room for free through credit card rewards, I wasn’t about to spend $400 a night. day in food.

My wife and I will eat three or four of these camping meals during a five night stay and potentially save over $600 by forgoing a few fancy meals. It’s a sacrifice we’re willing to make to visit a glitzy property we simply couldn’t afford otherwise. Just boil some water for three minutes, pour it into a bag of dehydrated food, and voila: you’ve saved $200 on dinner. This is not an exaggeration.

We still eat a lot at the hotel – a big part of vacation is eating fun meals. If our budget gets tight, we might still manage to visit hotels like this if we really wanted by eating more camping meals during our stay. Honestly, some of them are legitimately delicious.

FlasKap can save tons of money on alcohol

FlasKap, a device that fits over your 20oz mug and dispenses alcohol into your drink.

Joseph Hostetler/Initiate

It’s not uncommon for mixed drink prices at luxury hotels to exceed $20. While they can sometimes be worth splurging on, alcohol can be half your food bill at the end of your stay if you’re not careful.

I bring my own alcohol to five star hotels whenever I can. There’s an awesome $34 device called FlasKap that stores between six and nine ounces of alcohol (depending on the size you buy) and fits on top of your tumbler. It lets you buy much cheaper drinks and jazz them up with just a click. Simply press the button on top and the FlasKap will release half-ounce increments of alcohol into your drink.

Filling the FlasKap just once could easily save you and a fellow traveler over $50 worth of alcohol in a single afternoon.

At the end of the line

You don’t need a six-figure salary to stay at hotels that meet the 1%. If you collect points on top hotel credit cards, you can book super Instagrammable hotels for free. And with a collapsible electric kettle and a FlasKap, you can cut your food and alcohol expenses to potentially $25 per person per day.

For me, however, a big part of the fun of staying at a luxury resort is enjoying high-end amenities. I use these tools to reduce the price of my food. By eating a freeze-dried camping meal one night, I can feel less guilty about enjoying a fancy meal the next night.