The Priceline Queen Strikes Again!

Sheraton Times SquareAs usual I’ve waited until the last minute to make reservations for our trip to New York City for Thanksgiving.

Hotel rooms are scarcer than hen’s teeth and the prices are sky high.

Every time I search online, the prices are even higher than they were just hours before.

There’s hardly any availability on Hotwire, unless you want to stay out at Laguardia or in Hoboken.  I’ve given up on finding a room that will accomodate all three of us — our daughter will have to stay with her Aunt on the pull-out sofa.

Finding reasonably priced room in Chelsea, our preferred neighborhood, seems impossible.  Modest properties like Four Points by Sheraton are charging nearly $300 a night — before taxes.

But wait, what’s this?  A listing on Priceline’s Express Deals for a four star hotel in Midtown Manhattan for $135 a night.  This wasn’t there yesterday!  I wonder if I can snag this property for less by bidding on Priceline’s Name Your Own Price site?

My first bid for $105 is rejected, but I am presented with a counter offer for $125.  I know never to accept the counter offer — it usually means the hotel is willing to negotiate.  My next bid for $110 is accepted:  I won the Sheraton Times Square for three nights.

This is really funny because I remember trying out Priceline for the first time fifteen years ago, and getting this exact same hotel for $100 a night!

We’ve lucked out!  I know this hotel is in a prime location on the Seventh Ave. subway line, within walking distance to Times Square, but not right in the thick of things.  With any luck, we will land a room with a view of the Thanksgiving Day parade!  The rooms at the Sheraton are small, but clean and comfortable.

So how did I do?  The best available rate on the hotel website is for $246 a night, or 12,000 Starpoints.  With taxes, that would come to $856 for three nights.  Ouch.  Sheraton Times Square - Best Available Rate

With Priceline, the rate, including taxes  works out to $407 for three nights.  Less than half the price.  Sheraton Times Square Priceline Rate

 

Sheraton Times Square Priceline Rate

I paid for the hotel with my Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® credit card, which effectively pays 2.2 percent on all travel and restaurant charges.

Here’s the kicker.  Many miles and points bloggers provide a valuation of Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points.  Their valuation is typically based on the hotel’s room rate — for 36,000 star points you could get a room “worth” $856, or more than 2 cents per point.  But in my estimation, the value of a star point is relative to what you would pay on Priceline — in this case, 36,000 star points gets you a room “worth” $407, or about 1 cent per point.  I think it is important to keep this more realistic value in mind when evaluating claims of the “value” of credit card points.

“Value” is a subjective measure — the value is in the eyes of the beholder.

What do you think?  Is it fair to value points based on the rack rate, the market rate, or the Priceline rate?

4 thoughts on “The Priceline Queen Strikes Again!

  1. Great coup! Good for you! I am in good spirits too since I just 1) had Chase match my husband’s new Chase Freedom card to the newest offer, doubling our bonus points and 2) I successfully claimed my first BRG for the hotel we’ll stay in in Las Vegas. Happy Thankskgiving!

  2. Woohoo! You can’t go wrong with $20K Ultimate Reward Points on a credit card with no annual fee! The Chase Freedom card is my absolute favorite! The points will add up quickly with 5x points on rotating categories like gas and restaurants! You’ve probably heard that there is a new offer for the Chase Sapphire card for 50K bonus points plus 5K for adding an additional authorized user. That offer is very tempting…

    I’ve never done a BRG — how did you go about doing that? Which hotel did you decide upon?

  3. Good job Deb!! Happy Thanksgiving.

    Michelle and I drove down to Bozeman to the Museum of the Rockies. We did not get any great deals but the Museum was filled with Dinosaurs and the Planetarium was a blast.

    Maybe next summer you can find a great deal and come out and visit us. Love your site.

    • The Museum of the Rockies sounds fabulous! So strange to think that dinosaurs once roamed all over Montana. We will have to plan a visit to Montana — just that we’ve been preoccupied with so many things. Happy Thanksgiving!

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