I don’t know about you, but earlier this week I found out I may have a moderate gambling problem based on the amount of time I have been playing the highly-addictive (I’m warning you..) La Quinta Returns “Stay & Play” slot machine game to win free points.
If you’ve been wondering why your Twitterfeed has been crowded with tweets like the one I’m about to show you, it’s because dozens of other points-and-miles fanatics also have discovered their new addiction as well – how refreshing it feels to know that I am not alone!
I’ll be honest – I have never stayed at a La Quinta property before; heck, now that we are on the topic of honesty, I’ll be the first to say that I never even considered a La Quinta in my travel plans. Sure, I have written about ways to get easy and free La Quinta points in the past, but they have been sitting in my account collecting dust.
However, with this new game, as I watched my points balance grow, I started wondering a bit more about the brand, which lead me to spend quite some time learning about the hotel chains, rewards program, and the best ways to redeem the points.
What Kind of Hotel is La Quinta?
My initial impressions of La Quinta were pretty accurate based upon my research. I had always categorized their properties as a budget hotel option good for a quick one-night stay similar to a Comfort Inn, Holiday Inn Express, or Howard Johnson. There are about 800 hotels in the U.S., Canada and Mexico under La Quinta Inns and La Quinta Inns & Suites brands.
Nightly rates seem to run in the $59-$119 range depending on the location, and there are plenty of La Quinta properties near airports for layover nights. The brand advertises that every stay comes with free breakfast, free high-speed wifi, flat screen TVs and all the standard amenities needed for a comfortable stay. Sounds good to me.
A Glance at La Quinta Returns Elite Levels
There are 3 levels of elite in the La Quinta Returns Program – Silver, Gold, and Elite. I guess I signed up with a standard account, since my account shows me as “Silver”. However, there is currently an offer for 300 free La Quinta points + instant Gold Status if you’re affiliated with the military (HT: InACents). Below is an outline of benefits/qualification requirements to earn each level. The jump from Silver to Elite really doesn’t excite me, so I can safely say I am happy with Silver status for now.
So now onto the moment everyone has been waiting for…
What do I do with my points?
Free Nights: The most obvious answer would be to redeem your La Quinta Returns points for free La Quinta nights. Free nights start at just 6,000 points (though nothing really excites me in that category). Other free night tiers are as follows: 8,000 points, 11,000 points, 15,000 points, 18,000 points and 24,000 points.
If you are short some points, LQ gives you the option to purchase points at the rate of $11 per 1,000 points. I personally would only do that if I were 1,000 points short for a reward (given that paid nights are generally inexpensive to begin with).
Redeem for Resort Nights: Now this is an interesting perk of the La Quinta Returns program that I just learned about today. In addition to redeeming points for La Quinta stays, if you have a nice stash of points, you might consider splurging on a resort night. There is a nice selection of resorts (beach resorts, spas, ski lodges, etc) that range from 20,000 to 50,000 points per night depending on the season. The full list of resorts can be found here.
I personally have stayed at the El San Juan Hotel & Casino earlier in the year using Hilton HHonors points, and it was a fantastic getaway. If I keep playing the game at the rate I am now, I might have enough points to return to the resort next spring.
Redeem for Gift Cards: This is definitely not the best redemption considering that 6,000 LQ Returns points is enough to redeem for a $60-$80 room, but if you want to quickly cash out your points without ever staying, you can redeem 7,500 points for a $25 gift card to many retailers (Amazon included).
Redeem for Miles: Another option is to redeem for airline miles. There are few airlines that you can convert your LQ points to. One example is American Airlines, where 6,000 LQ Returns points = 1,000 AAdvantage miles. I’d only recommend this if you need a few thousand miles to top off any award on American Airlines.
The addictive La Quinta Returns “Stay & Play” slot machine game is a fun and easy way to earn free points if you have the time to spare (slow day at work?). It also gave me the inspiration to gain a closer look at the La Quinta brands and redemption opportunities. I look forward to using my points for free nights in the future!
Have you played this game yet? If so, how many points are you up, and how do you plan on using them?