Who here uses Travelzoo? This is a points and miles website, so odds are that not many of you have raised your hand. For the unaware, Travelzoo is an online travel agency (OTA) that offers discounted travel packages. These packages run the gamut from trips to Tanzania to resorts in Fiji. While it’s not always a great idea to pay cash for travel, there can be instances when it makes sense — especially if you’re booking through Travelzoo. Let’s take a look.
What Is Travelzoo?
Travelzoo is an online travel agency that sells all types of travel packages. It competes with sites such as Travel Pirates, Groupon, and even Costco Travel.
Travelzoo operates a little differently than competitors in that some rates are specifically negotiated for the website, while others are just good deals the site has found. Either way, Travelzoo is aiming to get you discounted travel all over the world.
It’s easy to write off purchasing travel packages, especially if you’re into points and miles. However, there can be cases when the discounts Travelzoo offers make more sense than stockpiling points. That’s especially true for high-end or hard-to-reach places that don’t have many options for points.
Be aware that the travel packages you’ll find on Travelzoo are time-sensitive. Once they’re sold out, you usually won’t find them again.
Also, the flexibility of your purchase can vary greatly. You may find a package that’s fully refundable until it expires. Others may have a shorter window. Still more may feature limited dates or have surcharges during peak season.
You’ll want to be aware of flexibility details when purchasing your Travelzoo voucher, especially when you have strict travel dates.
What Types of Packages Can You Book With Travelzoo?
Travelzoo’s packages vary. You’ll find hotel-only options that feature discounted hotel rooms:
You can also find flights on sale:
There are cruise deals:
You can even find tickets to attractions, sporting events, and more:
Probably the most iconic of Travelzoo’s offerings is the ability to book an all-inclusive travel package for your vacation that’ll cover airfare, accommodation, food, and gratuities:
Long story short: You can find nearly everything on Travelzoo, and if your desired destination isn’t available when you first look, keep an eye (and alert) out as new packages arrive all the time.
Is Travelzoo a Good Deal?
This is probably our favorite question to answer, especially for folks who aren’t used to paying money for travel. Whether or not Travelzoo is a good deal will depend entirely upon your preferences and destination. Many of these packages include economy class airfare, which you may not want to experience. And if you’re used to using points, you may balk at spending hard-earned cash on a hotel.
Let’s take a look at a package that Travelzoo is offering to the Maldives, a fan-favorite destination for award travelers.
For the second time, Travelzoo has offered the option to purchase a 5-night package to the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa. Costs will vary depending on which package you book, but you can find a stay here for as little as $3,999 for a beach villa:
- Beach Pool Villa: $3,999 — 1,900 square feet and includes a pool
- Overwater Villa: $4,999 — 1,237 square feet and directly over the water
- Overwater Sunset Pool Villa: $6,499 — 1,237 square feet, over the water, and includes a pool
These rates include a discount on the site’s published price (we’ll get further into that down below), but the Travelzoo packages provide much more than just a room. You’ll also receive:
- Daily breakfast and 3-course dinner
- Bottled water in the room
- 22% taxes and gratuities already included
If you’ve ever spent any time in the Maldives, you likely already know how costly food and drinks are, especially at high-end resorts. Although this package doesn’t include alcohol or lunch, the savvy traveler can eliminate their food costs entirely with a well-timed breakfast and some snacks.
Hot Tip: Put any additional expenses on The World of Hyatt Credit Card to earn bonus points on your vacation.
You’ll also note the ability to book directly into an overwater villa, an option that is not provided when using points.
The Park Hyatt Maldives is also on the shortlist of exclusionary hotels that will not allow you to use a Suite Upgrade Award to confirm yourself into an overwater villa beforehand. You can, if you like, use a cash copay of $600+ per night to move to an overwater villa.
Booking Directly With the Hotel
So we know that we can spend $3,999 on a Travelzoo package for a 5-night stay at this hotel, but how does this compare to booking directly with cash? Those who value World of Hyatt elite status may want to earn the elite night credits associated with booking direct, or may otherwise want to take advantage of elite status benefits.
The voucher indicates that there are blackout dates of December 20 to 31, 2022, and January 1 to 10, 2023. There’s also a $150 nightly surcharge during peak season, which extends from December 15 to 19, 2022, and January 11 to February 28, 2023. You’re probably looking to avoid any extra costs after purchasing this package, so let’s take a look at rates for December 10 to 15, 2022.
Here’s that same beach pool villa, not including any meals:
As you can see, you’re already looking at more than double the cost before factoring in any meals.
Is it worth it to earn 5 elite night credits? Obviously, if you’re paying with a credit card that earns bonus points on travel, you’ll be able to plump up your stash pretty neatly here, but that’s certainly not worth it compared to spending half the amount via Travelzoo.
Of course, many travelers aren’t looking to spend money at all on their vacations, which is a perfectly respectable option. In this case, it’s not easy to compare apples-to-apples as the Travelzoo voucher books into a room category you can’t attain with points. Still, let’s take a look at how prices compare.
As a Category 7 hotel, you’ll pay anywhere between 25,000 to 35,000 points per night for your room. These are considered standard dates, which means you’ll pay 30,000 points per night:
A 5-night stay here will cost you 150,000 points in total. That’s a pretty good deal, especially when you consider that we value Hyatt points at 1.5 cents each. This means you’ll redeem just $2,250 worth of points for a beach villa. That’s an excellent value, no matter which way you slice it.
Hot Tip: Check out our handy guide for the best ways to fly and stay in the Maldives with points and miles if you’re looking for a little variety.
However, you can opt for a cash copay to upgrade on reward nights. In this case, upgrading to a beach pool villa as illustrated in the Travelzoo package comes with a $200+ nightly surcharge (overwater villas are $600+ nightly).
If this were an option you chose, you’d be handing out a total of 150,000 World of Hyatt points (worth $2,250) and a further $1,000 in cash for a total cost of $3,250.
Remember, however, that the Travelzoo packages include both breakfast and dinner. Unless you’re a Globalist (which will get you free breakfast), neither of these will be included with your redemption. And at a resort where tacos cost $26, be prepared to shell out a lot of money on your meals.
Plus, you’re out 150,000 World of Hyatt points when choosing this redemption, which you’d otherwise save and redeem elsewhere when using the voucher.
Bottom Line: There’s no denying that you could save a lot more money when using points to book. But for this example, in order for it to truly be cheaper than the Travelzoo option, you’ll want to stick to the base room and skimp on meals. Meanwhile, booking directly costs more than twice as much as Travelzoo’s offering.
How To Buy Travelzoo Packages
Purchasing a Travelzoo package is simple. The process will depend on whether Travelzoo is acting as the seller or is just directing you to another site. In cases where you purchase your voucher via Travelzoo’s website, you’ll simply add the voucher to your cart and then check out.
Otherwise, Travelzoo will send you to the travel operator’s website where you can book direct. In some cases, you’ll need to call to book, but the directions for booking will be clearly delineated.
How To Redeem Travelzoo Packages
Purchasing a Travelzoo package doesn’t usually mean you’ve actually booked the travel. Instead, once you’ve completed your purchase, your voucher will give you instructions for redemptions. This can require emailing a hotel or cruise line to find availability.
Hot Tip: Prior to buying your Travelzoo package, check availability for your desired hotel by heading directly to the hotel’s website and searching for your dates.
Once you’ve followed the instructions for redeeming your voucher, you’ll be able to confirm your booking. After that, all you’ll need to do is travel!
Best Credit Cards for Buying Travelzoo Packages
Since you’ll likely use cash to pay for these travel packages, you’ll want to use a credit card that will maximize your points. Travelzoo codes as travel, which means you’ll have plenty of opportunities to build up your points.
Here are some excellent options from which to choose:
Let’s say that you used your Chase Sapphire Reserve card to purchase the Park Hyatt package above. The out-of-pocket cost for the cheapest package is $3,999. When using this card to pay, you’d earn 12,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
We value Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents each (thanks to strong transfer partners), which means your points would be worth a total of $240. That’s not a huge amount compared to the cost of the package, but it’s certainly good for a night in a nice hotel.
Using Points on Travelzoo Purchases
You can always use cash to pay for these purchases, which can be a great idea when you’re looking to earn some extra bonus points. However, if you’re really looking to redeem points for your vacation, it’s still possible to redeem points for Travelzoo packages.
To do so, you’ll want to use a credit card that will allow you to redeem points for statement credits. There are a few different options here.
Chase Pay Yourself Back
Taking advantage of the Chase Pay Yourself Back feature when travel is an eligible category is a roundabout way to redeem points for your purchase.
Pay Yourself Back allows you to redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards points against specific charges you make on your cards within 90 days of purchase. The categories that work for Pay Yourself Back rotate and will differ depending on the card that you hold. Travel would need to be an eligible category on your card to reimburse your Travelzoo expenses for up to 1.5 cents per point, which is the best rate you’ll find anywhere.
In short, you’ll want to buy the package, then redeem your Chase points against any eligible Pay Yourself Back purchases, essentially wiping away the cash value of your package.
Currently, the Pay Yourself Back categories do not include travel.
American Express Membership Rewards Cards
Amex Membership Rewards cardholders can reimburse their purchases via statement credits, but this only provides a value of 0.6 cents per point.
Citi ThankYou Rewards Cards
You can redeem Citi ThankYou Points for a statement credit of 0.5 to 1 cent each (depending on the card) against any purchase you make using your card.
Bottom Line: Consider carefully when using your miles or points for a “cash-back” or a statement credit. We value most miles and points at 1.6 to 2.2 cents each, which is far more than you’d receive when redeeming them as statement credits.
Travelzoo isn’t for everybody, and it’s obviously a hard sell in a community focused on points and miles. However, there’s significant value to be had in the right circumstances. If you’re looking to travel somewhere without chain hotels, Travelzoo can offer discounted options and the ability to earn plenty of bonus points along the way. But that’s not all — even when you’re heading somewhere famous for points redemptions, it’s always worth taking a look at Travelzoo packages to see if a better deal is offered.
And while it’s not necessarily ideal to redeem your points for a Travelzoo package, it can certainly be done, thus rendering your vacation truly free.
The information regarding the U.S. Bank Altitude® Connect Visa Signature® Card, Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, and Ink Business Plus® Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.