On MyPoints I'm choosing a reward to help with our St. Louis Zoo trip budget. It came down between a $75 Marriott Travel Card for 9100 points or a $50 BP Gas Card for 7350 points plus $10 BP for 1700. The obvious answer here is Marriott's 121 points per dollar compared to BP's 151 per dollar. Pretty big difference! But here's what I found when I broke down the trip options.
I ended up comparing three hotel options that seemed the most likely to give us the best value. The Marriott, Pear Tree Inn and Drury Inn. Basic details- Drury and Pear Tree both have Zoo Packages that include 4 Safari Passes. Drury and Pear Tree also have free soda, drinks and popcorn in the evening. Drury also has dinner included. I have credit with Restaurant.com I got with a purchase a bit ago so we can use that with Pear Tree or Marriott for dinner the night we stay. If we stay at Drury Inn we'll use it for supper or a late lunch after the zoo. We chose a certificate for The Original Crusoe's with a minimum purchase of $37.50, so after tax, tip and etc we're assuming $23 meal cost. For the sake of figuring value $60 was subtracted for the gas card even though there was not $60 used in gas. Here's the compare-
All three have their pros and cons. One pro across the board is a pool (something we consider necessary). Otherwise, the Marriott's the closest to home by about 20mins, but then 26mins each way to eat dinner and 18 minutes to the zoo. It's most expensive with the least extras. Pear Tree Inn is cheaper then The Marriott with more extras but a little bit farther away from home. It is much closer to the zoo (8 minutes) and The Original Crusoe's then both the others. Pear Tree doesn't have the free dinner that Drury does so we'll have to leave after we get to the hotel to eat. Drury's the cheapest, but farthest away on all counts. However, once we're there it's for the night as dinner's included. Drury's 23 minutes from the zoo, so we'll have to wake the earliest staying there.
Overall I feel the best option for us is Drury Inn. Being farther away from the zoo and home is balanced by being done driving for the night once we get to the hotel and getting dinner included so that we get to eat out after the zoo. When figuring this out I was actually expecting to go with Pear Tree Inn, I almost didn't even bother to do the figuring for Drury Inn. I thought the distance being so much farther was going to put it within a dollar or two of the cost of Pear Tree Inn and that the time delay would outweigh saving a few bucks... even with the free dinner. I'm glad I didn't dismiss it out of hand after all!
Also, this is why you shouldn't count rewards based on dollar value alone. On paper the $75 Marriott gift card looks $15 better then the $60 BP gas card. In reality the value of choosing the BP card is higher, even though the dollar amount's lower.