A little like taxes and paperwork, december is busy and is the perfect time for end of year points planning.
Hotels points: usually there is maximum points you can buy per calendar year. Hhonors is 40000, spg is 25000. And usually it does not make sense to buy hotels points with cash. But planned accordingly, you can top up accounts to reach a sweet spot redemption easier if you just buy the missing points.
Example, with hilton, the best value are for 5 nights redemptions, it is cheaper. So if you are short on hhonors points to make that 5 night swet spot, then just buy it, as long as you can minimum redeemed for more than on cent per point.
Spg: sometimes it make sense to buy spg points, if you plan a biz class or first class redemption very soon and are short on points.
Usairways: with their flexible routings rules, but incompetent and inflexible agent, with a lot of patience, you can just buy the points and go to australia in first class for same price as economy.
Credit card or other bonus end of year: similarily, amex offer each calendar year $200 travel credit. Remember to book through amex for anything travel related, for example, a hotel worth more than $200, to get $200 credit. It has to be done before calendar year end.
Hotels status stays: december bring evaluation and last minute hotel stay rush to get or keep top hotel status. Some people , cough cough, have even booked, checked in and stayed for 15 minutes then check out, just to keep or maintain status. Why? The marginal hotel one night cost is a lot less than the value of the benefits of certain hotel status (free suites, free internet, late check out, more point etc..) stay in hotels just for status, that is what we call : “mattress run”
“Mileage run”: december also bring last minute flight booking, to anywhere cheap and far, to rack up status miles for air status. Why? Same as mattress run, the marginal cost of the flight is considered against the benefits of air status ( priority lines, saving time, upgrades !)
Example, before, we flew to singapore in for a few days just for fun, just to get status miles to be air canada 35k elite. Back then, it was worth it: for one or two flight to singapore : we got star alliance gold, lounges access, free luggage allowance, extra luggage allowance, lie flat business seat upgrades twice a year.. Good times… Years Later Air canada realize that it was too good, so they devalue the requirements and benefits, and change it completely.
As usual, you have to keep in mind redemptions sweet spot, the missing points requirements, and calculate if it is worth the extra money, effort and time to reach or maintain status. You have to keep in mind the difference between the IN and the OUT.