Sep302009

Redemption Value Analysis for United Mileage Plus Hotel Awards

United Airlines Mileage Plus now allows the use of airline miles for a large selection of hotel awards.

The number of miles needed for a free night is related to the actual room rate, yet there is a wide range of redemption values depending on the hotel you choose. While many hotel free night redemptions will only have a value of about $7 to $9 per 1,000 miles, there are hotels with a redemption value in the $10 to $14 range per 1,000 miles. Loyalty traveler compared room rates with Mileage Plus redemption rates for some 4 and 5 star hotels in San Francisco and Las Vegas.

Mileage Plus Hotel Awards link.

Mileage Plus Hotel Awards

San Francisco Hotels,  Monday October 5, 2009

Hotel

Room Rate

Mileage Plus Award

Redemption Value

per 1,000 miles

InterContinental

Mark Hopkins

$173

42,000

$4.12

Hyatt Regency

$206

27,200

$7.57

Grand Hyatt

$191

21,200

$9.01

Westin St. Francis

$310

26,400

$11.74

Hilton San Francisco

$205

17,450

$11.75

InterContinental

San Francisco (10-5)

$304

22,250

$13.66

 

Las Vegas Hotels,  Friday October 16

 

 

 

 

Paris Las Vegas

$201

27,250

$7.37

Mandalay Bay

$235

31,500

$7.46

Caesar’s Palace

$269

34,600

$7.75

Trump Hotel

$175

21,900

$7.99

Planet Hollywood

$235

29,000

$8.10

Hilton Grand Vacations on Strip

$127

15,550

$8.17

Palms

$291

34,700

$8.39

JW Marriott

$246

28,550

$8.62

Hard Rock Casino

$139

14,950

$9.30

Hotel at Mandalay Bay

$394

40,550

$9.72

Venetian

$336

31,850

$10.55

Ritz Carlton

Lake Las Vegas

$339

29,500

$11.49

Palazzo Resort

$370

31,850

$11.62

Westin Casuarina

$158

12,550

$12.59

Four Seasons

$461

31,850

$14.47

         

 

The redemption values in the table above show a wide range between hotels, from a low value of $4.12 per 1,000 miles to a high value of $14.47 per 1,000 miles. The good news is these hotels listed in the table above are just a small portion of the high end hotels available. Hotels in the 2 star and 3 star category are under 10,000 miles per night in many locations.

Careful comparison shopping of Mileage Plus miles to prevailing rates for the dates of your stay is vital for getting the best value from a hotel award.

 

Airline and Hotel Comparative Redemption Value

A typical domestic economy class airline award of 25,000 miles redeemed for a San Francisco SFO – New York JFK with a retail price of $304 has a redemption value of $12.16 per 1,000 miles.

First Class SFO –JFK priced out at $5,489 or 70,000 miles. This is a high redemption value of $78/1,000 miles.

But seriously, would you ever spend $5,500 to fly first class in a 3-cabin aircraft domestically?

Frequent flyer experts will generally advise you to save up your miles for Business Class or First Class international travel to get the best value. For example, San Francisco, SFO – London, LHR in First Class can easily be a $10,000 ticket or 135,000 Miles. This ticket will have a redemption value in the range of $75 per 1,000 miles.

Airline Ticket

Nov 10-Nov 17, 2009

Class of Service

Ticket Cost = Redemption Value

US$ per 1,000 miles

San Francisco – New York

Economy Class = 25,000 miles

$304 = $12.16/1,000 miles

 

First Class = 70,000 miles (3-Class)

$5,500 = $78.41/1,000 miles

San Francisco – Miami

Economy Class = 25,000 miles

$270 = $10.80/1,000 miles

 

First Class = 50,000 miles (2-class)

$1,376 = $27.52/1,000 miles

San Francisco – London

Economy Class = 55,000 miles

$720 = $13.10/1,000 miles

 

Business Class = 105,000 miles

$3,593 = $34.22/1,000 miles

 

First Class = 135,000 miles

$8,995 = $66.63/1,000 miles

 

The value of your miles increases greatly when redeeming for domestic or international Business Class or First Class tickets.

However, if you typically redeem your miles for economy class tickets, then you may find similar value using miles for hotel free night redemptions.

Previously Mileage Plus miles could be redeemed for a hotel certificate free night. This option is still available but hotel certificates are valid at only a select few hotel brands including Hyatt, Marriott, and Radisson.

Mileage Plus Hotel Certificates link:

http://www.united.com/page/article/0,5046,51237,00.html

Hotel Brand

Free Night Certificate

Hyatt Premier Certificate

21,000 miles

Hyatt Inspire Certificate

40,000 miles

Hyatt Participating Properties and Certificate Level

Marriott Premier Certificate

40,500 miles

Marriott Worldwide Elite Certificate

45,500 miles

Marriott Participating Properties for Premier Certificate

Marriott Participating Properties for Worldwide Elite Certificate

Radisson 1 Free Night

28,000 miles

 

Getting the best value from your Mileage Plus account miles requires selective use of awards for hotel rooms.

Spending 21,000 miles for a $300 per night hotel room is a decent redemption value on par with an economy class ticket.

Spending 40,000 miles for a $200 per night room is like spending 25,000 miles for a $125 economy class ticket and not a good value for your miles.

Your Mileage Plus miles can be redeemed for good value with hotels. Just be sure to compare your hotel options carefully and compare hotel rates in miles with cash rates to find good value.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »