Black Friday, the day after the Thanksgiving holiday, is all about retail shopping in America. Even IHG Priority Club and Marriott Rewards hotel loyalty programs are offering Black Friday weekend specials for merchandise using points. Several hotel loyalty programs offer redemption of hotel points for merchandise including Marriott Rewards, Hilton HHonors, IHG Priority Club, Starwood Preferred Guest, Wyndham Rewards, and Choice Privileges.
This post looks at the value of using hotel points for shopping. Comparisons are made across hotel loyalty programs by showing the cost in hotel points for $25, $50, and $100 gift cards. Using hotel points for non-travel merchandise shopping is something I am regularly asked about by hotel companies and reporters, but I have never used my hotel points for non-travel purposes.
I repeatedly find the best value for hotel points is redeeming points for hotel stays.
Is there Value in Redeeming Hotel Points for Merchandise?
In this comparison I focus on gift card value based on the number of points required for a $25, $50, or $100 gift card purchase using hotel points in various hotel loyalty programs.
One of the difficulties in evaluating the value of points exchanged for merchandise are the vague descriptions typically provided on hotel website shopping portals, particularly with electronics item descriptions.
I find it difficult to match electronics items shown such as i-pods, computers, and cameras with identical items for sale on Amazon.com. Many of the products come in several versions and the hotel shopping portal website descriptions frequently lack sufficient detail to determine which version of an item is available using hotel points.
Here is how hotel loyalty programs stack up in points for gift card redemptions.
$50 gift card = 16,000 points (Value = $3.12 per 1,000 points)
$100 gift card = 32,000 points (Value = $3.12 per 1,000 points)
Choice Privileges has a variety of retail partners including PetSmart, Walmart, Costco membership, and over 300 other gift card retailers.
$50 Gift Card = 25,000 points (Value = $2 / 1,000 HHonors points)
$100 gift card = 50,000 points (Value = $2 / 1,000 HHonors points)
Sample retailers include Best Buy, Saks Fifth Avenue, Borders, Macy’s.
50,000 points will redeem a free night at a Waldorf Astoria Collection hotel or a Hilton HHonors category 7 hotel. Using points for HHonors hotel stays should see a return of $5.00 to $10.00 per 1,000 points.
InterContinental Hotels Group Priority Club (Black Friday weekend 15% sale)
(Black Friday 15% sale on all gift cards through November 30)
Sample retailers: Best Buy, Macy’s, Target, Gap
$25 Gift Card = 10,000 points (Value = $2.50 / 1,000 Priority Club Rewards points)
Black Friday sale only 8,500 points through Nov 30 (Value = $2.94 / 1,000 Priority Club Rewards points)
$50 gift card = 20,000 points
Black Friday sale only 17,000 points through Nov 30 (Value = $2.94 / 1,000 Priority Club Rewards points)
40,000 points will pay for a free night at any InterContinental Hotel globally. This will typically be a $400 value for 40,000 points or $10/1,000 points compared to less than $3.00/1,000 points on gift cards. 25,000 points for a $125 per night hotel like a Crowne Plaza is points value of $5.00/1,000.
Marriott Rewards (Black Friday 48 hour weekend sale, 8am Friday to 8am Sunday)
Marriott Rewards is offering a 48 hour discount, but it is not a fixed discount on sale items. Some merchandise is discounted as much as 35% in points. Nikon D 3000 DSLR 10.2 megapixel camera was 179,000 points just 120,000 during sale. This camera comes up around $550 on Amazon.com. This comes out to about $4.58/1,000 Marriott Rewards points redemption value.
Points used for a hotel stay such as the JW Marriott San Francisco will be 30,000 points and worth about $250 much of the time. This example would be a redemption value of $8.33/1,000 Marriott Rewards points.
10,000 points for a Category 2 hotel stay at a Courtyard in a business area on a weeknight can easily save $150 in many places. Here is a low cost redemption opportunity where your points will have a $15 per 1,000 points value.
Saving points for a 5th night free Marriott Hotel reward can bring redemption value over $10 per 1,000 points. Using points for a multi-night Ritz-Carlton hotel stay may have even higher redemption value.
Gift cards in exchange for your hotel points show a much lower value than many of the merchandise options like the Nikon camera described above.
Marriott Rewards sample gift card items:
$50 iTunes gift card = 28,000 points (value $1.79/1,000 points)
$100 Saks Fifth Avenue gift card = 35,000 points (value $2.86 / 1,000 points)
$100 Barnes & Noble gift card = 36,000 points (value $2.78 / 1,000 points)
Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG)
Starpoints are earned at a lower rate of 2 points per $1 compared to 10 points/$1 in all the other chains shown in this comparison. Promotions with SPG allow many members like me to earn more points in bonuses rather than points earned based on hotel spending. At the lower category hotels a free night is only 3,000 points for a SPG Category 2 weekend night. This generally works out to around a $100 hotel night value for 3,000 points. At the high end Starwood Hotels a free night can be 20,000 points for a Category 6 hotel with $400 per night rates ($450 after tax). In this case a member would receive a redemption value of $450/20,000 points or $22.50/1,000 points.
Keep in mind that the value per 1,000 points is much higher for SPG than for the other hotel programs like Marriott and Hilton. This is all relative to earning rates for hotel points with SPG. Using points for hotel stays with Starwood Hotels can generally see a return of $25 to $50 per 1,000 points compared to $5 to $10 per 1,000 points for other hotel chains shown. A gift card value of $10/1,000 points with SPG equates to a value of $2.00 to $2.50 per 1,000 points for other hotel chains shown in this post.
$25 iTunes gift card = 2,800 points (value $8.93/1,000 points)
$50 iTunes gift card = 5,000 points (value $10.00/1,000 points)
$150 Amazon gift card = 14,000 points (value $10.71/1,000 points)
$100 SkyMall gift card = 20,000 points (Value = $5.00/1,000 points)
$200 SkyMall gift card = 45,000 points (Value = $4.44/1,000 points)
All I can say is buy your SkyMall gift cards in the $100 denomination to get better value. Quite odd to see the $200 gift card has a lower redemption rate than the $100 card. Wyndham Rewards gift card value is good compared to other programs, but extremely limited choice for gift cards.
Bose Wave Music Player 125,000 points ($500 on Amazon so points value =$4.00/1,000 points). You can probably buy it through Skymall using gift card for fewer points.)