Feb062011

High hotel award value for 1,000 AA miles

American Airlines AAdvantage has some incredibly high value hotel award opportunities. While the program has many opportunities to get 2 to 3 cents per miles in a miles-only hotel award, the aspect that I examined here is the potential to get 20 to 30 cents per mile using 1,000 miles and a cash supplement for a high value hotel award. There are some fantastic opportunities to save hundreds of dollars with just 1,000 AA miles.

The best part is this strategy only takes 1,000 miles. You can get incredible cash savings and not deplete your frequent flyer miles on hotel awards. To see the Cash + Miles payment amount requires going through several steps of a sample booking. Unfortunately, you can only see the Cash + Miles rate for one hotel at a time so finding the great deals can be a time-consuming process.

Not all AAdvantage hotel awards are a great value. In fact, some hotels will be a poor use of miles. But if you search carefully, there are some incredible values for some hotels.

  • The best values tend to be high-priced hotels.
  • This is a good deal in lieu of burning a high amount of hotel points or AAdvantage airline miles.
  • This is a great deal for burning small amounts of miles for huge cash savings.
  • Some hotels allow booking higher room categories, even suites with miles or miles + cash. 

Here are samples of hotel rates I checked over the past day. Anything over 25 cents/mile is fantastic value for miles.

InterContinental Los Angeles

  • Tue Feb 22- Fri Feb 25 (3 nights)
  • Published room rate = $259 ($295 after tax) = $885.00
  • Miles Award:   17,767 miles/night = 53,300 miles  (1.66 cents/mile)
  • Miles + Cash Award:  1,000 miles + $637.80 
  • 1,000 miles = $247.20 (24.7 cents/mile)

 

Sheraton San Diego Mission Valley

  • Tue Feb 22- Fri Feb 25 (3 nights)
  • Published room rate = $109 ($121 after tax) = $363.00
  • Miles Award:   6,300 miles/night = 18,900 miles  (1.92 cents/mile)
  • Miles + Cash Award:  1,000 miles + $218.30
  • 1,000 miles = $144.70  (14.47 cents/mile)

 

Ritz-Carlton Washington, D.C.

  • Mon Feb 21 – Thur Feb 24 (3 nights)
  • Published room rate = $579 ($662.95 after tax) x 3 nights = $1,988.85
  • Miles Award:  Double room 31,334 miles/night = 94,000 miles  ( 2.1 cents/mile)
  • Miles + Cash Award:  1,000 miles + $1,595.11
  • 1,000 miles = $393.74  (39.37 cents/mile)
  • Miles Suite Award: 1 bedroom suite = 131,800 miles ($2,332.36 = 1.77 cents/mile)

 

Washington D.C. Hilton

  • Mon Feb 21 – Thur Feb 24 (3 nights)
  • Published room rate = $215 ($246.29 after tax) x 3 nights = $738.87
  • Miles Award:  Standard room 11,567 miles/night = 34,700 miles  (2.13 cents/mile)
  • Miles + Cash Award:  1,000 miles + $410.98
  • 1,000 miles = $327.89  (32.79 cents/mile)

 

Hyatt Arlington, Virginia

(Here is an example of a poor value award).

  • Sat Feb 12 – Sun Feb 13 (1 night)
  • Published room rate = $95.65 ($105.45 after tax) = $105.45
  • Miles Award:  Standard room 9,300 miles/night (1.13 cents/mile)
  • Miles + Cash Award:  1,000 miles + $101.22
  • 1,000 miles = $3.23  (0.32 cents/mile)

 

Dupont Hotel, Washington D.C.

  • Wed Feb 16 – Thur Feb 17 (1 night)
  • Published room rate = $359.10 ($411.17 after tax) = $411.17
  • Miles Award:  Standard room 14,000 miles/night  (2.94 cents/mile)
  • Miles + Cash Award:  1,000 miles + $158.54
  • 1,000 miles = $252.63  (25.26 cents/mile)

 

InterContinental New York Times Square

  • Wed Feb 16 – Thur Feb 17 (1 night)
  • Published room rate = $309 ($358.08 after tax) = $358.08
  • Miles Award:  Standard room 24,600 miles/night  (1.46 cents/mile)
  • Miles + Cash Award:  1,000 miles + $287.81
  • 1,000 miles = $70.27  (7.03 cents/mile)

 

Waldorf Astoria New York

  • Wed Feb 16 – Thur Feb 17 (1 night)
  • Published room rate = $259 ($300.70 after tax) = $300.70
  • Miles Award:  Standard room 25,100 miles/night  (1.20 cents/mile)
  • Miles + Cash Award:  1,000 miles + $293.90
  • 1,000 miles = $6.80  (0.68 cents/mile)

The interesting observation I made with Waldorf Astoria is the disconnect between the published room rate and the AA miles required for the hotel award. I picked the most expensive dates for the Waldorf Astoria in March to compare the effect of the published rate on the required miles for an award.

February 16 has a $259 advance purchase rate. March 8-10 is the highest rate in March for the Waldorf Astoria at $399 per night. The AAdvantage Hotel Award is the same price in miles despite the published room rate being $160 per night more for these dates in March.

Here is an example where the same hotel has significantly higher award value on different dates.  

Waldorf Astoria New York

  • Tue Mar 8 – Thur Mar 10 (2 nights)
  • Published room rate = $399 ($461.35 after tax) = $922.71
  • Miles Award:  Standard room 25,050 miles/night  or 50,100 for two nights (1.84 cents/mile)
  • Miles + Cash Award:  1,000 miles + $598.78
  • 1,000 miles = $323.93  (32.39 cents/mile)

 

Andaz Wall Street New York

  • Tue Mar 8 – Thur Mar 10 (2 nights)
  • Published room rate = $293.25 x 2 nights = $680.01 after tax
  • Miles Award:  Standard room 20,800 miles/night  or 41,600 for two nights (1.63 cents/mile)
  • Miles + Cash Award:  1,000 miles + $495.12
  • 1,000 miles = $184.89  (18.49 cents/mile)

 

Grand Hyatt San Francisco

  • Mon  July 11 – Fri July 15 (4 nights)
  • Published room rate = $288.15 x 4 nights = $1,331.77 after tax
  • Miles Award:  Standard room 17,050 miles/night  or 68,200 four nights (1.95 cents/mile)
  • Miles + Cash Award:  1,000 miles + $819.51
  • 1,000 miles = $512.26  (51.23 cents/mile) WOW!

 

Four Seasons Sydney, Australia

  • Mon  July 11 – Fri July 15 (4 nights)
  • Published room rate = $299 x 4 nights = $1,324 after tax
  • Miles Award:  Standard room 22,175 miles/night  or 88,700 four nights (1.49 cents/mile)
  • Miles + Cash Award:  1,000 miles + $1,180.48
  • 1,000 miles = $143.52  (14.35 cents/mile)

Conclusion: There are some 5-key discounts with American Airlines AAdvantage Hotel Awards, however, you have to search for the deals. Hotel Awards are a strategy to keep in mind when hotel rates are really high for a place you need or want to be.

AAdvantage Platinum and Executive Platinum members currently receive 20% discount on miles needed for hotel awards making the values shown here even better for miles-only awards.

AAdvantage Gold members receive 10% discount.

Link: AAdvantage Car and Hotel Awards

Related Loyalty Traveler Post: American AAdvantage Car and Hotel Awards (Feb 5, 2011)

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 »

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Comments

  1. Stay credit is unlikely since a third party booking and an award. But you do not get stay credit for elite for award stays in any hotel programs except Hilton HHonors and Choice Privileges.

    This is primarily a strategy for a cheaper award stay than spending loads of hotel points.

    Or a cheaper paid stay with Miles + Cash when the rate is too high for your budget and a lower rate is more desirable than points or elite stay credit.

  2. I think that this is a good idea, however it is fundamentally flawed. Your calculations are based on the premise that someone is paying rack rate or the daily rate for those hotels; eg. Hyatt has best rates through BRG’s, IC through friends and family etc. etc.

    For someone paying the rack rate and not caring about earning stay credits, though, yes, it sounds like a good deal.

  3. George – The room rates I used were not rack rates. In most cases they were the lowest advance purchase nonrefundable rates.

    Hyatt BRG are quite difficult to find in my experience. Have you found many that were actually approved by Hyatt? Anyway that is quite limiting if your hotel stay strategy is to find BRG rates.

    IHG Friends & Family is an option, but those rates are not offered at every hotel. Friends & Family rate is not available for New York Times Square on dates shown in this post. IC Los Angeles is available using Friends & Family rate and the total = $664.92 so $27.12 more than shown in this post using AA Hotel Award. That does bring the value of AA miles down to just 2.7 cents/mile.

    AAdvantage Hotel Awards are simply another alternative when low rates can’t be found for a specific hotel you want. I am not talking about finding the lowest hotel rate. There is Hotwire and Priceline for that option.

    AA Hotel Awards open up the possibility for a high value luxury hotel at a bargain.

  4. Hilton MVP discount rate for Washington Hilton is same rate shown as the published rate in my post at $215/night.

    Waldorf Astoria New York March 8-10 is $356.15 per night using USA Cycling Rate. $820 after tax.

    AAdvantage Hotel Award 1000 miles + $598.78 still saves over $100 per night.

  5. So i can buy one night per day and then try to use the 1000 AA miles ( per day ) and see which is cheaper?

    That is if i need to stay on same hotel.

  6. Thank you so much! For some reason, the miles rate had a buy-2-get-1-free deal, so that saved me a whole night for 1K miles! Those 1K miles saved me over a $100! The normal methods of booking the hotel-the hotel’s website, expedia, orbitz, and aa.com didn’t have that deal.

  7. xlax – Yes. Select a room rate option with miles only. You need to add email and phone number and then you get a page showing the option of Miles and Cash.

    There is no need to enter credit card info before you get the page showing miles and cash, so there is no need to worry about accidentally booking the room.

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