One of the most common fallacies I see across Miles and Points travel blogs is the claim that the SPG competitive advantage over other hotel programs is its terrific points-to-miles exchange rate at 25,000 miles for 20,000 Starpoints.
That is truly a good points-to-miles exchange rate, however, that is not the best points-to-miles exchange rate among hotel loyalty programs. Several programs have better points-to-miles exchange rates when comparing hotel programs using the base rate a member earns points for hotel stays.
Points-to-Miles Exchange Rates Table Notes:
Wyndham Rewards has the highest exchange rate for points-to-miles transfers of any hotel loyalty program on the simple basis of comparing the rate points are earned for a member staying at Wyndham brand hotels and without consideration of elite status, promotions or cobranded credit card spend. All but one brand in Wyndham Rewards earn 10 points/$1. Hawthorn Suites stays earn 5 points/$1.
Several programs like Hilton HHonors, IHG Priority Club, Marriott Rewards and Choice Privileges have a subset of their hotels in brands that earn points at a lower rate than their other hotel brands.
The competitive advantage of Wyndham Rewards drops when elite status is factored into the rate for earning points due to the fact that Wyndham Rewards is the only major hotel loyalty program that does not offer elite tiers and elite bonus points for its more frequent guests.
Club Carlson has an excellent points-to-miles exchange rate and a high rate for earning elite bonus points. Club Carlson and Marriott Rewards are the two programs with variable exchange rates for points-to-miles transfers whereby the exchange rate improves when transferring higher levels of points to miles.
Starwood Preferred Guest
An SPG Gold elite member (10 stays or 25 nights in calendar year) earns 50% bonus points. The table here shows 20,000 points at $10,000 spend earns 25,000 miles. The elite bonus 50% points on $10,000 in spend earns 30,000 points for 35,000 miles. Wyndham Rewards loses ground in the points-to-miles matchup when elite bonus points are factored into the earning rate across different programs.
Two advantages SPG has over other hotel loyalty programs in points-to-miles exchange:
- SPG American Express credit card has higher points earning rate per dollar relative to other hotel program credit cards. SPG AmEx spend earns 1 points/$1 for all purchases and 2 points/$1 for Starwood Hotels spend.
- SPG Gold elite earns 50% bonus points and this is highest elite bonus at low level of stays (SPG Gold elite = 10 stays or 25 nights). Most other programs earn only 25% or lower bonus points at mid-tier elite.
I will follow up this post with a look at the comparative effect of earning points from elite status bonus points and hotel program cobranded credit cards. SPG will move up in ranking on the points-to-miles exchange table when these factors are considered.
Hilton HHonors offers the best exchange rate it has for hotel points-to-miles exchange for American Airlines at 10,000 points = 1,500 miles. This exchange rate matches up better to other hotel loyalty programs when considering AA points-to-miles exchanges into AAdvantage. The HHonors program drops quite a bit when looking at Delta, United and most other airline frequent flyer programs for points-to-miles exchanges where 10,000 points = 1,000 airline miles. I will follow up this post with comparative tables for several other airline frequent flyer programs.
Hilton HHonors primary competitive advantage to other hotel loyalty programs for miles earners is “Double Dipping” – the ability to earn both points and frequent flyer miles from the same hotel stay. A person with frequent stays earning 500 miles per stay can pull in high amounts of miles from Hilton HHonors and collect hotel points too for free night rewards or points-to-miles exchanges.
Hilton HHonors is the most difficult program to evaluate in this hotel-points-to-miles table comparison.
This table shows three options for the Hilton HHonors member:
- HHonors Points and Fixed Miles is an estimate based on 500 miles per stay and every HHonors stay at $200. The miles earned from full service stays quickly add up. The miles total shown in the HHonors Fixed Miles row is one estimate. Your actual earning is highly variable when choosing fixed miles. Your hotel stays might average $100 (even more miles earned than shown in table) or $500 per stay (variable miles is better earning option). Your miles may be far fewer miles if your stays include frequent Hampton Inn or Homewood Suites brand hotels where only 100 miles per stay are earned with the Points & Fixed Miles earning option and any stay costing more than $100 favors the Points & Variable Miles earning option.
- HHonors Points & Variable Miles looks at the combination of earning 1 points/$1 and points-to-miles exchanges. This is a more accurate comparison to other programs in the table since the rate of earning miles is a set 1 dollar in hotel spend = 1 mile.
- HHonors members can also choose to earn miles from hotel stays and keep their points rather than exchange points to miles. An HHonors member can earn 130,000 points after $13,000 in spend and potentially still earn 32,500 miles from 500 miles per $200 stay. The more you spend per HHonors stay, the lower the fixed miles earning will be overall, but you also have the value of points for free hotel stays. Other hotel programs almost always require you to earn only points or only miles. Hyatt, SPG and Choice have had limited time offers to earn both miles and points over the past couple years.
IHG Priority Club and Choice Privileges
The miles shown in the table will be lower if you include stays at hotel brands in these programs earning less than the standard 10 points/$1 for hotel spend. IHG Staybridge Suites or Candlewood Suites earn 5 points/$1. Choice Privileges has four hotel brands that earn 5 points/$1 with Rodeway Inn, MainStay Suites, Suburban and EconoLodge.
The table in this post is a simple comparison of points-to-miles exchange rates for American Airlines AAdvantage miles without consideration of a member’s elite status, credit cards or hotel loyalty promotions.
This is the first post in my Loyalty Traveler series examining hotel loyalty program points-to-miles exchange rates. I will follow up this week with tables for Delta Skymiles, Southwest Airlines, and United Mileage Plus.
Readers might be surprised at how some of the programs change ranking with these other airline frequent flyer programs when looking at the Points-to-Miles Exchange Rates.
- American Airlines Points-to-Miles Exchange Rates for 9 Hotel Programs. (Feb 5, 2012)
- American Airlines Points-to-Miles Exchange Rates for Elites and Credit Card members (Feb 6, 2012)
- Delta Skymiles hotel points-to-miles rates in 9 hotel programs. (Feb 7, 2012)
- United Mileage Plus hotel points-to-miles rates favor Marriott, Club Carlson, Wyndham. (Feb 8, 2012)
- Hotel Loyalty Program Airline Partners: 10 programs compared on one spreadsheet. (Feb 9, 2012)
- Why Change hotel points into airline miles? (Feb 9, 2012)
- Hotel points conversion into Southwest Rapid Rewards points favors Marriott, Choice and Hyatt. (Feb 10, 2012)