Feb052012

American Airlines Points-to-Miles Exchange Rates Compared for 9 Hotel Programs

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 AA-2-5-12

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.

Related Posts:

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 »

Pingbacks

  1. […] Originally Posted by onlybeef42 Can you post the link? he did them airline by airline. here is one for american airlines. it shows the amount of points you would get for different spend levels within different programs. it did not take into account promos, status bonuses, additional credit card linked spend etc so taking me as an example, i have an annual spend around $10k. at starwood that would generate a base of 20k points, which would generate 25k miles. at hyatt same spend generates 50k points = 25k miles. more ammo to my equal value argument. my best options if i wanted miles would be wyndham, club carlson or hilton. however for me i tend to use hotel points for hotel stays (i used to be a mileage convertor until i started finding ways of extracting better value through hotels) http://boardingarea.com/loyalt…otel-programs/ […]

Comments

  1. This is a terrific table. Would you consider creating similar tables for other airlines? That would be a great resource!

    Additionally, I think SPG gets a lot of attention for its program because of their credit card. Most credit cards earn approximately point per dollar spent and SPG still has the best conversion rate.

  2. How about a look in reverse. I know that AA miles can be transferred to Priority club and Hilton. What other programs transfer INTO hotel points and which ones are more favorable. For example Diners can be transferred to seven hotel brands and membership rewards transfers to hotel points as well. An analysis of how to get points to hotel programs is something that I know a number of us would find very useful.

  3. Great job, you have fully debunked the SPG credit card myth. The way Club Carlson runs promotions, this could be an excellent way to rack up AA miles.

  4. This isn’t a fair comparison in actual practice, because a frequent user would have status and the credit card.

    If I was staying frequently at SPG hotels, I would be at least Gold and I would pay with the SPG card. This would give me 2+1+2 = 5 points per dollar spent, not 2.
    Similarly, a Priority Club Platinum would get 10 + 5 for plat + 5 for credit card = 20 per dollar. And a Hyatt person would get 5 + 1.5 for Diamond + 3 for credit card = 9.5.

    Such a table would be much more useful than this. This chart is only for people who aren’t very good at collecting points and miles.

  5. @Adam – I stated in this post I will follow up with tables showing elite status and credit card factors.

    There needs to be a base comparison of programs first before the added factors of elite status and credit card are thrown in to the mix.

  6. This is a great start. I appreciate you doing a base level, which is quite applicable for non-elites/cardholders, before doing adding in complicating factors. One complicating factor I’d like to see that would draw on your hotel knowledge is figuring in average promotional bonuses. Though average promotional bonuses may be an article of it before you analyze how it affects conversion into airline miles.

    Thanks for the number crunching.

    I’m glad you are adding a few credit card links onto your site. I hope it pays off for you since I appreciate your posts.

  7. I am going to make the same request that Jim L did. I have 20k AA miles in my parents’ account that they are not going to use since they don’t fly often. It would be awesome to get them redeemed through a hotel stay (even if it’s a low end hotel)

  8. @Jim L and @Mint Cilantro – Hilton is the only hotel program I know that allows miles into hotel points.

    Priority Club allows 5,000 AA miles = 4,000 Priority Club points and that is absolutely horrible as an exchange rate. You might as well redeem miles for magazines.

    I will follow up with a post on credit card airline partners for American Express and Diners Club.

Comments are closed.