Feb092012

Why change hotel points into miles?

Personally I find hotel points more valuable than airline miles earned in points-to-miles transfers. I rarely exchange hotel points into miles.

Situations where I would consider exchanging hotel points into frequent flyer miles include:

1. To earn a hotel or airline loyalty program promotion bonus requiring partner activity.

I have picked up thousands of airline miles in frequent flyer promotions with a partner activity credit using Starwood Preferred Guest transfer of 100 or fewer Starpoints into airline miles. SPG Platinum members have no minimum transfer level for points-to-miles exchanges. SPG Gold = 1,500 Starpoints minimum transfer. SPG basic member = 2,500 Starpoints minimum transfer.

2. To secure the miles needed for an immediate airline reward redemption.

2003 was the only time I transferred 20,000 Starpoints into 25,000 miles. I was buying two First Class awards on British Airways from Denver to Melbourne, Australia with stopovers each way in London for 150,000 miles per ticket. I needed quick British Airways miles to beat the deadline for the price increase in BA Executive Club when the First Class US-Australia roundtrip award ticket increased to 420,000 miles.

There are many ways to get miles and I see trading hotel points for airline miles as a no net gain transfer for a leisure traveler staying in hotels. You save on airfare using hotel points for airline award tickets, but you don’t have points for free hotel rooms.

3. No plans to stay at the hotel chain frequently enough to earn points required for room reward nights.

The hotel points-to-miles tables show Wyndham Rewards and Club Carlson are two programs where you can earn points and transfer to miles at low levels. Club Carlson has a minimum transfer level of 2,000 points = 250 airline miles. Club Carlson members earn 20 points per dollar in hotel spend. Stay at a Country Inn & Suites on a stay costing more than $100 and you will earn more than 2,000 points. You can also just choose to earn miles for a hotel stay instead of points. Club Carlson gives 250 miles for Country Inn stays and 500 miles for a Radisson Hotel stay.

4. More hotel points than you need for hotel reward stays.

Some people have millions of hotel points.

Starwood Preferred Guest published statistics in December 2011 showing one SPG member earned nearly 20 million points in 2011 and another member redeemed nearly 12 million points (link to SPG pdfshowing stats).

I wonder how many of those redeemed Starpoints went for airline miles?

And hopefully not United Mileage Plus miles.

My question for readers: Have you exchanged hotel points for frequent flier miles? Was it better value than saving points for hotel stays?

Australia 2003 Disc 1 065

British Airways Concorde outside London Heathrow First Class Lounge July 2003. The last commercial flights by BA Concorde were October 2003.

Loyalty Traveler – Airline Tables for Hotel Points-to-Miles Exchange Rates

 

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.

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  1. I have not done a straight points to miles exchange, but I am planning on using a Hotel + Air Travel Package with Marriott Rewards. This will give me a week stay at a Marriott resort and FF miles in 50K/70K/100K/120K lots. The point cost is the redemption for 7nights at the hotel and airline miles in a 1:1 ratio.

  2. Last year and the year prior, Wyndham was selling Wyndham Rewards points through AMEX’s Discover America promotion concurrently with a US Airways bonus on transferred hotel points (stackable bonuses for elite status and having a US Airways credit/debit card).

    When all the bonuses (using an AMEX, status, etc.) were factored in, the net effect was that you could buy US Airways miles for around .4 cents per mile. No, the decimal is not in the wrong place, that’s point four.

    Because US Airways allows RTW routings and has a decent award chart, that meant that I took the following trip at year’s end, in part because of those Wyndham Rewards points: An overnight in Seoul, a few days in Hong Kong, an overnight in Bangkok on New Year’s Eve, returning to Seattle via Frankfurt, in business class on Asiana, Thai and Lufthansa.

    While Wyndham has some decent overseas properties in the Ramada chain, I can easily replace their hotels with cash in Asia at $50-100 a night. Business class plane tickets? Not so much.

  3. A few years back Delta offered a 150% bonus on points to miles transfers. 20K SPG resulted in 62.5K DL miles. They swiftly withdrew the offer, but that transfer was definitely worth it.

  4. The marritot travel package as noted by Henry above, is a good deal. I also use points as you noted as your number 1 reason for promotions. In particular is my persoanl favorite, the US airways Grand Slam. Here I will convert hotel points for US airways miles for both PQMs and mileage.

  5. I just started seriously collecting points and miles last fall and by far the biggest blunder I’ve made is forgetting to check the Club Carlson earning preference before the 50K bonus posted. Within minutes of hitting my account they were gone and I had 6000+ Delta miles (I don’t even remember setting it to Delta so it must have been years ago). Live and learn!

  6. I *bought* 5000 Marriott points, for $62.50, to make up the 30K I needed to convert to 10K Southwest points.

    This qualified me for a companion pass valid on all Southwest travel from now through the end of 2013.

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