Delta SkyMiles hotel points-to-miles rates in 9 hotel programs

Delta is the second airline in my series of points-to-miles exchange rate tables for members earning frequent flyer miles from hotel stays. Delta Airlines Skymiles members will earn miles fastest from hotel stays with Wyndham Rewards, Marriott Rewards and Club Carlson as a basic hotel program member. Throw in elite status and a credit card and SPG matches and exceeds Wyndham Rewards for earning miles. 

Delta Skymiles members have an advantage over members of the other major U.S. airlines in that eight of nine major hotel loyalty programs allow points-to-miles transfers at each program’s best exchange rate.

Feb 10, 2012 11:00am Pacific – Update Note: Hilton HHonors was incorrectly calculated in Table 3 for credit card + elite members in the original post. The data has been corrected.

Hilton HHonors members have a lower points-to-miles transfer rate at only 1,000 Skymiles for 10,000 points compared to American Airlines AAdvantage at 10,000 points = 1,500 miles. You are likely better off keeping the HHonors points for hotel stays rather than use points-to-miles exchanges for Delta Skymiles.

Most hotel stays earn only hotel points or only frequent flyer miles with the exception of Hilton HHonors ‘Double Dipping’ policy that allows members to earn both miles and points on the same hotel stay.

In general, earning points with hotel loyalty programs and transferring points-to-miles results in more miles compared to earning miles directly from a hotel stay.  Many hotel brands allow a member to earn 250 or 500 miles per hotel stay. Hilton HHonors is the exception to this general rule due to its low points-to-miles exchange rates. HHonors Points & Miles earners earn miles at a higher rate and HHonors runs regular bonus miles promotions to improve the rate of earning miles from hotel stays.

The methodology used to compare points-to-miles exchange rates in different hotel loyalty programs:

I have created three tables to compare points earned at set levels of hotel spend for three types of hotel loyalty members:

  • hotel loyalty member has no elite status or hotel program co-branded credit card.
  • hotel loyalty member has top-tier elite status, but no hotel program co-branded credit card.
  • hotel loyalty member has top-tier elite status and the highest earning hotel program co-branded credit card.

TABLE 1 – Hotel program comparison of points-to-miles exchange rates for Delta Airlines using base points earning rate.

Points-to-miles DL-2-7-12

TABLE 2 – Hotel Top Tier Elite earner hotel program points-to-miles comparison for Delta Airlines.

TABLE 3 – Hotel Top Tier Elite Earner and Co-branded Credit Card member hotel program points-to-miles comparison for Delta Airlines.


Tables are set up in columns to show how many points are earned at set levels of spend for $1,000; $2,000; $3,000; $5,000; $7,000; $10,000 and $13,000 in hotel stays counting only points earned from hotel spend base points, top-tier elite bonus points and highest earning credit card bonus points for each program.

The hotel spend amount is not the important number in these tables. The dollar amounts are simply a way to align different hotel programs to make a comparison of points-to-miles rates.

When I show $10,000 earns 50,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points, that is the maximum spend needed to earn 50,000 points. Actual spend to earn 50,000 Hyatt points will likely be far less than $10,000. I have shown in a recent post how a Hyatt Gold Passport member can earn over 50,000 points from real travel for under $1,250.

The hotel spend needed to earn points depends on the types of hotel promotions available, welcome amenity points, and other points earning offers and partner activity.

Observations on Table 1:

  • Wyndham Rewards, Club Carlson and Marriott Rewards have the best points-to-miles exchange rates.
  • Wyndham Rewards has the highest earning fixed rate for hotel points-to-miles exchange. $800 in hotel spend at Wyndham Rewards earns 3,200 Delta SkyMiles.
  • At $1,000 in hotel spend the different programs are remarkably similar in points-to-miles exchange rates. Differentiation between programs comes at higher levels of spend. Most programs have a fixed points-to-miles exchange rate regardless of the number of points being transferred to miles.
  • Variable points-to-miles exchange rates with Marriott Rewards and Club Carlson give a higher rate of miles at higher levels of points transfer. Starwood Preferred Guest (20,000 points) and Hyatt Gold Passport (50,000 points) both give 25% more miles at the specific transfer level shown here.
  • Starwood Preferred Guest does not have a points-to-miles advantage to other programs based on its points-to-miles exchange rate giving a 25% bonus when transferring a block of 20,000 Starpoints. Wyndham, Marriott and Club Carlson have better points-to-miles exchange rates than SPG. The competitive advantage to SPG for miles earners is the 50% bonus for mid-tier Gold elite (10 stays or 25 nights in a calendar year) is the highest elite bonus for the lowest level of hotel stays. SPG American Express credit card spend at Starwood Hotels earns 100% base points. Even more impressive is the high rate of earning points for everyday spend at $1 = 1 point = 1 mile in many frequent flyer programs. This rate exceeds all other hotel loyalty credit cards for miles earning rate, although Wyndham Rewards Visa is close to SPG with $1 = 2 points = 0.8 miles. Wyndham Rewards has fewer airline partners than SPG, but Visa is accepted in places where American Express will leave you stranded.

What about Residence Inn and Staybridge Suites and hotel brands that earn fewer base points per dollar?

Marriott Rewards is probably the program most impacted by lower points earn rates at Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites where stays earn only 5 base points/$1 compared to 10 base points/$1 used in table. The miles shown in these tables will be reduced by the proportion of hotel spend at lower earning hotel brands. About 25% of all Marriott hotels are Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites.

Marriott Rewards – Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites earn 5 points/$1.

IHG Priority Club – Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites earn 5 points/$1.

Choice Privileges – Rodeway Inn, EconoLodge, Mainstay Suites, Staybridge Suites earn 5 points/$1. Other brands earn 10 points/$1.

Wyndham Rewards – Hawthorn Suites earn 5 points/$1.

The tables do not consider promotion bonus points. The idea is to keep these tables simple and evergreen (until the next program change). Hotel loyalty promotions are constantly changing.

Table 2: Commentary: Elite Status

Club Carlson, Marriott Rewards and now Starwood Preferred Guest have a 75-night top-tier elite. The points earned are high rates, but the loyalty required to reach that level of membership is a small portion of hotel travelers.

Club Carlson Concierge at 75% bonus points sets that program apart for miles earners. The advantage Club Carlson has over Marriott Rewards is a standard points earn rate across all its hotel brands. The miles shown for Marriott Rewards will drop with hotel stays at Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites earning a lower rate of base points.

Wyndham Rewards does not have elite tiers or elite bonus points and drops in ranking when elite bonus points are a factor. Most hotel programs offer 50% bonus points for top tier elite members. These elite bonus points increase the earning rate of hotel points and make other programs more attractive than Wyndham Rewards for points-to-miles exchanges as an elite member with loads of points. Still, it is nice to know that the budget traveler can pull in miles at rates comparable to the best elite programs even while sleeping at Days Inn.

Hyatt Gold Passport drops noticeably in rank compared to SPG when top-tier elite status is factored. Hyatt and Best Western only offer 30% bonus points for top tier elite hotel spend. SPG offers 50% bonus points for Gold and Platinum and 100% for Platinum-75 members as of March 1, 2012.

The elite tables do not factor welcome amenity points for top-tier elites typically earned on hotel stays.

Why are there no tables for low-tier and mid-tier hotel elite levels?

I have not created tables for mid-tier and low-tier elites due to the difficulty of comparing these elite levels across different programs. Are SPG Gold and Hyatt Gold Passport Platinum comparable elite levels?

These tables only show top-tier elite to allow a comparison of programs for the most frequent guests and highest earning members in each program.

I will likely add tables comparing credit card members and the associated elite status since most credit cards give some elite level of membership as a cardmember.

Table 3: The Credit Card Factor

One tip to share is my observation that rates for earning credit card bonus points are generally equivalent to the rate of earning bonus points as a top tier elite member.

Hyatt Gold Passport Visa, Hilton HHonors American Express Surpass, SPG American Express and Best Western MasterCard earn bonus points at an even higher rate per dollar than hotel stays as a top-tier hotel loyalty program member earning bonus points. In terms of earning points, members in these programs are better off having a cobranded credit card than being a top-tier elite member.

That is the sad state of the hotel industry that bank loyalty is more rewarding in hotel point bonuses than hotel stay loyalty. Of course most programs offer hotel stay benefits for their top-tier guests that are the primary value-added component for hotel loyalty members besides points.

Perhaps I’ll have to start promoting hotel loyalty program credit cards and pick up some referral cash. Or not.

Why Hilton HHonors is difficult to compare with other programs

The tables show the number of points earned based on hotel spend and then the miles earned from a points-to-miles transfer. Hilton HHonors is the exception since members can earn both points & miles for hotel stays.

Most hotel loyalty programs will earn more miles overall when the member earns points for a hotel stay and then makes a points-to-miles exchange into the frequent flyer program. Hilton HHonors has a low points-to-miles exchange rate compared to other hotel programs and the HHonors member will likely earn more miles choosing HHonors Points & Fixed Miles for hotel stays when the hotel spend is under $500 per stay.

I provide an estimate of miles earned for HHonors Points & Fixed Miles earner. This is a rough estimate based on an average hotel stay costing $200 and earning 500 miles.

Hilton HHonors Points & Variable miles is a more precise comparison of miles earning to other hotel programs, however, the member staying at Hilton brands other than Home2 Suites, Homewood Suites and Hampton Inn will earn more miles choosing Fixed Miles for any hotel stay under $500.

The miles shown for HHonors Points & Fixed Miles is likely at the high end of a typical traveler’s earning pattern since it excludes any stays at Hampton Inns. Also a person with an average stay rate over $200 will have a lower miles earning rate.

The precise miles earned for a Hilton HHonors member is likely between the Variable Miles earning rate at the low end and the Fixed Miles rate near the high end in these tables.


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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 been working on Southwest points-to-miles tables and I see now that I messed up Hilton HHonors for top elite with credit card for this Delta Airlines table and United Airlines table.

    I didn’t count the credit card points in the points-to-miles conversions.

    Working on fixing these now.

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