Currently United has a promotion where they will give a 20% mileage bonus on any hotel points that you want to convert to UA miles. Sounds OK until you realize the conversion rate is not in your favor. I dug into this and comprised the following chart for converting hotel points into miles for the various hotel chains and the three major U.S. airline programs. Multiple lines are listed for some exchange rates per the hotel program.
|*= Bonus 5k miles if redeeming 50k points|
|**= Can convert 1UA mile to 1MR Point|
|***=Earn 1 SPG Point for every $ of DL airfare|
So this chart only tells you that you are going to get less miles for the number of points with SPG being a notable exception for AA and DL. But still how do you compare the value of a hotel point against a mile? Fortunately, I already did a detailed analysis of the value of a hotel point here. For brevity, the values were: Marriott = $0.0056/pt., Starwood $0.0124/pt., Hyatt $0.0091/ pt., and Hilton $0.0039/pt. based upon Average Daily Rate and the number of points for an average room.
How about the value of an airline mile? Well, the old wisdom used to be $0.02/ mile, but the reality is that the average is more like $0.015/ mile these days. Use whichever one you think is more accurate based upon your experience.
Now let’s compare 70,000 Marriott points = $392 or you convert those to 25,000 AA miles = $375. So let’s call that even and you could use the points for a hotel stay or an airline flight depending on what you need more. Let’s keep exploring. UA and Marriott have made a tie-up and part of the reward is that they give a 20% better exchange rate. So 56,000 Marriott pts. = $313 or 25,000 UA miles = $375. Ok, now that is a good deal. If you take advantage of the current UA deal, you would get an extra 20% on top of that so 56,000 Marriott pts. = 30,000 UA miles = $450.
Compare your hotel points to miles and see what you come up with. Remember, you can convert hotel points to miles, but not vice-versa with one key exception. United allows conversation of 1 UA mile to 1 MR point. Where you can multiple this return is that Marriott (and Hilton/ Starwood) gives you a fifth free night for redeeming four in a row. Thus, you can get an extra 25%. So let’s say you redeem 100,000 UA miles ($1500) for 100,000 MR points ($560) and get another $140 for free. Not the greatest deal, but if you have accumulated a boatload of UA miles from CCs or a lot of flying, it may still be worth it to you to save the cash.