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.

Hotel Chain AA UA DL
Best Western 5k=1k NA NA
Carlson 2k=200 2k=200 10k=1k
50k=5k 50k=5k
100k=10k 100k=10k
Choice 5k=1k 5k=1k NA
Hilton 10k=1.5k 10k=1k 10k=1k
Hyatt 5k=2k 5k=2k* 5k=2k
InterCon 10k=2k 10k=2k 10k=2k
Marriott** 10k=2k 8k=2k 10k=2k
20k=5k 16k=5k 20k=5k
30k=10k 24k=10k 30k=10k
70k=25k 56k=25k 70k=25k
140k=50k 112k=50k 140k=50k
Starwood*** 2.5k=2.5k 2k=1k 2.5k=2.5k
Wyndham 6k=1200 6k=1200 NA
16k=3200 16k=3200 NA
30k=6000 30k=6000 NA
Accor NA NA 4k=2k
*= 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.

 

Posted by glenn | 3 Comments

3 responses to “Does It Ever Makes Sense to Convert Hotel Points into Airline Miles?”

  1. GENE says:

    2.5k skypesos for 2.5k spg pnts?!
    kind of a steal, no?
    or 20k delta -> 20k spg -> 25k aa. or will spg not allow converting converted points?

    • glenn says:

      @ Gene – Yes, that would be a steal, that’s why you can’t do it. You can convert SPG points to Sky Miles, but not vice-versa. Starwood would be out of business in a month if people converted all their SkyPesos into SPG Points!

  2. DaninMCI says:

    Club Carlson also gives you free nights on awards. Many of the programs offer points rebates for rewards if you have status, cc’s etc.
    I agree with Glenn. Can you imagine converting skypesos to spg and then into AA miles at a 1=1=1. Nice 🙂

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