There are currently two different promotions to transfer hotel points to AAdvantage miles. One is to transfer 140,000 Marriott Rewards points to AAdvantage for a 30% bonus. The second is to transfer 80,000 SPG Starpoints to AAdvantage for a 30% bonus. Both seem enticing at face value, but when you dig into the value of the points, neither transfer is worthwhile. In fact, if your goal is to transfer hotel points to an airline there is really only every one method that makes sense from my experience.
Marriott Rewards Hotel and Air Mile Packages
Marriott Rewards offers a unique way to transfer hotel points to air miles. The Marriott Rewards Hotel and Air Mile Packages give Marriott Rewards members a great chance to transfer rewards points to a wide variety of airline programs. In addition to air miles, members also earn 7 free nights at Marriott portfolio properties. Each package offers 7 free nights in certain category hotel properties. Anyone familiar with Marriott Free Night Certificates should understand the hotel category system. Tier properties represent the Ritz-Carlton portfolio of hotels.
Rewards Plus Hotel and Air Package
The premier RewardsPlus Hotel and Air Mile package is for 7 nights at qualifying properties and a boat load of United points.
I personally don’t see a lot of value in the above package. It’s easy to earn a lot of United miles through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program so I rarely find myself needing United miles. I find United miles extremely useful so this is definitely a great transfer opportunity, but I personally won’t take advantage of this package.
Note: I also value United miles at $0.015/each so this package represents the best overall value, see my calculations below.
Hotel and Air Package #1
Luckily, there’s great news if you’re looking to earn miles other than with United. Package #1 also offers 7 free nights and up to 120,000 air miles for just 270,000 Marriott points. While that’s 32,000 less miles than with the United package, it’s still a great deal. I’ll go into the economics of each package a little later on.
As you can see from the list above, the list of participating airlines is fairly diverse. I don’t see why you’d transfer points to Delta or Frontier, but to each their own. Personally I’d get the most value out of this package by redeeming points for AAdvantage miles. In fact, this package is the reason I’d never transfer Marriott points directly to AAdvantage. As you’ll see later on, you get much more value from these packages than you would from direct transfers.
Hotel and Air Package #2
The second package listed above earns less air miles, but with a wider variety of international carriers. I don’t have too much experience with the above airline loyalty programs, but for what it’s worth I recently received $0.068 of value from Singapore KrisFlyer miles by redeeming 72,000 miles for a Singapore Suites class flight. I don’t value KrisFlyer miles at that rate, but it’s a reference point I wanted to share.
Hotel and Air Package #3
The #3 Hotel and Air Package offers the same number of air miles as package #1, but the only participating airline is Southwest Airlines. Earlier this year point transfers counted toward Southwest’s Companion Pass. Sadly, Southwest no longer includes point transfers as qualifying points.
Hotel and Air Package #4
The fourth and final Hotel and Air package earns even fewer points per Marriott Rewards points and is further limited to just JetBlue and Virgin America.
Do These Packages Make Sense?
This is a very tough question to answer for several reasons. First, everyone’s situation is unique and for many these packages might not make sense. With that being said, it seems most people should get a lot of value from these hotel and air packages.
Another reason it’s hard to specifically value each package is the variety hotels and nightly rates involved. You could easily find a Category 5 hotel with a $200 nightly rate and a Category 6 with a $150 nightly rate. For my analysis I’m going to only analyze the Category 1-5 packages and assign a $120 nightly rate. I’m making this assumption based on the nightly rate of my most recent Category 5 hotel stay.
Lastly, it’s hard to place a true value on each package thanks to the wide variety of airline miles available. I couldn’t possibly go through each airline and assign a value to each programs air miles. So for simplicity’s sake, I’ll focus on American AAdvantage miles since that’s the program I’m most familiar with.
Redeeming Package #1 For AAdvantage Miles
For starters, I value Marriott Rewards points at $0.007/each. I’ve consistently found this assumption to hold true during various searches when paying with points. Obviously outliers exist, but I find my $0.07 baseline is a fair assumption.
With that, when redeeming 270,000 Marriott Rewards points you’re essentially spending $1,890 of value (270,000*$0.007). In return, you’re getting 7 free nights at Marriott Category 1-5 hotels which I value at $840 (7*$120). Additionally, you’re earning 120,000 AAdvantage miles when redeeming package #1. I value AAdvantage miles at $0.015. That means 120,000 AAdvantage miles are worth $1,800 to me. In total, my $1,890 worth of Marriott Rewards points are now worth $2,640 when maximizing package #1.
As you can see, you actually gain value when redeeming Marriott Rewards points for a hotel and air package in this situation. Unfortunately this isn’t the case for all hotel and air redemptions. For example, using the same assumptions above, using 200,000 Marriott Rewards points for 50,000 AAdvantage miles only produces net gains of $190. Proof: 200,000*$0.007 – 50,000*$0.015 = $1,400 – $1,590.
Either example “makes sense” but one clearly produces more value than the other. Either way I highly recommend you crunch the numbers yourself to determine if a specific redemption is worthwhile.
While I am excited about both of the SPG and Marriott 30% bonus transfer opportunities, neither one offers a great value for my hard-earned hotel points. Instead, if I wanted to transfer hotel points to an air miles program I’d first consider using a Hotel and Air Miles package. The only issue with these redemptions are the sheer number of points required to begin.
200,000+ Marriott Rewards points (66,666 SPG Starpoints) are A LOT of points to have sitting around. I tend to focus on an earn and burn strategy when it comes to points. I’m not sure I’d have the patience to sit on that many hotel points without really wanting to maximize these packages.
That reminds me. Keep in mind you can transfer SPG Starpoints to Marriott Rewards at a 1:3 transfer ratio.