Transferring points from a hotel to an airline loyalty program is sometimes a great deal, and sometimes not. Starwood is an example of the former — many people collect Starpoints only to transfer them and never actually stay at their hotels. This is because they have a lot of airline partners and usually offer a good transfer ratio.
Other hotel transfer options are usually to be avoided unless there’s a special bonus opportunity. Right now Marriott and American Airlines are offering the chance to get 20% more American AAdvantage miles when you transfer your Marriott Rewards points through October 31, 2015.
|Marriott Points||Normal Airline Miles||AA Miles with 20% Bonus||AA Transfer Ratio|
It’s still a horrible idea to transfer a small number of points to miles, but it is almost worth it for a large transfer. Remember that Marriott Rewards points — like many hotel points — are much easier to earn than airline miles for most people. You could be getting up to 18 points per dollar on every stay not to mention additional quarterly promotions.
That said, there is still a better way to use your Marriott Rewards points.
Many hotel loyalty programs, in addition to direct transfers, have some kind of “hotel + air” option that includes a fixed number of hotel nights as well as additional miles in the program of your choice. The cost is more than redeeming for either option alone but less than if you were to do both. So if you know you’ll be taking a vacation and need a hotel award as well as a flight to get there, it’s a great idea.
In fact, you don’t even need to have a plan for the miles. Maybe you know you’ll need the hotel nights and you just want to take advantage of this promotion to get some AAdvantage miles at the same time for a future award. The 20% bonus still applies.
A variety of hotel + air packages are available depending on which program you want to transfer to. American Airlines is part of “Package 1,” and with the 20% bonus you can expect to receive between 60,000 and 144,000 AAdvantage miles. The catch is that these packages have a starting cost of 200,000 Marriott Rewards points, so they are only available to those with a large number of points in their account.