I normally don’t respond to reader questions publicly, but I thought this one was worth sharing.
I just read your post on the 80,000 points Chase Priority Club VISA Card – I now have this card but have not as yet used any of the points – and I am at the “renewal” point. I would like to know – if you know – if these points are transferable to other points cards, such as the Chase Marriott card.
We use the Marriott card more frequently and the 80,000 points would be of more use to us that way. I would also like you opinion as to whether you would keep this card with the annual fee of $49, or should I be looking to cancel it and move on to a different card with a fresh set of points?
Any help you can give me on this two issues would be appreciated.
Within the email, there are two main questions (and I’ll start with the easy one):
1. Is it worth paying the $49 annual fee to keep the card? In my opinion, yes. Each year you renew, you’ll receive a certificate for a free one-night stay at almost any IHG property in the world. Would you pay $49 for a night at the Intercontinental Hong Kong? I would. What about for the Z Ocean Hotel in South Beach Miami? Again, I would. Heck, I’ve paid more than $49 for a night at the Holiday Inn Express in Bowling Green, Ohio. In other words, the annual fee basically pays for itself. Additionally, keeping the card entitles you to another year of all cardholder benefits, of which I think the most valuable is a 10% rebate on points redeemed for free nights at IHG properties. If you still have 80,000 points to burn, you’ll really get 88,000 points of buying power. Additionally, keeping the card open can help your credit score.
2. Can you transfer Priority Club points to Marriott points? No – not directly, at least. Webflyer’s calculator tells me those 80,000 Priority Clubs will convert into a whopping 6,000 Marriott points, so by all means – don’t convert from one hotel currency to another.
For the most part, Priority Club points are most valuable when used to stay at IHG properties. The new Priority Club redemption rates will net you 16 nights at Pointbreaks hotels or 1 night at a luxury Intercontinental resort with points to spare. However, most people will probably net 2-4 nights from their 80,000 points (especially if you lock in pre-devaluation rates by reserving before March 18), most likely providing you $400+ in savings depending on exactly when and where you’re traveling.
If you really don’t want to stay at IHG hotels, the easy way out is to cash in for gift cards. A $200 “Any Hotel, Anywhere” card is 70,000 points and is redeemable at any hotel where prepaid MasterCards are accepted, so you could take that card and stay at any Marriott you like.
Another interesting option is their Hotels Anywhere redemption, where you redeem directly with your points rather than collecting a gift card and using it to pay for a hotel stay. Used strategically, this way might allow you to use your points at hotels other than IHG properties and still make out with several hundred dollars in free stays.
For example, the Palmer Hilton in Chicago was showing at $179/night on the random nights I was searching, or costs 50,000 Hilton points.
However, the same exact hotel on the same dates could be booked through Priority Club Hotels Anywhere for 36,000 Priority Club points, barely higher than the 35K points required for a one-night stay at the Holiday Inn Express in the city.
While I think there are ways to get even more bang for your buck using Priority Club points for their own branded hotels, this is one way to get about $350+ in value from your Priority Club points rather than simply cashing out for a gift card. Other sample searches often showed reward options – using Priority Club points – at 30-40K points per night in many different cities, possibly allowing you to find decent value even without staying at IHG branded hotels. I found that Hilton had consistent opportunities at reasonable levels, while SPG hotels were frequently much higher (50-70K points) and Marriotts were only reasonable points-rates when the cash rates were quite low (~$125). This was far from an exhaustive study, but worth checking out if you have upcoming travel plans and want to burn Priority Club points!
Lastly, if hotel stays don’t thrill you, you can also convert your Priority Club points to airline miles: 80,000 points will equate to 16,000 airline miles with most major airlines, and I think most educated points collectors would be able to redeem those airline miles for at $240 (1.5 cents each) although you could redeem at even more monetary value by flying first class. If you truly have more hotel points than you can use but are short on miles, this might be an option for you.
I’m planning on continuing to use my Priority Club points for hotel stays, though I probably will double-check from now on to see if I can get a better property for the same points if I expand my search to include other brands. I’m not sure it will always be a viable option, though a few minutes of searching might help me find that “perfect” stay for free.