Posted by Ric Garrido

The tables in this post compare the best hotel points-to-miles exchange rates for nine hotel loyalty programs:

  1. Best Western Rewards
  2. Choice Privileges
  3. Carlson Goldpoints Plus
  4. Hilton HHonors
  5. Hyatt Gold Passport
  6. InterContinental Hotels Group Priority Club (IHG)
  7. Marriott Rewards
  8. Starwood Preferred Guest  (SPG)
  9. Wyndham Rewards

Points-to-Miles exchange rates shown below include seven U.S. based airlines:

  1. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
  2. American Airlines AAdvantage
  3. Continental Airlines OnePass
  4. Delta/Northwest Skymiles
  5. Southwest Airlines
  6. United Mileage Plus
  7. US Airways Dividend Miles

 

Columns are set to equivalent base spend across programs.

Earned points per dollar from hotel spend base points are used to align different programs in the tables below in each column:

  • Best Western                                  10 points per dollar
  • Carlson goldpoints plus               20 points per dollar
  • Choice Privileges                            10 points per dollar
  • Hilton HHonors                   *10 points per dollar (Points & Miles)
  • Hyatt Gold Passport                         5 points per dollar
  • IHG Priority Club                            10 points per dollar        
  • Marriott Rewards                            10 points per dollar
  • Starwood Preferred Guest             2 points per dollar
  • Wyndham Rewards                        10 points per dollar

* Points & Miles base rate at 10 points per dollar is shown for Hilton HHonors since members will usually earn far more miles overall with a combination of points transfers and miles earned from hotel stays.  100,000 HHonors points = 15,000 American AAdvantage miles is the actual HHonors points-to-miles exchange rate.

However, the column for 100,000 points assumes 10 base points per dollar earned with Points & Miles preference, equivalent to $10,000 in base spend when comparing HHonors to other programs. The columns are not aligned correctly for HHonors  Points & Points earner getting 15 base points per dollar. In this case the 100,000 points column would actually be $6,667 in base spend. 100,000 points shown in table columns is equivalent to $10,000 in hotel spend for programs earning 10 base points per dollar. $10,000 in hotel spend with Hyatt earns 50,000 base points and 20,000 points in Starwood Preferred Guest or 200,000 points for Radisson stays in goldpoints plus.

Important Note: The exchange rates shown in the tables are adjusted for comparative purposes across programs and may not actually be set to eligible transfer increments for a specific program. For example, 20,000 Choice points is shown in the table as converting into 5 Southwest credits, but the actual eligible tranfer increment for Choice Priivileges points to Southwest Airlines is 6,000 points = 1.5 credits. So while 20,000 Choice points is equivalent to 5 Southwest credits, the actual Choice Privileges points transfer would have to be either 18,000 points for 4.5 credits or 24,000 points for 6.0 credits.

Yellow rows show hotel points to be exchanged.

White rows are miles exchange rate for hotel points and accurate for any individual program.

Columns are set to equivalent base spend across programs.

 

Limitations of these tables

Comparing hotel points-to-miles rates across hotel loyalty programs requires placement of different programs with different points earning systems on a similar scale.

Each hotel chain rewards members with a base rate for earning points per dollar spend and this is the scale used to compare points-to-miles exchange rates across programs. Base points earning rates range from Starwood Preferred Guest members earning 2 points per dollar at any brand to Goldpoints plus members earn 20 points per dollar at some hotel brands in some parts of the world. Most programs use 10 points per dollar.

The complexity of comparing exchange rates across hotel programs is due in part to the different rates of earning points across hotel brands even within the same hotel chain.

For example, Marriott Rewards members earn only 5 points per $1 for hotel spend in Marriott’s  Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites hotels. Members of the same Marriott Rewards program earn 10 points per $1 in hotel spend if all stays are in other Marriott brands like Courtyard, Marriott and Renaissance. The average base spend points earned for a Marriott Rewards member will be dependent on the proportion of lower earning hotel stays.

Hilton HHonors members earn 15 points per dollar with Points & Points at any Hilton Worldwide brand hotel. Some members earn 10 points per dollar and miles with each hotel stay by choosing to Double Dip for Points & Miles.

InterContinental Hotels Group  Priority Club members earn 10 points per dollar for hotel brands Holiday Inn, HI Express, Crowne Plaza and Hotel Indigo. Staybridge and Candlewood Suites stays earn 5 points per dollar. InterContinental Hotels earn 2,000 points per stay.

Carlson Hotels Goldpoints Plus has two tiers of hotels for earning points. Radisson brands earn 20 points per dollar or euro. The currency differences between the euro and dollar make earning rates lower for Americans staying in Europe.  The lower tier brands earning 15 points per dollar or euro are Country Inn & Suites and Park Inn.

Choice Privileges has 11 hotel brands with most brands earning 10 points per dollar, however extended stay brands Mainstay Suites and Suburban and economy brands EconoLodge and Rodeway Inn earn just 5 points per dollar.

Best Western, Hyatt, Starwood and Wyndham are the only four programs of the nine surveyed to give the same rate of points earned per dollar spend at all hotel brands in the loyalty program.

Comparing points-to-miles exchange rates across hotel programs is simplified by comparing only the highest earning per base spend rate per program.

For example the Marriott Rewards data in the tables assume members earn 10 points per dollar. However, the Marriott Rewards member who primarily stays at Residence Inn and regularly earns 5 base points per dollar will not be aligned correctly in the table columns with the Hilton member who always earns 15 points per dollar at any brand. The tables are based on the Marriott Rewards member earning 10 points per dollar and the HHonors member earning 10 points per dollar with Points & Miles earning preference.

Earned points per dollar are used to align different programs in the tables below:

  • Best Western                                  10 points per dollar
  • Carlson goldpoints plus               20 points per dollar
  • Choice Privileges                            10 points per dollar
  • Hilton HHonors                   10 points per dollar (Points & Miles)
  • Hyatt Gold Passport                         5 points per dollar
  • IHG Priority Club                            10 points per dollar        
  • Marriott Rewards                            10 points per dollar
  • Starwood Preferred Guest             2 points per dollar
  • Wyndham Rewards                        10 points per dollar

Elite and Promotion Bonus Points

Finally, these tables do not account for the rate of earning points from promotions and elite status. Hyatt, IHG and SPG have a high proportion of points earned from promotions and elite status compared to base spend. These charts are only aligned on base spend at high earning hotel brands within each program and your hotel stay pattern may lead to a faster rate of earning in one program compared to another.

The goal of the frequent guest is to earn far more than base points from hotel spend. The objective of Loyalty Traveler blog is to explain how to exceed base points earning from your hotel spend.

The reality of hotel loyalty programs is most frequent guests will earn 20,000 Starpoints or 50,000 Hyatt points or 100,000 Marriott points for far less than $10,000 in hotel spend. Elite bonus points, promotion bonus points and partner activity bonus points will reduce the cost of earning $10,000 worth of base points to a much lower spend level.

Qualitative Ranking of Best Hotel Loyalty Programs for Points-to-Miles Exchange Rates

5 Key

  • Marriott
  • Wyndham
  • Goldpoints plus
  • Choice (5-key program only for Southwest Airlines)

4 Key

  • Hyatt
  • Starwood Preferred Guest

3 Key

  • Priority Club
  • Best Western
  • Choice (5-key program for Southwest Airlines)
  • Hilton (3-key for American Airlines)

2 Key

  • Hilton (most airline programs)
  • SPG (Continental, United, Singapore)

8 Responses

  1. Is the coversion for SPG points to Delta Skymiles correct in the table? I thought it was a 1:1 ratio

  2. This is interesting, but I think the tables could be improved by doing a Dollars-to-Miles conversion, and ignoring the points altogether. This would allow a straight comparison between the spend at base earning to miles. I guess that this could be goosed for different elite levels, and even different promotions – but that seems to be a lot of work!

  3. Rachel – SPG into Delta Skymiles is a 1:1 ratio. The yellow SPG hotel points row shows 2,000 points = 2,000 miles. At 20,000 points and 26,000 points the 25% bonus miles kick in and the rate changes to 1 point = 1.25 miles.

    Look at Continental or United and to see the effect of a 2 points = 1 mile exchange rate with SPG.

  4. Biggles – I have done the dollars-to-miles conversion in prior posts. I changed to points for this post since in real travel the points earned at say $1,000 in hotel spend will be highly variable between different hotel program members in the same program like SPG.

    These tables are set up to compare programs by showing the points-to-miles rates at different levels of points in any row. The tables are accurate for points-to-miles exchange rates for any single program like Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott or SPG when reading the tables across a program row.

    I organized the table in columns by estimated base points per dollar spend. But that is not real in terms of saying 100,000 HHonors points is equivalent tp 20,000 Starpoints. That is a subjective comparison.

    I prefer to organize the tables by points because you must exchange 30,000 Wyndham Rewards points to get 12,000 United miles. You must exchange 50,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points to earn 25,000 Delta Skymiles.

    The dollar spend is going to be highly variable for different people to actually earn those 30,000 Wyndham points or 50,000 Hyatt points.

    The table is set up in columns to show $10,000 in base spend as 50,000 Hyatt points and $3,000 in base spend as 30,000 Wyndham Rewards points.

    In real travel though, one Hyatt Gold Passport member may need to actually spend $10,000 to earn 50,000 points. That is the ceiling in hotel spend to earn 50,000 points.

    Someone else may earn 50,000 points in $2,000 in hotel spend between elite bonuses and bonus points promotions. Other members will earn 50,000 Gold Passport points from credit card spend.

    The tables are set up to show actual points rates and only correlated to each other through the base spend earn rate to allow some kind of cross program comparison. Tying points earning to base spend rate is highly limited since anyone reading Loyalty Traveler should be earning points at a much higher rate than the base spend rate.

    Bottom line: I prefer to use points rather than dollar spend, although the columns in these tables are actually set up by Base spend in dollars.

    Again, the rows are the actual hotel program points-to-miles exchange rates.

    The columns are an artificial and subjective alignment of hotel programs by the objective factor of the rate base points are earned. The columns are aligned by dollar spend for base points, although not shown in dollars.

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