Posted by Ric Garrido

United Mileage Plus is the third airline covered in my series of posts comparing the points-to-miles exchange rates for 9 hotel loyalty programs. My research here shows Marriott Rewards, Club Carlson and Wyndham Rewards are the best hotel loyalty programs for earning United Mileage Plus miles.

The tables here compare the hotel points earned at different levels of hotel spend using base points earned for hotel stays, top-tier elite status bonus points and co-branded credit card spend at hotels.

Update Feb 10, 2012 11:30am Pacific – the original posts for United Airlines and Delta Airlines incorrectly showed Hilton HHonors miles in Table 3 for credit card earning.  The data has been corrected.

Prior posts this week covered American Airlines and Delta Airlines. Many of the issues I considered in the format of these tables are discussed in these earlier posts. This post looks at the big picture of changing hotel points to airline miles.

Table 1: Hotel Points-to-Miles Exchange rates for United Mileage Plus.

This table compares the basic points-to-miles exchange rate for each hotel loyalty program. Columns of hotel spend (in $1000s) and the base points earned for a member with no elite status or hotel credit card are included for each program. The second row for each hotel program shows the miles earned when those hotel points are converted into airline miles.

Hilton HHonors is an anomaly program due to the options for earning both HHonors points and airline frequent flyer miles for the same hotel stay. No other programs allow this with the exception of limited time promotion offers allowing both points and miles to be earned for the same hotel stay.

Points-to-miles UA-base-2-8-12

Table #1 Comments:

Wyndham Rewards has the best points-to-miles conversion rate of any hotel loyalty program with $1 in hotel spend earning 10 points and every 10 points = 4 miles. No other program comes close to that points-to-miles exchange rate at a basic level. Marriott Rewards matches that rate when transferring 125,000 points into United Mileage Plus miles.

Wyndham Rewards is an incredible miles earning program. The competitive edge offered by programs like Club Carlson and Marriott Rewards is the faster earning rate for points as an elite member. Wyndham Rewards is the only major hotel program in this survey that does not offer elite status and therefore no elite bonus points.

Best Western Rewards and United Mileage Plus

United Mileage Plus frequent flyer program had a recent change with the merger of Continental OnePass. Best Western and Continental OnePass were partners and allowed points-to-miles transfer. Best Western Rewards does not allow points-to-miles transfer with United Mileage Plus.

The good news is Best Western Rewards offers 250 United Mileage Plus miles per hotel stay. The bad news is there is no Best Western points-to-miles exchange option with United Mileage Plus.

The Best Western standard points-to-miles rate of 10,000 points = 2,000 miles is not a great rate anyway for points-to-miles exchange. 250 miles per stay is likely the better deal if your hotel stay average spend is under $125.

SPG and United Airlines Mileage Plus

The other point to note for these tables is the SPG Airline Direct Deposit program is the way to go if you want to earn United Mileage Plus miles from Starwood Hotel stays. All your Starpoints are earned in the regular way for hotel stays, elite bonuses and promotions, then the points are automatically exchanged into United Mileage Plus miles at a 1 point = 1 mile rate. This is double the points-to-miles transfer rate of 2 Starpoints = 1 Mileage Plus mile.

The main thing to remember is the 25% bonus received with SPG 20,000 point transfers does not apply to Airline Direct Deposit. Still, 20,000 UA miles from 20,000 Starpoints with Direct Deposit is far better than 12,500 UA miles from 20,000 Starpoints through a points-to-miles transfer.

Table 2: Hotel Points-to-Miles United Mileage Plus Exchange rates

  • top-tier elite member earning elite bonus points

This table looks at the effect top-tier elite status has on points earning rate.

Wyndham Rewards drops in rank and Starwood Preferred Guest rises as the elite bonus points really stack up with high levels of hotel spend.

Table #2 Elite Status Comments

Brian Kelly, The Points Guy, posted an article last week on the recent SPG elite program changes and made the statement Hyatt Gold Passport has a poor points-to-miles exchange rate.

My comment on the post was Hyatt Gold Passport has the same points-to-miles exchange rate as SPG.

SPG $10,000 in Starwood Hotels spend earns 20,000 Starpoints = 25,000 miles in most airline programs, but only 12,500 miles in Mileage Plus.

Hyatt Gold Passport $10,000 in Hyatt Hotels spend earns 50,000 points = 25,000 miles in most airlines, including Mileage Plus.

The number of airline partners is comparable between SPG and Hyatt.

The real difference between these programs is not the exchange rate for points-to-miles transfers. The competitive edge SPG has over Hyatt Gold Passport is the difference in the earn rate with elite bonus points and credit card points for members in those subgroups of SPG membership.

SPG members with either Gold or Platinum elite get 50% elite bonus points on hotel spend. Hyatt GP Platinum members get 15% elite points and Diamond members get 30% elite points.

SPG American Express card members get 2 points per $1 for Starwood Hotel spend and 1 point/$1 for other spend. That is a 100% bonus on the SPG base earn rate for hotel stays. Hyatt Gold Passport Visa members get 3 points/$1 and that is only a 60% bonus on the base earn rate for hotel stays.

And, of course, a major factor for big spenders is the 1 Starpoint per $1 for everyday spend on the AmEx card. That is 50% of the base rate Starpoints are earned for hotel stays. That is a huge credit card spend bonus!

Hyatt Gold Passport Visa earns 1 point per dollar in everyday spend. This is only 20% the rate of earning base points for hotel stays.

Bottom line is a Hyatt member with no status and no credit card who wants airline miles, and more specifically United Mileage Plus miles, will earn miles just as fast or faster with Hyatt Gold Passport hotel stays. Once you throw elite status and credit card spend into the mix, then SPG becomes the faster earning Mileage Plus miles program.

Table 3: United Mileage Plus Points-to-Miles Exchange Rates with

  • Hotel co-branded credit card bonus points,
  • Hotel Loyalty top-tier elite bonus points,
  • Hotel Points-to-Miles United Mileage Plus Exchange rates.

 

Marriott Rewards blows away the other hotel programs for earning United Mileage Plus miles from hotel stays as a top-tier Platinum frequent guest using the Marriott Rewards Visa for hotel stays. Mileage Plus miles are earned at least 25% faster than other programs.

The real issue for Marriott Rewards Platinum frequent guests is determining whether their stay pattern earning preference should be miles or points with promotions like MegaBonus and MegaMiles.

The main thing I see in Table #3 is credit card bonuses earn as many or more bonus points than even top tier elite status with most hotel chains.

Club Carlson is the only major hotel program without a credit card. I’ll be in the Bahamas next week for the annual Carlson Hotels Global Conference. I am curious to hear if more details on a Club Carlson credit card deal will be revealed.

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11 Responses

  1. [...] United Mileage Plus hotel points-to-miles rates favor Marriott, Club Carlson, Wyndham [...]

  2. [...] United Mileage Plus hotel points-to-miles rates favor Marriott, Club Carlson, Wyndham [...]

  3. [...] United Mileage Plus hotel points-to-miles rates favor Marriott, Club Carlson, Wyndham [...]

  4. [...] United Mileage Plus hotel points-to-miles rates favor Marriott, Club Carlson, Wyndham [...]

  5. [...] United Mileage Plus hotel points-to-miles rates favor Marriott, Club Carlson, Wyndham. (Feb 8, 2012) [...]

  6. [...] United Mileage Plus hotel points-to-miles rates favor Marriott, Club Carlson, Wyndham(Feb 8, 2012) [...]

  7. [...] United Mileage Plus hotel points-to-miles rates favor Marriott, Club Carlson, Wyndham [...]

  8. [...] United Mileage Plus hotel points-to-miles rates favor Marriott, Club Carlson, Wyndham(Feb 8, 2012) [...]

  9. Curious if there’s a way to direct all my united or other airline miles to Marriott (instead of the other way around?)

    I’m getting a lot more value out of my Marriott points than air miles. I’d rather redirect my miles to points. Is that possible?

    Comment by Robert Merrill on February 19th, 2013 at 9:58 pm
  10. @Robert Merrill – Marriott ended miles-to-points transfers in late 2000. HHonors is the only hotel program that allows miles-to-points exchanges with some airlines.

  11. [...] United Mileage Plus hotel points-to-miles rates favor Marriott, Club Carlson, Wyndham(Feb 8, 2012) [...]

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