I’m planning to attend my niece’s wedding taking place at a Hilton resort on a Caribbean Island. I had hoped that the couple getting married would have chosen a Marriott Brand hotel as I have ample frequent stay points for that chain of hotels, but since there are no Marriott Hotels on the island they have chosen, I am SOL. I know that there are ways of converting my points from my Marriott hotel frequent stay program to an airline program. Is there a way to convert points between two competitive hotel brands?
To your question, there is a way you could end up at the Hilton where the Carribean Island Resort wedding is taking place and much like you wonder, you can do so by converting one frequent stay program to another through an uncompetitive frequent flyer program. That is if you are willing to do a little work, as in horsetrading. And while what I am about to demonstrate is not quite horsetrading, it is similar. When what you need are 3 black stallions, it’s then like saying “I will give you two brown stallions for three white mares plus a little extra cash just for good measure and then trading the 3 white mares for one black stallion plus some more cash, again for good measure.” It really isn’t as confusing and complex as it sounds. Substitute horses for points and you now have the picture. Points will not likely transfer dollar for dollar or point for point , just as 3 stallions don’t trade quite equally for an equal number of mares. I’ve done an analysis for you and much like the horse trade example above, you may be surprised with my final recommendation. Read on.
Every hotel offers you a room and most hotel chains have rewards programs much like airlines do, but that is where the similarity ends. It’s much like comparing an apple and an orange, both are fruits but indeed are very different. The difference is in how the points are calculated. Hotels attribute points on dollars spent, airlines calculate on miles flown.
There are websites that assist you in doing the trading of points between and among frequent flyer and frequent stay programs. A few of these websites, ones like www.points.com will charge a fee for making these trades, others like www.webflyer.com will provide you guidance in doing it by yourself. Do understand though that there likely is a fee charged by your frequent stay or flyer program, the cost of doing so is usually in the form of points or miles being deducted from your account. Knowing just how many points for doing so is important. Other sites like webflyer.com are www.insideflyer.com and www.mileagemanager.com . Some like points.com and mileagemanager also help in keeping track of your points in the various programs you are enrolled.
Webflyer.com can guide you through the process of converting your Hilton points to Marriott points but to warn you, it can get complicated. Some conversions may require up to five separate steps because direct conversion between two programs may not be available.
Each step involves joining other programs, transferring your points from one to the next until you reach the final conversion. And with each step, the receiving program is taking off a chunk of your points, as in charging you points in exchange for the service or points being deleted, hidden within the exchange itself.
Weblyer.com provides for a number of options, dependent upon your frequent fly and stay programs you currently have points in. The process may look something like the following:
Marriott Rewards converts to Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles and HawaiianMiles convert to Hilton HHonors.Or another example would be: Marriott Rewards converts to Aeroplan Rewards and Aeroplan points converts to Hilton HHonors.
You may pay a nominal fee to join each program as you progress along the conversion highway and those fees along with the ratio at which your Marriott points are finally converted to Hilton Honors points all factor in to inform you if the conversion is worth your time, your points or your money.
So I did the work for you and assuming you needed 200,000 Hilton points to stay 5 nights at the Hilton Carribean Resort, (40,000 points per night). Ive assumed thats the amount of points you have currently in your Marriott account. For the record, $1 spent at a Marriott hotel is worth 10 points. Hence 200,000 points means you will have spent $20,000. Well, not quite true because Marriott frequently offers bonus points for various promotions. Nevertheless, you would have had to spend a large amount of dollars to accumulate 200,000 points. You may say that the conversion costs are not quite worth it after all is said and done.
Nevertheless, heres the routing.
Webflyer.com would suggest you first convert your Marriott points to the Hawaiin Air Rewards Program. That is your best conversion option providing you with the most amount of points for your transaction as it is at a ratio of 15000:6029 (almost 2.5 -1). So 200,000 Marriott Rewards points will convert to 160, 000 Hilton points trading through Hawaiin Air’s frequent flyer program. That’s enough for a four day stay at the Hilton Resort. But that would work only if you already have some points in the Hawaiian program. So one would think to join the Hawaiian rewards Program (it is easy and you can do so without cost on line) and transfer the Marriott Points into the Hawaiian program. That is a good idea but there is a caveat. The fine print on the Hawaiian Rewards program website suggests the following. “Points/Miles transferred into a HawaiianMiles Account from another program may not be transferred to a third party loyalty program.” That means that to convert HawaiianMiles into HiltonHonors points, miles have to be earned through Hawaiian Airlines exclusively; that is you cannot transfer say American Express Membership Rewards points into HawaiianMiles and then transfer to Hilton HHonors. So that option is out.
The next best option, maximizing the number of Hilton points you can receive is to convert the Marriott points to the American Airlines Advantage program and then into Hilton Honors. That works because there is no such limiting caveat in the AmericanAdvantage program. So 200,000 Marriott points converts to 80,000 Hilton points. Enough for a two day stay at the Hilton Carribbean resort. And you can join the AmericanAdvatage and transfer the points without charges.
The third option is through Aeroplan. Aeroplan’s conversion is at a rate of 10 to 1. But there is a “bonus opportunity” (available through June 18th) wherein Aeroplan is offering as much as 25% in bonus points for transferring your Marriott Rewards points into Aeroplan points. Thus your 200,000 Marriott points will convert to 50,000 Aeroplan Points instead of 40,000 points. And your 50,000 Aeroplan points will convert to 40000 Hilton points (*equivalent to one nights stay). Remember, points in Marriott are based on dollars spent. A one night stay at a Hilton Carribean resort hotel is worth 40,000 Hilton Honors points, which is equivalent to $400.
So after all that, the final analysis would suggest your best deal is through the American Advantage program But my calculations would suggest your not getting the best value for your Marriott points as your Marriott points would buy as much as 10 nights at a Carribbean Resort. Thats at a rate of 30000 Marriott points per night with the fifth night free. Nice to ponder about but as the conversions keep deflating the value of your points with each trade, it’s hardly worth it.