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Following up on my post from yesterday about the challenges of converting Chase Ultimate Rewards points into Hilton HHonors points, it’s worth noting that there are economical ways to convert both American Express Membership Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest points to Hilton HHonors. While not everyone values Hilton HHonors points highly, I at least have a new appreciation for them.
American Express Membership Rewards transfers
The Membership Rewards program actually partners with Hilton HHonors, and it’s possible to convert Membership Rewards points to Hilton HHonors points at a 1:1.5 ratio.
Fortunately it’s possible to do better than that by making an indirect transfer instead. Membership Rewards partners with both HawaiianMiles and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. This is significant because both programs allow transfers to Hilton HHonors at a 1:2 ratio. The catch is that Hawaiian only lets “organically” earned miles and miles through credit card spend be transferred to Hilton, while Virgin Atlantic allows all earned points to be transferred.
Membership Rewards points can be transferred to Virgin Atlantic at a 1:1 ratio.
This allows you to basically convert Membership Rewards points into Hilton HHonors points at a 1:2 ratio.
It’s worth noting that Membership Rewards frequently offers a transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, which can make this an even more compelling deal. Back in April, for example, Membership Rewards offered a 25% transfer bonus. That basically translated to a 1:2.5 ratio, which is very good.
I’m kind of Membership Rewards rich and Hilton HHonors poor right now, so I’ll be moving over quite a few points with the next transfer bonus.
Starwood Preferred Guest transfers
Similar to the strategy above, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is also a partner of Starwood Preferred Guest. The difference is that Starwood offers a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred, meaning you’re basically earning a 25% bonus on transfers. 40,000 Starwood points would get you 50,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles, which would get you 100,000 Hilton HHonors points, a ratio of 1:2.5
There’s something funny to me about being able to convert hotel points to a competing chain at a more or less fair ratio. 😀
Is this really a good transfer ratio?
I’m not actually saying everyone is best off making this transfer and that it’s the best value for everyone. Membership Rewards points are incredibly valuable for premium cabin flight rewards, and Starwood points are incredibly valuable for airline transfers and hotel stays. That being said, when considering the above ratio I do think Hilton points are more valuable than Starwood points when it comes to redeeming for high end hotels.
As I mentioned in my previous post, there are hotels like the Conrad Koh Samui, which tend to have very high cash rates. Redeeming 50,000 points for a room that regularly goes for $1,000 per night is an incredible deal.
Again, I’m not saying this works for everyone. SPG points are hugely valuable for redemptions at mid-range hotels. But I think it’s hard to argue with the above numbers for someone that’s chasing an aspirational hotel award.