The Three Points Currencies I Hoard

Filed Under: American Express, Chase
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In general my strategy with points is to “earn and burn.” My goal is always to earn miles as quickly as possible and to redeem them as quickly as possible. However, this doesn’t mean that I take the approach that they’re “free,” and that I should redeem them sub-optimally. Quite to the contrary, I give a value to each mileage currency, and then with each trip decide whether I’m better off redeeming points or paying cash (see here for my thought process when it comes to this).

So I like to earn and burn within reason. That’s to say that ideally I’ll never have so many points in an account that I couldn’t reasonably redeem them within a few months, in the event that a program were to devalue significantly. After all, having points in an account is no different than having cash in an account not earning interest. With the rate at which many programs devalue, you’re losing value with every year you hold onto those points.

While I use this strategy within reason, there are three points currencies that I don’t mind hoarding at all. That’s to say that these are the last points currencies I’ll redeem if given the option, since I view them as being lowest risk to devalue. Here’s what they are and why, in no particular order:

Marriott Bonvoy Points

Credit cards that earn this points currency:

Earn Marriott Points

Marriott points can efficiently be redeemed directly for hotel stays, or can be converted into airline miles.  Here’s a guide on how that works.  Essentially, you can transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to most airline partners at a rate of 3:1, meaning that 3 Marriott Bonvoy points yields 1 airline mile.

Aegean Airlines Miles+BonusAmerican Airlines AAdvantageHainan Airlines Fortune Wings ClubQatar Airways Privileges Club
AeroMexico Club PremierAsiana Airlines Asiana ClubHawaiian Airlines HawaiianMilesSaudi Arabian Airlines Alfursan
Air Canada AeroplanBritish Airways Executive ClubIberia PlusSingapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Air China CompanionCathay Pacific Asia MilesJapan Airlines (JAL) Mileage BankThai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
Air France/KLM FlyingBlueChina Eastern Airlines Eastern ClubJet Airwaystopbonus loyalty
Air New Zealand Air PointsDelta Air Lines SkyMilesKorean Air SkypassUnited Mileage Plus
Alaska Airlines Mileage PlanEmirates SkywardsLATAM Airlines LATAMPASS KmsVirgin Atlantic Flying Club
Alitalia MilleMigliaEtihad Airways GuestLifeMiles of AviancaVirgin Australia Velocity
ANA Mileage ClubGol SmilesLufthansa Miles & More

Best of all, you get a 5,000 point bonus for every 60,000 points transferred.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points

Credit cards that earn this points currency:

Earn Chase Points

Chase Ultimate Rewards has over a dozen partners that allow 1:1 transfers:

Aer Lingus Aer ClubIHG Rewards Club
Air France/KLM Flying BlueMarriott Bonvoy
British Airways Executive ClubWorld Of Hyatt
Iberia Plus
JetBlue TrueBlue
Singapore KrisFlyer
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
United MileagePlus
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

My favorite partners include Air France/KLM FlyingBlue, Singapore KrisFlyer, United MileagePlus, and World of Hyatt. Still, there’s some risk of those individual points currencies devaluing (as we’ve seen in the past), and significantly lowering the value of those points.

Why do I still hoard these points? Because worst case scenario I can redeem Ultimate Rewards points for 1.5 cents each towards the cost of a travel purchase, since I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card. That’s pretty close to my valuation of the points, so I could do that without losing too much value. However, if you just have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card you’d get at most 1.25 cents per point if redeeming as cash towards the cost of a travel purchase, which isn’t quite as lucrative.

Redeem Ultimate Rewards points for 1.5 cents each towards the cost of an airline ticket

Amex Membership Rewards points

Credit cards that earn this points currency:

Earn American Express Points

Amex Membership Rewards has more transfer partners than Chase Ultimate Rewards, as follows:

Aer Lingus Aer ClubChoice Privileges
AeroMexico Club PremierHilton Honors
Air Canada AeroplanMarriott Bonvoy
Air France/KLM Flying Blue
Alitalia MilleMiglia
ANA Mileage Club
Avianca LifeMiles
British Airways Executive Club
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
Delta SkyMiles
El Al Matmid
Emirates Skywards
Etihad Guest
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
Iberia Plus
JetBlue TrueBlue
Qantas Frequent Flyer
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

There are a couple of reasons I hoard Membership Rewards points.

First of all, for most Amex cards, you can get at most one cent per point if redeeming as cash towards the cost of a ticket. However, if you have The Business Platinum® Card from American Express you can receive up to a 35% refund on redemptions, meaning you’re getting about 1.54 cents per point. That’s an excellent “cash out” value, though there are some limits associated with this, including how many points you can redeem this way, what airlines you can redeem on, etc.

But there’s another thing that makes Membership Rewards points special. Even if a points currency devalues, Membership Rewards fairly consistently has transfer bonuses, which is a way to increase the value of your Membership Rewards points even more. For example, last summer we saw a 40% bonus on transfers from Membership Rewards to British Airways Executive Club, and late last year we saw a 20% bonus on transfers from Membership Rewards to Air Canada Aeroplan. I took advantage of both of those bonuses, and they got me disproportionate value.

I took advantage of the Aeroplan transfer bonus to redeem for Lufthansa first class

There’s no guarantee that those bonuses will continue, though I generally think history is a pretty good indicator when it comes to this stuff.

Bottom line

Personally those are the three points currencies that I have no problem hoarding. With the risk of many points currencies being devalued, I think those programs have the most ways you can liquidate your points quickly without losing much value, since you’re not tied into one specific currency.

Some might wonder why I don’t have Citi ThankYou on the list (the points currency earned on cards like the Citi Premier℠ Card and Citi Prestige® Card). While I value Citi ThankYou points significantly and collect them, the reason I don’t think they’re in the same league is because the maximum value you can get redeeming them as cash towards a ticket is 1.25 cents each, which isn’t as good as the 1.5+ cents per point you can potentially get with Amex and Chase. Personally they also don’t have quite as many transfer partners that interest me.

Are there any points currencies you hoard? Which ones?

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  1. I’d love to see you do a post on a doomsday plan for SPG devaluing the flight transfer (either the 25% bonus or the transferability entirely). There is a nonzero chance that one of these happens as Marriott looks to recoup the acquisition premium and I think its wise to have a plan in case there is a limited window to react.

    1) How would you weigh the transfers based on value of the underlying program vs. giving a premium to currencies that dont offer transfers from Amex/Chase? Obviously if you personally already have a high amount of one currency that might change things.

    2) And how many points would you keep for SPG/Marriott bookings (assuming those terms were unaffected)?

  2. I´m hoarding Hilton, involuntarily, as I cant seem to find any reasonable redemptions anymore. Nowadays every worn out Hampton Inn comes at 30-40,000 points and I cant be bothered to agree to any of this.

  3. I hoard most points.

    Most people will find that it is neither as easy to use nor as easy to get value out off points as bloggers would have us believe. What works for lucky only works for him.

    Which reminds me why I come to the blog. Toga! Toga!! Toga!!!

  4. @Flieger – that is when the average redemption value of a points currency can inform your decision. If you won’t get more than about 0.5¢/HH point, which would be equivalent to getting about 2.x¢-3.x¢/starpoint or 1.5¢/WoH point for redemptions at those
    respective properties, you might as well pay cash…

  5. @Flieger- I booked an overwater villa in Conrad Maldives ($1000+) for 76000 HH points… you need to know when and where to redeem.

    @Evan – I can get 1.6 miles per Starpoint when using Marriott Travel Pkg…so by worry about a 1.25 transfer??

  6. Definitely those 3 as well. Mainly MR and UR because of the 3x bonus points I get when spending on advertising.

  7. @MarkG – well said. That is the type of redemption I would target; not the Hampton Inns….

  8. Starpoints are worth 2.x cpp as a hotel points currency when they can be redeemed only for award stays at Starwood properties, usually not for a good return, especially at the company’s top-tier properties. The 3:1 starpoints: Marriott points transfer ratio has no advantage because that is about the same as the ratio of the AVERAGE redemption values of the two points currencies (2.2cpp/(.7-.8cpp). The purchasing power for redeeming free stays is about the same, except maybe for Marriott’s packages.

  9. Quite interesting how DCS keeps raising Hilton point values above where anybody else has them and Starpoints lower than anyone else has them…his never-ending jealousy of the (rightful) love Starpoints get and (rightful) igorning of Hilton points is beyond amusing

  10. @DCS – I am truly asking this sincerely but how can you honestly rank Hilton points on the same equivalency level as SPG or Hyatt? Marriott I get. That would be like Mexico trying to rationalize how it’s on par to the us.

    Not everyone can nor wants to go to the Maldives. Shit id just like to go to Atlanta for a reasonable rate. Sorry I don’t equate 40k to stay at a Hampton inn off the highway which cash wise you can get for 89 bucks a value and this is coming from a diamond. I’ve seem some Hilton’s (grand Waimea going for over 500k points PER NIGHT. Exsplain the value as I’m having a hard time finding it. 0.04 is generous domestically. I find it’s closet to at most 0.04. Are there sweet spots? Sure but they’re few and far between.

  11. I meant to say 0.05 is being generous. Can I cherry pick hotels with others? Sure but there’s no need to because there’s consistent value to be had. Hilton is the delta of hotels.

  12. I too am a diamond and starting to wonder why. I have a large stash of points I keep solely because I refuse to spend 60k at a doubletree.

  13. If you think there is a difference between .4cpp and .5cpp in Hilton points currency, then you have no business commenting here. You are in over your head.

    If I were jealous of starpoints (not sure how that’s even possible) I would hoard them easily, as one who gets reimbursed for most travel. I did the math long ago and have known better since: starpoints are the worst possible investment that one can make in this business. I get rid of them as soon as I earn them, as I will at a Sheraton in FLL in two weeks that someone else paid for.

    I will not address you if you start launching insults. Just point to what is wrong in what I stated above….

  14. @Shawn – I have explained it ad nauseam for more than 2 years, including as recently as this past week. If you must ask, I have little doubt that would still not get it. So, I will pass…

  15. I´m not sure about the mechanics of HH but it seems that whenever you have a chance to travel, and thus redeem, their properties charge horrendous rates in points that are just not worth it. Sure, there are people who can be in the most remote places on the most random working days and get something out of the points, but it´s important to understand these are exceptions unless you run a travel blog or happen to be lucky or something. The average HH is probably redeemed at 0.04 or less because folks are left with the choice to either redeem at this rate or not at all due to lack of better opportunity.

  16. @Shawn… I believe that most points and miles fans objective is to stay at premium hotels or plane seats for little or not money. If you just want to stay at $89 Hampton Inn you are in the wrong business…just get a 2% cash back card and use the cash back to pay for your room. At $4500 spending required per night you will not find a hotel card better than that, and you can stay wherever you want. In the meantime most of us will keep collecting points to use in the Conrads, Park Hyatts, and St Regis of the world.

  17. Every point is not equal. I can get 15,000 points sometimes for a 1-2 night stay at a double tree if timed with some promotions So 2 maybe 3 business trips and I got a free middle of the road hotel room

    Pretty hard to spend 4-5 nights at an SPG property and get enough points for say a Sheraton stay

    Plus you can get Hilton points with online shopping portals

    Hilton points ate just easier to get. So spending 40k at a doubletree is not the same as 40k spg at one of their properties.

    People get caught up in how many points or the value of the point. Also need to look at the ability to earn the points too.

    And stay for stay, same price room, same membership levels etc most of the time you get more points at Hilton. So it’s like inflation.

    Here is Atlanta as an example only because someone above said Atlanta.

    Random night of Sept 10th

    Sheraton is 189 cash or 10,000 points. Hilton is 179 or 39,000 points. Seems skewed. But….someone with no status at either hotel – they would earn 1790 Hilton points and 378 spg points. 1790/39000 is about 4.5% and 378/10,000 is 3.7%. So you get closer to a free stay at Hilton even though it’s 4x the points

    Now when you factor in credit card and status bonuses Hilton gets nuts. 15-50% more bonuses for Hilton and 15% you can get on a free card. Also for a small fee they offer double points for your stay. You can walk out of a 179/night room with 4500 points or something. And Hilton quarterly bonuses are usually more lucrative in comparison. And I mentioned before the online Hilton shopping.

    I’m not saying SPG is awful. But it’s way harder to earn an SPG point so you can’t say a double tree at 40k is over priced because its easier to get 40k Hilton points. So I rest at night spending 40k on a double tree depending on the cash price of that room.

  18. Those horrendous charges are NOT for STANDARD awards. There will usually be standard awards. If there aren’t any, then that would be equivalent to when other programs show no availability. At least HH offers those horrendous rates for people crazy enough to redeem their points for them. Other programs would simply show no availability.

    There are so many opportunities to redeem Hilton points around the world that it is surreal to hear anyone complain about not being able to redeem HH points!

  19. You can always rack up lots of points with Greyhound…but then your reward is, you have to take more Greyound.

    With Hilton, sure you can stay at the thousands of Hamptons, HGIs, etc. and earn your inflationary currency, but you only have about 100 properties you might really enjoy staying & redeeming points at (WA, Conrad, Canopy, Curio, per the most recent 10-K filing).

  20. Hello! One does not need 1000 Conrads or WAs. That would dilute the experience. Koh Samui, Maldives, Seychelles, even Manila. Limited availability increases the value, keeps it special.

    No one is an elite if everyone else is!

  21. @Shawn , I am actually a rare breed here. I do stay in Hampton Inns ( should I feel shameful ?) . actually I think Hampton is the best low tier brand, much better than fairfield. the worst of those is definitely four points, most of them are just horrible , more like motel than hotel and no free breakfast…

    I think to find redemption for low tier Hilton is really easy. I even redeemed twice for 10K / night ( cash rate over $100 ). Once in MA once in CA. Yes, both location kind of remote, but they are not “out of way”, they were exactly “on my way” ( one between Newport RI and Plymouth ; other between Death Valley and Sequoia) , fits well for my road trips.

    I don’t think you are truthful though. 40K point and $89 / night rarely if not never go together. If you try, there are plenty redemption for 20K points for $100+ hotels.

    Hilton is very reliable to find a OK redemption. But for outrageous value, you probably have to search globally. I think Hilton uses dynamic pricing for points redemption while Marriott and SPG keep more or less flat rate. But Marriott’s availability of redemption is very bad , so that leaves SPG as the only program reliably give you surprises. I just redeemed 7K points /night for Sheraton at the Niagara Falls during Memorial weekend last year, the going rate at the time was $300+ . In fact, I have never redeemed SPG for less than 3 cents/ point.

    Having said that, if you cannot find a good value from SPG, Hilton is my go to chain without doubt. Partly because the easy to get status. It served me well especially in Asia.

  22. @MarkG – you’re missing my point. It’s nice you can act all big league on OMAAT but the reality is you shit on a toilet,breathe air and If you’re diamond or some other high level elite you’re staying at lower tier hotels the majority of the time. The fact is I too make a shit load stay at park Hyatt’s etc and routinely travel abroad. I also stay at Hampton inns. And just like that reality Hilton points are glorified sky pesos. I stay at Hilton’s and can see this.

    @DCS – the point I’m making is you routinely act like you can get obscene exchNges with Hilton points by cherry picking properties. It’s as close to a carb based system as it gets. Full stop. The sky pesos of the hotel industry. They’re valuable but I’ll prefer to earn SPG points anyday.


  23. @Shawn – preach! Why do people like Hilton…it seems to basically be 1) there are lots of properties (mostly value/budget brands), 2) you can earn a lot of inflationary points to stay at said value brands (and very few aspirational ones), and 3) they basically give away free status to anyone with a pulse. And to top it off, you have the weakest on-property elite benefits of any major chain.

    I find it pretty mystifying actually…

  24. @Shawn — I play the game so that I can cherry-pick properties where to redeem my hard-earned points . It is called playing the game with a “full deck.”


  25. I’m going to have to agree with the Hilton people in above comments. I have the Ascend card, I somehow earn boatloads of points per stay (which is infrequent by the way) and the 100k point sign up bonuses on the Amex cards are insane. My wife and I both got them a year ago and with point pooling, that just raises the value of Hilton a bit more for me. I have about 302k Hilton points all in the span of roughly one year and with MAYBE 3-4 stays at mid-range properties (and each stay no more than 2 nights). No shot of getting anywhere near that many points with Marriott or SPG, so I don’t care if redemption ends up at .5cpp.

  26. I don’t hoard anything. I truly believe that if you have a notional cash value for points you should be indifferent to cash or points at that notional value (pace Gary Leff). So… if Hilton is .5 cpp on that notional value, I’m perfectly happy spending 25k points for a $125 room (tax and fees included, natch). That’s $125 in my pocket I didn’t have to spend.

    And the reason why I’m more willing to spend points currency once it hits my mark, really be “earn and burn”, as Lucky puts it?

    Give me $10,000 in (insert points “currency” here) and $10,000 in US dollars. Now, I’m going to take that $10,000 and put it into an S&P 500 fund and come back 10 years later.

    What’s that $10k points currency going to be worth in hotel or airplane redemptions? What’s that $10k in an S&P index fund likely to be worth?

    But hey, I can also chip in $10,000 over time… $125 hotel room I don’t pay for at a time.

    I don’t have an employer funding my travel 90+% of the time, and for me, a lot of travel involves rooms at Hamptons, HGIs, Homewood Suites, Alofts, Hyatt Places because I don’t put a lot of value into superfancy hotels unless I can get them at good value (say, a suite in Vegas in December, or maybe sometimes Bangkok at the right time). And quite frankly with how all chains inflate the top end hotel point redemptions all the time, I’m never going to accumulate the large six digit balances needed for long stays or what have you (Marriott travel packages? Ha!). Also, unless I’m concentrating on one chain enough to get elite status, oh, look, breakfast at that fancy NYC Hyatt is $40 since I don’t have a shiny card.

    Realistically, I can usually get an effective 20%ish rebate on Hilton in points if I do it right (and that’s not even using the AMEX), though discounted gift cards + THEIR 10% rebate are starting to appeal more and more to me (and I don’t have to be locked into Hilton that way).

    As for AMEX/Chase/SPG credit cards… it ain’t for me, for a number of reasons. God bless those of you who can funnel your business or MS through them (*cough*Lucky*cough), but I just take the occasional Alaska/LIfemiles nibble on the side for the occasional longhaul J/F trip, plus some hotels. And I burn ’em regularly, because place not your trust in princes (or in programs that devalue).

  27. @UA-NYC and @others

    I am former Hilton Diamond, now Gold. I travel for work, so I get reimbursed and get to chose where to stay. With the co-branded credit card and my status, a 3 nights, 600GBP trip to London nets me – sometimes – 20,000 or more points. That’s VERY valuable whether I use it for cash+points or for redemptions.
    IHG is another great program. Sure, they have increased rates, but for business travelers they are extremely easy to accumulate and most IC properties will set you up at 40-50k tops (and we are talking about great hotels, not mediocre ones).

    So yeah, I think the point is: hotel loyalty programs try to reward frequent travelers, not point hoarders. Which, coincidentally, seems to make a lot of sense. 🙂

  28. Oh, and even for point hoarders… I have a buddy that accumulated 3 million (sic) Honors points in 1.5 years through normal credit card spend and signup bonuses. That’s his 2 weeks honeymoon in French Polynesia. So, not too bad.

  29. The whole thing resembles monetary policy very closely. If a chain starts shelling out points like there´s no tomorrow, e.g. expanding the overall amount of points in the system, be quick to burn them up, as the only two things that can happen from there are a) they lose a lot of money for overly generous earning rates, or b) have already calculated the next “improvement” of their program to balance the increased amount of points in the system out. It´s exactly what HH did before they went revenue based with triple points and 5,000 points per stay paid with Visa and all that.

  30. People,

    The title and the content of Lucky’s post is about card points.
    SPG Starpoint is indeed hotel points, but here in this post, it’s in context of card points.

    Why? Earnings per dollar is completely different.
    You earn 1 Starpoint per $1 SPG card spending (general, not special category).
    You earn 1 Marriott, and 1 Hyatt point per $1 Marriott or Hyatt card spending (general, not special category).
    You earn 3 Hilton points per $1 Hilton Aspire/Ascend card spending (again, general.)

    In this case, SPG just rocks. There is no single hotel card which can beat this. Without special categories, even Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards cannot beat SPG.

    But when it comes to hotel stay, you get:
    – 3 Starpoints (as Gold/Plat) + 2 Starpoints for card per $1 at SPG
    – 6.5 Hyatt points (as Globalist) + 3 Hyatt points for card per $1 at Hyatt
    – 20 Hilton points (as Diamond) + 14 Hilton points for card per $1 at Hilton

    So it’s vastly different. That’s why DCS is actually right here. SPG hotel stays do not return as much as other brands, especially with ridiculous SPG “Limited Participation” which requires 60-90K or even more for aspirational properties. Conrad Maldives is kinda easy with points. W Maldives? Impossible. (St. Regis Maldives before opening was available for reasonable amount of points but not anymore.)

  31. DCS – Ive read all your writings but think maybe you are not assigning full value to starwood points. (no not trolling)

    Baseline comparison is MR; regular spend gets a dollar a point, with bonus categories that I don’t get much out of; except for the 50% bonus on $5k+ transactions. Only good use of points is Intl J or F imo, shooting for at least a conservative $.035/pt.

    Starwood a bit better in that they are really 1.25pt per $ spend, but mainly because they transfer into so many more airline programs. I don’t have to depend on Aeroplan availability for LH, just go to the home program etc. That extraordinary flexibility is extremely attractive to me as it more easily allows me to achieve my target threshold of $.035 value per $1 spend. That flexibility doesn’t show up easily in the math but it is absolutely worth something to me.

    Where I have a bit of a problem with Lucky’s take is that hoarding=spend direction or emphasis. In other words he’s sort of saying i direct my spend toward these programs, because worst case I can get about $.015 booking through the house portal. My threshold cash/points is always in the vicinity of $.02 per $1 of CC spend, because that’s what I get through Cap1 Spark card. So I would never book through Chase or Amex card portals unless I had no other choice.

    So I have the same cards plus Cap1, except that I weight probably 60-70% spend to C1 and SPG, Chase for remainder, and I’ve relegated MR to last place, basically as a cheap Sky Club entry for my wife ( in her name). Am I missing something?

  32. I should add I mostly don’t give a rat’s ass about hotel redemptions, only a few SPG properties are value redemptions and I’ll stay cheapo or Hotwire my way in somewhere (and cover it with the C1 points – real hard to beat $.02/$1 of spend rate with hotels.

  33. I like United miles for rainy days. 150,000 United miles or so will suffice to return from most anywhere to most anywhere on short notice. United miles can be accumulated for under 2 cents per miles via also. United award travel is easy enough to book on short notice. The recent award trips were via Singapore Airline, AA and Lifemiles but in all three cases the booking was not easy and not on short notice.

    I understand Chase points and Amex points but I do not understand the endless promotions of SPG points. Options to accumulate SPG points are few and far between. Even the 35% current bonus is not enough to entice me to buy SPG points. I do have the Amex SPG card but find better options via other credit cards. The one good use of the Amex card is the $19.95 primary insurance for car rentals.

  34. @DCS: “I will not address you if you start launching insults.”

    You are, without a doubt, the last person who has room to complain about that.

  35. “Richard says:”

    I looked at the bottom of my handwritten notes and it says “I hear you”

    Quibble, in that you get the primary with the Chase cards.

    Also quibble in that you can’t get back from Aust/NZ for less than 200k on short notice.

    But those UA points do find a way of being useful in coach from time to time.

    Upfront domestically of course its booked thru Singapore.

  36. @Mike — Let’s get to the bottom of YET another of your misconceptions.

    You believe that whenever I challenge one CLAIM or another using authoritative language I insult PEOPLE, and have repeatedly accused me of that. Well, you are confused because a forceful and authoritative challenge and an insult are NOT the same thing, even though some people might feel insulted when challenged. Do you feel insulted when challenged, @Mike?

    The only times I have actually INSULTED anyone (y’know, “idiot”, “stupid”, “stupid moron”) have been, without exception, in retaliation. I have thousands of posts here and elsewhere. Please find and show me where I’d just started insulting anyone. I mean, where I was the first to launch an insult at a PERSON, rather than calling a person’s CLAIM, e.g., “bogus” or “bonehead”…Either that or stop continuing to reveal your, well, “shortcomings” by letting everyone know that you are again confused.

    I will post the above, exactly as is, every time you accuse me henceforth of GRATUITOUSLY insulting a PERSON. It is not why I come here.

  37. @ITST – you undershoot SPG earning. Had a fairly standard 3 night, $500 Sheraton base spend hotel stay this week that earned me 9 points/$ between base, Plat, Plat 75 bonus point, CC, Platinum amenity, and Make A Green Choice. Most people tend to miss this though and only focus on the 2/3 points/dollar earned w/SPG.

  38. Agree with SPG valuation being at the very top.

    Show me where the transfer bonus of (having spent a $1 to get one point) a point can top 62(United/AA/Alaska etc – current), 100(Aeroplan past and AA past), 116% (Avios current)?

    yes, that is the current or past transfer bonus from spg to United/AA/British Avios (via Marriott flight and hotel packages and putting a value on refunding 7 marriott nights).

    Exceptions of course are category bonuses that chase/amex and others have on some of their cards, those can rack up comparable valued points per$ spent. But most people may not fall into those category spend with most of their spending(I dont).

  39. @ texanflyer — I don’t disagree with the value of that, but you should be earning at least 1.5 Membership Rewards or Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent. There’s no reason not to, thanks to the Amex EveryDay Preferred and Chase Freedom Unlimited.

  40. @DCS: “I will post the above, exactly as is, every time you accuse me henceforth of GRATUITOUSLY insulting a PERSON. It is not why I come here.”

    Yet again, you paint yourself as a victim. And yet again, I will tell you that you need to get over yourself, because you aren’t one.

    Your behavior here isn’t as a result of repeated attacks and insults upon you. Rather, you react with narcissistic rage on a regular basis, when someone says something that you disagree with. The results are either direct – calling someone clueless, or stupid, or something similar, or indirect – for example, someone who has a differing opinion on a subjective value of a point simply doesn’t understand how programs or values work, with a strong implication that this person is stupid.

    Let’s show some examples:

    1) On November 7, 2016, a poster named Mark said, “The people that complain about Hyatt go and try to get a suite upgrade with Marriot or Hilton and let me know….(I almost can feel DCS coming hahaha).” Your immediate response to Mark?

    “You cannot be as clueless as you sound. What more evidence do you need?”

    2) On April 13, 2016, DCS posted the following comment on Gary’s blog, showing his belief that anyone who doesn’t agree with him is stupid:

    “It should be illegal for people, like the host of this site, who understand very little about the “Value” of loyalty points to pontificate endlessly on the topic.”

    3a) On September 11, 2017, DCS says the following, proving yet again that DCS will fly off the handle when people have an opinion that differs from his:

    “it is mindless to claim that upgrades of any hotel loyalty program are more consistent than another’s.”

    3b) When I personally point out later in this thread that DCS says something completely contradictory:

    “As a SPG Gold through the AMEX Biz Plat, I have not scored a single upgrade, which MAKES it the stingiest (worst) program because I’d scored upgrades even as a HGP Platinum!”

    DCS flies off the handle and resorts to name-calling, by calling me “Stupido.”

    4) On a post that Gary makes about reimbursement on Hilton Honors award stays on May 1, 2016, DCS gets proactive with his insults, throwing them out before anyone even has the chance to disagree with him:

    “Unlike what some idiot might suggest, Hilton’s relatively low reimbursement rates to hotels for award stays is simple economic 101: supply/demand/price.”

    5) On a post about the Dr. Dao incident on United Express/Republic, DCS made the following statement to someone who expressed their disdain for United Airlines, proving that the insults are not limited to people who say things bad about Hilton:

    “Nonsense. No wisdom at all. You wouldn’t know wisdom if it hit you in the face.”

    6) On March 16, 2016, in response to someone’s critique of one of DCS’ posts, he offers the following rebuttal:

    “What are you, an Idiot?

    BTW, the above question is rhetorical, meaning that no answer is necessary because it is not even a question…”

    As usual, this is not a defense of someone who has attacked you — rather, it’s someone who has simply said that they believe you are wrong.

    I could get into the numerous instances where he has gone after me personally, such as the time where he claimed that an HH Diamond still can use the Diamond Force on an award stay, even though the Hilton T&Cs don’t allow it, because he did it once on an award stay years ago, or the times I have called him out for cherry-picking statistics in an attempt to defend Hilton or Honors program changes, such as when he used seven hotels (out of 5,000) to show how the cash+points awards changes from March 2017 were a good thing, or Hilton’s move to a more restrictive cancellation policy was also a good thing.

    Hell, I could keep going on the examples where he’s done the same thing to other people, but at this point, I think the only thing that I’m doing is feeding his narcissism.

  41. Here he goes again with yet another mind-numbing dissertation that makes DCS central to the ‘thesis’ and he’ll then turn around and complain about DCS’s purported narcissism and gratuitously insulting of other posters. This time it seems like a mental ejaculation of everything he’s bottled up since the last time he went after the object of his obsession and fascination.

    DCS, who stands by his earlier statements that he responds to other posters in kind, now pulls the plug on this thread. The soapbox is yours. Knock yourself out.


  42. Mike with the mic drop!

    FWIW only severe narcissists (like the Gasbag in Chief) refer to themselves in the third person.

  43. @DCS – “No one is an elite if everyone else is!”

    Urgh. While that is an undeniably logical point, the idea of trying to keep others down so you stand above is a bit disturbing – though I guess that personifies the US in a nutshell.

  44. Ok, back to the point of this original article. Thanks to Lucky’s guidance, I started earning and buying star points less than a year ago. Earlier this week, converted 120,000 into 360,000 points and bought a 7 night stay at a cat 8 Marriott hotel plus 120,000 Alaska miles. Immediately used package on wailea beach resort in Maui. Worked out really really well.

    I’ve also seen good redemptions on spg at $120 Sheratons for only 3,000 points. Not my cup of tea but that’s cheap!

    I only wish I could buy spg at 0.022 more often!!

  45. @DCS: “DCS, who stands by his earlier statements that he responds to other posters in kind, now pulls the plug on this thread.”

    I think the record proves that you are laughably, absurdly wrong on this point.

  46. Chase Ultimate ,Thank You, SPG ********
    I heard AMEX runs a promotion for a 20% discount on Gift cards .I had 2 spg cards, 2 Hilton cards ,Citi Prestige card now ..Can’t wait Book anytime anywhere 5* or 2* no hassle +10% credit .I’ll Load up and keep my spending and applies for Airline cards .

  47. I was hoping for something new but yep the same thing I tend to burn airline points quickly because of devaluing

  48. WOW!
    Now THAT was a mashup emotional train wreck of a posting board! Lol. Seems like some of you have known each other for a looooong time! Have you ever met in “real life.?” Had a beer or a nonalcoholic beverage together, maybe in a nice airport lounge?
    Semi-anonymous rant tennis is ALOT of energy. But I have to say, people kept it pretty tame and respectful. Clearly many of you are very passionate about this. I say, let people have their opinions; they can play their Way, have their strategy, and by the time we figure out which one is “right” the rules will have all changed! LOL. enjoy the game, have fun, go to all those wonderful places you’ve ever wanted to go to, and stay in the Ritz Carlton or stay in a Holiday Inn- it’s your life and your points.
    I am certain, and it has been pointed out to me, that I’ve not always made the wisest choice of how I’ve used my points. Oh well. I’ve been using them, and in two weeks I am going from LA to Vienna, stop over in London one night, on to Portugal, and on the way home I fly east, stop in Dubai, and then back to LA. All flights on points With some co-pays. All one ways and different airlines. And two of my destinations, Vienna and Dubai, weren’t even on my radar of itinerary stops when I started planning, I only fell into them purely because of what the Airlines happened to be offering the day I turned on the computer screen. So I jump at things and adjust my plans accordingly. When was it ever going to get a chance to fly around the world in one trip if I didn’t pick that flight going east rather than west back to LA.? So I took it.
    Most of my accommodations I will use points- Ritz Carlson (credit card sign up), Intercontinental Porto and Lisbon (awards points; Platinum Ambassador), Grand Hyatt (points), United got me Super Saver Business Class nonstop LAX/VIE on Austrian Air; The final leg was actually to London which was supposed to be my destination, but when I found out it stopped in Vienna I called back and said “oh, can I just get off the plane in Vienna?” Yay! Using British Air sign up miles for within EU travel; and Alaska sign up Miles put me in Emirates Air Lisbon to LA via Dubai for 45k. I had very little problem finding seats or accommodations. There were multiple options for my flight home.

    Sometimes ease of booking depends on what level of elite status you have. I’m platinum on United so things open up for me. But also it’s just spending time following things; I make a lot of hotel reservations and then I keep finding better deals and I cancel the old one it’s a bit crazy making. But in the end I enjoy a really nice trip and I think I’m getting a great value. Thank God I don’t work anymore
    Now you or I Could second-guess my decisions and hey very well could be right or maybe I’m right to doubt myself. But I’d rather not; I’d rather just enjoy this itinerary I already spent too much time on, and get off the compute! I’m using them, and they’re giving me some great adventures. I’m not going to nickel and dime. Make big bucks somewhere else come and do this for fun. To me it’s The poor redhaired step brother of Las Vegas “gaming.”
    Oh and lastly, I happen to like Hilton quite a bit! And it’s hard for me to get my brain wrapped around the relative value of a particular point for a particular program as related to another point in another program. 10 points could be extremely valuable or they could be extremely worthless 10,000–Same way. It depends on what they’re worth within that system and, if can you exchange them outside, whats their worth then? I love SPG as well, (St Regis is fabulous but pretty much inaccessible to point purchase For more than a two night stay; W is much more accessible, but really, not that fabulous!) and as others reported, they’re difficult to earn unless you have the credit card, which I recently gave up. I can’t have five AMEX cards, some of which have horrendously hi annual fees and also have redundant amenities. So for better or worse, gone is my SPG and gone is my platinum card. I’m sticking with the gold premier, Delta platinum and the new Hilton which was pretty much sent automatically to me.
    I also don’t find the Hilton diamond status that much better than gold, but I am very happy with the gold status with Hilton. I want the same value added Amenities for my status level: free breakfast, early check-in and late checkout, and free upgrade. Not all brand hotel status programs offer all of those. I’m Platinum Ambassador With IHG, and they don’t offer breakfast at this level. Hilton gives you free breakfast,Upgraded room,early check-in and late checkout at gold level if they can. Breakfast is assumed. if they have a lounge, that is where breakfast is served, so then you typically have lounge access, which often means practically another meal at dinner, very low-cost booze and other beverages and snacks and beverages throughout the day into the evening. That’s a value. Hilton/ the one of the few chains where they seem prepared in advance to deal with these requests at check-in— they’re already looking for them. That’s probably the only hotel chain ive actually seen do that. Otherwise I’m having to ask. Not So with Ritz-Carlton gold or SPG Gold. They just don’t want to offer free breakfast.maybe that’s because the breakfast is $35 LOL. And SPG can be a little stingy about check out time.
    Lastly, especially if I have platinum status or am an ambassador to a hotel chain, I want them to take my comments and criticisms seriously, especially if put in writing. And when they do and they let me know,I am appreciative of that. And I find in general, Hilton does well here . That hasn’t been the case with other chains that I’ve had more elite status. The manager of Conrad London personally reached out to me after an unfortunate communication glitch which prevented me from having my Christmas dinner in their restauran;t my partner and I had a walk down the street to go to the Marriott‘s Christmas dinner LOL which I Of course made sure was passed up through the chain at Conrad.Well he told me how badly he felt, and were I to ever come back, he was going to make it well worth my willingness. And I believe him. That’s a lot better than a phone Debate with a receptionist at the Intercontinental Geneva when I called upon return from a night out over the holiday season in Geneva, surprised not to find any Swiss chocolates on the pillows (though they do turndown service). I was honestly puzzled, and I called them just to say “hey there’s no chocolates. “ The whole conversation was so ridiculous that the front desk person would argue defending the fact that they don’t provide free chocolates with turn down service in Switzerland over the holidays with a platinum ambassador member, that I was actually amused. No, I didn’t need the chocolates. That wasn’t the point. The point was you say to guest “I am so sorry sir; I will have somebody come right up.” That’s what you say.His resistance was the extreme opposite of what service is about. And I took note of it. Particularly when their motto is: “it’s all about the little things.”
    Awesome great Hilton stays using points included : Istanbul, Dubrovnik, Athens, London, and they’re smaller hotel on Waikiki Beach (not Hilton Hawaiian Village). And I find their sales people over the phone are very nice. So service is a value to me and I believe the longer standing brands who come from a time of true professional identification with what excellent service means provide it. W does not and never will. And that value that is a experienced is worth something.
    So are their points inflated? I don’t know. All I know is I when I go, I get treated quite well. Intercontinental is variable because they are individually owned and managed, and the degree to which they buy into the program and give you what you’re supposed to get can be quite variable. Some give More; some give less. Some of the wonderful Intercontinentals included Lisbon; Miami so so; Geneva not so much.I think I Hyatt also rises to that level of professional service; I had an excellent stay at the Grand Hyatt in London, and what was apparently a total fluke, I was upgraded at the Andaz Manhattan on fifth Avenue from maybe one above a standard room To an apartment like suite for a minimal fee ; a super cool, Truly larger than most NYers apartments, with a mini kitchen, living room area, huge bedroom bath and closet, but best of all: the expansive outdoor patio that overlooked everything lol. I was only going to stay two nights and then stay with my friends on the upper West side to save $, but when I walked into this space, I immediately went to the phone, called downstairs, inquired whether I could get a third night at the same rate of the first two and it was approved. Upon checking out, the manager nearly had a heart attack LoL. Somebody was spoken to LOL
    Oh btw, I know It sounds like I’m this elitist and only can stay at the best. But in the last year I’ve stayed at an apartment with nonAC in July in Lisbon in the barrio alto which was partying all night,and you had to walk up at very steep hill and then three flights of stairs to get to that apartment. I also stayed in lisbon at a little nicer but not super great apartment through Airbnb. So I dolike staying in it sounds like I’m this elitist it’s a road only can stay at the best and I’m sure it does sound like that. But in the last year I’ve stayed at a very warm apartment and Lisbon with no air conditioning in the barrio alto which was partying all night and you had to walk a very steep hill and then climb three flights of stairs.! Simile I stated another apartment in lisbon which was a tad bit nicer but nothing great. So I do you like also booking through where I am a “genius“ member offering me 10% off everything and also offering me hotels and accommodations outside of big Brands, and it might be a hotel that is of historic significance, or Run by a family rather than a corporation.
    Best of all, Im a 5 year member of which I describe as a “socialist Airbnb.“ If you don’t know about it, look it up, but to put it this way, no money is ever exchanged. Many describe it as lunacy and victimization waiting to happen. But I’ve never had a bad experience, and I have hosted many people from all over the world.You pay it forward so that when you’re traveling you may be able to guest at the home of a fellow CSurfer who lives where you are going. But the point really is not free accommodation; the point is having a different experience when you travel which is to more authentically engage with the place where you are. beyond the hotels and the highlights in sightseeing tours. And through this, I have begun many wonderful relationships, so now when I Travel outside of USA, I can let people know I’m coming and see them and I may or may not stay with them but it’s great to see them. And you don’t have to collect any points!! LOL OL

  49. Lucky,
    I’m trying to burn through 2 million UA miles, using Star Alliance partners for mileage tickets.

    There are limited offerings on

    Is there another site or way that I can use those UA miles on different SA carriers?


  50. @Mike @callum. Thank you. @DCS DID start and was in fact the only one insulting anyone on this thread. Stating that someone is in over their head and shouldn’t post here is an insult. And then to follow by threatening others if they insult him… childish. As @DCS always is. Everyone else on this thread has been quite civil in spite of @DCS. Thanks everyone for that.

    @Lucky, isn’t it time for @DCS to be muted?

  51. I agree with you in which points or miles frequent travelers should hold on to, but I think the word “hoard” is a strong word. I would not mind having a higher balance in these programs, but I would not necessarily hoard them. Point programs have been devaluing like crazy these days. Here are a few further comments.

    SPG is a good deal if you use Marriott because of the 1:3 ratio, so this can be useful for one point purchases on the other cards.

    Chase Ultimate Rewards is best redeemed as using it toward travel through Chase at a 50% bonus. You could take advantage of their 1:1 point transfer if you need a small top up in order to cash out in another program. Because the credit card points seem to be devaluing less often and in less amounts than the airline and hotel points, it would be best to keep it in the Chase system.

    Be careful when redeeming membership rewards with AmEx. Usually the bonuses for the programs that Lucky describes incur a transfer fee. I would suggest transferring membership rewards to another program that you can do so for free at at least a 1:1 ratio. Marriott, while not listed, is approximately 1:1 because you have to first convert to SPG. If you redeem directly with AmEx, there is a transaction fee plus the rates for using points through their travel service is expensive. There’s better use of the points.

  52. It’s great to see what you can get when you are based in USA, but what are your thoughts for bods based in the UK. I really jealous of you USA bods! We don’t get the great credit card signup deals etc in the UK.

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