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I’ve got 300,000 Ultimate Rewards point to use to pay for lodging during a trip to Barcelona and Milan. I’ve looked at Marriotts, and can find award stays in the range of 75,000 points per stay (two or three nights). So, I could transfer those Ultimate Rewards points into my Bonvoy account to pay for our lodging. In Barcelona I found a nice airbnb for a total of $430. It would only take 43,000 points, redeemed for cash back, to pay for that airbnb. So in my mind I’m better off redeeming the 43,000 points and staying in a nice residence among the citizens of Barcelona than I am transferring 75,000 points to Marriott and staying in a hotel with other tourists.
Am I missing something in my thinking?
Nope, not missing anything at all. The best way to redeem your points is a way in which you are comfortable and happy with the value you are getting. Ben publishes his valuations simply as a guideline to help all of us.
I would definitely take the Airbnb route. Aside from the obvious things like limited on-site amenities (a spa, fitness center, lobby restaurant, etc.), it’s hard to beat Airbnb in a nice European city. The apartments are almost always right in the heart of everything.
Just a note: If you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve, you’re better off redeeming the points for a travel purchase becuase you will get a valuation of 1.25 cents or 1.5 cents per points that way, rather than a valuation of 1.0 cents per point, which is what you get for cash back. Given that you’re asking about Marriott transfers, I assume you have one of those cards. Since money is fungible, you can “redeem” for a travel purchase like your plane tickets and then use the money to pay your AirBNB if you want. But you’ll get more money per point if you choose the option to cover travel purchases rather than asking for straight cash back.
Note that, in general, transferring points to the Marriott Bonvoy program from Chase Ultimate Rewards is never going to give you a good value. Transferring to the Hyatt program can sometimes yield much better redemptions.