Every mileage currency has some sweet spots and "Etihad guest miles" are no exception. Ideally folks would not want to collect the "Etihad guest miles" but knowing where the value lies you might be able to decide if it's worth having them for specific redemption. As of starter if you are based in USA you can transfer Citi ThankYou Points or SPG Points in "Etihad guest miles" program at 1:1 ratio. In fact as with other partner airlines transferring SPG points in 20,000 increment will fetch 25,000 miles so your ratio could be as good as 1:1.25.
The focus of the post is to list the Etihad guest airline partners and how to get value out of your Etihad guest miles. First of all let me list the airline partners for redemption: You can click "know more" on each of the partners on this link to see redemption details.
Preferred Airline Partners:
As you can see that's a pretty long list. Also mind you each partner has their own redemption chart, so it might take you some time to wade through the redemption tables for each one of them, but in general below are the rules of award redemption for partner airlines (Mind you that these are general rules for all airlines and there might be additional rules specific to given airline partner):
Award Redemption Rules (general):
How to book partner airline award redemption?
Unfortunately you cannot do partner award redemption online. You need to call Etihad guest support on +1888 8 ETIHAD or 877 690 0767 and luckily they are open 24 hours. It would also be prudent to verify if the award you are looking for is available (usually saver level awards is what Etihad can book) by checking on the partners web site or paid tools like Expert Flyer or KVS.
How many miles does Etihad charge?
Most of the partner redemption chart are distance based (except few airlines including American Airlines). That means short distance flights which are otherwise expensive can give you best buck for your miles. That being said, below are few examples airlines, redemption on which could be a good value:
Jet Airways Award redemption for International or Domestic Travel:
You could book one-way from Colombo (CMB) in to Chennai (MAA) in Coach for just 3103 Etihad guest miles and with NO Colombo Sales City tax of ~$60. The same would cost 4500 British Avios with additional $60 if redeemed on SriLankan Airlines.
Garuda Indonesia redemption for short distances:
For e.g. you can book Bali (DPS) to Surabaya (SUB) flight for only 5000 Etihad guest miles.
American Airlines for North America to South America (Zone 1):
You can redeem 17.5k Etihad guest miles for travel from North America to South America (Zone 1) one way in coach.
As you can see from some examples there are definitely some value to be had with Etihad partner redemption if you do not mind calling their redemption center. So, there are definite sweet spots that can be utilized using Etihad guest miles.
SPG in partnership with American Airlines/US Airways is running a promotion where you get 20% bonus on the miles converted from SPG to American Airlines or US Airways. The sweet spot is of-course when converting 20k points from SPG you typically get 5k bonus from SPG, thus making 25k AA/US miles. With the 20% bonus offer you get additional 5k AA/US miles thus getting 30k AA/US Miles for 20k SPG points.This is a limited time offer and runs till end of July 31st, 2014. No registration is required for this. SPG allows a maximum of 79,999 points transfer in a day, so at max you should do only 60k points in a day to get 90k AA/US Airways miles. Below is the link for the transfer:
Below is the details of the American Airlines (AA) offer:
From July 1 through July 31, 2014, simply convert your Starpoints® to American Airlines AAdvantage miles and earn a 20% bonus. As always, for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred within the same transaction, SPG® will automatically add another 5,000 miles. With the additional 20% mileage bonus offered by the AAdvantage program, you will receive a total of 30,000 miles from the transaction.
20,000 Starpoints = 20,000 AAdvantage miles
Standard SPG bonus = 5,000 AAdvantage miles
AAdvantage 20% mileage bonus = 5,000 AAdvantage miles
Total = 30,000 AAdvantage miles
Below is the details of the US Airways offer:
From July 1 - 31, 2014, convert your Starpoints® into Dividend Miles and earn a 20% bonus.
Here's how it works:
Note: Do not transfer the points speculatively if you do not really have any intended use already. SPG points are valuable as they can be transferred to many other airlines at 1:1.25 ratio for most partners.
Broadly Speaking there are three kinds of Hotel Stays:
Let's assume your intent is to "pay the lowest price". In that case this article would give you various resources which will help you making that decision better and faster (Hopefully!). Below are few websites/tools which will quickly allow you to narrow down your search to few of the hotels in your desired area.
This is a pretty useful tool where you can enter your desired hotel location and it will quickly show up the hotels and the points required to stay there. Since, it uses Google Maps as the backdrop, it is very easy to map the hotels with your desired place of stay. Currently the website supports following Hotel Chains:
All you need to do is to enter your "Destination" in the search box and it will pop up hotel property names and price in award points for them. This makes it very easy to short-list the hotels and gives estimate on price you would have to pay (based on your valuation of the points) if you chose to stay on "award". For e.g. I have searched "Bali, Indonesia" below and as you can see that there are several options to select from based on where I want to stay and price I am looking to pay. Of-course there are certain limitations of this tool, as it does not list the "exact rates" for your dates as well as it does not specify the availability of award for your dates, but you at least get to know available properties and the points required which makes your selection easier.
Wandering Aramean Hotel Tools:
This tool gives specific information about the hotels as well as comparison between the "cost of award stay" and "cost when payed with cash". The comparison does require your "Fair value of points input", but it is pretty neat in that it will only show hotels with availability on your dates. It requires you to create your "login ID" before performing the search and currently supports Rates comparison for following Hotels:
Now you have done your reward stay research it's time to check if there are hotels available (may or may not be brand affiliated hotels) which are better bargain then redeeming your points. HotelsCombined is hotel aggregate site which searches for the hotels in your "desired location" and gives you whole bunch of criteria to narrow down or refine your search. The best part is it will show various "OTA as well as hotel websites" where you can book online along with their price comparison. For e.g. searching for hotels with only "5 stars" gives us prices ranging from $21 for a shared dorm to a price of $2299 for a resort room. You can further filter down on brand name and other bunch of criteria to get best bang for your buck.
Enter TripBam! This is a useful tool once you have done the search through HotelsCombined and have booked a "refundable room" for your stay. You can use this "TripBam" to send you alert if the price of your reserved hotel goes up or down on your desired dates of stay. You can also set the criteria if there are other hotels of your interest where you can possibly stay if the price is within the desired range of the price you paid for the current reservation. TripBam can send you an email alert about the price changes for your set of desired hotels so you do not need to keep searching for lower price once you have booked your reservation. For e.g. you can select the set of hotels you are interested in as shown below and you are on your way to savings if the price drops below your price paid or desired price.
Although there are numerous other sites which can help you search Hotels such as Kayak, but the above are just a few gem of tools which would help you make your hotel search better and faster.
In Getting Best Value out of hotel loyalty points - Part 1 we looked at Hyatt Gold Passport, Hilton Honors and IHG (Priority Club). In this article we will look up below hotel brands:
Most properties belonging to Marriott Hotels group belong to Mid-Tier level except Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott and BVLGARI brand hotels. The hotel night starts at 7,500 points in Category 1 and goes all the way up to 45,000 points for Category 9 redemption. There is separate reward chart for Ritz-Carlton hotels where reward night cost goes from 30,000 points in Category 1 to 70,000 points in Category 5. If you redeem your points for 5 night stay at the same hotel, the 5th night is free. The reward chart for Marriott brand hotels can be found here. There is one more unique thing about Marriott, where the reward night can be had at a cost of 1-tier less than their usual cost and this is called as "PointSavers". The list is updated every week and can be found here. Below is the current Marriott redemption chart for your reference.
There is one more redemption type which is called as "Travel Packages". These packages allows to redeem Marriott Points for "Air + Hotels". Essentially speaking you get Specific amount of Airline Miles credited to your Frequent Flyer Account in addition to 7 night stay in your selected category of hotel depending on package you select. These are good value if you are planning to stay anywhere from 5 to 7 nights in any of the Marriott hotels at a stretch. In additon if you hold United MileagePlus Premier Gold Status then you get 10% additional Miles for "Air+Hotel" redemption into United MileagePlus Program. More details on this RewardPlus program can be found here.
Club Carlson Hotels:
Club Carlson brand do not have strong presence within USA but have lot of properties around Europe. That being said the top tier brand of Club Carlson is "Radisson Blue". The redemption for reward night at Club Carlson starts at 9,000 points for standard room in Category 1 hotels and goes up to 70,000 points for standard rooms in Category 7 hotels. You could also redeem points for premium root at 1.5x the standard room rates. The reward chart for Club Carlson can be found here. There is also "Points+Cash" option available if you do not have enough points for "points only" redemption which just starts at 5,000 points and goes up to 20,000 points. The catch with this kind of redemption is that the "cash" portion varies according to the properties and may or may not be a good deal. The reward chart for Club Carlson is shown below for your reference.
The sweet spot of Club Carlson program is for folks residing in the USA and having one of the co-branded US Bank Club Carlson Credit Card which gives 1 night free for every redemption of 1+ nights. So essentially for 2 night stay you get the 2nd night stay for free. You can get 50 such free nights in a year which is great if you plan to make short reward stays. As mentioned earlier the best values are to redeem for free night in their European Hotels, specially in Paris where the downtown hotels usually sell upwards of 200 Euros.
Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG):
SPG is a great program mainly for two reasons.
Despite the above you will find that redeeming SPG points for Top-Tier hotel is usually a bad choice as the points required for stay at these hotels would be equivalent in terms of cash paid. There are few exceptions here and there but usually the points pricing is similar to what you would expect paying in cash. The redemption starts for 3,000 points for Category 1 hotel and could go up to 140,000 points per night for certain resorts. The reward chart can be found here. The good part is you can use "Cash+Points" options to pay for the reward nights if you do not want to use away all your points which sometimes gives better value than just booking with points. You could also redeem points for "Nights & Flights" for Category 3 & 4 hotels which is similar to what Marriott offers. You can find the reward chart for SPG properties below:
As you can see from above chart the Category 1 to 4 redemption are real value for points in SPG program apart from airlines partner transfers.
As you keep collecting hotel program points for reward stays it's worth understanding the value you are getting out of your investment. Everyone has a different value on points they hold and in which program the points are available. But knowing what value you can get of those points is of importance. The intend of this post is to highlight different program "sweet spots" so you know your choices and where to look before deciding to use your points for hotel award night stay. The loyalty programs we will be looking at are listed below:
This article will focus on Hyatt Gold Passport and Hilton Honors. For IHG (Priority Club) refer to my post on IHG Big Win. The value proposition for IHG (Priority Club) comes from Point Savers Award. For details on Marriott, Club Carlson and SPG do check my next article in this series.
Hyatt Gold Passport
Most hotels in Hyatt brand represent high tier and luxury class hotels. Hyatt award night starts from mere 5k points for category 1 hotels and the highest category 6 hotels cost 22k points for standard room. The reward chart representing the hotels in different categories can be found here. The category 6 hotels include Park Hyatt Tokyo, Park Hyatt Maldives and Park Hyatt Sydney that retails upwards of $900+. Thus redeeming 22k points for standard room at this hotels is extremely awesome value proposition if you are looking for Style and grand experience. On the lower end of it you could redeem 5k points for hotels such as Bali Hyatt which goes for ~$120+. So if you are looking to stay at decent to good brand hotel, I would suggest looking at Category 1 & 2 hotels to see if any hotels exits for the destination you are planning to visit which provides great redemption value for award nights rather than paying cash.
Although Hilton has massively devalued their program in recent time by increasing award night redemption cost's almost 2x and introducing variable points reward rate based on seasonality; there are still quite a few value hotels for budget conscious travelers who want to experience Hilton brand. You should use this useful tool here to determine how many points are required for standard room stay at the location you plan to visit. Once you know the points, you can visit the brand hotel website and scroll all the way to the bottom to see the award night rate for your stay. Look at the example below for Double Tree Hilton Goa. The Hotel's average night cost is INR 11,000 which would roughly equate to ~$180 but the points cost is only 5k points. That's awesome value proposition for Hilton Honors points.
As you can see from above it is still a good value proposition redeeming Hilton Honor points for lower category hotels and thus maximizing value of your points for free award night stays.
So in short if you are looking for value from above programs look for lower or mid category hotels in Hyatt and lower category hotels in Hilton Honors program
There is a current promotion going on which caught my eye today. Aeroplan is running a great promotion where you earn bonus miles when you transfer your financial services, car rental, hotels and points.com points to Aeroplan till 13th of May 2013. Below are the partner list and chart of points earned.
As I had discussed in my earlier post of 50% bonus on transferred hotel points to US Airways, how to take advantage of the transfer using Marirott and Wyndham, I would not discuss that here, but in addition there are few other pluses in this transfer:
1. SPG is also a partner, so for every transfer of 20k SPG points you already earn 5k bonus miles from SPG, but in addition you would now also earn bonus miles of 4k from Aeroplan. So 20k SPG points would get you 29k Aeroplan Miles.
2. The bonus is calculated after considering the total miles you accumulate by transfer from all the partners cumulatively. That means you can transfer over points from various hotel partners to earn a maximum of 40k Aeroplan bonus miles when you get 150k Aeroplan miles deposited in your account.
Note: Transfer from American Express Membership Rewards does not count towards this bonus. You can check out the full list of terms & conditions on the bonus offer page here.
There is a hidden value in the transfer which makes this promotion more interesting and that's "points.com".
If you head over to "points.com" you will realize that Aeroplan Miles can be exchanged (minimum of 15k Aeroplan miles required) for US Airways miles at a ratio of 1 : 0.84. Not only that if you look closely you will find out that you can transfer your points to Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific) at a ratio of 1 : 0.724 as well as to Hawaiian Airlines miles at ratio of 1 : 0.672 which are really good if you are short of few thousand's miles on those account for your redemption. Considering that you cannot directly convert Wyndham points to either of Asia Miles and Hawaiian Airlines miles and adding a bonus factor to it could be a really cool value. You can see the snapshot from pionts.com below as well as conversion chart factoring in the bonus miles earned.
Thus if you missed the US Airways 50% bonus promotion (which was limited to only 1st transfer), you could very well use this promotion to get US Airways miles, but in addition to that you could very well get Asia Miles and Hawaiian Airline miles at reasonable loss in miles value (as well as transfer from Wyndham Rewards becomes a possibility).
You have heard about the ways to earn those big bonuses for credit card signup or for doing any of the airlines partner activity. But at times you would fall short by few miles (0 to 100 miles) to reach that award redemption and the best available option would seem to be "purchasing" the miles from the airlines. Since the airlines only allow you to buy miles in multiple of 1000 and that too they have additional fee associated with it, it is better to know few other tricks which could be useful at times. In this post I would like to show you few ways of filling up those "small" miles need.
Audience Rewards: Audience Rewards is one of the ways to earn miles/points if all you need is few miles. Every week they publish a trivia which earns their own show points as well as partner airline/hotel miles/points. Answering these trivia takes 2-3 minutes and could earn 10 to 18 points. The beauty is that you need not be an expert to answer these questions as you can find the answers at Inacents blog. The link to the blog is here. Currently you can earn miles for US Airways and Delta Airlines, earn points for Starwood Preferred Guest and also earn BestBuy Reward Zone points. This could also be useful to get some activity on the mileage account so as to avoid expiration of the miles.
Opinion Place: Opinion Place is where you can take surveys and earn Amazon or PayPal Credit. But the hidden gem of this program is that could also choose to earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles. The only caveat is that you need to be qualified for the specific survey which depends on few factors like your interest, liking etc, but once you qualify you can earn anywhere from 75 to 150 AAdvantage miles and at times 225 miles per survey. Although it could take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes to do the survey, it could be worth if you want to protect your miles from expiring or are short by few miles for that next award ticket.
E-miles: E-miles is another place where you could earn e-miles currency which can be redeemed for partner miles or points. The biggest drawback is that since you earn in e-miles currency you can only redeem them for actual airlines miles or hotel points when you reach 500 or multiple of 500 e-miles. Also you can only redeem for the partner airline/hotel program you specified while joining the e-miles program. You earn 5 to 10 e-miles for doing activities like watching a video or enrolling for e-miles vendor programs or just answering few questions. You could earn quick e-miles if you are ready to spend some money on some of their vendors. It is a useful program as you could choose any earning partner from multiple partners while enrolling.
e-Rewards: e-Rewards is another program that awards e-Rewards currency for doing surveys. The advantage of this program over e-miles is that it allows redemption of its currency for any of the large number of airline partners or hotel partners. The trick here is if your primary intent is to earn airline miles you should enroll through any of their hotel partners or vice-verse. This way although you are limited to redeem e-Rewards points towards the hotel partner you used during enrollment you are free to redeem e-Rewards points on all the available airline partners. Since, this is invitation only program, you must enroll in any of their partner airline/hotel programs to receive the invitation (Although this is generally the case you can use the links from "New girl In the air blog" to enroll).
One of the way’s to accumulate miles in the airline frequent flyer program is to collect points in one of hotel programs which allow point conversion to miles. Most often than not the conversion ratio from points to miles is bad but still there are few exceptions to this. So, why would you want to transfer points to miles?
Let’s look into more details about the good hotel programs purely from points to miles conversion perspective.
Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG): SPG is one of the few programs which provides great transfer value:
Wyndham Rewards (WR): WR is another program which provides great transfer value:
Apart from Starwood Preferred Guest and Wyndham Rewards there are bunch of other hotel programs which could potentially earn higher miles at times due to lucrative seasonal promotion offers. Some of the hotel programs which are useful for points to miles conversion are listed below.
Hyatt Gold Passport
Most of the airlines in US have a co-branded card between themselves and the merchant bank. But there are few credit cards which earn points that can be converted to miles of number of airlines. These cards have advantage of filling out the void of few thousand miles required in specific airline program as well as help in accumulating enough points which can be converted to miles for a reward travel. Lets explore these cards further:
1. American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card: This is one of the go-to card for earning points which can be converted to lot of partner programs, most of them at 1:1 ratio. This card has following features:
The best part of this card is the redemption options available. You can redeem your points into miles for following airlines at the time of this writing:
There are other airlines as partners but for them you can redeem the points only for specific tickets. You can also redeem for various hotel partners but that's not the focus of this article. The complete partner list can be found by going here and selecting "Use Points -> Airlines"
2. Chase Sapphire Preferred: This is one of the favorite personal credit card for lot of people simply because of the ability to earn bonus points on purchases through its "Ultimate Rewards Mall". This card has lot fewer airline partners compared to American Express Premier Rewards card and it transfers the points at 1:1 ratio as well. United and Korean airlines offer great redemption value. This card also has some great features as listed below:
The airline partners are listed below:
3. Starwood Preferred Guest: The value of this credit card lies in points+cash redemption in its brand hotels as well as 1:1.25 points to miles transfer ratio to most of its partner airlines. So for every transfer of 20k points you end up getting 25k miles. Also the long list of partner airlines makes this credit card a good to keep. Below are the features of this card:
The amazing airlines partners list can be found here although few of them are listed below
Note: I do not earn any referral credit from the links above. Also I advise to look for best available offer before applying for the credit cards.
I love traveling / backpacking. This blog focuses on 3 aspects: