Published on September 29th, 2016 | by William Charles32
Best Uses Of Marriott & SPG Points
As you should know by now, Marriott has completed it’s acquisition of SPG and you can now transfer points between the two programs (1 SPG point is worth 3 Marriott points and vice versa). We already had a look at the credit cards both programs offer, but I suspect some people aren’t familiar with the sweet spots/benefits of both programs and there are some good opportunities out there.
I’ve never found Marriott’s program to be particular valuable due to the fact that a lot of their hotels are in the higher categories. You can view their award chart here. There are two things worth considering:
- They offer your 5th night free
- They offer flight and hotel packages
The 5th night free benefit is self explanatory, but let’s take a look at their flight and hotel packages in a bit more detail.
Flight & Hotel Packages
You can redeem your Marriott rewards points for seven free night certificates and airline miles. There are basically four different packages and each package lets you redeem your points for seven free night certificates and airline miles with specific airlines. United gives you the best value with an additional 10% in miles compared to other programs.
You also basically get the best value when you redeem your Marriott points for more miles, as after the lowest level you’re basically just trading your Marriott points to miles at a rate of 1:1. For example you could pay 200,000 Marriott points for a 7 night category 1-5 package with 50,000 Southwest points or pay 270,000 Marriott points and get 120,000 Southwest points (in this case you’re paying an extra 70,000 Marriott points for 70,000 Southwest points – something pretty much everybody would be happy to do).
Airlines in package 2 and 4 don’t provide nearly as good value as those in 1 & 3, so I’d avoid those. This leaves you with the following airlines:
- United (10% bonus)
- Southwest (companion pass)
- Air Canada
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- British Airways,
- Copa Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- Frontier Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Iberia Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
I’ve bolded United due to the 10% bonus you get on miles (maximum of 132,000 miles instead of 120,000 with the other programs) and Southwest airlines because these points do count towards the companion pass. If you do want to go for the companion pass I’d recommend waiting until the start of next year as you earn the pass for the remainder of the calendar year and the following calendar year as well. You can read more about the companion pass here.
SPG also has two main things to keep in mind:
- They also offer a 5th night free benefit. I think this is better than the benefit offered by Marriott because they seem to have more hotels in the lower categories and they cost less points
- Ability to transfer to airline partners
Let’s talk about the ability to transfer to airline partners in a bit more detail.
SPG allows you to transfer to a huge number of airline partners at a rate of 1:1.
|SPG Airline Transfer Partners (1:1 unless otherwise specified)|
|AeroMexico||Asiana Airlines||Korean Air|
|Aegean Miles+Bonus||British Airways Executive Club||LAN Airlines LANPASS Kms|
|Aeroplan/Air Canada||Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||Lufthansa Miles and More|
|Air Berlin||China Eastern Airlines||Qatar Airways|
|Air China Companion||Delta Air Lines SkyMiles||Saudi Arabian Airlines Alfursan|
|Air France KLM Flying Blue||Emirates Skywards||Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer|
|Air New Zealand & Air Points (65:1)||Etihad Airways||Thai Airways International Royal Orchid Plus|
|Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan||Gol Smiles||United MileagePlus (2:1)|
|Alitalia MilleMiglia||Hainan Airlines||US Airways Dividend Miles|
|All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club||Hawaiian Airlines||Virgin Atlantic Flying Club|
|American Airlines AAdvantage||Japan Airlines (JAL) Mileage Bank||Virgin Australia Velocity|
In addition to this if you transfer 20,000 or more miles they’ll add an additional 5,000 miles (basically meaning you get a transfer rate of 1:1.25).
As you can see both programs are already quite similar. Let’s take a quick look at what airline transfer program is better. To get the maximum amount of airline miles with Marriott we need to use 270,000 points, that would cost us 90,000 SPG points. If we are generous and say all of those transfer across at a rate of 1:1.25 (you’d actually need to transfer another 10,000 points to do this) we’d end up with 112,500 airline miles. If we did that with Marriott we’d get 132,000 United miles and 120,000 with a lot of other programs (in addition to the 7 nights as well).
As you can see, transferring across to Marriott makes the most sense in this situation. The upside to SPG is that you don’t need to transfer such a huge amount of points to get the maximum value and they have more transfer partners at good rates. I think we will probably see some devaluation on these hotel and flight packages at some stage due to the fact that they are much more accessible now that you can use Marriott points and transfer across SPG points as well. Fingers crossed this doesn’t happen and it at least continues until the start of next year so people can grab the companion pass.
What do you think the best value is in both programs? What direction are you transferring points in?