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Throughout the month of October, United’s MileagePlus program is offering members a 30% bonus when they convert select hotel currencies into MileagePlus miles. For members with Marriott Bonvoy points, this could be a good deal. For people with orphaned hotel points that qualify for this promotion, this could be a good deal. For most others, this is a promotion to avoid.
Transfer eligible hotel points to MileagePlus by 31 October 2023 and get a 30% bonus up to a maximum bonus of 25,000 miles.
- To qualify for this offer, members must register for the promotion between October 1, 2023 and 11:59pm EST on October 31, 2023.
- A member must earn award miles as a result of one or more points to miles conversion transactions from any combination of MileagePlus hotel partner programs that offer a points to miles transfer program that are conducted during the Promotional Period in order to qualify for MileagePlus Hotel Points-to-Miles bonus miles.
- Qualifying Activity must be completed by 11:59pm EST on October 31, 2023.
- At the conclusion of the promotion, all miles earned by each member from Qualifying Activity will be multiplied by 30% to determine the eligible bonus up to a maximum of 25,000 bonus miles.
- Bonus miles will be credited into the member’s account on or before January 31, 2024.
- The maximum bonus miles that can be earned by a member under this promotion is 25,000.
- Please allow 6-8 weeks after completed qualifying activity for miles to post to your account.
Full terms and conditions can be found on the promotion page.
These are the standard conversion rates that MileagePlus offers (i.e the conversion rates before the 30% has been accounted for).
Note: the ratios below show the number of hotel points first and the number of United miles second.
- Accor Live Limitless – 2:1
- Choice Privileges – 5:1
- Hilton Honors – 10:1
- IHG – 5:1
- Marriott Bonvoy – 3:1
- Shangri-La Circle – 1:1 (minimum 2,500 points needed)
- World of Hyatt – 5:2
- Wyndham Rewards
- 6,000 points into 1,200 miles
- 16,000 points into 3,200 miles
- 30,000 points into 6,000 miles
One of the few ‘rules’ of the miles and points game that hasn’t changed over the years is that on most occasions, the transfer of hotel points to airline miles offers a poor return. This promotion will do little to change that for most people.
I’m not going to demonstrate the maths behind every single transfer option, but if you use the conversion rates that I’ve provided above alongside the values that you ascribe to the various hotel points and United miles, you’ll quickly see that most of the transfer option on offer are not very good at all… even when you factor in the 30% bonus.
Ok, so when could this be a good idea?
(1) You have orphaned points
If you have a small balance of points sitting in a hotel loyalty program that you’re never really likely to use, a promotion such as this one gives you an opportunity to move those points out of that hotel program and into a program where they may actually be of some use.
Yes, technically, the conversion rate will still be a bad one, but getting some value from those points via MileagePlus is better than getting no value from the points by leaving them in a hotel program that you don’t really engage with.
(2) You have Marriott Bonvoy points
Generally speaking, Marriott Bonvoy points convert to airline currencies in a ratio of 3:1 and there’s an added sweetener of a bonus 5,000 miles when 60,000 Bonvoy points are converted into airline miles in a single transaction.
United’s MileagePlus program, however, has a close relationship with Bonvoy and that relationship sees the ‘sweetener’ boosted to 10,000 miles.
This means that under normal (non bonused) circumstances, a Marriott member who moves 60,000 Bonvoy points into MileagePlus will end up with 30,000 miles (20,000 + 10,000 sweetener).
Usually, that’s about as good as it gets for anyone wanting to convert hotel points into an airline currency, but thanks to this current offer, things can be slightly better.
Accounting for the 30% bonus that’s now available, anyone converting 60,000 Bonvoy points into United miles will receive 39,000 miles into their account (30,000 miles + 30% uplift).
Personally, I value Bonvoy points at 0.6 cents each and United miles at 1.2 cents each so, if I was to convert 60,000 points into 39,000 miles, I would be effectively using $360 of points to generate $468 of miles.
Mathematically, that’s clearly a good conversion for me to make, but I need to add a word of caution here.
The simple calculation that I’ve outline above only works if (a) I can’t use whatever Bonvoy points I have for a very nice redemption that will return considerably more than my 0.6 cents/point valuation and (b) that I’m likely to be able to get more value out of United miles than Bonvoy points.
Neither of those is a given, so no one should be looking at the numbers I’ve used above and then jumping straight into a points transfer without giving more thought to the situation.
As is always the case in the miles and points game, think things through before acting. That’s the only way to give yourself the best chance of coming out ahead.
For the rest of this month, the MileagePlus program is offering members a 30% bonus when they convert select hotel currencies into United miles. For some, this will be a good deal but for most, this is a promotion to avoid.
Featured image courtesy of Marriott
Will you be converting Bonvoy points?