Leveraging its partnership with Points.com, American Airlines recently launched an online redemption program that allows AAdvantage members to redeem miles for awards other than flights.
Specifically, members may now cash in their miles for hotel stays, hotel points, and Diners Club Club Rewards points.
Free hotel nights range from 12,500 to 30,000 points depending on the day and brand. AAdvantage has initially partnered InterContinental, Marriott and Hilton.
Miles may also be converted to hotel or credit card points. Five thousand miles can be cashed in for 4,000 Priority Club points, or 10,000 HHonors points. Ten thousand miles can be transferred one-to-one for 10,000 Diners Club points.
The catch? A $25 transaction fee, which ostensibly goes to Points.com for providing the technological platform that makes the process possible.
Similarly, United has introduced its own non-flight award options, though in the case of Mileage Plus, the benefit is available to elite members only.
All United elite members may now redeem miles for hotel stays at Marriott or Radisson, and for car rentals at Alamo, Avis, Hertz or National.
Hotel stays range from 15,000 to 30,000 at Radisson hotels, and 25,000 to 30,000 at Marriott properties.
Car rentals may be had for 12,000 miles for two weekdays, or 10,000 miles for two weekend days.
United has placed a 150,000-mile annual limit on these kinds of redemptions, and members must make all such award requests online.
Comment: Before you go running off to gorge yourself with these “new” offerings, let us explain a little bit of the numbers game to you. Think you like the AAdvantage miles to Priority Club points transfer? Well, five thousand miles does equal 4,000 Priority Club points, but did you know that it would take 20,000 Priority Club points to equal 5,000 AAdvantage miles? And if you think it might be better to convert your miles into HHonors points? Well, it would take you basically 33,333 HHonors points to earn 5,000 AAdvantage miles which you could then convert back into 10,000 HHonors points. The practical matter here is that this is not a wise investment of your miles. Seeking hotel points? You’ll do better off to acquire one of their partner offers or credit cards and earn the points with bonus offers than by burning the miles. And the hotel free nights offers? Actually they are about average. For instance, you can redeem American Express Membership Rewards points for Marriott hotel stays — 28,000 for one free night. Since a Membership Rewards point is worth one frequent flyer mile (we know, AAdvantage is not a partner there) the 25,000 to 30,000 appears to be about right. But be careful, would you trade an international upgrade (20-30,000 miles) for one free night in a hotel?