Subsidize a 7-Night Marriott Travel Package with UA Miles...Painlessly

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by NYCUA1K, Mar 30, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,739
    Likes Received:
    5,086
    Status Points:
    4,270
    RewardsPlus, the Marriott Rewards and UA MileagePlus JV, is offering hotel and air travel packages that can be redeemed with RewardsPoints and UA Miles. The way it works is that one uses Marriott Rewards points to book a 7-night stay at a Marriott property of a given category and RewardsPlus throws in the miles that one would need to get to the location. Below is an example of what it takes book a package for a category 1-5 hotel:

    REWARDSPLUS-PACK.jpg

    For 200K Rewards points, one can redeem a 7-night stay at a cat 1-5 Marriott hotel and get 55K UA miles toward securing an airline ticket to get to wherever the hotel is located.

    Now, supposed I am interested in the package shown in the last column, book a cat 5 hotel for 270K Rewards points and get back 132K UA miles to redeem for a plane ticket, but I only have 100K Rewards points, leaving me 170K points short. That is where one can do some interesting things because of the ability to transfer UA miles to Rewards points 1:1 through the RewardsPlus program. I currently have, e.g., 320K UA miles in my MP account. What I can do is to transfer 170K miles to 170K Rewards points to get the 270K points that I need to secure this package. Doing that would decrease my UA total miles to 320K-170K miles = 150K miles, a big hit! However, remember that the package I just purchased would get me 132K UA miles to use for booking a plane ticket. So, within 6-8 weeks, I would get the total number of miles in my MP account back up to: 150K+132K = 282K miles. This means that this package would have cost me in terms of UA miles just 320K-282K = 38K miles!

    I may still need to redeem UA miles to travel to the hotel location, but I have a lot more flexibility because I would not need to use the package right away (may be good for up to a year). I would earn a lot more miles in the mean time, or make different arrangements to get to the hotel location, which could even be at some place that I could just drive to or take a cheap train to, thus saving all the 132K miles.

    I think this is painless and clever, if one is looking to afford a 7-night stay at a Marriott hotel n, e.g., Cape Cod or Hilton Head or even in Asia! See a down side to this "scheme"?
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2014
    MSYgirl and iolaire like this.
  2. Wandering Aramean
    Original Member

    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

    Messages:
    28,209
    Likes Received:
    61,739
    Status Points:
    20,020
    A 7 night stay at a Cat 5 hotel should only cost 150k points to begin with and only 120k if PoinstSaver nights are available. http://www.marriott.com/rewards/pointsGridPopUp.mi?awardType=Standard

    If you really only have 100k MR points and want the 7 night stay then you're going to pay a lot in terms of the UA points to get there, even with the "rebate" of booking the package deal. Basically at the top level you're paying 38k UA points for 50k MR points. At the bottom end you pay 45k UA points to net 50k MR points. That's better than the 1:1 normally available but it only works if you want a 7-night stay. And it is still not a spectacular value of the points IMO.

    If you have zero MR points you'd be paying 138-145k to net 150k MR points. Again, slightly better than 1:1 but not enough better to make me thing that the value proposition of moving the points out of UA into MR is a smart economic decision.

    And at anything below a Category 5 stay this is definitely a way to reduce the number of points you have with no value-add benefit.
     
    NYCUA1K likes this.
  3. MX

    MX Gold Member

    Messages:
    2,215
    Likes Received:
    4,805
    Status Points:
    2,545
    The 7-night Marriott package would cost you 38K United + 100K Marriott points, correct? Without this deal, the cost would be 25K x 6 = 150K Marriott points max (in cat.5). How do you value United miles these days? Depending on your answer, the deal may actually end up a losing proposition.
     
  4. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,739
    Likes Received:
    5,086
    Status Points:
    4,270
    All good points and I'd anticipated the question. The answer goes straight to what I had said when RewardsPlus was introduced and I'd transferred 20K miles to RewardsPlus, at a loss, and I'd said it did not matter: One has to be swimming in miles, like yours truly...;) The Miles come to me easier than do Rewards points. I started looking at this deal to try to save on out of pocket expenses on lodging in exchange for miles. I should have prefaced the post that the "scheme" may not be for everyone...

    P.S. The real "value" of the deal also needs to include how much the UA miles one gets are worth.
     
  5. Wandering Aramean
    Original Member

    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

    Messages:
    28,209
    Likes Received:
    61,739
    Status Points:
    20,020
    If you NEED to get MR points, are staying in a Cat5 hotel for 7 nights which isn't available on points saver rates and have enough UA points and can handle not having them for a few weeks then, yes, doing the package is a better deal than just transferring outright. It is a very, very small window of value.

    But that doesn't mean it is a smart deal overall. Especially if you're going for a room lower than a category 5; in those cases you lose even with the "rebate" back from the scheme.
     
    MX likes this.
  6. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,739
    Likes Received:
    5,086
    Status Points:
    4,270
    Remember that one is getting 132K miles for the package I chose, which are worth 132K MAR points (1:1), so that the package is partially subsidized already, especially for someone with a lot of miles, but not points...
     
  7. Wandering Aramean
    Original Member

    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

    Messages:
    28,209
    Likes Received:
    61,739
    Status Points:
    20,020
    It is only "subsidized" if you need 7 nights at a Cat 5 hotel which isn't available at the PointSavers level. Otherwise you're just over-paying for the award package in general.

    And even then it is 132k UA points at a cost of 120k MR points. That's better than the ~1:2 ratio otherwise offered but still not a great value.

    Also, there's this little bit in the fine print:
    You cannot actually do it at the numbers you've described in the first post.

    At the max of 50k UA->MR you're going to take 220k MR points + 50k UA points and end with a 7-night package + 132k UA points. That's spending 70k MR points to get 82k UA points, assuming you're going to do the 7-night stay anyways. That's a better deal than the other options to convert MR->UA but it only works if the 7-night package at a Cat5 is part of your plan.
     
    NYCUA1K likes this.
  8. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,739
    Likes Received:
    5,086
    Status Points:
    4,270
    That is the kiss of death for the idea, at least for me. I was not aware that the max number of miles transferable to MAR points is 50K! For such low transfer numbers, one would have to come up with a lot more MAR points, which folks who qualify for elite status under RewardsPlus from the UA side might not have. Top MAR elites who might have the points might not have the miles and may do better, but this has to be seen for what I believe it was intended to be, which is along the line of the Cash+Points redemption option. Just another option to combine miles and points to be able to travel. With the 7-night package being the only option, one has to do the math carefully.

    Good point...
     
  9. Captain Oveur
    Original Member

    Captain Oveur Gold Member

    Messages:
    7,243
    Likes Received:
    14,058
    Status Points:
    12,520
    Today's United Airlines and "painless" are mutually exclusive terms.
     

Share This Page