Know Before You Go:  Which Points Transfer to Which Hotels?

Know Before You Go:  Which Points Transfer to Which Hotels?

Million Mile SecretsKnow Before You Go:  Which Points Transfer to Which Hotels?Million Mile Secrets Team

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Having the right miles & points for your situation is key to getting Big Travel with Small Money.  But sometimes, knowing which miles or points are right for you isn’t obvious.

Earning transferable points is typically the best option, because of the flexibility they provide.  But trying to remember all of the many transfer partners for each type of points is a great way to get a headache.

We’ve already made a handy chart for which points transfer to the major airlines And now here’s an easy way to make sure you’re not missing out on hotel awards!

Which Points Transfer To Which Hotels
Feeling Lost When It Comes to Hotel Transfer Partners? We’re Here to Help!

Million Mile Secret Agent JR asked:

This is very handy, thanks.  How about a similar chart for hotel partners?

Great idea, JR!

While transferable points are great, there aren’t that many hotel transfer partners.  But in some situations, converting your flexible points into hotel points can be a great deal.

Some airline miles transfer to hotels.  But this generally isn’t the best value, unless you’re taking advantage of Marriott Hotel + Air packages.

So let’s look at which points transfer to which hotel chains.  And I’ll help you figure out how to earn the right miles & points for your travel goals.

Which Points Transfer to Your Favorite Hotels?

It will be MUCH easier to earn the miles & points you need once you figure out where you’re going.  Because your favorite hotel might not be the best option for every trip.

I love Hyatt for their comfort and excellent customer service.  But outside of larger cities, there aren’t many Hyatt hotels.  And some places, like New Zealand, don’t have a single Hyatt (although there will be one soon)!

Which Points Transfer To Which Hotels
Doing Your Research BEFORE You Start Collecting Points Can Save You Big Time When Booking Your Award Travel!

To make your search easier, I recommend using a hotel award search tool like AwardMapper or Hotel Hustle.  Both of these sites allow you to search for award night prices across most of the major hotel chains at the same time.   So you’ll be able to easily see which hotel points you need to book free nights.

And Hotel Hustle will even show you if an award night is available on the dates you searched!  But it’s always good to double check if the award night is open directly with the hotel.  Because sometimes Hotel Hustle will not be 100% accurate.

Once you have an idea of what hotels you want to stay at, you’ll usually want to earn flexible points.  Because available award nights can change quickly, especially during peak season.  And it will take several weeks (or months) for your sign-up bonus to post to your account.  So if possible, plan as far in advance as you can.

Here are the hotels that each of the major transferable points programs partner with:

Hotel ChainChase Ultimate RewardsAMEX Membership RewardsStarwood

Note:   Until recently, Citi ThankYou points transferred to Hilton.  But once AMEX became the sole issuer of Hilton cards, Citi ended their transfer partnership with Hilton.

Make Sure You Get a Card That Can Transfer Points

Most of these points programs will only let you transfer your points if you have one of their annual-fee cards.  So here is a reminder of which cards earn points you can transfer to hotel partners.

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Link:   Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners

In my opinion, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are the best to earn for hotel transfers.  You can get incredible value transferring to Hyatt.  And between IHG & Marriott, you’ll have award night options almost anywhere in the world!  But IHG and Marriott transfers are usually not the best deal, as you’ll typically get more value transferring to airlines or Hyatt.

Chase has lots of great no-annual-fee cards, like the Chase Freedom®Chase Freedom Unlimited℠, and Ink Cash® Business Card.  But these cards do NOT allow you to transfer points to travel partners directly.

In order to transfer the points you earn with these cards to travel partners, you must first transfer them to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardInk Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve℠, or Chase Ink Plus / Ink Bold (no longer available).

Here are step-by-step instructions on how to combine Chase Ultimate Rewards points to a card which allows you to transfer them to hotel partners.  Transferring points is free to all transfer partners.  But it’s not always instant!

AMEX Membership Rewards

Link:   AMEX Membership Rewards Transfer Partners

AMEX Membership Rewards points can be a decent option for hotel transfers, depending on where you’re going.  Choice Hotels are great in certain countries, like Norway, Sweden, or Japan.  And Hilton hotel transfers usually aren’t the best use of your points, because the most expensive hotels cost 95,000 Hilton points a night!  Starwood points are great, but the transfer ratio for AMEX Membership Rewards isn’t.

So if you want to earn Starwood points or Hilton points, you might be better off getting an AMEX Hilton card or Starwood personal or business card.

And remember, only certain AMEX credit cards are eligible to transfer points!

You can earn transferable AMEX Membership Rewards points with:

Personal CardsBusiness Cards
Premier Rewards Gold Card From American ExpressThe Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
The Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-BenzThe Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressThe Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN
AMEX EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
Business Green Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card

Which Points Transfer To Which Hotels
AMEX Membership Rewards Points Can Be a Great Way to Book Choice Hotels Award Nights in Norway

AMEX Membership Rewards points usually transfer within 2 days, but can vary depending on the transfer partner.

Starwood Preferred Guest

Normally, Starwood points do NOT transfer to other hotels.  But the Marriott-Starwood merger has given us some great benefits.  Including the ability to transfer Starwood points to Marriott at a 1:3 ratio!  And because Marriott & Ritz Carlton are part of the same loyalty program, you can use the points at both hotels!

This arrangement won’t last forever, because they are working toward making a single loyalty program sometime soon.  But until that happens, there are unique opportunities.  Thanks to the Marriott-Starwood merger, you can indirectly transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Starwood through Marriott.  And AMEX Membership Rewards points transfer indirectly to Marriott at a 1:1 ratio through Starwood (AMEX Membership Rewards points transfer to Starwood at a 3:1 ratio, and Starwood points transfer to Marriott a 1:3 ratio, which ends up being a 1:1 ratio).

These transfers are NOT the best deals.  But they can be a nice way to top off your account.

Which Points Transfer To Which Hotels
Because of the Marriott-Starwood Merger You Can Use AMEX Membership Rewards Points to Stay at Great Marriott Hotels!

You can stock up on Starwood points with the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express credit cards.  And Starwood does not have any card-specific transfer restrictions.  As long as you have Starwood points, you can transfer them to Marriott!

And Marriott points transfer directly to Starwood at a 3:1 ratio, which gives you more flexibility to get the best deal.  You can stock up on Marriott points with the Chase Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card or the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card.

Transfers between Starwood and Marriott are usually instant, and your status will automatically match too.

Bottom Line

Before you sign-up for a credit card, make sure you’re collecting miles & points that fit your travel goals.  You can use tools like AwardMapper & Hotel Hustle to search for award night prices across multiple hotel chains at once!  This makes it easy to know which hotel points are useful in the places you want to visit.

Once you know which points you need, earning transferable points will give you the most flexibility.

But make sure you’re getting a card that allows hotel partner transfers.  Because both AMEX Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards require you to have certain cards before you can transfer your points to hotels.

Also, until the Marriott-Starwood merger is complete, you can transfer Starwood points to Marriott (and vice versa) at a 3:1 ratio!  This is has created some unique opportunities for great deals!

Which kind of miles & points are your favorite for hotel stays?

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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel.
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

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Can you explain this statement a bit more as I'm new to the Chase Ultimate Rewards...."In my opinion, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are the best to earn for hotel transfers. You can get incredible value transferring to Hyatt. And between IHG & Marriott, you’ll have award night options almost anywhere in the world! But IHG and Marriott transfers are usually not the best deal, as you’ll typically get more value transferring to airlines or Hyatt."

Why are airline and Hyatt transfers the better way to go than transfering Chase points to Marriott and then from there to Starwood? Starwood gives you the 25% bonus (5000 extra airline points for every 20000 transferred to an airline and have many more airline options). Plus, Starwood seems to have better hotel options and bang for the buck/points. I know Chase Ultimate Rewards points give the extra 25% value but it seems like they have higher pricing. I would appreciate more information so I can understand this better. Thank you.

Million Mile Secrets

Great question! Every situation is different, so you could find transfers to Marriott-Starwood more useful in some circumstances, but for most folks Hyatt or airlines will typically be better options.

For example, Chase Ultimate Rewards points will transfer at a 1:1 ratio to Marriott and then a 3:1 ratio to Starwood. So you'd need 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to have the 20,000 Starwood points needed to earn the 5,000 mile bonus!

For some folks those Starwood points will be more valuable. Generally though, you'll get more travel by transferring those points to Singapore Airlines, United Airlines, or British Airways. Because 25,000 miles with a Starwood transfer airline won't get you 2 round-trip domestic award flights. But 60,000 British Airways Avios points could get you 2 to 4 domestic round-trip tickets!

This doesn't cover even a fraction of the scenarios though, Keep your eye out for a post covering this question in more detail!

Award Mapper looks like a useful site, but it did show me at least two hotels from a nearby city that haven't been part of the awards program shown (Club Carlson) for many years.

Million Mile Secrets

Agreed, very useful tool, but it's definitely not always 100% accurate.