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!
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.
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)!
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 Chain||Chase Ultimate Rewards||AMEX Membership Rewards||Starwood|
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
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® Card, Ink 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
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.
And remember, only certain AMEX credit cards are eligible to transfer points!
You can earn transferable AMEX Membership Rewards points with:
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.
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.
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?