How to use points for experiences (virtual events, private dining, box seats, backstage passes and more)

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Miles and points are the key to free travel without spending a fortune on airfare, hotels, rental cars, cruises, etc. The best travel credit cards allow you to go just about anywhere for practically free. But there are some things you can’t buy with money — and can buy with points.

From meeting celebrities to attending a private dining event hosted by a Michelin chef to throwing the first pitch at game 7 of the World Series, points can unlock a lot more than just travel. Many banks and travel loyalty programs give you an option to buy experiences like these with your points!

Let’s take a look at the best options for redeeming points for experiences — and decide which, if any, are a good deal.

Book a dinner cruise through Paris with points! (Photo by RossHelen/Shutterstock)

Use your points for experiences

Let’s start by acknowledging that you will almost always get the best value for your points by using them for travel.

However, using them for experiences may be the only thing that can occasionally surpass travel as a good redemption option. For example, if the Cleveland Browns go to the Super Bowl this year, and I find that I can redeem points for a VIP box seat in a sold-out stadium, I will absolutely use my points for that — even if the price is outrageous.

Remember to use your points in a way that makes you happy! You don’t always need to obsess over the value per point.

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Chase Experiences

Chase Experiences are impressively desirable, giving you the opportunity to meet celebrities, enter exclusive after-parties and more. As with everything else in life, Chase Experiences are hampered by COVID-19 concerns, and pickings are slim. Nearly everything is “virtual,” meaning the parties you attend and VIP passes you flash will be from your couch.

Here’s how to search for Chase Experiences.

Step 1. Click “Experiences” in the Chase Travel Portal

Log into your Chase Ultimate Rewards account and click the menu in the top left corner of the screen. Near the bottom of the list you will find “Experiences.”

Step 2. Filter to find Experiences

You can sort by genre (currently only sports, entertainment and Sapphire at home), as well as by city and date. You will find the most plenteous experiences in big cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. If you know you’ll be in a big city during a certain weekend, it’s easy to see if something worthwhile is going on during your trip.

Step 3. Select your Experience

I prefer to view all experiences at once, with no filters. If an event is good enough, I’ll make a trip out of it.

If you see an experience that tickles you (and the price is right), select it. You can pay with points or with cash, or a mix of both. The price is listed below each experience.

Step 4. Check out

When you buy a Chase Experience with points, you’ll get a flat value of 1 cent per point. That is not good. There are far better ways to use Chase points. For example, if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, you’ll get a value of 1.25 cents per point for booking travel through the Chase Travel Portal or with Chase’s Pay Yourself Back tool, which erases dining, grocery and home improvement purchases (through Sept. 30, 2021). And if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you’ll get a value of 1.5 cents per point.

If you’re after a Chase Experience, we recommend just using cash. Take the below virtual party with the Golden State Warriors: It costs $25, or 2,500 Chase points. We estimate Chase points value to be, on average, 1.7 cents each toward travel. This means you’re paying $42.50 in points for a $25 experience.

You can earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points by opening cards like:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Marriott Moments

Marriott points are pretty easy to accrue from welcome bonuses and regular spending with the best Marriott credit cards. Marriott Moments has been one of the most fun programs to use points for experiences, but at the moment, presumably due to coronavirus, available events are sparse. You’ll find almost nothing.

When Moments are back to normal, here’s how to book them.

Step 1. Sign into Marriott Bonvoy Moments

Head to the Marriott Moments website and enter your Marriott login credentials. You won’t have to be logged in to see what’s available, but if you’re ready to book, you will.

Step 2. Choose the type of experience you want

There are four different categories of Marriott Experiences you can book:

  • Culinary
  • Entertainment
  • Lifestyle
  • Sports

You can use your points to buy private dining experiences with Michelin-star chefs, backstage passes at concerts, box seats for sporting events, and more.

Step 3. Buy (or bid) with points

Find something you want? Some Marriott Bonvoy Moments you can purchase straight away with points, and some are auctions. There are normally some really great deals on the site, though auctions are more up in the air.

The below Moment is backstage passes to a concert plus a suite at the W Chengdu. Marriott points are worth 0.8 cents each, according to MMS valuations, making the current bids $500 and $460, respectively.

Step 4. If it’s an auction, set your bids

Give Marriott your one-time bid to take the lead, and also enter the maximum number of points you’re willing to spend on the experience. Nobody will see this amount, and Marriott will automatically bid for you in the smallest possible increments when someone bests your one-time bid.

You can earn Marriott points most quickly by opening Marriott credit cards and earning a welcome offer, cards include:

  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
  • Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card
  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card

Hyatt FIND Experiences

Hyatt appears to offer the best suite of experiences through the pandemic restrictions. There are loads of fun activities in places like San Francisco, Paris, Zurich, Vail and dozens of other locations.

Step 1. Sign into your Hyatt account

Head to the Hyatt FIND experiences website and sign-in using your Hyatt credentials.

Step 2. Filter your search

Hyatt’s got the most intuitive search options, with the ability to select as many locations at once as you’d like to view, along with the following categories:

  • Feel (physical activities like hiking, surfing, etc.)
  • Fuel (culinary experiences like wine tasting, private chef etc.)
  • Function (“feel” experiences bleed into this category, but also available are things like private yoga lessons, dancing lessons, etc.)
  • Volunteer (charity opportunities)
  • Popular
  • What is new
  • Ending soon

Step 3. Select your FIND experience

While some events can be paid for both with cash or points, some are restricted to one or the other. Note that if you pay for your experience with the World of Hyatt Credit Card, you should earn 4 points per dollar — just as you would for spending at a Hyatt hotel.

We estimate Hyatt points value to be 2 cents each. In other words, it’s not difficult to get a value equal to or greater than that. When you look at a FIND experience, use that metric to decide if it’s worth the points.

Below is a gourmet five-course dinner (with several glasses of alcohol included), on a three-hour Seine river cruise in Paris. That sounds amazing! However, it’ll cost you 57,000 points for two people. Consider that you could stay two nights at one of the best hotels in Paris, the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome, for 60,000 points — a potential value of $1,800+!

You can earn Hyatt points either by opening the World of Hyatt Credit Card, or by transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which you’ll earn with the following cards:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Hilton Honors Experiences

From what I can tell, Hilton’s experiences almost exclusively revolve around their properties worldwide. You can book private beach dining, tasting experiences, and massages — all at their hotels (there are a few exceptions).

Step 1. Log into Hilton Honors Experiences

Head to the Hilton Honors Experiences site and use your Hilton info to sign-in.

Step 2. Filter your search

You can search by category (currently only culture and food), as well as by destination and award price. Again, it’s more fun to just see all activities, including the “Featured Experiences” which you’ll immediately see with your first scroll down the page.

Step 3. Redeem points

Hilton points are worth 0.5 cents on average, based on our valuations. Below is a rooftop bar experience overlooking the Grand Canal in Venice. You’ll receive a bottle of champagne and a plate of chocolate-covered strawberries for 25,000 points. That’s $125 in points — so probably not the best deal.

After browsing the Hilton experiences, there appear to be very few offers that give you tolerable value for your points. However, earning Hilton points is one of the easiest feats in the miles and points game. You can rack them up quickly with the following Hilton credit cards:

  • Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
  • Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
  • Hilton Honors American Express Card
  • The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

The information for the Hilton Aspire card and the Hilton Surpass Card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Bottom line

Some things that money can’t buy can still be bought with points. If you find something you’re dying to try out, don’t be afraid to burn your points! There are plenty of ways to earn more rewards (just check out our Credit Card Bonus Tracker for proof of that).

That said, if you’ve got the option to use points or money for your experience, use our points calculator here to see which one you should use. And read our points valuations page if you want even more details.

Let us know if you’ve used your miles and points for experiences! And subscribe to our newsletter for more credit card rewards how-tos delivered to your inbox once per day.

Joseph Hostetler is a full-time writer for Million Mile Secrets, covering miles and points tips and tricks, as well as helpful travel-related news and deals. He has also authored and edited for The Points Guy.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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