How to use points and miles for premium travel and experiences – Robb Report
Even if you haven’t flown a lot in the past two years, chances are you’ve been shopping, filling up on gas, ordering takeout, renting a car, riding Uber or Lyft, or taking some of the countless other activities that can earn you frequent flyer miles and hotel and credit card points. And while you’ve racked them up, you’ve probably had fewer opportunities to redeem them, meaning they’re languishing in your accounts, heading for a potential expiration date.
Don’t waste them: Miles and points are worth more than you think when you use them wisely. Using just a few tips and tricks, you can use them to pave the way for luxury suites, personalized experiences, and dream destinations on your growing bucket list. Plus, as the holidays approach, travel and experience gifts are ideal gifts for your travel-hungry loved ones (and an easy win for procrastinating shoppers.)
Here are some of the best ways to use those miles and points that burn a hole in your accounts.
Take the air
Using frequent flyer miles for their original purpose – booking flights – requires a little patience and flexibility, but when the stars align, the champagne begins to flow. Just think outside the box to navigate the maze of airline reservation systems.
The perception, of course, is that airlines want to make it difficult to redeem your miles, but while it was generally the case before the pandemic, things have changed in the last few months, to a point. . Because although there are now more seats available for frequent travelers in the premium cabins (as fewer business travelers are traveling), there are also fewer flights in general, as airlines have reduced their routes. .
One way around this is to research the availability of interchanges on brand new routes, before other travelers “find out”. This is especially useful when trying to fly to places like the Caribbean for miles, which is usually difficult due to high demand from the United States. American Airlines, for example, just added flights to Anguilla and Dominica from Miami (both are new flights to these islands), making it easier to redeem miles to get there.
United Airlines is also adding new non-stop flights this winter, such as Cleveland to Nassau, Bahamas, Newark to Barbados and San Francisco to Liberia, Costa Rica. At the time of this writing, there are even mileage ticket deals available for hot-weather vacation destinations, like Cleveland to Nassau for 29,000 miles one-way (economy class) on United, and Miami to George Town. , Bahamas in business class for just 20,000 miles one way on the US.
Another tip: look at partner airlines. A truly excellent business class product as Qatar AirwaysFully enclosed business class Qsuites, which are the best way to get to places like the Maldives or a Kenya safari, can be accessed either with Qatar miles or with those from partner airlines like American Airlines and, most of all. recent member of global alliance, Alaska Airlines. As a result, the availability of Qsuite exchanges from the airline’s 12 US gateways is often quite good. In recent months, for example, we’ve found options to redeem 70,000 American Airlines miles for round-trip Qsuite flights between the United States and the Maldives, a steal compared to the thousands of dollars such a ticket would cost. cash. One note: Qatar’s reward space using US miles can come and go like the speed of sound – one day you will see it, the next day you won’t see it, and then it will come back – so try searching in different cities gateways and come back every few days to see if spaces have opened.
Other examples of interesting partner exchanges include the use of United miles to Star Alliance partners like Lufthansa or All Nippon Airways. The trickier redemptions, however, come from Delta Airlines, which will charge you significantly more than its US competitors to use your miles on premium cabin seats on most of its partner airlines. At the time of publication, for example, a one-way business class flight on Saudia (the only Delta partner currently available) between the United States and the Maldives was 385,000 miles.
A great way to eliminate the availability of reward space is to use a search tool that scans multiple airlines and alliances at once. AwardLogic.com is one of those services that, for a small fee, will speed up your search for rewards; it will even tell you which credit card partners you can transfer points from to guarantee the redemption of dream miles for frequent travelers. Throughout this process, just remember the cardinal rule when trying to use frequent flier miles: be flexible with your travel dates if you want the best deal.
Enjoy life in suite
Miles and points aren’t just for sipping bubbles on a seat stretched out at 35,000 feet, they also have high-end uses on land.
While you can still get the best value per frequent flyer mile when you trade them in for business and first class flights, using them for a posh hotel stay is sometimes an easier trade-in. . US AAdvantage miles, for example, are redeemable for hotel stays in a variety of refuges around the world, including luxury properties like the InterContinental London Park Lane or the Hôtel Barrière Le Fouquet’s in Paris.
If you are using hotel points, there are a few tips you should know to maximize your redemption. To begin with, the elite members of Hilton Honors and all the members of Marriott Bonvoy Take advantage of “fifth night free” promotions: When you redeem points for five-night stays, both programs basically charge you for the points you need for four nights and then compensate for the fifth. Don’t overlook this benefit when staying somewhere for a few nights, as you might leave an extra night on the table.
Marriott Bonvoy members can also earn and redeem points at villas, condos and residences around the world through Homes and Villas by Marriott, the hotel company’s response to Airbnb. Whether it’s a multi-room ski adventure in Aspen or a scenic estate along the French Riviera, both ideal for family vacation getaways, you can redeem points towards a chic address without paying a dime.
In other recent hotel points news, IHG Rewards points are now eligible for accumulation and redemption in many Six Senses Properties, including Six Senses Zil Pasyon in the Seychelles and Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives. IHG Rewards members can also earn and redeem points when booking through IHG channels for a Mr. and Mrs. Smith travel club stay.
If World of Hyatt is more your cup of tea, the recent program attachment with Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) continues to flourish as dozens of other SLH properties have joined the partnership over the past year. The list now includes luxury boutique hotels like the Palazzo Manfredi in Rome, the Excelsior Hotel in Dubrovnik and the Stein Eriksen Residences in Deer Valley. Members can both earn and redeem World of Hyatt points at these intimate hotels; a stay at the Excelsior hotel, for example, could earn you only 30,000 points.
Officers Club, the Leading Hotels of the World loyalty program, made major changes this summer by removing membership fees. Previously $ 175, but now free, the program offers instant perks like breakfast for two and room upgrades at places like the Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo or Badrutt’s Palace Hotel in St. Moritz. (At these stately hotels, breakfast is truly an experience.) Meanwhile, the American Express Platinum Card has a new bonus of its own, giving cardholders a $ 200 credit to be used at one of its Fine Hotels and Resorts properties by the end of the year. Reservations must be made through American Express Travel to be eligible.
Rediscover the world
The pandemic has placed an emphasis on enjoying the experiences with our loved ones, and loyalty programs have you covered on that front as well.
If you are a Marriott fan, you can create your dream wedding dress with a top designer or participate in a private cooking demo with Chef Nobu Matsuhisa at Nobu Malibu using Marriott Bonvoy Points as part of the program. Marriott Bonvoy Moments program. At press time, the program is offering tickets to next month’s Country Music Awards in Nashville for 50,000 points and New York Knicks seats in a luxury suite for 50,000 points.
Hilton Honors experiences is a similar platform that allows members to use points for onsite activities, like sipping cocktails in the underwater restaurant on Conrad Maldives Rangali Island (which will direct you 25,000 Hilton Honors Points) or afternoon tea at the Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund (also 25,000 HH points). You can also choose to redeem Hilton Points, or a mix of points and cash, for tickets to top concerts, sporting events and comedy shows; recent examples included an ultimate three-day cabana experience at the Governors Ball music festival, including VIP lounge seating, private concierge service, and dining, for 300,000 points.
With Broadway reopening, United MileagePlus miles earned on pre-pandemic flights and in-home credit card spending are good for top seats on your favorite shows via audience awards. Or use United miles to purchase a cruise vacations with dozens of luxury lines like Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection and Silversea, among others.
On the way to your next destination, you can also get your trip off to a good start by heading to the Delta Sky Club to redeem SkyMiles for a glass of Veuve Clicquot “Yellow Label” Brut NV Champagne, or even a full bottle of Dom Pérignon. Many drinks in the lounge are free, but Delta makes it easy for visitors to pay for premium drinks in cash or miles.