I am trying to find ways to redeem points other than vacation or free stays. Just found that there is significant difference in the following:
Gift card for Marriott: $1000 for 250,000 points
Instant redemption of points: $1000 for 190000 points
If the money is eventually going to Marriott, why is there a difference? Any comment on whether there is any advantage of one over the other? I am a business traveller and get reimbursed by business for hotel stay so trying to find best way to make some cash for points earned. Have plenty of points for vacation and travel so trying to find balance. Has anyone looked into what is the best value of using points other than free stay?
vpat, I have not found a good answer to your question. The further your redemption goes away from the core of the business (hotel stays) the poorer return you get on your points. Even the gift cards and instant redemption requires you to use them on Marriott stuff (hotels, meals, golf courses and a few other things) so you are not really getting cash, unless of course you sell the gift card.
You probably have the same dilemma with airline points. I had a ton of airline points that i saved until retirement and have been busy using them.
Depending on where you are in life, at some point in time the business paid nights end, and redemption is more of a viable option.
I also have converted MR to UA miles because most of my hotel stays are paid for by my employer, and I use the UA miles for upgrades which my employer will not pay for. Works great except that it's not always possible to get tickets or upgrades on UA using points, but I can always find a use for UA miles for family trips. Just booked the entire family first class from AKL-SFO using UA miles which saved us about $15,000 in airfare if we'd purchase first class tickets at the going rate! Also just used 30,000 UA miles (with a $500 copay) to upgrade from HKG-ORD which would have cost me about $3000 had I paid for the upgrade.
Most everyone agrees that stays - and, in particularly, stays of 5 days - are the best value. As long as there are places left on the big blue marble that you haven't visited, stays rock.
But ... if you have a war chest ... my question for hoarders is what are you saving them for? I'm still willing to save my Marriott points for family vacation travel, a rainy day, for retirement, etc... So my war chest rarely drops below a million points, but that's only because I keep earning more...
Marriott shopping can be fun - here's an old post: WOW: POPULR - New Marriott Points Shopping System?
I'm a little more cynical about my airline miles - I often find that I can't use them how/when I want to .... I'm with clebert that long-haul upgrades (trips across the ponds) are the best use of miles.... But, nonetheless, I've made a number of large purchases with airline miles - a nice gift for my spouse, a fancy/expensive camera lens for myself, etc.
ssindc – Thanks for the mention.
Though this is a topic covered in many other posts, because of my nature to crunch numbers, I have always tried to follow any post regarding “value” so having said that, here are my comments:
SSINDC – I think you nailed the most common agreement among MRI members that there is no better value than using points for 5-day (or increments, thereof) stays. Having said that - - -
Philosophically, points are only worth as much as the member perceives are useful. For example, I cashed in 2M HH points recently on merchandise through their shopping network even though “points-for-merchandise” (whether HH or MR) is one of the worst conversion values (number 10, below). WHY would I do that? Because I have been earning points faster than I can possibly spend them on free nights or vacations. To me, the value in those spent points were worth the goodies I got. I still have a million HH points in the bank.
One of the realities of point value – INFLATION. Every year, scores of hotels are bumped up to higher categories which deflate point value. Over the last 6 years, I have tracked category changes (forgot to post 2016 analysis), but overall, I have determined an average 9.37% inflation rate solely on category changes. Using the power of discounting interest ("time value of money" in financial jargon), this means that 1M points in 2009 are now worth 554,156 in 2009-equivalent points, nearly half the original value. If category trends hold true, 2017 will be worth 502,231 points, just over half their value after eight years of category changes.
My strongest recommendation is to SPEND YOUR POINTS as quickly as possible in the following order (skewed to getting best amount of “cash value” per option):