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Transfer Hotel Points for More American Miles

Converting hotel points to airline miles is something I don't often discuss in these posts, because such transfers are mostly not worth discussing.

It's like buying airline miles: You can do it, and it might make sense in rare circumstances, but it's normally a bad deal.

Sometimes, however, a special offer changes the equation enough to make point conversions worth considering.

American's new transfer bonus aims to do just that.

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Offer Details

Through June 30, AAdvantage members will receive a 25 percent bonus when converting up to 20,000 hotel points to miles, and a 35 percent bonus when converting more than 20,000 points.

The bonus applies to transfers from most AAdvantage hotel partners, including Best Western, Choice, Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, La Quinta, Starwood, and Wyndham.

Deal or No Deal

While the bonuses are considerable in percentage terms, this is not the most generous current promotion of its kind. US Airways is offering a 50 percent bonus for hotel points transferred before July 31.

Which raises an interesting question: Are American miles worth more than US Airways miles? And if they are, how much more?

I won't presume to answer that question here, but there's a recent study that ranks US Airways last among U.S. airlines for award availability. The point, in any case, is that bonuses are only as valuable as the miles you're getting.

Then there's the question of hotel points versus airline miles. Which are more valuable to you? With hotel rates still depressed and airfares on the rise, airline miles are gaining in value, relatively speaking. But the hotel programs' differing conversion rates make meaningful comparisons difficult.

The best transfer deal has traditionally been from Starwood, which converts points 1:1 into many airline programs, and adds a 5,000-mile bonus when 20,000 points are transferred. So with the American promotion, a 20,000-point transfer would net 33,750 AAdvantage miles.

Finally, this offer may have particular resonance with customers of Marriott, which will sever ties with American's program on June 30. If you're an AAdvantage member who's planning to shift from Marriott to an alternative hotel network that's still aligned with American, this represents a good opportunity to make the break a clean one. (Given the timing of this promotion, I suspect that American's goal here is at least partly to give Marriott customers an easy way to disengage from Marriott.)

Reader Reality Check

Will you take advantage of this offer?

If so, which hotel points will you be converting to American miles?

Read comments or add your own insight!
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