If frequent flyer points are a currency, as many would argue, then common sense suggests they should be combinable with a traditional currency, like dollars, to purchase travel.
Some airlines allow members of their frequent flyer programs to do just that.
[% 2659427 | | Northwest %], for example, periodically allows members of its WorldPerks program to combine cash and miles for tickets. [% 2520732 | | Delta’s Pay with Miles %] lets SkyMiles members who hold the program-linked credit card use miles to augment cash when buying tickets. And Alaska’s Mileage Plan program has its Money & Miles option, allowing members to use miles to secure a discount on a ticket’s published price.
On the hotel side, Starwood’s Preferred Guest program offers a Cash and Points feature that permits members to use various combinations of cash and points to book hotel stays.
Now, members of InterContinental’s Priority Club Rewards program can do the same, combining cash and Rewards points to purchase award nights at any of the more than 4,200 InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, Staybridge Suites, and Candlewood Suites hotels. (The terminology gets a bit strained here. Is it still an “award night” if it’s obtained not just with loyalty points but with a cash co-payment as well?)
Using Points & Cash, Rewards members have two options: pay $30 in place of 5,000 points, or pay $60 in place of 10,000 points.
So, to take a real life example, an award night at the Crowne Plaza Orlando, normally priced at 25,000 Rewards points, can now also be had for either 20,000 points plus $30, or for 15,000 points plus $60.
Doing the obligatory math, Points & Cash values points at .6 cents (six-tenths of a cent) each. That’s not groundbreaking value, but it’s alright. And the added flexibility is definitely a positive for program members.