Convert Ultimate Rewards to US Airways / American miles

This is a limited time opportunity that may be useful for some with very large Ultimate Rewards and/or Marriott Rewards balances. 

As you probably know, US Airways is running a promotion through the end of April in which you will get a 50% bonus when you convert hotel points to US Airways miles (details here).  My first thought was to convert my Wyndham points to miles, but then I read Lucky’s advice:

This would also be a good promotion through which to take advantage of Marriott’s Flight and Hotel Packages, whereby you can redeem points for a combination of miles and a set number of free nights.

Yes, indeed.

Marriott’s Flight and Hotel Packages offer 7 night stays plus airline miles in exchange for Marriott Rewards points.  The way most of these packages are priced is that they charge the usual cost for 7 award nights, but then charge extra for a one to one conversion to miles.  Let me give an example to be clear:

For 300,000 Marriott Rewards points, you can book a Category 6 Marriott for 7 nights plus you’ll get 120,000 miles (you can pick from quite a few airlines).  If you booked the same hotel for 7 nights outside of this package, you would get the 5th night free as a standard benefit, and so you would pay 30K X 6 = 180,000 Marriott Rewards points for 7 nights.  In other words, the Flight & Hotel package costs 120,000 points more, but you get 120,000 miles which are arguably much more valuable than 120,000 Marriott points.  As a general rule, if you are flush with Marriott points and you are planning a 7 night award stay, you might as well book this package.

This month, the deal gets much better.  By booking the package and selecting US Airways miles, US Airways will kick in 50% more miles.  So, in the example above, instead of getting 120,000 miles, you would get 180,000 miles.

Let’s now twist things around a bit.  Assume your goal is to convert Marriott points to US Airways miles.  By booking this package for 300,000 Marriott Reward points, you would get 180,000 miles plus a 7 night stay.  So, you can think of this as converting 180,000 points to miles (1 to 1), and then getting a 7 night stay for only 120,000 additional points, which is about 17,000 points per night.  That’s a great deal.

Marriott offers different versions of the package that vary depending on which category hotel you want and how many miles you want:

image

Since Marriott points are generally worth less than airline miles, the best value options are those earning the most miles (120K miles, before the 50% bonus).

If you think of this, as I suggested, as a way to convert 180K Marriott points to 180K US Airways miles, and to get a discounted 7 night stay, then the following chart may be helpful:

Hotel Category

Usual award cost per night

Usual award cost per night for 7 night stay (5th night free)

Award cost per night with package after 180K transfer to US Airways

5 25K 21.4K 12.9K
6 30K 25.7K 17.1K
7 35K 30K 21.4K
8 40K 34.3K 25.7K
Ritz Tier 3 50K 42.9K 34.3K
Ritz Tier 5 70K 60K 51.4K

 

While the Ritz-Carlton prices are still high, Marriott properties top out at 25.7K per night.  Not bad!

Ultimate Rewards

With Chase’s premium Ultimate Rewards credit cards such as the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, and Ink Plus, you can transfer points one to one to quite a few airline and hotel programs:

image

Neither US Airways nor American Airlines are transfer partners.  So, if you want to transfer miles to either of those programs from Ultimate Rewards, you’re generally out of luck. 

Marriott is a transfer partner, but I usually recommend against transferring points to Marriott.  Ultimate Rewards points can be used directly to book stays at almost any hotel for a value of 1.25 cents per point.  It is very rare to get that much value per point from Marriott Rewards points.  So, if you really want to use Ultimate Rewards points to book a Marriott stay, you’re usually better off booking through the Ultimate Rewards travel service than to transfer points to Marriott.  With US Airways’ 50% bonus, though, the math changes…

With the combination of the Marriott Hotel and Air package and US Airways’ 50% bonus for transferred points, converting Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott may make sense.  For example, suppose you transfer 300,000 Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott and then book the 7 Nights + 120K miles package for a Category 6 hotel, and you pick US Airways miles.  Then, you would essentially be trading 300,000 Ultimate Rewards points for 180,000 US Airways miles and 7 hotel nights.  If your goal was to get US Airways miles anyway, then this is like getting 7 hotel nights for only 120,000 points (about 17K points per night).

American Airlines

Thanks to the upcoming merger between American Airlines and US Airways, US Airways miles will eventually become American Airlines AAdvantage miles.  If your goal is to accumulate AA miles for a trip well in the future, it’s worth considering collecting US Airways miles today.

Does it make sense to do?

I think that if you are flush with Marriott points and can make use of a 7 night stay, then this is a no-brainer.  Marriott points are generally worth much less than airline miles so this is a great opportunity to trade-up.  Whether transferring Ultimate Rewards points makes sense, though, depends on your circumstances…

For the hotel portion of your 7 night vacation, you can often do as well or better by transferring points to Hyatt since you can stay at the best Hyatt properties in the world for only 22K points per night.  However, there may not be a desirable Hyatt property where you want to go.  If your vacation plans are better suited to a Marriott property, then this opportunity is definitely worth considering.

For the airline portion of the package, this makes sense if you are working towards building up your US Airways and/or AA miles for a specific purpose.  For example, you could go for US Airways sweet spot awards such as 90K round trip business class to northern Asia.  Or, wait for the miles to become AA miles so that you can book a dream first class trip on Cathay Pacific.  In general, though, I would prefer to keep points as Ultimate Rewards for their flexibility.  I love that Ultimate Rewards transfer to United, British Airways, Southwest, Hyatt and more.  By keeping points as Ultimate Rewards points, I keep my options open.

Should I go for it anyway?  In my case, I have about 100K Marriott Rewards points and many hundreds of thousands of Ultimate Rewards points.  I could transfer 170K Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott and then book a 7 night category 5 vacation for 270K points.  In return, I would get 180K US Airways miles and a 7 night stay.  That’s tempting!  What do you think?

By the way, for another great use of Marriott’s hotel and air packages, take a look at how Frugal Travel Lawyer used one to get a Southwest Companion Pass.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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48 Comments on "Convert Ultimate Rewards to US Airways / American miles"

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CodeAdam10
Guest

Gotta love your continuous out-of-the-box thinking. I applaud you for always producing original content. Another job well done!

The Miles Professor
Guest

Great analysis and information!

Just wanted to give an example of a property where I just redeemed points that may be a good idea for one of these packages. Next February for our dates, the Marriott Grand Cayman is $624 a night, but only 35,000 Marriott points a night. While this is a good redemption by itself, it’s even better for 150,000 for 7 nights (or ~ 21,400 points a night) by applying your analysis.

The Caribbean actually has very few Hyatt properties, but many Marriotts and hotel rates in January/February can be super high. Not a bad idea for a weeklong vacation in winter!

Matt
Guest

Do you have to book the hotel right away? or can it be booked at a later time?

Dave Golden
Guest

Brilliant! Personally, the Southwest Companion Fare is more valuable. But with a lot of Ultimate Rewards stacking up, this is a great way to optimize cashing out. Again, thank you for the suggestions and echo the comment above about outside-the-box thinking. AWESOME Blog. Keep up the good work.

william
Guest

Has US airways historically ever had a 100% transfer bonus from hotel chains?

Dave
Guest

You can also purchase 50K Marriott Points for $625 per year. With the transfer bonus you would get 75K miles @ 8.33 cpm. Spouses can go in together on a redemption (done on the phone, points shared limited to the value of the redemption), so in theory a couple could purchase 150K AA miles for $1,250. Given you can redeem UR at 1 cpp for statement credits, you should max out buying points first.

http://www.marriott.com/rewards/usepoints/tranpurc.mi

AB
Guest

how to get 75K miles for 50K points?

VM
Guest

-> Matt, you can book the hotel later. There will be a e-certificate issued on your account. When you are ready to redeem you make the award reservation and then attach the e-certificate you have on file in your MR account.

ahmed
Guest

Any expiration on the e-cert?

runnergirl
Guest

I currently have a 5nt stay booked for January at the Westin Grand Cayman booked w/SPG pts. 1) If I use the Marriott/US Air deal and I only use 5nts for the certificate for this stay can I bank the other 3nts (as the 5th nt is free on a 5nt stay)for a subsequent Marriott stay? Also, is there any speculation that once the AA/US Air merger takes place that the miles will be devalued? I transferred tons of MR pts to Virgin and then Hilton and then got burned when Hilton devalued their points shortly after. I get nervous with the amount of US Air promos being offered…..what do you guys think?

The Miles Professor
Guest

We stayed at the Westin last time and the beach by the Westin is far far nicer than the one at Marriott. It has almost the best beach on the island, second only to Ritz. Westin also has a newly renovated spa and you get access to it with your stay so you can use the steam rooms and saunas for extra relaxation.

Although I am very happy with our redemption for the Grand Cayman Marriott, I would have happily stayed at Westin if they didn’t require a 5 night minimum stay on Saturday check-ins for our dates.

I don’t know whether you’ve been to Grand Cayman before, but I just wanted to specify I really did like Westin better than Marriott… so you can include that info in your analysis 🙂

runnergirl
Guest

Thanks so much for that info on the Westin as I have never been to GCM so I am happy to hear that hotel is nice, being it is a SPG cat 5 property.

Pointasaurus
Guest

Crud, why is there no bonus for SPG points?

Travel Summary
Guest

Great post! Love the analysis.

DaveC
Guest

To those who suggest that 50K Marriott points turn into 75K miles, I’m clearly missing something here. When I look at this link:
http://www.marriott.com/rewards/usepoints/morerew.mi

It appears that converting 125K Marriott points only gets you 50K US Airways miles. Add a 50% bonus and that’s still only 75K. Not a good deal, IMO.

Markus Day
Guest

Great post FM! Question, can you convert Amex MR to Club Carlson? I’ve got ~300k MR and need to transfer them out. If it’s a no go on CC, what’s arguably the best transfer candidate/s? (airline and/or hotel) Thanks!

Dave
Guest

@DaveC, re-read FM’s post, you need to do the trip reward to get the more favorable exchange rate.

Jessica
Guest

A little off topic but I have a question regarding a similar transactoin. I know that UR points transferred to WN do not count towards the CP but Marriott points from flight and hotel packages do. So could i transfer UR points to Marriott, then use those points towards Flight and Hotel package choosing WN as the airline and receive 120k RR points + CP + 7 nights hotel stay. May not be worthwhile to some but if you had a stash of Marriott points, it could be a useful way to obtain the CP.

TK
Guest

after booking marriort, can i cancel and get the points back and keep the airline miles

HikerT
Guest

I would say more tempting if you have Marriott points. I would say at most fair value for UR. I wouldn’t part with 150K UR for less than 180K US so that leaves 150K UR for 7 nights at a Marriott category 6. If you value UR at 1.33 cents (minimum) that’s $2K for 7 nights. I can generally find much better values on luxurylink where we prefer to vacation, but I suppose it depends on where you vacation.

FrugalTravelLawyer
Guest

Since my husband and I combined our Marriott Rewards points when booking our package, I first had to have an award reservation (without ordering the certs) before I was permitted to order the package. Changes may be made to this reservation, but I was concerned about availability if waiting to book after ordering the package.

If you cancel a Category 1-5 reservation for 7 nights from the package, you only receive 45,000 Marriott Rewards points back into your account.

Nic
Guest

Ok- this is a dumb question, but I’m new to this.
If I want to book the 270K vacation in the Carb, don’t I need to make sure there are FF tickets avail first from NYC to Xsland? They can transfer the 100,000 miles,(plus a 50,000 bonus) but if there are no tickets avail for four people at 140,000 total…I’d have to use my USAir balance to cover the difference, or I’m getting four tickets because they are working together and I don’t need to pay attention to the award chart availability? (I’m assuming I can’t get any 35K to the Carb in for TDay in Nov as they’re already gone)
Thanks!

Matt
Guest

Has anyone done this and confirmed the US Air 50% applies to the vacation packages? Not just to the hotel pts conversion?

Richard
Guest

I have not personally done it, but I have read where you can also book a 5 night hotel certificate with Marriott for less overall points and still get the 120K air points out of the deal.

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Stephen
Guest

Once you have the certs, can you ask Marriott to split them into one four day, and one three day?

ed
Guest

Why do people keep asking about splitting the 7-night stay? No, of course you cannot do that. And it’s been answered many times. No. No. NO. Still a good deal.

Ken
Guest

I transferred 30k Wyndham points to US Air and I only received 10,000 miles on my US Air account. Anyone else have this happen to them?

Nic
Guest

So….I could book the package, drive to the hotel and not use the 180k US Air miles? (Or buy other airline tickets instead of using the miles) I mean, no one is checking if you’re using the miles for that trip, right? As long as you show up at the hotel, does anyone care how you got there? Is that another dumb set of questions?!

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[…] I will still be keeping my Marriott points, there could be a great opportunity with this option. The Frequent Miler also points out how you can ultimately convert your Chase Ultimate Reward points to US Airways […]

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[…] The Frequent Miler has a great post on a way to convert Ultimate Rewards points into American or US Airways miles. […]

sweetdealgreg
Guest

I applaud you for your content, creativity and patience. Planning on buying 100k mr’s, and then transferring the balance from UR since UR is much more valuable than mr. Maybe squeeze in a Marriot cc app in there also. According to your calculations UR are 2x as valuable than mr. Any other way of topping off Marriott accounts?

steve
Guest

Has anyone tried the Marriott travel packages?

I was trying to book the 120k US Airways miles + 7 Nights and getting the additional 60K US Airways miles tacked on when it gets transferred over to US Airways.

sweetdealgreg
Guest

thanks bud, was looking to score the southwest companion pass
this program is ongoing, no? maybe i can get this in january next year if it is ongoing.

steve
Guest

Thanks for the response, but I was reading and it says “Just click on a hotel logo, log in to your account and convert your points to miles April 1-30, 2013.” and when you do this it converts 125,000 points for 50,000 US Airways points, then ill get 50% so that will be 25,000. So based on that it will be 125,000 + 75,000?

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[…] Miler‘s “Convert Ultimate Rewards to US Airways/American Miles” blog post was what this community truly needs: Innovative out of the box thinking. Instead […]