Buy points for less: When does it make sense to jump on a deal?

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There are times when buying points or miles can make a lot of sense.  If you know what you’re doing, it’s often possible to save a lot of money or get a much better experience.  For example, you may be able to spend $50 on points to book a hotel that would have cost you over $100 if you booked the hotel for cash.  Or, maybe you were planning to pay $2,000 for an international economy flight, but you find that you can buy enough miles to book first class for the same $2,000.  In the first example, buying points leads to a big discount.  In the second example, buying points leads to a luxury experience.

In general, I don’t recommend buying points or miles unless you have a plan for how to use them.  It can make sense, though, if you’re confident that you’ll find great opportunities (see this post for a full discussion of this topic).  The following guide looks at current point buying deals, along with some example best uses.  The hope is that this will help inform you of whether acquiring these points is worth bothering with.  Buy only if you need the points and are likely to make use of these deals…

Table of Contents

My favorites

In the current crop of miles & points sales, my favorites are:

Current Airline Mile Deals

American Airlines

Promotion Details:

  • Buy 15,000-75,000 miles and get a 25% bonus (2.38c per mile for 15,000 miles down to 2.17c per mile for 75,000 miles)
  • Buy 76,000-124,000 miles and get a 75% bonus (1.9c per mile for 76,000 miles down to 1.87 c per mile for 124,000 miles)
  • Buy 125,000-150,000 miles and get a 100% bonus (1.73c per mile for 125,000 miles down to 1.71c per mile for 150,000 miles)
  • Direct link to this promotion
  • Expires August 31, 2020

Best uses:

    • Economy US to Europe for 22,500 miles off-peak.
    • US to Japan or Korea for 60,000 miles one-way business class.
    • US to Africa for 75,000 miles one-way business class.  Qatar Qsuites anyone?
    • Middle East to Asia for 50,000 miles one-way first class.
    • Europe to Africa for 55,000 miles one-way business class or 80,000 miles first class.

Things to know:

  • Saver award availability on American’s own flights is often very hard to find.  Availability on some partners is easier. Buy miles only if you know that the awards are available.
  • AA miles can be great for some extremely high end awards such as Etihad First Apartments (which I reviewed here), Cathay Pacific, JAL, Qatar, etc.
  • AA allows mixing partners in one award.  For example, you could book an award which includes both JAL and Cathay Pacific.
  • AA passes along British Airways fuel surcharges.  This is worth noting because these charge are often crazy high, especially for premium cabin awards. This means that you’ll often see great business class award availability but then you may be disappointed when you find out that BA is the carrier.

United

Promotion Details (offer appears to be targeted):

  • Buy 5,000-14,000 miles and get a 30% bonus (2.69c per mile)
  • Buy 15,000-39,000 miles and get a 50% bonus (2.33c per mile)
  • Buy 40,000-87.500 miles and get a 100% bonus (1.75c per mile for 125,000 miles down to 1.71c per mile for 150,000 miles)
  • Direct link to this promotion (our affiliate link)
  • Expires August 27, 2020.
  • Bonus miles count toward the 175,000-mile annual limit per account.
  • You may purchase up to 175,000 miles per account per calendar year.
  • Bonus miles will generally be credited to the recipient’s MileagePlus account when the transaction is complete; provided that certain transactions may take up to 48 hours.

Best uses:

Things to know:

  • United doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges when booking awards on partner airlines.

Alaska Airlines

Promotion Details

  • Buy 3,000-29,000 miles and get a 40% bonus (1.96c per mile)
  • Buy 30,000-100,000 miles and get a 50% bonus (1.83c per mile)
  • Direct link to this promotion (our affiliate link)
  • Expires August 26, 2020.
  • If you purchase 30,000+ miles, you’ll be able to get a 60% bonus when purchasing miles October 5-31, 2020.
  • MVP, MVP Gold and MVP Gold 75K Mileage Plan member (Elite Member) accounts have no annual limit on the number of miles which may be purchased or gifted through Points.com. If you are not an Elite Member, your account may only be credited up to a maximum total of 150,000 miles acquired through Points.com in a calendar year, whether purchased by you or gifted to you.
  • Unless you are an Elite Member, the annual Buy and Gift purchase limit of 150,000 miles will apply to the October 2020 VIP Sale; if you have already purchased or been gifted up to the 150,000 mile annual limit, you may not be eligible to purchase/ receive miles during the October 2020 VIP Sale, or the amount of miles which you are able to purchase or receive during the October 2020 VIP Sale may be limited.

Best uses:

    • Business or first class international partner awards.  Alaska Airlines has different award charts for each of their flight partners.  Several of these offer outstanding value.  Some examples are:
      • Business class US to Oceania (Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific) on Qantas or Fiji Airways, for 55K each way or 60K each way on Cathay Pacific.
      • First class US to Oceana on Qantas for 70K each way.
      • Business class US to Africa on Cathay Pacific for 62.5K each way
      • First class US to Africa on Cathay Pacific for 70K each way (note that you are likely to fly first class to Hong Kong, but then business class from there to Africa).
      • Business class US to Asia on Cathay Pacific or Hainan for 50K each way; or 60K each way on AA or Japan Airlines (JAL).
      • First class US to Asia on Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines (JAL) for 70K each way (75K to Southeast Asia on JAL).
    • Several of the above examples are 70K one-way awards for first class international flights.  With the current promotion, it’s possible to buy 140K miles for a round-trip first class award for a total of $2,612.50.  That’s an incredible price for a long distance first class round trip flight!

Things to know:

  • Award availability may be very hard to find.  Buy miles only if you know that the awards are available.
  • Alaska does not allow mixing partners on a single award, but you can book two one-way awards.  For example, if you find availability on Qantas in one direction and Cathay Pacific in the other, you can book two separate one-way awards.
  • Alaska doesn’t show all partner award space online.  For example, to fly Cathay Pacific, you should search for award availability elsewhere (on BritishAirways.com for example) and then call Alaska to book the award.  Warning: Alaska may have access to one fewer seat than what you see at the British Airways site.
  • When Alaska does show partner award space online, the availability may be misleading.  For example, you may see a Qantas first class award
  • You can mix partner flights with Alaska’s own flights on the same award.  For example, you could book Alaska Air to Seattle and then JAL from Seattle to Japan on the same award.
  • Awards may include additional taxes and fees not shown in the examples above.

Southwest

Promotion Details (offer appears to be targeted):

  • Buy 3,000-60,000 points and get a discount of 35%, 40% or 45%
    • 35% discount = (1.95c per mile for 3,000 miles down to 1.79c per mile for 60,000 miles)
    • 40% discount = (1.8c per mile for 3,000 miles down to 1.65c per mile for 60,000 miles)
    • 45% discount = (1.65c per mile for 3,000 miles down to 1.51c per mile for 60,000 miles)
  • Direct link to this promotion (our affiliate link)
  • Expires August 26, 2020.
  • Limit of 60,000 points per day but no annual maximum.
  • Do not buy points from this “deal”. Southwest points are tied to the cost of flights and you’ll rarely get 1.51c per mile of value, let alone 1.79c per mile.

Current Hotel Point Deals

IHG 100% bonus (Buy points for 0.5 cents each)

The Kimpton Seafire resort in Grand Cayman usually costs over $800 per night, but it can alternatively be booked for 70,000 IHG points per night.  At half a cent per point, you’ll pay only $350 per night!

Promotion details:

  • Valid through August 14, 2020
  • 100% bonus on purchased points when you buy “7K” (really 14K) or more results in a cost of 0.5 cents per point
  • Members may normally purchase a maximum of 150,000 points per calendar year and receive as a gift a maximum of 150,000 points per calendar year, but through this promotion the limit has been raised to 250,000 points per year (before the 100% bonus)
  • Offer link (our affiliate link)

Best uses:

  • Stay at top tier properties for less.  With few exceptions, IHG awards top out at 70,000 points per night.  With points purchased for 0.5 cents each, you can book these top tier properties for only $350 per night.
  • Use 4th night free sweet spot. IHG recently moved to dynamic pricing. That’s resulted in a new sweet spot when using the 4th night free benefit that comes some IHG credit cards because if the 4th night is the most expensive night, you’ll save more.

Things to know:

  • When you book nights with points, you will not earn points for the stay.
  • Most hotel taxes are not charged on award stays, so this can make the value of buying points even better.  Arguably, this factor and the one above roughly cancel each other out.
  • Resort and destination fees are charged to you regardless of whether you book with cash or points.

Choice 25% discount (Buy points for 0.74 cents each)

Details:

  • Save 25% when buying 6,000+ Choice Privileges points.
  • Direct link to offer (our affiliate link).
  • Expires August 16, 2020.
  • Limit 180,000 purchased points.

Best uses:

  • Use points to book upgraded rooms for the same award price as standard rooms.
  • Look for situations where the point price offers better than 1 cent per point value.  For example, if the point price is 20,000 points, then points would be a good value when the paid price is $200 or more.
  • Choice’s Nordic properties are known to offer particularly good value.
  • With Bluegreen Vacation properties, it’s possible to condos (sometimes with up to 3 bedrooms) for only 30,000 points per night.

Things to know:

  • Free night awards can only be booked within 100 days of check-in.
  • Each hotel is assigned point award prices that may vary by season or by day of week.
  • Choice often offers points for sale for less than half a cent each during the Daily Getaways each spring.  It’s worth waiting for that deal if you don’t need points immediately.

Expired Deals

Marriott 60% bonus (Buy points for 0.78 cents each)

The St. Regis Bora Bora often costs over $1,500 per night, but it’s possible to buy the required points for significantly less during point sales.

Promotion details:

  • Valid through June 30, 2020 Update: Extended to July 15, 2020
  • Get a 60% bonus on purchases of 2,000+ points
    (this results in a cost of 0.78 cents per point vs. the usual 1.25 cents per point price)
  • The maximum purchase per transaction is 50,000 points pre-bonus. (80K after bonus)
  • The annual maximum for purchased points (pre-bonus) will be raised from 50,000 points to 100,000 points between May 18, 2020, and June 30, 2020. In other words, at maximum you can make two purchases of 50,000 points pre-bonus and receive a total of 160,000 Marriott points with the bonus included.
  • Offer link

Best uses:

  • Use points to book 5 nights in order to get one night free
  • Save money on low category hotels.  For example, category 1 standard award pricing is 7,500 points per night.  With the current discount, you can buy 16,000 points in order to book two nights for $125 ($62.50 per night) and have 1,000 points left over.  If hotel rates are significantly higher than $62.50 per night, then it can make sense to buy the required points.
  • Stay at top tier properties for less.  Marriott’s top tier category 8 properties cost 85,000 points at standard rates, 70,000 off-peak and 100,000 peak.  At standard award pricing, it’s possible to make two transactions for about $675 total with some points left over.  There’s no question that that’s a lot to spend, but some of Marriott’s top properties cost significantly more.  For example, the St. Regis Bora Bora often costs over $1,500 per night. So, you can save more than 50%.  Keep in mind that it makes no sense to buy points for a top tier hotel if the rates at the time you want to go are less than $800.

Things to know:

  • When you book nights with points, you will not earn points for the stay.
  • Most hotel taxes are not charged on award stays, so this can make the value of buying points even better.  Arguably, this factor and the one above roughly cancel each other out.
  • Resort and destination fees are charged to you regardless of whether you book with cash or points.
  • When you book 5 award nights in one booking at one hotel, Marriott charges you only for 4 nights (the least expensive night is removed from the cost).
  • You will earn elite nights on either cash or point stays.  This is only relevant to those seeking elite status.
  • Please see our guide for more information: Marriott Bonvoy Complete Guide.

Hyatt 30% bonus (Buy points for 1.85 cents each)


Promotion details:

  • Expires July 29, 2020
  • Get a 30% bonus on purchases of 5,000 points or more.
  • This results in a cost of 1.85 cents per point. Note that this is not their best deal: Hyatt sometimes offers a 40% bonus for a rate of 1.7c per point.
  • You can purchase up to 55,000 points per calendar year.
  • Offer link

Best uses:

  • Save money on low category off-peak hotels.  Hyatt off-peak award rates will start at 3,500 points per night when that pricing debuts next year.  At 1.7 cents per point, you can book these properties for just under $65 per night.
  • Stay at top tier properties for less.  Most of Hyatt’s top tier properties top out at 30,000 points per night.  At 1.85 cents per point, you can book these properties for $555 per night.  That can be a bargain given that some regularly cost over $1,000 per night (like the Ventana Big Sur, which is now all-inclusive).  Some specialty properties top out at 40,000 points per night.  At 1.85 cents per point, these can be booked for $740 per night.

Things to know:

  • When you book nights with points, you will not earn points for the stay.
  • Most hotel taxes are not charged on award stays, so this can make the value of buying points even better.  Arguably, this factor and the one above roughly cancel each other out.
  • Resort and destination fees are waived on award stays.  This alone can make it worthwhile to use points instead of cash for your bookings.

Hilton 100% bonus (Buy points for 0.5 cents each)

The beach at the Conrad Bora Bora Nui. Standard room prices usually top $800, but standard room awards usually cost less than 90,000 points.  That means that rooms can be had for less than $450 per night with this promotion.

Promotion details:

  • Valid through July 15, 2020
  • Get a 100% bonus on purchases of 10,000 points or more.
    (this results in a cost of 0.5 cents per point)
  • You can ordinarily purchase up to 80,000 points per calendar year before the bonus, but with this sale you can buy up to 160K (plus another 160K for a total of 320K). Note that you can also pool Hilton points with up to 10 members.
  • Offer link

Best uses:

  • Use points to book 5 nights for the price of 4.
  • Save money on low category hotels.  Hilton hotel awards start at 5,000 points per night, but those can be very difficult to find.  10,000 and 15,000 point properties are more common.  These would cost $50 or $75 when booked with purchased points.
  • Stay at top tier properties for less.  Most of Hilton’s top tier properties top-out at 95,000 points per night for a standard room.  With this promotion, 95,000 points would cost you $475.  That’s not bad for top tier hotels like the which often costs $800 or more.

Things to know:

  • When you book nights with points, you will not earn points for the stay.
  • Most hotel taxes are not charged on award stays, so this can make the value of buying points even better.  Arguably, this factor and the one above roughly cancel each other out.
  • Resort and destination fees are waived on award stays.  This alone can make it worthwhile to use points instead of cash for your bookings.

Air Canada Aeroplan

Promotion Details:

  • Buy 2,000-50,000 miles, get a 25% bonus (1.77c per mile)
  • Buy 60,000-170,000 miles, get a 40% bonus (1.58c per mile)
  • Buy 180,000-240,000 miles, get a 60% bonus (1.38c per mile)
  • Buy 250,000+ miles, get a 75% bonus (1.26c per mile)
  • Note also that 100% of the cost of your miles will count as Altitude Qualifying Dollars towards your status (up to $5,000).
  • Direct link to this promotion

Best uses:

Things to know:

  • Aeroplan is an Amex and Capital One transfer partner.
  • Aeroplan has a good policy for lap infant award tickets – see this post for more.

Etihad Guest

Promotion Details:

  • Buy miles with a bonus through June 19, 2020 at the following rates:
    • Buy 6,000 – 20,000 miles = 20% Bonus (1.67cpm)
    • Buy 21,000 – 40,000 miles = 40% Bonus (1.43cpm)
    • Buy 41,000+ miles = 60% Bonus (1.25cpm)
  • You can purchase up to 100,000 miles per year pre-bonus
  • Direct link to this promotion

Best uses:

  • Business class from the US to Morocco on Royal Air Maroc for 44,000 miles one-way
  • Business class from the US to Brussels on Brussels Airlines for 44,000 miles one-way
  • American Airlines flights at “old” award chart prices

Things to know:

  • Etihad is currently also selling travel vouchers with a 50% bonus
  • Etihad is an Amex, Citi, and Capital One transfer partner, so there are many other ways to put together miles
  • Etihad maintains a separate award chart with each partner and awards are most typically priced by segment (not true with American Airlines)

Alaska up to 60% bonus (Buy points from 1.72 cents each)

Cathay business seat to side view
Shown above is Nick enjoying Cathay Pacific business class. Alaska miles can be a great way to book Cathay Pacific business or first class awards.

Promotion details:

  • Valid through May 31, 2020
  • Bonus is targeted. Here’s an example:
    • Buy 10,000-19,000 miles, get a 20% bonus
    • Buy 20,000-39,000 miles, get a 40% bonus
    • Buy 40,000-100,000 miles, get a 60% bonus (cost = 1.72c per mile vs usual 2.96c)
  • Note that the federal excise tax is waived until 2021, dropping the price a bit from the norm
  • You can acquire up to 150,000 miles per year (there is no cap for elite members)
  • Offer link

Best uses:

  • Business or first class international partner awards.  Alaska Airlines has different award charts for each of their flight partners.  Several of these offer outstanding value.  Some examples are:
    • Business class US to Oceania (Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific) on Qantas or Fiji Airways, for 55K each way or 60K each way on Cathay Pacific.
    • First class US to Oceana on Qantas for 70K each way.
    • Business class US to Africa on Cathay Pacific for 62.5K each way
    • First class US to Africa on Cathay Pacific for 70K each way (note that you are likely to fly first class to Hong Kong, but then business class from there to Africa).
    • Business class US to Asia on Cathay Pacific or Hainan for 50K each way; or 60K each way on AA or Japan Airlines (JAL).
    • First class US to Asia on Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines (JAL) for 70K each way (75K to Southeast Asia on JAL).
  • Several of the above examples are 70K one-way awards for first class international flights.  With the current promotion, it’s possible to buy 140K miles for a round-trip first class award for a total of $2,778.88.  That’s an incredible price for a long distance first class round trip flight!

Things to know:

  • Award availability may be very hard to find.  Buy miles only if you know that the awards are available.
  • Alaska does not allow mixing partners on a single award, but you can book two one-way awards.  For example, if you find availability on Qantas in one direction and Cathay Pacific in the other, you can book two separate one-way awards.
  • Alaska doesn’t show all partner award space online.  For example, to fly Cathay Pacific, you should search for award availability elsewhere (on BritishAirways.com for example) and then call Alaska to book the award.  Warning: Alaska may have access to one fewer seat than what you see at the British Airways site.
  • When Alaska does show partner award space online, the availability may be misleading.  For example, you may see a Qantas first class award
  • You can mix partner flights with Alaska’s own flights on the same award.  For example, you could book Alaska Air to Seattle and then JAL from Seattle to Japan on the same award.
  • Awards may include additional taxes and fees not shown in the examples above.

Wyndham Rewards

Promotion details:

  • Valid through May 11, 2020
  • Through May 11th, 2020, Wyndham Rewards is offering a 40% bonus on purchased points
  • Members can now buy up to 45,000 points per year.
  • Points ordinarily cost $13 per 1,000. With the bonus, it’s $13 for 1,400 points (0.93c per point)
  • Direct link to buy points via the 40% bonus promotion (look for the “Purchase Points” box and click “Buy Now”)

Best uses:

  • Wyndham properties range from 7500 points per night to 30,000 points per night. Best use is when room rates are otherwise high. Some properties allow premium rooms to be booked with points for the standard award price.
  • Wyndham also has a partnership with cottages.com where some vacation homes can be rented overseas, though the point values usually aren’t strong enough to warrant purchasing points

Things to know:

  • When you book nights with points, you will not earn points for the stay.
  • Most hotel taxes are not charged on award stays, so this can make the value of buying points even better.  Arguably, this factor and the one above roughly cancel each other out.
  • Points will be posted to the recipient’s Wyndham Rewards account within 72 hours after the completed transaction.
  • See our post for more detail.

Air Canada Aeroplan: Up to 115% bonus (Buy miles from $0.01 each)

Promotion Details:

  • Aeroplan will be offering a sale on miles from May 7 at 10:00 am ET until May 13 at 11:59 pm ET. During that time, Aeroplan members will be able to buy miles and receive bonus miles on their purchase (note that the Canadian prices note tax, but there is no tax when paying with a US credit card with a US billing address. The US prices below take this into account):
      1. For the first 10 million Aeroplan Miles sold, members get a 115% bonus; equivalent to $0.014 CAD/mile + sales tax OR $0.01 USD/mile;
      2. The next 100 million miles sold, members get a bonus of 90%; equivalent to $0.016 CAD/mile + sales tax + $0.011 USD/mile;
      3. All miles sold after this will get a bonus of 65%; equivalent to $0.018 CAD/mile + sales tax OR + $0.013 USD/mile

Best uses:

  • Business class to/from Europe for 55K miles each way or first class for 70K each way (with a stopover allowed)
  • Lap infants for 10K miles in business class or 12.5K miles in first class (whether one-way or round trip)
  • 80K each way for business class to/from Australia / New Zealand / Oceania

Things to know:

  • Aeroplan has an unpublished maximum permitted mileage (MPM) between any city pair, so be sure your routing is valid for Aeroplan (United shows some itineraries that are not possible with Aeroplan).
  • No fuel surcharges on: Aegean, Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, Avianca, Brussels Airlines, COPA, Croatia Airlines, EVA Airlines, Egypt Air, Ethiopian, GOL, Juneao Airlines, SAS, SWISS, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Turkish Airlines, United Airlines
  • Low fuel surcharges on: Cathay Pacific / Cathay Dragon, LOT Polish, Thai Airways

IHG 100% bonus (Buy points for 0.5 cents each)

Promotion details:

  • Valid through June 20, 2020
  • 100% bonus on purchased points when you buy “7K” (really 14K) or more results in a cost of 0.5 cents per point
  • Members may normally purchase a maximum of 150,000 points per calendar year and receive as a gift a maximum of 150,000 points per calendar year, but through this promotion the limit has been raised to 250,000 points per year (before the 100% bonus)
  • Offer link

Best uses:

  • IHG Points Breaks: Every quarter IHG releases a new list of hotels that can be booked for either 5K, 10K, or 15K points per night.  At 0.5 cents per point, you can book these for $25, $50, or $75 per night, respectively.
  • Stay at top tier properties for less.  With few exceptions, IHG awards top out at 70,000 points per night.  With points purchased for 0.5 cents each, you can book these top tier properties for only $350 per night.

Things to know:

  • When you book nights with points, you will not earn points for the stay.
  • Most hotel taxes are not charged on award stays, so this can make the value of buying points even better.  Arguably, this factor and the one above roughly cancel each other out.
  • Resort and destination fees are charged to you regardless of whether you book with cash or points.

Marriott 50% bonus (Buy points for 0.83 cents each)

The St. Regis Bora Bora often costs over $1,500 per night, but it’s possible to buy the required points for significantly less during point sales.

Promotion details:

  • Valid through March 25, 2020
  • Get a 50% bonus on purchases of 2,000+ points
    (this results in a cost of 0.83 cents per point vs. the usual 1.25 cents per point price)
  • The maximum purchase per transaction is 50,000 points pre-bonus. (75K after bonus)
  • The annual maximum for purchased points (pre-bonus) will be raised from 50,000 points to 100,000 points between February 18, 2020, and March 25, 2020. In other words, at maximum you can make two purchases of 50,000 points pre-bonus and receive a total of 150,000 Marriott points with the bonus included.
  • Offer link

Best uses:

  • Use points to book 5 nights in order to get one night free
  • Save money on low category hotels.  For example, category 1 standard award pricing is 7,500 points per night.  With the current discount, you can buy 15,000 points in order to book two nights for $124.50 ($62.25 per night).  If hotel rates are significantly higher than $62.25 per night, then it can make sense to buy the required points.
  • Stay at top tier properties for less.  Marriott’s top tier category 8 properties cost 85,000 points at standard rates, 70,000 off-peak and 100,000 peak.  At standard award pricing, it’s possible to make two transactions for about $715 total.  There’s no question that that’s a lot to spend, but some of Marriott’s top properties cost significantly more.  For example, the St. Regis Bora Bora often costs over $1,500 per night. So, you can save more than 50%.  Keep in mind that it makes no sense to buy points for a top tier hotel if the rates at the time you want to go are less than $800.

Things to know:

  • When you book nights with points, you will not earn points for the stay.
  • Most hotel taxes are not charged on award stays, so this can make the value of buying points even better.  Arguably, this factor and the one above roughly cancel each other out.
  • Resort and destination fees are charged to you regardless of whether you book with cash or points.
  • When you book 5 award nights in one booking at one hotel, Marriott charges you only for 4 nights (the least expensive night is removed from the cost).
  • You will earn elite nights on either cash or point stays.  This is only relevant to those seeking elite status.
  • Please see our guide for more information: Marriott Bonvoy Complete Guide.

Hilton 100% bonus (Buy points for 0.5 cents each)

The beach at the Conrad Bora Bora Nui. Standard room prices usually top $800, but standard room awards usually cost less than 90,000 points.  That means that rooms can be had for less than $450 per night with this promotion.

Promotion details:

  • Valid through February 19, 2020
  • Get a 100% bonus on purchases of 10,000 points or more.
    (this results in a cost of 0.5 cents per point)
  • You can purchase up to 80,000 points per calendar year.
  • Offer link

Best uses:

  • Use points to book 5 nights for the price of 4.
  • Save money on low category hotels.  Hilton hotel awards start at 5,000 points per night, but those can be very difficult to find.  10,000 and 15,000 point properties are more common.  These would cost $50 or $75 when booked with purchased points.
  • Stay at top tier properties for less.  Most of Hilton’s top tier properties top-out at 95,000 points per night for a standard room.  With this promotion, 95,000 points would cost you $475.  That’s not bad for top tier hotels like the which often costs $800 or more.

Things to know:

  • When you book nights with points, you will not earn points for the stay.
  • Most hotel taxes are not charged on award stays, so this can make the value of buying points even better.  Arguably, this factor and the one above roughly cancel each other out.
  • Resort and destination fees are waived on award stays.  This alone can make it worthwhile to use points instead of cash for your bookings.

IHG up to 75% bonus (Buy points for 0.67 cents each)

InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort
InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort (image courtesy of IHG.com)

Details:

  • This offer comes in a couple of different tiers:
    • Buy 7,000-19,000 points & get 50% bonus (as low as 0.77cpp depending on how many you buy)
    • Buy 20,000-150,000 points & get 75% bonus (as low as 0.57cpp depending on how many you buy)
  • Offer link (our affiliate link)

Best uses:

  • Book in four night increments if you have the IHG Premier credit card to get every fourth night free.

Things to know:

Hyatt for 25% off (Buy points for 1.8 cents each)

Hyatt Regency Sharm El Sheikh Resort Royal Villa
Hyatt Regency Sharm El Sheikh Resort Royal Villa

Details:

  • Buy 5,000-55,000 points for 25% off (1.8cpp)
  • Expires February 29, 2020.
  • Offer link (our affiliate link)

Choice non-sale trick (Buy points for 0.75 cents each)

Details:

  • Book points + cash award and then cancel.  When you cancel, you’ll get back points rather than the cash you paid.
  • This trick results in a cost of 0.75 cents per point vs. the usual 1.1 cents per point price.
  • Offer link

Best uses:

  • Use points to book upgraded rooms for the same award price as standard rooms.
  • Look for situations where the point price offers better than 1 cent per point value.  For example, if the point price is 20,000 points, then points would be a good value when the paid price is $200 or more.
  • Choice’s Nordic properties are known to offer particularly good value.
  • With Bluegreen Vacation properties, it’s possible to condos (sometimes with up to 3 bedrooms) for only 30,000 points per night.

Things to know:

  • Free night awards can only be booked within 100 days of check-in.
  • Each hotel is assigned point award prices that may vary by season or by day of week.
  • Choice often offers points for sale for less than half a cent each during the Daily Getaways each spring.  It’s worth waiting for that deal if you don’t need points immediately.

Radisson: Get 25% more points (Buy points for 0.56 cents each)

Promotion details:

  • Valid through February 28, 2020
  • Get a 25% bonus on purchases of 5,000+ points
    (this results in a cost of 0.56 cents per point vs. the usual 0.7 cents per point price)
  • The maximum purchase is 80,000 points pre-bonus. (100K after bonus)
  • The annual maximum for purchased points (pre-bonus) is 80K points
  • Offer link

Best uses:

  • Note that it is generally difficult to get significantly better than 0.56 cents per point from Radisson points. Only buy these with a specific near-term use in mind.
  • Save money on low category hotels.  For example, category 1 standard award pricing is 9,000 points per night.  With the current discount, you can buy 18,000+ points in order to book two nights for $105 ($52.50 per night).  If hotel rates are significantly higher than $52.50 per night, then it can make sense to buy the required points.
  • Stay at top tier properties for less.  Radisson’s top tier category 7 properties cost 70,000 points per night.  At standard award pricing, it’s possible to buy exactly 70K points for $392.  There’s no question that that’s a lot to spend, and in most cases that will not represent much of a deal, but it might save you something at some of the higher end places in expensive cities in Europe.
  • Stay in premium rooms for less: Radisson allows you to redeem 50% more than the “standard” room price for a “Premium Room Award”. Premium rooms vary wildly, but in some cases it may be possible to book a suite or room with a specific view for 50% more points than a standard room, which could be a good deal.

Things to know:

  • When you book nights with points, you will not earn points for the stay.
  • Most hotel taxes are not charged on award stays, so this can make the value of buying points even better.  Arguably, this factor and the one above roughly cancel each other out.
  • Resort and destination fees are charged to you regardless of whether you book with cash or points.
  • You will earn elite nights on either cash or point stays.  This is only relevant to those seeking elite status.

United up to 85% bonus (Buy miles for 2.03 cents each)

Details:

  • This offer has two tiers:
    • Buy 5,000-29,000 miles & get 40% bonus (2.69cpp)
    • Buy 30,000-94,000 miles & get 85% bonus (2.03cpp)
  • A 7.5% tax recovery fee is charged which makes this more expensive.
  • Expires February 27, 2020 at 11:59pm CT.
  • Link To Buy

Iberia Avios 50% bonus (Buy miles for 1.3 cents each)

Details:

  • Buy 2,000-200,000 Avios & get 50% bonus (as low as 1.3cpp)
    • To get this cheaper rate, you need to change the country at the top of the page to Spain-English (h/t One Mile At A Time).
  • Expires February 28, 2020.
  • Link To Buy

LifeMiles up to 140% bonus (Buy miles for 1.375 cents each)

Details:

  • This offer comes in several tiers:
    • Buy 1,000-10,000 miles & get 105% bonus (1.61cpp)
    • Buy 11,000-50,000 miles & get 115% bonus (1.53cpp)
    • Buy 51,000-100,000 miles & get 130% bonus (1.43cpp)
    • Buy 101,000-200,000 miles & get 140% bonus (1.375cpp)
  • Purchase price: Varies depending on which tier you’re buying at and how many miles you’re buying.
  • Miles are available to buy in increments of 1,000 miles; if you buy the maximum of 200,000 LifeMiles, you’ll receive 480,000 after the 140% bonus.
  • Registration Link – you must register your LifeMiles account number first.
  • Link To Buy

Virgin Atlantic up to 50% bonus (Buy miles for 1.8 cents each)

Use Virgin Atlantic miles to book Delta One Suites from US to Asia for 60,000 miles, or US to Europe for 50,000 miles.

Details:

  • This offer comes in several tiers:
    • Buy 5,000-9,000 miles & get 15% bonus (2.35cpp)
    • Buy 10,000-29,000 miles & get 20% bonus (2.25cpp)
    • Buy 30,000-69,000 miles & get 30% bonus (2.08cpp)
    • Buy 70,000-100,000 miles & get 40% bonus (1.93cpp)
    • Buy 101,000-150,000 miles & get 50% bonus (1.8cpp)
  • Purchase price: Varies depending on which tier you’re buying at and how many miles you’re buying. There’s also a $25 handling fee.  Due to the additional fee, you’ll do better to buy more miles at once (max: 150,000)
  • Miles are available to buy in increments of 1,000 miles, and you can normally only purchase up to 100,000 miles in the calendar year, although the limit is increased to 150,000 with this offer.
  • Offer Link (our affiliate link)

Best Uses:

  • Fly US to Japan First Class Round Trip for 110,000 or 120,000 miles.  Total cost if you purchased all of the required miles would be less than $2,700 (not counting taxes & fees)!
  • Fly US to Europe non-stop on Delta One (business class) for 50,000 miles, or 100,000 miles round-trip.  Total cost for round-trip: $2,220 plus award taxes and fees.
  • Fly US to Asia non-stop on Delta One (business class) for 60,000 miles, or 120,000 miles round-trip.
  • Almost all Virgin Atlantic economy flights are cheap to book with miles, especially during standard pricing dates (they charge more during certain peak dates).  One-way examples include:
    • East Coast US to London 10K
    • London to South Africa, China, or Hong Kong: 12.5K
    • London to India: 10K

Things to know:

  • Award availability may be hard to find.  Buy miles only if you know that the awards are available.
  • Most Delta flights can be booked online.  You must call to book ANA flights.
  • Flights to/from London include often hefty fuel surcharges.  Best deal is one-way from Hong Kong to London for only ~$42 in fees.
  • Reduce fuel charges by booking two one-way awards rather than one round trip.

American Airlines up to 55% Bonus + 10% Off (Buy miles for up to 1.86 cents each)

American Airlines miles are often the best option for booking Etihad First Apartment awards.
  • Valid through February 16, 2020
  • There are three tiers to this offer
    • Buy 15,000-69,000 miles & get 30% bonus + 10% off (2.37cpp)
    • Buy 70,000-149,000 miles & get 50% bonus + 10% off (1.93cpp)
    • Buy 150,000 miles & get 55% bonus + 10% off (1.86cpp)
    • The usual cost is 2.96 cents per mile.
  • You can purchase up to 150,000 miles per year.
  • Offer Link

Best Uses:

  • Economy US to Europe for 22,500 miles off-peak.
  • US to Japan or Korea for 60,000 miles one-way business class.
  • US to Africa for 75,000 miles one-way business class.  Qatar Qsuites anyone?
  • Middle East to Asia for 50,000 miles one-way first class.
  • Europe to Africa for 55,000 miles one-way business class or 80,000 miles first class.

Things to know:

  • Saver award availability on American’s own flights is often very hard to find.  Availability on some partners is easier. Buy miles only if you know that the awards are available.
  • AA miles can be great for some extremely high end awards such as Etihad First Apartments (which I reviewed here), Cathay Pacific, JAL, Qatar, etc.
  • AA allows mixing partners in one award.  For example, you could book an award which includes both JAL and Cathay Pacific.
  • AA passes along British Airways fuel surcharges.  This is worth noting because these charge are often crazy high, especially for premium cabin awards. This means that you’ll often see great business class award availability but then you may be disappointed when you find out that BA is the carrier.

Hyatt 40% bonus (Buy points for 1.7 cents each)

Promotion details:

  • Expired December 31, 2019
  • Get a 40% bonus on purchases of 5,000 points or more.
    (this results in a cost of 1.7 cents per point)
  • You can purchase up to 55,000 points per calendar year.
  • Offer link

Best uses:

  • Save money on low category off-peak hotels.  Hyatt off-peak award rates start at 3,500 points per night.  At 1.7 cents per point, you can book these properties for just under $60 per night.
  • Stay at top tier properties for less.  Most of Hyatt’s top tier properties top out at 30,000 points per night.  At 1.7 cents per point, you can book these properties for $510 per night.  That can be a bargain given that some regularly cost over $1,000 per night.  Some specialty properties top out at 40,000 points per night.  At 1.7 cents per point, these can be booked for $680 per night.

Things to know:

  • When you book nights with points, you will not earn points for the stay.
  • Most hotel taxes are not charged on award stays, so this can make the value of buying points even better.  Arguably, this factor and the one above roughly cancel each other out.
  • Resort and destination fees are waived on award stays.  This alone can make it worthwhile to use points instead of cash for your bookings.

Alaska 50% bonus (Buy points for 1.97 cents each)

Cathay business seat to side view
Shown above is Nick enjoying Cathay Pacific business class. Alaska miles can be a great way to book Cathay Pacific business or first class awards.

Promotion details:

  • Valid through December 30, 2019
  • Buy 40,000 – 60,000 miles, get a 50% bonus
    (this results in a cost of 1.97 cents per mile vs. the usual 2.96 cents per mile price)
  • You can acquire up to 150,000 miles per year (there is no cap for elite members)
  • Offer link

Best uses:

  • Business or first class international partner awards.  Alaska Airlines has different award charts for each of their flight partners.  Several of these offer outstanding value.  Some examples are:
    • Business class US to Oceania (Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific) on Qantas or Fiji Airways, for 55K each way or 60K each way on Cathay Pacific.
    • First class US to Oceana on Qantas for 70K each way.
    • Business class US to Africa on Cathay Pacific for 62.5K each way
    • First class US to Africa on Cathay Pacific for 70K each way (note that you are likely to fly first class to Hong Kong, but then business class from there to Africa).
    • Business class US to Asia on Cathay Pacific or Hainan for 50K each way; or 60K each way on AA or Japan Airlines (JAL).
    • First class US to Asia on Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines (JAL) for 70K each way (75K to Southeast Asia on JAL).
  • Several of the above examples are 70K one-way awards for first class international flights.  With the current promotion, it’s possible to buy 140K miles for a round-trip first class award for a total of $2,778.88.  That’s an incredible price for a long distance first class round trip flight!

Things to know:

  • Award availability may be very hard to find.  Buy miles only if you know that the awards are available.
  • Alaska does not allow mixing partners on a single award, but you can book two one-way awards.  For example, if you find availability on Qantas in one direction and Cathay Pacific in the other, you can book two separate one-way awards.
  • Alaska doesn’t show all partner award space online.  For example, to fly Cathay Pacific, you should search for award availability elsewhere (on BritishAirways.com for example) and then call Alaska to book the award.  Warning: Alaska may have access to one fewer seat than what you see at the British Airways site.
  • When Alaska does show partner award space online, the availability may be misleading.  For example, you may see a Qantas first class award
  • You can mix partner flights with Alaska’s own flights on the same award.  For example, you could book Alaska Air to Seattle and then JAL from Seattle to Japan on the same award.
  • Awards may include additional taxes and fees not shown in the examples above.

Marriott 30% discount (Buy points for 0.875 cents each)

The St. Regis Bora Bora often costs over $1,500 per night, but it’s possible to buy the required points for significantly less during point sales.

Promotion details:

  • Valid through December 22, 2019
  • Save 30% on purchases of 2,000+ points
    (this results in a cost of 0.875 cents per point vs. the usual 1.25 cents per point price)
  • You can purchase up to 50,000 points per transaction.
  • The annual maximum for purchased points will be raised from 50,000 points to 100,000 points between November 15, 2019, and December 22, 2019.
  • Offer link

Best uses:

  • Use points to book 5 nights in order to get one night free
  • Save money on low category hotels.  For example, category 1 standard award pricing is 7,500 points per night.  With the current discount, you can buy 15,000 points in order to book two nights for $131.25 (~$66 per night).  If hotel rates are significantly higher than $66 per night, then it can make sense to buy the required points.
  • Stay at top tier properties for less.  Marriott’s top tier category 8 properties cost 85,000 points at standard rates, 70,000 off-peak and 100,000 peak.  At standard award pricing, it’s possible to buy 50,000 points for $437.50 and 35,000 points for $306.25 for a total of $743.75.  There’s no question that that’s a lot to spend, but some of Marriott’s top properties cost significantly more.  For example, the St. Regis Bora Bora often costs over $1,500 per night. So, you can save more than 50%.  Keep in mind that it makes no sense to buy points for a top tier hotel if the rates at the time you want to go are less than $800.

Things to know:

  • When you book nights with points, you will not earn points for the stay.
  • Most hotel taxes are not charged on award stays, so this can make the value of buying points even better.  Arguably, this factor and the one above roughly cancel each other out.
  • Resort and destination fees are charged to you regardless of whether you book with cash or points.
  • When you book 5 award nights in one booking at one hotel, Marriott charges you only for 4 nights (the least expensive night is removed from the cost).
  • You will earn elite nights on either cash or point stays.  This is only relevant to those seeking elite status.
  • Please see our guide for more information: Marriott Bonvoy Complete Guide.

Air France 75% bonus (Buy points for 1.75 cents each)

Air France

Promotion details:

  • Valid through January 14, 2020
  • Buy 30,000 – 75,000 miles, get a 75% bonus.
    • This results in a cost of 1.57 cents Euro per mile.
    • With the exchange rate at the time of writing, that comes to 1.75 cents US per mile
  • Maximum purchase per calendar year: 75,000 miles (not counting bonus miles).  Elite members are not limited.
  • Maximum bonus miles that can be earned during promotion: 100,000
  • Offer link

Best uses:

  • Air France Flying Blue Promo Rewards.  Each month, Air France offers discounted award rates for a number of routes.  Sometimes we’ll see economy flights from the US to Europe available for less than 11,000 miles one-way.  That’s less than $200 in purchased points.  Keep in mind that you’ll also have to pay taxes and fees which vary by route.
  • Delta economy flights between the US and Hawaii for 17,500 miles one-way.  That’s just over $300 one-way with purchased points.  That’s not necessarily much of a deal, but it can be on some routes.  Air France also has great award prices for Delta first class to Hawaii, but Delta rarely releases first class award space on its Hawaii routes.

Things to know:

  • Air France awards usually incur taxes and fees.
  • Award availability may be hard to find.  Buy miles only if you know that the awards you want are available.

American Airlines 70% bonus (Buy points for 1.98 cents each)

  • Valid through January 5, 2020
  • Buy 100,000 – 150,000 miles, get a 70% bonus
    (this results in a cost of 1.98 cents per mile vs. the usual 2.96 cents per mile price)
  • Bug Alert: There appears to be a bug in the AA pricing.  If you try to buy the full 150,000 miles, the resulting price is too high and results in a cost of 2.07 cents per mile.  If you buy any amount from 100,000 to 149,000 miles, though, it correctly prices at 1.98 cents per mile.
  • You can purchase up to 150,000 miles per year.
  • Offer Link

Best Uses:

  • Economy US to Europe for 22,500 miles off-peak.
  • US to Japan or Korea for 60,000 miles one-way business class.
  • US to Africa for 75,000 miles one-way business class.  Qatar Qsuites anyone?
  • Middle East to Asia for 50,000 miles one-way first class.
  • Europe to Africa for 55,000 miles one-way business class or 80,000 miles first class.

Things to know:

  • Saver award availability on American’s own flights is often very hard to find.  Availability on some partners is easier. Buy miles only if you know that the awards are available.
  • AA miles can be great for some extremely high end awards such as Etihad First Apartments (which I reviewed here), Cathay Pacific, JAL, Qatar, etc.
  • AA allows mixing partners in one award.  For example, you could book an award which includes both JAL and Cathay Pacific.
  • AA passes along British Airways fuel surcharges.  This is worth noting because these charge are often crazy high, especially for premium cabin awards. This means that you’ll often see great business class award availability but then you may be disappointed when you find out that BA is the carrier.

British Airways 30% bonus Avios (Don’t buy points for 2.13 cents each)

British Airways Club Suites look awesome. Sadly, British Airways imposes very high fuel surcharges on premium awards.
  • Valid through Jan 30 2020
  • Buy up to 200,000 Avios, get a 30% bonus
  • With the bonus, the price per Avios is 2.13 cents per point (vs. the usual price of 2.775 cents per point)
  • The Bonus Avios will not count towards your promotional limit of 200,000 Avios.
  • Offer Link

Best uses:

  • Ugh. Don’t bother with this deal.  Avios points are often available for far less.

Things to know:

  • Flights where British Airways is the operating carrier usually include hefty fuel surcharges, especially for premium cabin awards.
  • Reduce fuel charges by booking two one-way awards rather than one round trip.

Etihad 30% discount (Buy points for 1.4 cents each)

Etihad miles offer very good award prices on American Airlines flights.  Unfortunately, AA is very stingy about releasing award space.

Promotion details:

  • Valid through December 31, 2019
  • Buy 41,000 – 60,000 miles, get a 30% discount
    (this results in a cost of 1.4 cents per mile vs. the usual 2 cents per mile price)
  • A maximum of 100,000 miles can be purchased within a single calendar year
  • Offer link

Best uses:

  • Fly Royal Air Maroc business class for 44K miles each way between North America and Casablanca.  At 1.4 cents per mile, that’s a one-way cost of only $616!
  • Fly Brussels Airlines business class for 44K miles each way between North America and Europe.  At 1.4 cents per mile, that’s a one-way cost of only $616!
  • Fly American Airlines business class for 50K miles each way between North America and Europe.  At 1.4 cents per mile, that’s a one-way cost of only $700!
  • Fly American Airlines first class within the US and Canada for 25K miles each way.  At 1.4 cents per mile, that’s a one-way cost of $350.  Whether or not that’s a deal depends upon the route.
  • Fly American Airlines economy class within the US and Canada for 12.5K miles each way.  At 1.4 cents per mile, that’s a one-way cost of $175.  Whether or not that’s a deal depends upon the route.

Things to know:

  • Award availability may be very hard to find.  Buy miles only if you know that the awards are available.
  • Etihad doesn’t show partner award space online.  Find the award space through other sites and then call Etihad to book your award.  For example, you can search for Brussels Airlines award space on United.com; search for AA award space on Qantas.com; and search for Royal Air Maroc award space at RoyalAirMaroc.com.
  • Awards may include additional taxes and fees (such as fuel surcharges) not shown in the examples above.

Virgin Atlantic standard price (Buy points for 2.22 cents each)

Details:

  • Virgin Atlantic offers somewhat reasonable standard pricing for their miles
  • Purchase price: $22 per 1,000 miles plus a $20 transaction fee.  Due to the transaction fee, you’ll do better to buy more miles at once (max: 100,000)
  • Cost per mile when you purchase 100,000 = $2,220 / 100,000 = 2.22 cents per mile
  • Miles are available to buy in increments of 1,000 miles, and you can purchase up to 100,000 miles in the calendar year.
  • Offer Link

Best Uses:

  • Fly US to Japan First Class Round Trip for 110,000 or 120,000 miles.  Total cost if you purchased all of the required miles would be less than $2,700 (not counting taxes & fees)!
  • Fly US to Europe non-stop on Delta One (business class) for 50,000 miles, or 100,000 miles round-trip.  Total cost for round-trip: $2,220 plus award taxes and fees.
  • Fly US to Asia non-stop on Delta One (business class) for 60,000 miles, or 120,000 miles round-trip.
  • Almost all Virgin Atlantic economy flights are cheap to book with miles, especially during standard pricing dates (they charge more during certain peak dates).  One-way examples include:
    • East Coast US to London 10K
    • London to South Africa, China, or Hong Kong: 12.5K
    • London to India: 10K

Things to know:

  • Award availability may be hard to find.  Buy miles only if you know that the awards are available.
  • Most Delta flights can be booked online.  You must call to book ANA flights.
  • Flights to/from London include often hefty fuel surcharges.  Best deal is one-way from Hong Kong to London for only ~$42 in fees.
  • Reduce fuel charges by booking two one-way awards rather than one round trip.

Choice 30% discount (Buy points for 0.69 cents each)

Details:

  • Save 30% when buying 5,000+ Choice Privileges points.
  • 5,000-9,000 = 0.77cpp, 10,000+ = 0.69cpp.
  • Direct link to offer (our affiliate link).

Best uses:

  • Use points to book upgraded rooms for the same award price as standard rooms.
  • Look for situations where the point price offers better than 1 cent per point value.  For example, if the point price is 20,000 points, then points would be a good value when the paid price is $200 or more.
  • Choice’s Nordic properties are known to offer particularly good value.
  • With Bluegreen Vacation properties, it’s possible to condos (sometimes with up to 3 bedrooms) for only 30,000 points per night.

Things to know:

  • Free night awards can only be booked within 100 days of check-in.
  • Each hotel is assigned point award prices that may vary by season or by day of week.
  • Choice often offers points for sale for less than half a cent each during the Daily Getaways each spring.  It’s worth waiting for that deal if you don’t need points immediately.
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