Reward Points Sales – are they worth it?

These days, most airlines and hotel companies sell points or miles in their rewards programs, often advertised at steep discounts. But are they worth it? Are they a good deal or a waste of money? Read my tips with three examples from  Choice and Hilton Hotels, as well as Alaska Airlines for ongoing point sales!

Points & miles have become a big and profitable business for hotel and airline reward programs. So much so, that some programs have been considered more valuable than the airlines behind them. Many programs sell the points all year long at sky-high prices, allowing travelers to top of their accounts for that long-planned dream vacation. While I understand that you want to make that trip happen, I generally recommend to not do that – standard prices are typically several times higher than the average value of the points. 

But things can be interesting during sales of points with discounts of 50% or bonus points of up to 100%. I provided examples of great Wyndham Rewards point value recently! So, lets review three current sales as examples how to assess the value of a sale:

Alaska Airlines is currently offering miles in their MileagePlan program with a 40% bonus when you purchase 50,000-60,000 miles at a price of 2.11cents/mile. I value Alaska MileagePlan miles at 1.5 ct/mile, so this is still a 40% premium. But it can be well worth it, if you have a high-value redemption in mind, for example for Cathay Pacific Business Class or First Class tickets! Miles redeemed for premium cabins can be worth more than 3 cents/mile, making a miles purchase a good deal. This offer ends on July 13th and represents the highest typical discount/bonus Alaska has offered in the past – you can shop here!

CX Business Class Seat

Choice Hotels is currently selling points in there Choice Privileges rewards program at 30% off or 0.77 cents/point. I value Choice Points at 0.6 cents/point, so this is still a premium of 30%. But you can get much higher redemption value when you book award stays in very expensive countries, like Sweden, Denmark or Japan, where points can be worth more than 1 cent each! But Choice also is a good case why purchasing points speculatively is not a good idea: Choice only allows you to book award stays up to 100 days in advance – so this only works for trips on short notice and you don’t know if you will be able to use the points. On top, Choice award rates change by season and weekday, making it even harder to evaluate the points. But this is the highest typical bonus/discount Choice typically offers, so if you have a great Choice redemption in mind, you can buy them here!

Ascend Collection Stockholm, photo courtesy of Choice website

Hilton Hotels is offering Hilton Honors points currently at a discount of 30%. You can buy up to 80,000 points at a price of 0.7 cents/point. I value Hilton Honors points at 0.4 cents/point and Hilton frequently sells their points with a 100% bonus or at 0.5 cents/point, making this a bad deal.  Also keep in mind that Hilton Honors is one of the most “revenue oriented” reward programs out there, so it has become very difficult to get outsized value out of the program that exceeds 0.5 cents/point. I’d recommend to wait for the next (inevitable) sale with a higher discount or bonus, if you want to purchase Hilton Honors points. If you have a great value redemption planned and want to buy anyway, you can do so here!

Conrad Rangali Pool

Bottomline: The key to getting a good deal when buying reward points is to know the value of the points. I publish how I evaluate airline miles or hotel points in my reviews, providing you with a good guideline to get started. But more important is that YOU have a high value redemption in mind. I might value Hilton Honors points at 0.4 cents/point, but a last-minute redemption during a convention mayt give you 1 cent/point, so it always pays to do the math before you buy! It also pays to read about sales regularly, so you know the “best available” sales prices – not all sales are created equal as Hilton proves in this case!
To stay up to date on miles & point values and sales, please follow me on Twitter – I’m posting news daily, so you can stay up to date on the world of travel with my Twitter updates! Or, for a weekly update, sign up for my newsletter for a Sunday Summary!

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