Many of us at one time or another have found ourselves in a situation where we were few thousand miles/points short. Often, the only way to remedy the problem is to buy that currency right then and there. After all, if we wait, our award seat may disappear. Few of us would pay 3 cents per mile without a specific goal in mind, but when your family vacation is on the line, it seems like a bargain, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, most programs sell miles in increments of 1,000. That’s pretty annoying when you need, say, 1,100 miles. In that case, you would have to buy 2,000 miles at a cost of $60-$90. You can buy SPG points in increments of 500, but transfers to mileage programs are not instant.
That’s why I recommend you try to top up your mileage accounts to the nearest thousand, especially if you happen to redeem miles frequently. Obviously, if you only have 1,400 miles total (or other puny amount), it’s not critical. Otherwise, rounding up your account could pay off big time.
Occasionally, there are opportunities to get points/miles extremely cheap, even free.
Marriott Rewards MORE program
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, you’ve probably taken advantage of Marriott football quiz promos on Twitter.
Shameless self-promotion alert! Make sure to Like our Facebook page where I regularly share miles and points deals that are (in my opinion) not worthy of a separate blog post.
Anyway, somehow I ended up with 7,850 Marriott points in my account just by answering a question every Sunday. I don’t even watch football and have no clue what they are talking about most of the time. I really wish I got a Twitter account for my husband, but oh well.
Let’s say I wanted to convert my Marriott points to SPG on 3:1 basis. Unfortunately, you can transfer in 1,000 points increments (see a pattern?), so I would end up with 2,333 SPG points. Unless you have elite status with SPG, you are required to transfer a minimum of 2,500 SPG points to your mileage account. That means I would have to purchase 1,000 Marriott points for $12.50 or 500 SPG points at a cost of $17.50. It’s not the end of the world, but annoying nonetheless.
Fortunately, there is a better way: Marriott Rewards MORE program.
The selection of retailers is not that great. However, there are two things that make taking advantage of this promo a no-brainer. You earn bonus on purchase of gift cards (at least in the case of Apple.com) and points post instantly. This has been my experience plus, the terms don’t seem to prohibit it.
I bought a $25 iTunes gift card and got 1,025 Marriott points credited to my account instantly. I don’t need to make a mileage transfer from SPG right now but if I did, I would no longer have to purchase additional points. I applied the gift card to our iTunes account, and we’ll have no issues draining it.
But what if you don’t really need an iTunes gift card? There is an option to purchase a $25 Apple gift card instead, which you can resell on Giftcardgranny.com for $22.38, and take a loss of a few bucks in the process:
You can, technically, sell iTunes gift card as well, but the resale rate will be a lot lower. There are other stores on the list that sell gift cards, like Macy’s and Petco and I’m assuming the same principle would apply there as well. But I can only vouch for Apple.com Obviously, if you actually need to buy something from Macy’s, Petco or other store on the list, you won’t have to deal with any of these shenanigans.
I went ahead and did this promo through my husband’s Marriott account in order to collect another 1,000 points. Like I said, we can easily utilize iTunes gift cards. I realize that you can often purchase those on sale, but 1,000 Marriott points will likely be a better option for most. If you absolutely need 1,000 Marriott points right now, look at it as $12.50 discount on a $25 gift card. Not too shabby!
Marriott lets spouses combine points for free, so one of these days our cumulative stash may come in handy. AAdvantage program lets you put your award tickets on hold for five days, and transfers from SPG take around two-three days. So, that’s one scenario where taking advantage of Marriott Rewards MORE bonus would be quite compelling. Who knows, I may even utilize the points towards a Category 2 SPG property (3,000 points on a weekend) or one in Marriott chain.
But the moral of the story is: before buying/transferring miles or points, look for other creative ways to collect them instead. And even if you don’t have a specific need for them right now, taking advantage of lucrative promos here and there can make a lot of sense. Just don’t spend hours of your time so you can save $12.50!
Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.