There are several ways to earn airline miles through booking hotels. Credit cards, shopping portals and flights do not have to be the only source for airline mile accumulation, hotels make a great source of miles to fill your coffers.
There are 2 basic ways to earn airline miles through booking hotels:
- Transferring hotel points to airline miles
- Booking hotels through sites like Rocket Miles & Points Hound
Hotel Points to Airline Miles
Many hotels loyalty programs allow travelers to transfer their point to a mileage program. Some are better than others. Knowing which which programs are the best will help you if you decide you would rather have airline miles instead of hotel points.
You can convert hotel points to airline miles with just about every major hotel program. Let’s focus on the top 3 for our examples:
- Hilton HHonors
- Hyatt Gold Passport
- Marriott Rewards (Starwood Preferred Guest)
Transfer rates of 10:1 or 20:3, which would turn 25,000 HHonors points into 3,750 American Airlines miles, which is pretty lousy.
Hyatt Gold Passport
Transfer rates hover around 5:2. 25,000 Hyatt points result in 10,000 miles on American, United or Delta. Better that Hilton but considering you can get a free night at a Hyatt property starting at 5,000, it may not make sense to move your points over.
Marriott Rewards (Starwood Preferred Guest)
Marriott just brought Starwood properties which currently has the best transfer ratio of 1:1 on several airlines such as American & United. No changes currently to how they would transfer points but eventually, who knows. Marriott has slightly more complicated math for airline transfers but 20,000 points round out to about 5,000 American or Delta miles but somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 or 8,000 miles with United thanks to a nice 20% boost Marriott Hotels has with United MilePlus. Perhaps this is a good option if you have orphan points from a couple Marriott hotels and want to make some good use of them.
Earn Airline Miles Through Booking Hotels
Of course, you don’t need to stay loyal to a major hotel chain to earn airline miles, there are a couple other ways to earn airline miles through booking hotels around the world. Rocket Miles & Points Hound are 2 hotel booking sites that let travelers earn airline miles for their favorite loyalty program. They basically do the same Orbitz type service but only focus on hotels and the potential airline miles you can earn.
While the end result of miles is the same with these sites, they both return wildly different hotel costs and miles per nights of booking. Take this example. I am going to Iceland and want to see how many American Airline miles I can accrue for 1 night in Reykjavik.
Results from Points Hound
Results from Rocket Miles
As you can see, there is a huge delta with these 2 sites for the same night in the same city. Points Hound is offering a room $30 cheaper that earns 300 more miles per night. While both sites claim to have comparable prices to other online booking agencies, a quick search of Kayak resulted in the same hotel going for about $100 a night, but sadly, no American miles.
Consider that a one-way flight from CLT- BOS in off-peak is 12,500 miles on American, 5 days at this hotel booked through Points Hound will almost yield a free flight [2,300 x 5= 11,500]. If you use a miles credit card to make the reservation, that total is [11,500 + 1,610 = 13,100], enough for a free flight. To calculate the miles earned from the credit card [price of room x # of nights] x 2 miles for every dollar spent]. Remember most mileage cards double the spend for travel purchases.
TIP: Always make sure you check prices on the hotel portal as well as a Kayak service. Sometimes, hotels run specials for the nights you want and they are not advertised anywhere but their own site.
Another great advantage to these sites is the miles earned are sometimes not in direct correlation with the price of the room. For example, a hotel room in San Francisco, you see a huge swing of $60 per night per room for the same amount of airline miles earned. Granted the locations are not the same, but this is great to know of you just need a place for the night and are not too particular about where.