There is a new promotion from American Airlines where you get 20% extra miles for converting Marriott points to AAdvantage Miles. On the page where you can send Marriott points, there is a similar, ongoing promotion with United, where you get effectively 20% more miles for your Marriott points, compared to the regular redemption.
The best redemption levels are with 70,000 and 140,000 Marriott points, leading to 25k and 50k miles, typically, in American and others, and fewer points to get 25k or 50k in United. I have 86k Marriott points, and looking at the Marriott hotel redemption options, I’m not too impressed with the value from them. So I started looking ahead to some possibilities.
If the Ritz card comes back with a 140k points offer, then that would lead to having 143k (or 144k if they up the spend) from that promotion. Combined with the existing 86k leads to 229k or 230k Marriott points. If the AAdvantage promotion comes around, then redeem one 140k set for 50k AAdvantage miles plus 10k or 60k miles, leaving 89k Marriott points. Then, I’d need 51k more Marriott points to have another 140k to redeem for 50k AAdvantage miles plus 10k or 60k miles.
Since this would take a couple of years to play out, that means my Marriott card is effectively earning 2.35 AAdvantage miles in restaurant, rental car, and airline ticket points.
In addition, the Diners card transfers 1,250 Diners points to get 1,500 Marriott points, and since I’m spending 51,000 to get 60,000 miles, Diners earns 1.4 AAdvantage miles in this transfer.
Now, this all of course assumes that I am ignoring the sunk cost / value of the existing Marriott points and don’t intend to redeem those, which is a fair criticism. And yes, I have no intention of redeeming Marriott points at 30,000 for a $ 100 room, or searching for the just-right combination that gives me .9c per point. But in order to get to the next tier of redemptions, I’m going with the 2 miles spend thesis. It gets shortened if I get any Marriott stays in the interim, and ~$ 25k of restaurant let alone $ 50k regular spend is a lot for me, but the objective is a noble one, I think. This also ignores the likely $ 395 Ritz AF, and trying to extract value from that to reduce the sting, but these rose-colored glasses are really awesome.
229,000 Existing Marriott plus Ritz 140k + Ritz Spend
-140,000 Exchange for 50k + 10k or 60k AAdvantage miles
= 89,000 Orphan Marriott points
+ 51,000 New Marriott points earned (ideally via 2x Restaurant/Airfare/Rental Car fee)
=140,000 Exchange for another 50k + 10k or 60k AAdvantage miles
This works out quite simlarly for United, I think one ends up with 5,000 more miles, but the basics are the same. If I use the United redemption, the Marriott redemption is actually less, so with 25,000 more Marriott points, without getting Ritz, I can get another 25,000 United miles, for 50k United miles total. So I’ve got an out if no Ritz appears, and it’s still going to take me a while to get 13,000 restaurant spend done on the Marriott to get to this first level.
The plain United redemption looks like:
86,000 Existing Marriott
-56,000 to get 25,000 United points
= 30,000 Marriott points remaining
+26,000 New Marriott points (or transfers in from Diners at 1.2)
=56,000 to get 25,000 more United points.