Fact: I fell madly in love with the fun and lucrative nature of the 2011 US Airways Grand Slam.
Fact: I planned to go in even bigger and badder this year with all my family members’ accounts.
Fact: To get the best value from the Grand Slam you need to be prepared with some miles and points in various accounts (namely hotel accounts, eMiles, and eRewards).
Fact: I not only prepared my own accounts, but wrote a series of preparation posts so that others could be well positioned for the 2012 Grand Slam. If you are curious about those now obsolete posts, you can find them here:
Fact: There was no 2012 Grand Slam.
Fact: Many folks (myself included) now have miles and points sitting here, there, and everywhere that were originally intended for the 2012 Grand Slam, but now need a new purpose in life.
Myth: I like coconut. No, I don’t – it’s gross.
Now that it has sunk in for everyone that there won’t be a 2012 Grand Slam, I think it is time to talk about what to do with all the points that were earned, purchased, transferred, etc in preparation for the grand event that never happened. Let’s first look at a few of the various types of hotel points that were likely earmarked for the Grand Slam. I’ll cover the first few in this post, and the rest of the hotel point options in a subsequent post.
With each set of points you will have a few options. Those typically include: use them for hotel stays within that program, go ahead and transfer them to US Airways (or another airline), hold them and wait for a potential transfer bonus before transferring them to an airline, use them for gift cards/merchandise/etc, hold onto them in case there is a Grand Slam 2013, hold onto them and see what the future holds without a specific plan. None of those are inherently good or bad options, but it makes sense to really compare the options with each program to make sure you are getting as much value as possible for your points. I’m going to compare some of those options for you.
I purchased 10,000 Best Western points as part of the Daily Getaway Deals earlier this year specifically with the Grand Slam in mind. I am currently sitting at 10,850 points, and I imagine that many others who bought with the Grand Slam in mind are sitting at a similar number of points. Here are a few options:
- Get to 11,000 points and get a $50 Best Western Travel Card (only elite members can get it at the 11,000 point level, but they do a “No Hassle Status Match”.
- Transfer points to airline miles at a rate of 5,000: 1,000 with American Airlines, Aeroplan, Alaska Airlines, US Airways, Delta, LifeMiles, or Asiana. You can also transfer to Southwest at a rate of 5,000: 1,200.
- There are lots of various retailer $25 gift cards available for 6,500 points
- There are eight categories of Best Western Hotels starting at 8,000 points and going up to 36,000 points per night. Sadly, I know of no Best Western website that lists that hotels within each category. You have to manually check each hotel, and you aren’t going to find very many at the 8,000 point level. Those you do find probably cost about $50 – $60 per night (and even many hotels that cost that amount per night require 12,000 or 16,000 points per night).
- You can transfer Best Western points to another person with the same address, so if that helps you get to an award threshold then that is also an option.
- Best Western points do not expire for those residing in North America (they may for those in other parts of the world according to their website), so there really is not rush to do anything with these points. I will likely let mine sit one more year just in case the Grand Slam isn’t gone forever. If you do want to transfer them out now, I personally think the easiest thing to do is transfer your points to an airline partner. The only exception would be if you have a much larger number of points than I do, as there are some nice Best Western properties, but you aren’t going to get them for 8,000 or 12,000 points per night.
I also purchased Choice Hotel points as part of the Daily Getaways earlier this year and had planned to use some of them for a Grand Slam hit. However, unlike with the points I purchased from Best Western, there are some other pretty solid ways to use Choice Hotel points.
- Some very good values if you use Choice points for hotel award nights. There are many hotels available in Europe for 8,000 points per night. As I pointed out in this post, you also have some pretty solid options in New York City and Nassau for 25,000 points per night. In fact, with the Comfort Suites Paradise Island in Nassau you even have access to the Atlantis amenities. This is how I currently plan to use my Choice points as soon as my daughter is tall enough for the water slides there!
- The downside of using points for hotel award nights is you can only book 30 days out within the US and Canada (if you are from the US or Canada) and then 60 days out in all other locations. I’m usually an advance planner, so I don’t like that type of restriction. If you have elite status with Choice you can book 50, 75, or 100 days in advance. Try to status match if you plan to use your points for hotel nights!
- Just like with Best Western, I am not aware of a master list where all hotels and categories are listed, so individual research is required.
- Choice points do expire on December 31, two years after the year in which they were deposited into your account unless forfeited or canceled earlier due to membership inactivity. So, it is important to come up with some plan for these points in order to not eventually lose them.
- You can transfer your Choice points to United, US Airways, Aeroplan, Alaska, Delta, American, and a few others at a rate of 5,000: 1,000. You can transfer to Southwest at a rate of 6,000: 1,800. I know during the Daily Getaway deals that many were doing this to help get the extra push for the Southwest Companion Pass.
- If you are interested in gift cards, then 16,000 points will get you a variety of different $50 gift cards.
Most of us became pretty familiar with Club Carlson as a result of the “Big Night Giveaway” promotions from 2011 and 2012, but I’ll cover a few basics in case you aren’t yet familiar with what to do with these points.
- Club Carlson points can be extremely useful for obtaining free hotel nights. Free nights in standard rooms range from 9,000 – 50,000 points per night. They also offer cash and points redemptions.
- Some of their properties in Europe can go for the USD equivalent of about $500 per night, so redeeming 50,000 points for that room is a great value. We did this at the May Fair Hotel in London during the Olympics and found it to be a very nice hotel. We have our eye on some properties in Paris that we would like to visit in the future as well.
- You can redeem your points for airline miles with many airlines including: United, US Airways, American, Aeroplan Delta, British Airways, and more. The ratio for transfer is to airline miles is 2,000 : 250, 50,000: 8000, or 100,000: 18,000.
- You can redeem with Paypal at a rate of 34,000 points for $50. You can also redeem for various gift cards.
- I personally think that free hotel nights are the best option with Club Carlson points. If you don’t have enough points for the night you want, you can transfer points to another Club Carlson member and/or purchase points.
- Gold Points do not have an expiration date as long as your account remains active by earning or redeeming within a 24 month period.
I’ll cover more of the hotel options in the next post in this “Grand Slam Liquidation” series. Feel free to share what you plan to do with some of your various hotel points that aren’t going to end up being “hits” this year!