Got a few extra hundred thousand points or so that you don’t know what to do with? No problem, travel providers have found a way to help you out.
Auctions with Points Or Miles
Sure, anyone can save up miles (or money, for that matter) to fly First Class around the world. But how many of us can say that we’ve been to the Academy of Country Music Awards and had a picture taken on the red carpet? Or run out onto the field before a Cubs game and then watched it from box seats? As airlines and hotels look for new ways to all customers to use points, they’re increasingly partnering with local merchants to offer experiences that would normally be difficult or impossible to buy outright with points. You’ll have a wide range of items to bid from, whether it’s VIP access to see UB40 in Hong Kong (starting bid at 15,000 Marriott Rewards points) or tickets to the Final Four, hotel included (sold for 975,000 Marriott Rewards points).
Here’s a few things to know:
- These packages aren’t bargains: Exclusivity has its price. There are a lot of people out there with a lot of points/miles to spend, and they’re willing to use those points to get what they want. See that Delta Private Jets auction above? Looks great, doesn’t it? Sky Access gives you access to last-minute flights that happen to have empty space on them (no guarantees of anything). You could normally buy the package for $8,500, meaning that the current top bidder is not even receiving a penny per mile in value (and the auction doesn’t end for more than a week). You’d better be darned sure that you’re not going to use those miles anywhere else at a better
- Most business is local: Delta is an Atlanta-based carrier and has hubs in Salt Lake City, Detroit and Minneapolis, among other cities. Guess where most of its partnerships are? Exactly. It has has decades to build relationships with local businesses and its most profitable customers are based in those cities. In other words, they’re a lot more likely to have Atlanta Braves tickets than they are, say, Texas Rangers.
- Many travel providers offer auctions: You can see examples of them here with or , for instance, with Delta or Marriott, but they aren’t alone.
- Sometimes, you get lucky: Several years ago, I was booking a trip to Vietnam. Coincidentally, Starwood was offering a huge package for the area. Since there wasn’t a lot of demand for Vietnam, I got a great deal on a room and tours.
The Bottom Line: If nothing else, it’s fun to check out what’s up for grabs. Stop in at your favorite travel provider’s site and look in the section that explains how to use your points. You never know.
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