This May Be the Single Greatest Use of Rewards Points, Ever

Whether it’s Dan Eleff spending a million Starpoints to throw out the first pitch in game 7 of the World Series where his hometown Indians are playing or Pizza in Motion using points so his wife could have tennis lessons from Andre Agassi there are things you can do – worthwhile things – with points that may be better for you than just travel.

And Ed Pizzarello shares a video of Cliff Yow announcing an NFL draft pick.

This is cool. I usually say you should redeem miles and points for travel, not merchandise, to get the best deal. But when a travel brand or bank uses their relationships and leverage to secure access to experiences you couldn’t ever arrange yourself, and it lines up with your dreams, there’s little better.

And surprisingly this appears to have gone for ‘just’ 187,500 Marriott Rewards points, equivalent to 62,500 Starwood Starpoints. It came with two VIP tickets to the draft and a player meet and greet.

So there’s a real payoff to that NFL tie in Marriott had. We were getting plenty of points on twitter but this is special. Two years ago they added experiential redemptions which have long been a part of Starwood Preferred Guest.

There’s a middle ground, too, not just the million point redemptions that still get insider access to better experiences, last year I went to the BottleRock festival in Napa, an SPG Moment and I wouldn’t do a festival any other way.

As I explained in The Craziest Things You Can Do With Your Miles, and Why You Don’t Want to Do Them travel redemptions are far better than getting your loyalty program to buy you ‘stuff’ because programs have to go out and buy the stuff, their costs to do it are high, and so you’ll always get a poor value for your points.

There are very few exceptions to using airline, hotel, and credit card loyalty points for something other than travel.

Most of those exceptions come under the rubric of ‘life experiences’ — the idea that you can leverage the relationships of a big company to gain access to things you probably couldn’t do on your own.

Don’t use your points for a new LCD toaster. Do consider using your points (when it won’t break the bank) for an up close performance, with just a few other folks, by a world-renowned artist if that’s the kind of thing that interests you. Or go to the Oscars, because without the contacts your bank has when in the world would you ever get to otherwise?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Thanks for the mention Gary. I bought the package for a couple reasons. The first was having a bucket list item fulfilled and the other was to give some promotion to the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation who are working diligently on building Gold Star Monuments across the United States honoring the families of our fallen heroes. I am currently the Co-Chair of the one we are building in Gainesville, Texas. Here is our site if anyone would like more info.

  2. OK, I’ve got a high six figure balance of Hyatt points and it’s very unlikely that I’ll use them all on hotel stays. What cool experiences like this can I redeem for?


    I cashed out a couple hundred thousand this year for Costco gift cards. Yes, I know the value sucked, but I’ve lost all confidence in Aeroplan going forward, and cut my losses and got out.

  4. I used orphan Hyatt points for local Hyatt hotel dining, orphan Wyndham points for a Macy’s gift card, and orphan Marriott points for a kitchen hand electric mixer. Everyone should look at his orphan points.

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