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?