I made what is probably one of my best promotional redemptions ever, using the Marriott travel packages program and Aeroplan’s current 35% promotional transfer bonus from partnering hotel conversion partners (e.g., Marriott, SPG, etc.). Unlike previous promotions, this promotion isn’t tiered, meaning whatever points you convert to Aeroplan, you’ll get a 35% bonus on your normal amount.
What’s this amazing redemption you made?
I redeemed 90,000 SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) points for one week at a rather expensive ‘Protea’ hotel in Africa. For the dates and room category I was assigned, using the Marriott.com website, and searching for the ‘best available rate’, my rate would total (using today’s (August 13) conversion rate on Google) $CAD 1420.22. I also got 162,000 Aeroplan miles, good for two one-way tickets to said African destination in business class – the tickets were ~$83 per person with taxes and fees and 75,000 Aeroplan points. I’d say this is without-argument a fantastic redemption.
How much time do I have left?
This promotion expires August 21 (note that Aeroplan I.T. seems to operate on ‘GMT’ time).
If this promotion operates like every other promotion I know of with Aeroplan, the date that appears on your statement is usually the date after you initiated the points transfer to Aeroplan or the date that the hotel partner actually sends the points over (which may be a few days after you initiated the transfer).
For example, if you sent your Marriott points today (August 13), Marriott may send the points to Aeroplan on August 15, and the points may show up in your Aeroplan account on August 20. In this case, your Aeroplan statement date would likely be August 15, the date the hotel partner sent the transfer to Aeroplan. In essence, I believe that you should feel comfortable transferring points at the latest on August 17, which gives you time for the hotel partner to wait to send the request to Aeroplan before or on August 21. While it’s possible initiating the transfer on August 21 may prove eligible, I’d be careful.
How’d you book that? How can I book that?
If you redeem X Marriott points, you’ll get a free 1-week redemption voucher for any Category/Tier Y-Z Marriott/Ritz-Carlton property in the world, and a certain number of points, depending on how many Marriott points you redeem. The “sweet-spot” redemption category gives you the following:
270,000 Marriott Points => 1Wk Category 1-5 Hotel Cert + 120,000 Airline Miles
This is a great redemption any way that you look at it. You can choose a number of carriers, the most valued being Alaska Airlines and Aeroplan miles. There is also a special redemption for United miles, 270,000 Marriott points netting you the hotel certificate and 132,000 United miles (which are great to avoid fuel surcharges on redemptions for Canadians). However, with Aeroplan’s current transfer bonus, which is a regular promotion (though this quarter’s promotion is especially generous), this would net you 162,000 Aeroplan miles!
270,000 Marriott Points => 1Wk Category 1-5 Hotel Cert + 162,000 Aeroplan Miles
162,000 Aeroplan miles is almost enough for two people to fly from North America to Europe one-way (or vice-versa), and the other way in economy (55,000*2 + 30,000 *2 = 170,000), plus the purchase of 8,000 Aeroplan miles + tax at four cents a mile (by the way, did that go up from three cents a mile?) for a total of $320+tax. If you have 8,000 miles or more, no need to purchase more for the above referenced redemption example.
Note that you can redeem more Marriott miles for a higher hotel category if you want, meaning if you have more miles, you could stay a week at a luxury Ritz-Carlton or Edition hotel. You can redeem at one category on one day, and then redeem the delta for the desired redemption at a later date. Note that your nights have to be used consecutively and at the same hotel. If you only want four nights, you can still do that, but you don’t get anything back for the missing three nights. There’s no issue adding extra nights by paying for those extra nights, or doing this promotion back-to-back. The certificate is valid for one year, and you have to use it within that year. There’s anecdotal evidence on Flyertalk and RedFlagDeals that suggests you can request that Marriott extends the validity period of the certificate.
There’s an easy way to get the required number of Marriott points. SPG points instantly convert into Marriott points at a 1 (SPG) : 3 (Marriott) ratio. Therefore 90,000 SPG points would convert into the required 270,000 Marriott points. Unless you have the required points now (in which case, do this before the previously mentioned “safe date” of August 17), you’re unlikely to make this bonus. However, these bonuses are frequent, though this is the best-ever offer from Aeroplan for this type of conversion promotion. I wouldn’t be surprised if something as good or better appears, as Aeroplan is struggling with diminishing consumer confidence, major stock-market loss, and a very slight “run on the bank” which is increasing consumer payouts thus reducing reserve cash or available credit. This may incite Aeroplan to strengthen consumer confidence by offering lucrative promotional offers such as this.
How do I get enough points/miles quickly for this?
Well, a primary focus of this blog is churning for Canadians, so the answer is… guess it… churning! That is, signing-up for credit cards for the sole purpose of getting promotional account bonuses and then closing the card, ad infinitum. This post isn’t going to cover the basics of this, something you can learn about through the search bar to this blog.
These are the cards I would recommend, and the fashion to do it. Remember that a good rule-of-thumb for churning is to do all applications as close together as possible for the application strategy. The theory is that other creditors may not see your other requests for credit made so shortly before, therefore increasing you odds of success, since every credit inquiry does very slightly hurt your score.
SPG Personal Credit Card by American Express (Canada) – Current 25,000 sign-up bonus with $1,500 min. spend in 3mo, $120 fee [referral – best offer] Note: The 25,000 sign-up bonus is a limited time promotion, the regular promotion being 20,000 points.
Marriott Rewards Credit Card by J.P. Morgan Chase (Canada) – 50,000 Marriott points after first purchase, first year free. [non-referral – best offer]
(whenever you get the SPG Personal card)
Self-refer SPG Personal Credit Card to SPG Business Credit Card by American Express (Canada). You’ll get 10,000 SPG points for self-referring, and you’ll get 25,000 SPG points from this credit card after spending $1,500 in three months, with a $150 annual fee. Your business can be a “sole proprietorship” where you can use your full name as the business name.
[current totals: 50,000 Marriott + 60,000 SPG (180,000 Marriott) + 3,000 SPG from spend (9,000 Marriott) = 239,000 Marriott]
When you’re ready…
Unless you have Marriott points from stays or wanted to transfer other miles, your best best to get to 270,000 is to either: (a) refer an SPG card to someone, giving you 10,000 SPG points (and buy the remaining 1,000 Marriott points or make it through spend on the SPG card), or; (b) have a travel companion get the Marriott card and transfer 31,000 points to you, which costs $US 10, or free if the member has Marriott Gold.
Total cost for this method?
In an optimal situation (where you can refer someone at least once for an SPG credit card, like a spouse or a friend), your costs would be as follows for the theoretical redemption of 1 week at any Marriot Category 1 – 5 hotel and 162,000 Aeroplan miles:
$CAD 120 (SPG Personal) + 150 (SPG Business) + 320+tax (Aeroplan buy-up if necessary).
That’s a phenomenal deal, giving you two one-way business class tickets and two one-way economy class tickets from North America to Europe (and vice-versa). I also assume that most of my readers have at least some Aeroplan points, meaning they don’t have to do the $320 buy-up, making it an even better deal.
90,000 SPG points = 270,000 Marriott points = 1 week Cat. 1 -5 Marriott hotel + 162,000 Aeroplan miles!