Since You’re Not Supposed to Use Your Miles for Free Tickets Anymore, Here’s What to Do Instead

Delta’s incoming President doesn’t want you to redeem your miles for free tickets. (Maybe that’s why Delta adds fuel surcharges to China Southern, China Eastern, and Aeroflot awards to name a few as well as European-originating tickets? Then those aren’t free.)

Instead he wants you to use your miles at a penny apiece for Stella Artois beer in the airline’s SkyClubs.

That’s a bad idea.

The best way to use your points is for travel, using airline miles for airline tickets and hotel points for hotel stays (except with Starwood, where they offer great value in transferring points to airline miles as well).

But there are things other than free tickets — or free room nights — worth doing with your points.

Use Your Miles for Experiences

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?

Starwood’s Major League Baseball Opportunities

Starwood has a partnership with Major League Baseball.

With the SPG Moments program there are things you can bid your points for (many go for far fewer points than they should) and others that are fixed-price redemptions.

  • There’s an auction to sing the Star Spangled Banner at a Chicago Cubs game (they make you submit a tape first because, well…)
  • Tickets to Cubs game in a Starwood Luxury Suite at Wrigley Field are available at a fixed price.
  • Your kids can take the field and get photographed for 20,000 points.

There are Spring Training packages as well.

Some of the baseball opportunities are new. Formula One packages have long been a part of SPG Moments, as well as music and food.

Starwood’s Major League Baseball Giveaways

To promote the Major League Baseball opportunities Starwood has a sweepstakes game: >Get in the Game.

Through March 18 you can play once a day for prizes like World Series tickets and Starwood points.

You pick the baseball teams, and even the pitch to throw.

What doesn’t make sense to me is that since you’re choosing the pitch (fastball, curveball, etc) you must be the pitcher. However you’re actually the batter — My first two pitches were strikes, the third the ball was caught. And I was out.

I’m sure I’ll keep losing, but I’ll keep playing, hoping for:

  • 1,000 Starpoints (hit a single)
  • 5,000 Starpoints or a $50 Amazon Gift Card (hit a double — choose the points, trust me)
  • 10,000 Starpoints or a MLB.TV Subscription (hit a triple)
  • 20,000 Starpoints (for a home run)

Each time you play you also are entered for tickets to the 2016 World Series.

Hilton’s New Concert Series

Hilton has launched the second year of its Live Nation concert series.

You can now use points for:

There will also be “a private dinner with the band Wolfmother, an exclusive album listening session with Goo Goo Dolls and meet and greets with various artists all around the world, including Vance Joy, Tom Jones and Of Monsters and Men.”

Increasingly Hilton is offering experiential rewards of all kinds, though, not just music at their auction site.

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. LOL Mike D. Thanks for posting, it reminded me to play again.
    But my results were the same… 2 strikes, then a pop-fly out. I discovered I’m not the batter. Regardless of when I swing or don’t swing, the batter swings.

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