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✈️ How to use hotel points for flights

Plus, IHG has made some solid updates to their milestone awards, and flights to Croatia are SUPER cheap right now.

Estimated read time: 4 minutes and 13 seconds

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Good morning and welcome back to Daily Drop!

I just finished booking a pretty ridiculous itinerary with Aeroplan that I’m super excited to tell you about in a couple of weeks…

And it only took two hours on hold, multiple agent errors, a broken booking system, and 45 minutes of crying into my phone.

Overall, not bad for Aeroplan.

But enough about me…. Here’s what I’ve got for YOU:

🏨 IHG updates milestone rewards

In case you weren’t aware, IHG just revamped its entire loyalty program last year. Overall, I think the program is MUCH better than before.

For example, one of their major changes was the addition of milestone rewards, similar to Hyatt’s program.

Starting at just 20 nights every year, you can earn some valuable milestone perks, including:

  • Bonus points

  • Food & beverage credits

  • Suite upgrades

  • Lounge membership

It’s a great way to rack up meaningful benefits every year without needing to necessarily earn elite status.

There is one issue, however…

IHG has TOTALLY botched these benefits… many of them haven’t been usable at certain brands, upgrades haven’t been usable for award stays, and the tech around how they function has been abysmal.

Thankfully, however, IHG has (allegedly) fixed these issues and sent out an update to members.

Here are the new updates, according to IHG:

  1. You can now use suite upgrades on award bookings (yay)

  2. Food & beverage awards can be used at Holiday Inn Express, Avid Hotels, Staybridge Suites, and Candlewood Suites as of January 1st, 2024

  3. Expiring food & beverage credits will be automatically extended through June 30th, 2024

You may be surprised to hear that most of my friends prefer IHG over other hotel programs.

Their credit card is one of the best in the biz, their points are easy to earn and redeem, and they have properties everywhere in the world, sometimes for INSANELY low prices…

Personally, I have expiring awards that I haven’t been able to use, and I know many of you are in the same situation.

The fact that IHG is aware of how bad this issue is and is taking concrete steps to address it is great news.

I have dozens of nights planned at IHG hotels in 2024, and this update definitely makes me more confident about continuing to invest in their program.

✈️ How to use hotel points to fly

Want to know a secret?

Okay, fine… I’ll tell you. But you have to promise to keep it on the DL.

You can use hotel points to book flights. 🤯

In fact… There are some AMAZING ways to do exactly this and fly around the world, even in luxury.

Basically, certain hotel programs allow you to transfer your points to airline partners. Sadly, it’s usually at a TERRIBLE ratio…

The one program that is actually reasonable for converting hotel points to airline miles is… and this is weird to say… Marriott Bonvoy.

Marriott allows you to transfer your hotel points to 39 different airline programs, most of which are at a 3:1 ratio.

To sweeten the pot, you’ll get an extra 5,000 airline miles for every 60,000 points you transfer.

With Marriott’s unique relationship with United Airlines, you’ll get 10,000 bonus miles for every 60,000 points you transfer.

That means that you can turn 60,000 Marriott points into 30,000 United miles, which is not a bad deal at all.

Since Marriott points are worth less than most airline miles, this is not as bad of a proposition as it might seem on the surface.

My personal favorite use of this transfer method is sending points to more obscure airlines that are otherwise difficult to earn points in, like:

  • Qantas

  • American Airlines

  • Turkish Airlines

  • ANA

In fact, you can use ANA miles to book some CRAZY itineraries around the world, like this one:

In fact, in this week’s episode of The Daily Drop Podcast, I explain how to book that EXACT itinerary in BUSINESS CLASS, including all hotel nights, using ONLY Marriott Bonvoy points.

So, if you want to hear about that and other cool itineraries, check out this week’s podcast episode, where we plan out sample trips for various readers of Daily Drop. 👇

🌎 Where in the World Wednesday: Croatia

Our favorite travel app, FareDrop, has done it again… And that’s because it’s taking us to Split, Croatia for CHEAP 😏👇

Like “$439 roundtrip from New York” cheap 🤯

In case you’re new around here and don’t know, FareDrop is the brainchild of Kara and Nate—curated for eager travelers who are hoping to score the best flight deal of their life.

In short, the app does all the work for you, day and night, sourcing the best flight fares for your next trip.

So why not let FareDrop determine your next destination, eh? It could actually, literally, save you hundreds of dollars.

But now we’re just showing off. Let’s talk a little bit about why Split is SO DOPE.

It’s particularly dope this time of year—the temps are favorable and the crowds are smaller.

What I wouldn’t do is go in the dead middle of summer like I did one year… that is, unless you want to be swarmed by the hoards of cruise ships that roll into port.

HOWEVER... Fancying a trip in the upcoming winter and spring? Then Split is like that eccentric yet lovable relative who effortlessly combines tradition with modern flair.

You’ve got Roman ruins, the UNESCO-designated Diocletian’s Palace, bustling markets, and tons of hipster cafes.

And then there’s the FOOD. It’s a real-life seafood extravaganza. The fresh fish, the squid ink risotto… and don’t forget the local wines and olive oils 🤤

Split just has some serious Mediterranean vibes all around, so if you’re wanting a beach holiday, the entire country has got you completely covered

So yeah, if you want to score an awesome deal on flights to a destination just like this one, consider looking to FareDrop to close the deal (and close out the year) 😎

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That’s all for today, folks! Make sure you tune in tomorrow for some EPIC family travel hacks.

For now, however, take care and have a fantastic rest of your day ❤️

Mike Dodge
Head Writer, Daily Drop

52°22'35.4"N 52°15'17.4"W