7 Lesser-Known Ways to Use Your Loyalty Program Points or Miles

2017-08-22

Forgo a free room or cabin upgrade in favor of these uncommon perks

Consider these underrated options when redeeming your rewards program earnings.
If you’re a member of airline and hotel rewards programs, odds are you’re familiar with the idea of racking up points or miles to use toward free flights and hotel stays. But many airlines and hotel brands also give loyalty program members the chance to trade in earnings for more unique offerings, such as cruise vacations, magazine subscriptions and even classic cars. That said, it can be difficult and time-consuming to find these redemption options listed on program websites. That’s where U.S. News can help. While evaluating each program for the annual 2017-18 Best Travel Rewards Programs rankings, U.S. News uncovered seven unconventional ways members can spend points or miles. Read on to learn more about each benefit. (Getty Images)

Identity theft protection

 

American Airlines AAdvantage program members have the option to exchange points for identity theft protection. After earning 2,500 miles, program participants can cash in their miles for a six-month LifeLock membership. This standard protection membership, which costs about $60 to buy out of pocket, sends alerts when potential identity threats are detected and provides assistance with canceling and replacing stolen credit cards, among other benefits. Members can keep their identity theft protection beyond six months, but a monthly or yearly fee (10 percent less than standard rates) will apply. (Getty Images)

Magazine subscriptions

When you accrue points or miles with rewards programs such as the Hawaiian Airlines-affiliated HawaiianMiles program, the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan and La Quinta Returns, you can redeem your earnings for magazine subscriptions. Available titles include Sports Illustrated, Vogue magazine, Wine Spectator magazine and Time magazine, and each subscription comes with four to 54 issues. For one or two years of print or digital magazines, you will be charged 200 to 2,800 miles (or 500 to 8,000 points), depending on the program you’re redeeming through and your chosen subscription. (Getty Images)

TSA Precheck

Whether you’re a frequent flyer or you loathe long airport security lines, chances are you’ve considered applying for TSA Precheck. The application costs $85, but if you’re a member of loyalty programs such as United MileagePlus, Hilton Honors, Marriott Rewards and Carlson Rezidor’s Club Carlson, you can use accrued points or miles to pay for the application fee. Although exact redemption requirements vary by rewards program, expect to exchange 10,000 miles (or 25,000 to 65,000 points) for a TSA Precheck authorization code. This code, which is entered online while scheduling a screening appointment at an enrollment center, will cover all application charges. (Getty Images)

Cruises

Several loyalty programs have partnerships with CruisesOnly, an online cruise travel agency. Rewards program members can book vacations on a variety of lines, including Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises. United MileagePlus members can purchase a cruise vacation after accruing at least 21,000 miles, while Choice Privileges and Hilton Honors members who trade in 85,000 to 480,000 points will receive a $250 to $1,000 credit to apply toward booking a cruise vacation. Marriott Rewards members, meanwhile, can directly apply points to cruise fees or exchange 63,000 to 1,250,000 points for certificates worth up to $5,000 that can be used to purchase a cruise vacation. (Getty Images)

E-books

Members of the Hilton Honors loyalty program who enjoying reading can purchase e-books for their Amazon Kindles through the online Hilton Honors Shopping Mall. Additionally, Club Carlson members who have 7,000 Gold Points can use their points to buy an authorization code to download a digital copy of “The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living.” This e-book, written by Dr. Amit Sood of Mayo Clinic, focuses on the biological reasons for feeling stressed or anxious. The guide also features helpful tips for controlling stress and anxiety based on a stress management program offered at Mayo Clinic. (Getty Images)

Charitable donations

Some loyalty programs, including Best Western Rewards, Hilton Honors and JetBlue TrueBlue, offer members the opportunity to donate their points or miles. Through membership portals or partner websites like PointWorthy.com, members can make charitable donations to participating charities such as the American Red Cross and Make-A-Wish America. The amount of points or miles needed to make a donation starts at 50 points or 1,000 miles, though some programs will let members donate all of their earnings if they cannot meet minimum donation requirements. (Getty Images)

Classic cars

Members of the InterContinental Hotels & Resorts-affiliated IHG Rewards Club loyalty program can use points to purchase a restored classic car through Hyman Limited Classic Cars. Vehicles include a 1906 Cadillac Model K, a 1922 Ford Model T, a 1958 Chevrolet Corvette and a 2003 Ferrari 360, however, car options change based on availability. Each vehicle is worth approximately $24,500 to $895,000, but to buy a classic car with rewards points, members will need to spend at least 11,499,000 points. (Getty Images)

Courtesy of USNews

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