Earning airline miles instead of hotel or rental car points – The Points Guy

For decades, hotel chains and car rental companies have offered loyalty programs to incentivize travelers to accumulate free hotel nights and car rental days. However, it’s worth noting that many of these companies also allow customers to earn airline miles as a form of currency.

When you transact with certain hotel and rental car companies, you can accrue Loyalty Points credited to your American Airlines AAdvantage account. This, in turn, can help you earn American Airlines elite status.

While it may not always be the most advantageous choice to allocate your hotel stays and car rentals to airline programs, today we’ll guide you on modifying your earning preferences to collect airline miles instead of hotel or car rental points. Additionally, we’ll explore the benefits you can expect to receive by making this adjustment.

How to earn airline miles instead of points


Many loyalty programs let you change your earning preferences from hotel or rental car points to airline miles. Generally, when you do this, you’ll earn Loyalty Points on miles credited to American Airlines.

Related: Meet the man who’s earned 1.2 million United miles by renting cars

Should you opt to earn airline miles?

There are some important considerations to remember when earning airline miles on car rentals and hotel stays. ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Earning airline miles can be a complex decision regarding travel-related opportunities. There are various factors to consider. Firstly, it’s important to note that fees are often associated with earning airline miles on rental cars. For instance, popular rental car companies like Hertz and National typically impose a small fee (usually around $2 per day) if you opt for airline miles instead of rental car rewards.

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Furthermore, the amount of miles you can earn varies across different programs. Dollar Car Rental, for example, offers 50 American AAdvantage miles per day, whereas Hertz allows customers to earn 1 mile for every dollar spent on the base rate of their rental.

World of Hyatt stands out as particularly generous when earning airline miles with hotel programs. Elite World of Hyatt and AAdvantage members can earn points and miles on their paid bookings. However, with Marriott and IHG, you must choose only one currency for earning rewards.

It’s worth noting that even if you decide to earn airline miles, you can still enjoy elite status and the associated benefits with hotel and car rental programs. For example, if you are a Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite member crediting to American, you can still receive complimentary breakfast as a welcome amenity. However, it’s important to mention that if you opt for airline miles instead of Marriott points, you won’t be eligible for the 50% bonus point accrual that Platinum Elite members usually receive on paid stays.

Related: 6 reasons to strive for Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite status

Bottom line

Alternative earning methods for many hotel programs and rental car companies have existed for some time. But when American Airlines revamped AAdvantage with Loyalty Points, it highlighted an old benefit and made this path more appealing for many folks chasing elite status in the AAdvantage program.

In general, the airline mile earning rates for car rental companies have rarely been showstoppers, especially with the surcharges. But forfeiting rental car rewards and hotel points, the airline miles you earn may be enough to get you over the top for elite status.

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