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RocketMiles made an announcement last week that they would now be adding JetBlue to their growing stable of partner airlines.For those of you not familiar with RocketMiles, it is a hotel search engine and booking app you can sign up for here that works with a few premium hotel partners in several US cities to offer customers who book rooms bonus miles with American Airlines, Delta, United and Hawaiian Airlines – and now JetBlue – on their hotel stays.
To celebrate the new partnership, customers who book their first stay earn an additional 3,000 bonus TrueBlue points. This bonus is in addition to the 1,000-5,000 TrueBlue points that customers can earn per night depending on which hotel they choose. The 3,000-point JetBlue first-time booking bonus requires you to make a booking by September 6 at 11:59pm Central and complete your stay by December 31, 2013.
Per the terms of the promo: To qualify for the booking bonus of 3,000 TrueBlue points, you must: 1) create a new account with Rocketmiles; 2) book a hotel through Rocketmiles between August 9, 2013 (12:00 AM CST) and September 6, 2013 (11:59 PM CST) and enter your TrueBlue number; and 3) complete the hotel stay associated with such booking by December 31, 2013 (11:59 PM local time). First name and last name on Rocketmiles account must exactly match the first and last name on your TrueBlue account. You must enter your TrueBlue number at time of booking; TrueBlue account may not be added retroactively to any booking. TrueBlue points will not be granted retroactively for any previous bookings. Booking bonus of 3,000 TrueBlue points is awarded to new Rocketmiles customers for their first booking through Rocketmiles (with associated stay) only; all subsequent bookings and associated stays will not qualify for the booking bonus. Limit 1 TrueBlue account per Rocketmiles booking. Any point offers displayed on our website do not yet include the 3,000 bonus, which will be added separately after your reservation is complete. Base earning rates will range between 1,000 – 5,000 TrueBlue points per night. Please allow 6-8 weeks following an eligible hotel stay for any earned TrueBlue points to be posted to your TrueBlue account. If you cancel your reservation or change your reservation in any way so that it no longer complies with the terms of an offer or if you “no show” for your reservation, you will not earn any TrueBlue points from that reservation and any TrueBlue points already rewarded will be debited from your account.
This offers the opportunity to earn thousands of bonus miles, even on a single- or two-night booking. In light of the new announcement and partnership, I decided to dig a little deeper and discover the value of this new partnership and if it was worth forgoing the points you would earn if booking directly through the hotel or with one of Rocketmiles’ other partners.
For example, I looked into a weekend stay in Atlanta for two nights, and found the W Atlanta Midtown available for $148 per night, earning 3,000 TrueBlue points in addition to the 3,000 promotion bonus points, so you earn a total of 6,000 TrueBlue points. You redeem JetBlue points for about one cent apiece, so this bonus is worth about $60 back in JetBlue travel.
You can book the W Atlanta Midtown on RocketMiles using other airlines as your partner, but the miles you earn can vary widely, with Virgin America being the lowest, and you will not be earn the 3,000 JetBlue bonus miles. For the same two night weekend stay in August (25-27), here is the breakdown of price per night and miles earned with the other airline partners:
- Alaska: $148 and you would earn 2,500 Mileage Plan miles
- American: $148 and you would earn 3,000 AA miles
- Delta: $148 and you would earn 2,000 SkyMiles
- Etihad: $148 and you would earn 3,000 Etihad miles
- Hawaiian: $148 and you would earn 3,000 Hawaiian miles
- United: $148 and you would earn 3,000 United Mileage Plus miles
- US Airways: $148 and you would earn 2,500 Dividend miles
- Virgin America: $148 and you would earn 1,500 Elevate miles
Of course, the downside of booking a room through a search engine or Online Travel Agency (OTA) as opposed to directly is that you then miss out on the Starwood points that you would have otherwise earned.
At the W Atlanta Midtown, a standard king room for those date booked through the Starwood website would cost $149 per night if booked by Friday August 16, 2013, to get the current sale rate (after that date it will cost $152 per night) and would earn the following:
- A Base SPG member would earn: 596 Starpoints (2 points per dollar spent)
- A Gold/Platinum SPG member would earn: 894 Starpoints (3 points per dollar spent)
- A 75-night Platinum SPG member would earn: 1,192 Starpoints (4 points per dollar spent)
- And if you pay for your room with either the personal or business Starwood Amex, you earn another 2 points per $1 for a potential total of 1,788 points
I value Starpoints at about 2.5 cents each, so you’re looking at about $45 back in value by going that route as a top-tier elite with the co-branded credit card.
Just to do my due diligence, I took a look around at other booking sites and the best rate I could find was on Priceline – also for $147 a night, but then you forgo any Starwood points or Rocketmiles bonuses.
While the cost of the room per night is comparable on all sites with the difference only being a dollar or two each, so the real question is which option gives you the most valuable points back.
TrueBlue points can only be redeemed for about 1.04-1.5 cents each in value for any available seat on the plane, just as though you were paying regular airfare, only using points instead of cash, so you’re looking at at least $60 back.
I value United miles at about 2 cents apiece, so the 3,000 you earn from booking with them as your Rocketmiles airline partner is also about $60, while American comes in slightly under that at about $55 since I value their miles less than United’s. In terms of Starpoints, depending on your elite level and whether you have a co-branded credit card, you’re earning between 596-1,788 points – giving you a value of between $15-$45 in value.
In this circumstance, you would have to take stock of whether you needed to top up your Starwood account and earn elite night/stay credit, or whether you needed the Rocketmiles partner miles more. Also keep in mind, that if you had to, you could also transfer Starwood points to any of its 31 airline partners and top up your frequent flyer accounts that way, though the transfer ratio is 1:1 in most cases, so you would end up with fewer miles in than by booking through Rocketmiles. If this were a non-points property though, like a boutique hotel, which Rocketmiles has plenty of, it would be nice to know that you could earn thousands of bonus miles even when a points option wouldn’t otherwise be available.
One thing I do think is interesting, though, is that even with the JetBlue bonus, you’re still getting about the same value in miles as you would by choosing another partner like United or American, so after this promo period is over, I might not choose them as my airline partner since the bonuses will drop down by about half it looks like.
As with all points and miles decisions, take the time to do the math for yourself, figure out which of your needs is most pressing, and decide from there. And after all, the great thing is, thanks to booking engines like Rocketmiles and Pointshound – another site that awards bonus miles for booking hotels – we have more options than ever of how and where to earn points and miles.