Quick Points: Earn American Loyalty Points when you stay at hotels and rent cars

Jan 21, 2022

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Hotel chains and car rental companies have had their own loyalty programs for decades, encouraging travelers to earn free hotel nights and free car rental days. However, even the most experienced travelers may forget that many hotel and rental car companies actually allow you to earn a different type of currency: airline miles.

This is especially relevant after the recent, massive changes American Airlines AAdvantage announced late in 2021. Now, your spending with various hotel chains and rental car companies can add up to airline elite status.

While this is not always the most rewarding option, today we’ll walk through how you can change your earning preferences to earn airline miles instead of hotel or car rental points — and what you will get if you do.

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How to earn airline miles instead of points

We’ve assembled a list of links below to popular hotel chains and car rental companies where you can change your earning preference. While each program handles things a bit differently, you’ll essentially be choosing to earn airline miles whenever you patronize one of these chains. All you need to change your preference is your frequent flyer number.

You can change your preferences pretty much at will, but it can be a bit cumbersome. For example, even though Hyatt has a link to change your earning preference on their website, a member of TPG team had to involve a Globalist concierge to make changes recently. Multiple attempts to access the profile page for Dollar Rental Car were met with errors. Still, this will give you a good place to start if your goal is to earn more airline miles on hotel stays and car rentals:

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

Marriott Change Earnings
(Screenshot from marriott.com)

Should you opt to earn airline miles?

As with many earning opportunities associated with travel, whether you should earn airline miles is another story. For starters, there are sometimes fees associated with earning airline miles through these partnerships. As an example, Hertz charges up to $1.50 per rental day to earn airline miles instead of Hertz Gold Plus Rewards points.

Also, different programs have different earning amounts. For example, Dollar Car Rental will award 50 American AAdvantage miles per day, whereas customers choosing airline miles with Hertz can earn one mile per dollar spent on the base rate of their rental.

World of Hyatt is actually one of the most generous when it comes to awarding airline miles. Members can actually earn World of Hyatt points and AAdvantage miles on their paid bookings. With Marriott and IHG, you have to pick one currency.

One thing to note is that you can still earn elite status and get your usual elite benefits with the hotel and car rental programs when you choose to earn airline miles. So, if you’re a Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite crediting to American, for instance, you can still get free breakfast as a welcome amenity.

Related: Chasing American Airlines elite status? Here are 13 ways to earn Loyalty Points

Bottom line

Alternative earning methods for many hotel programs and rental car companies have been around for quite some time. The recent changes at American Airlines have shone some light on 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 show stoppers, especially with the surcharges. If you don’t need free car rentals or a free hotel night, however, those airline miles may be just enough to get you over the top for elite status.

Featured photo by Andrea Rotondo/The Points Guy.

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