Or, consider other cards for 50,000 more miles or points that transfer into United miles with additional flexibility for your everyday spending.
Reward nights start at 10,000 points. Free anniversary night (no points needed) good at any IHG hotel (Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, more).
$1,000 toward travel or transfer to United, Southwest, and more.
Using airline miles and hotel points for anything but travel is usually a pretty bad deal.
Gift cards and merchandise often get you less than half the value you could get if you used your points for real flights or hotel stays. And the same goes for gimmicks like using your points for Uber rides or food at the airport.
But several point programs are stepping up options to use your points for things you can’t quite put a price on, like tickets for the best seats in the house at concerts and sports events. They’re the kind of tickets you probably wouldn’t splurge on if you were paying cash out of your pocket, and they’re often suites or package deals that you can’t easily buy on your own.
Here are some of the best options to check…
Starwood Preferred Guest has the most interesting concert and sports tickets via the SPG Moments portal thanks to its dedicated SPG Luxury Suites at Madison Square Garden in New York, Wrigley Field in Chicago, Staples Center in Los Angeles, and the O2 Arena in London.
The SPG Luxury Suites come fully stocked with snacks and beverages, though you’ll be sharing the suite with other Starwood guests, and there’s a limit of 5 event purchases per year per member, and 2 packages per event.
Most events run from about 20,000 – 55,000 points and include admission for two people. That can be a great use of points at big events where a pair of good tickets can set you back $500 or more and doesn’t include suite access or food and beverages.
Madison Square Garden
This gives you access to most Knicks and Rangers games, as well as most of the big concerts at The Garden.
You get access to Lakers, Clippers, and Kings games, as well as many of the major concerts.
Arthur Ashe Stadium
During the US Open, SPG runs a dedicated suite with great views of the court.
The Meadowlands, Minute Maid Park, United Center
United regularly offers tickets at these stadiums near its Newark, Houston, and Chicago hub cities, though they’re only available via auction on its MileagePlus Exclusives site, so what you ultimately pay can vary widely.
Tickets usually come online a few weeks before a game and there are often multiple packages for each game. You’ll also find options in Denver and Buffalo, where United is the official airline of the Broncos and Bills.
With ScoreBig you can buy tickets for most major sporting events and concerts like you would at a site like StubHub, but by using your miles instead. The value you get for your points isn’t great though, and works out to about 0.6 cents per point or so in value.
A better use of ScoreBig is to *earn* United miles. Instead of using StubHub or Ticketmaster to buy tickets, you can earn up to 8 miles per dollar you spend by buying tickets from ScoreBig.
Delta has some sporadic auctions for sports and concert tickets via SkyMiles Experiences.
For example you can get seats at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego for Chargers games (Delta is the official airline of the team) and 10,000 miles for 2 Club Level tickets is a score no matter how bad they’re doing.
Or, you can get a meet and greet with Carmelo Anthony and see the Knicks play from 100 level (lower level) seats.
You can buy tickets to most major LiveNation concerts with Hilton HHonors points, no auction bidding required. Tickets typically run 50,000 – 150,000 points for a pair and they’re for the most expensive face value seat section in the venue.
The catch is, you can’t select your seat, so you won’t know where in the section you’ll be seated, which could be off to the side, or right in the middle of the section. But it will be in the most expensive section close to all the action.
We value Hilton HHonors points at a little less than half a cent each, so paying 100,000 points for two concert tickets can be a great use of points if tickets are running $200 or more, which isn’t uncommon for seats in the best sections.
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