Are you swapping loyalty points for holiday gift items?

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Several hotel companies have recently reported a significant rise in the number of loyalty members redeeming points for things like iPods, pearl earrings, binoculars, and Wii videogame consoles.

Via the Wall Street Journal, Marriott, InterContinental, and Hilton say that in late autumn, loyalty point redemptions for merchandise jumped 14, 15, and 23 percent, respectively. Members seem especially likely to be selecting goods that you'd expect to see soon under the Christmas tree and in holiday stockings.

An InterContinental VP quoted in the story explains the obvious upside of using points rather than shopping with actual cash:

"I think people are trying to save more of their own money," said Don Berg, vice president of loyalty programs at InterContinental, also known as IHG. "It's basically a magnification of a year-long trend we've seen that says, 'I'm holding onto my wallet a little tighter and I'm going to use currency that doesn't come out of my pay account."'

So, are you doing any holiday "shopping" with your loyalty points this year?


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