How to use small orphan amounts of miles and points – Part 1 (Hotels)

I posted last week about the new option to cash out small amounts of SAS EuroBonus miles via an iTunes gift card.  It is not the greatest value redemption of all time, but if you’ve got some SAS miles gathering dust then you will now be able to get some value for them.

In light of this, I have revised and updated the lists I first published in 2012 about the best way to use up small amounts of miles and points.

What I want to explore is ‘What is the smallest or most optimum small reward, and how can you ‘top-off’ an account?’.  Please join in the discussion with your ideas in the Comments section.  

Today I will look at some hotel loyalty schemes, and Part 2 tomorrow will focus on some airline and shopping schemes.  Click on the links to read relevant historic Head for Points posts on the topic mentioned.

In all cases below except Jumeirah, there is a formal ‘buy points’ option you can use to get to the level you need for a redemption.  However, I try to find more creative ideas that don’t involve spending money.

Hilton HHonors

IHG Rewards Club

  • SPEND – ‘Cash and Points’ means that you only need 5,000 points for a 15,000 point award night
  • SPEND – ‘PointBreaks’ nights are only 5,000 points!
  • SPEND – Airline mile redemptions are available from 10,000 points
  • SPEND – Plenty of UK retailer gift cards are on offer at £25 per 15,000 points
  • SPEND – You can pay $5 per 1,000 to transfer orphan PC points to a third party
  • SPEND – You can use to turn PC points into various airline schemes, although the rate is poor
  • TOP-UP – You can top-up with Virgin Flying Club miles (10,000 minimum, 1:1)
  • TOP-UP – You can top-up with Finnair miles (20,000 minimum, 2:1)
  • TOP-UP – You can earn a handful of PC points by crediting a car rental
  • TOP-UP – You can get either of the IHG Rewards Club credit cards and cancel it once you have earned the points you need to cash out
  • TOP-UP – You can earn a small number of points by registering with Travelling Connect and using your mobile abroad

Hyatt Gold Passport

My prefererred small Hyatt reward is the 6,000 point suite upgrade, although this is only now valid for one night instead of fourHyatt has also just announced the introduction of ‘cash and points’ awards, so you may have enough after all (you can also buy Hyatt points now).  Airline transfers are from 5,000 points.

You can merge your Hyatt points with those of your partner, but I think you need to redeem them at the same time.

Hyatt is not an American Express Membership Rewards partner, unfortunately.

Marriott Rewards

Starwood Preferred Guest

  • SPEND – SPG Moments lets you redeem small amounts (often just 5,000 points) for tickets to cultural and sporting events
  • SPEND – ‘Cash and points’ became less generous during 2013 as the ‘cash’ element was increased, but this should theoretically increase the number of hotels offering it.  Some hotels require a very small number of points.
  • SPEND – Some hotels offer cheap ‘instant awards’ (eg a bottle of wine), these are explained at check-in.  However, if you are doing SPG stays then you are unlikely to be looking to clear out your account!
  • SPEND – You can transfer SPG points for FREE to another person living at your address
  • SPEND – You can redeem 1,000 points for an SPG50 award.  Whilst few hotels accept these, and you need to ring to find which do, they offer a fantastic 50% saving on the ‘best available rate’ for a cash booking.
  • SPEND – You can get SPG to book a cash flight ticket for you via SPG Flights
  • SPEND – You can transfer SPG points to Hilton HHonors by routing via Virgin Flying Club
  • SPEND – Platinum members can transfer any amount from 1 point to airlines, although Gold’s have a 1,500 minimum and Plat’s 2,500.  You do not need to transfer in round numbers, so you can easily empty an account to zero.
  • TOP-UP – You can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points or get the SPG Amex credit card to top-off your balance to the amount you need for an account emptying redemption.  The current SPG Amex sign-up bonus is a whopping 20,000 points!
  • TOP-UP – You can credit an Avis or Sixt car rental to earn a handful of points
  • TOP-UP – SPG Gold and Platinum members earn 1 SPG point for every $1 spent on Delta flights

Club Carlson

Jumeirah Sirius

  • SPEND – A small number of points can be redeemed for a wine voucher when dining in hotel restaurants, or for a general bar voucher
  • SPEND – You can redeem points for meals at the Carlton Tower and Lowndes hotels in London – the Club Room buffet at the Carlton Tower is great value – or of course any other Jumeirah property
  • TOP-UP – Whilst Jumeirah is no longer a UK Membership Rewards partner, you can still transfer into it, with no minimum, if you have an Amex International Dollar Card or International Euro Card

Le Club Accorhotels

If you do not have enough points for an official airline transfer, there is a trick which you can do to make Accor send over your existing balance.  This post from Loyalty Lobby explains how.

In Part 2 of this post tomorrow, I will look at some airline and shopping programmes.

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  1. Anybody fancy some winter sun in Goa India, you can have Doubletree for 5000 HH points or 2000 plus cash per night. Hotel gets decent reviews. $50 via milepoints gets you Hilton gold for breakfast if you dont already have status. Best way to get there is with an AAdvantage redemption on Qatar J (60k rtn) or F (80k rtn) but J represents better value as not all flights would have F depending on routes and flights selected. A good use of any AA miles still lurking around from credit card earlier this year. You can also buy 90k AA miles at the moment for about £1100 so that could work fore anybody wanting a rtn F flight to India or midEast.

  2. LeClub Accorhotels lets you convert 1:1 to Iberia which could then be moved across to Avois or BA. Better than going direct to Avios or BA which are both 2:1.

  3. Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    IHG you can top up with the new member surveys if you haven’t already done them. (I think you can redo them in other languages too if you’re desperate/cheeky)

  4. gnarlyoldgoatdude says:

    My 1500 LeClub Accor points expired last week, as I thought that I needed 2000 for a transfer.

    • I only have 388 points in LeClub Accor (from one stay) and when I try and sign up for automatic conversion to Iberia, on re-visiting the page it tells me “Next transfer to Iberia Plus possible starting at 3000 points”. So I’m not sure the details in the LoyaltyLobby article actually work unless you have the minimum to start with.

      • They do work.

        I did it the other day with Le Club and 131 orphaned points transferred to Iberia fine today.

  5. You missed Shangri La! 1000 points for 100 USD food/drink, which all HFP readers have got from the recent promotion, right? :)

  6. What's the Point says:

    Yep, all my 1,200 points for the Golden Circle have posted today.

    Thanks Raffles!

  7. Why Melia didn’t post me a Birthday free night :( I’m upset!

    I also had problems with the recent Iberia/ Accor promotion which posted as normal and without any bonuses!

    Did any of you tried to get the 300% Avios bonus with Iberia? If so did they post ok?

    Also my Shangri La haven’t posted yet. I guess it is not my year.