Is it worth buying hotel points to transfer to Avios or Etihad for the 25% bonus?

Until 13th July, British Airways is offering a 25% bonus (10% with Starwood) if you transfer hotel points from seven major loyalty schemes into AviosEtihad Guest is offering a similar deal until 6th June.

Since most of the hotel programmes allow you to buy points – and some currently have special offers – I thought it would be interesting to see if any of the deals were so good that you were effectively buying cheap Avios or Etihad miles by buying hotel points.

Hotel sign

Test 1:  Starwood Preferred Guestlink to buy points

This is easily the best deal on the table.  Until May 31st, Starwood is offering a 25% discount when you buy SPG points.

Starwood points convert at 1:1 into airline miles.  When you convert 20,000 at once, you receive a bonus of 5,000 miles.  The extra 10% bonus from the British Airways promotion is on top of this.

Until May 31st, the maths looks like this:

Buy 20,000 Starwood points for $525 after discount (£340, plus any FX fees on your credit card)

20,000 Starwood points gets you 25,000 Avios

Additional 10% bonus gets you to 27,500

Cost per Avios point = 1.24p per point

This is cheaper than buying points at the standard BA rate.

Two extra things to note:

As you can get two seats in the SPG Suite at the O2 for a major concert for 20,000 points, you can effectively buy two tickets for any major gig for £340

There is no bonus on SPG conversions to Etihad Guest in the current promotion so the maths above only works for Avios transfers

Test 2: Club Carlsonlink to buy points

Club Carlson devalued its conversion rate to airline miles two years ago and was never going to be a contender here at the standard rate.

40,000 Club Carlson points will cost you $280. These would convert into 4,000 miles + 25% = 5,000 miles. Cost per Avios or Etihad mile = 3.62p.

Verdict: Terrible

Test 3: Hilton HHonorslink to buy points

Given the pathetic conversion rate of Hilton points to Avios or Etihad Guest (10:1) this was never going to be a good deal!

10,000 Hilton points costs $100. Transfers into 1,000 Avios or Etihad Guest + 25% = 1,250 miles. Cost per Avios or Etihad mile = 5.18p

Verdict: Terrible

Test 4: Hyatt Gold Passportlink to buy points

Hyatt is running a bonus for up to 40% bonus points until May 31st.

10,000 Hyatt points costs $240, which is 14,000 points with the bonus.  This transfers into 5,600 Avios + 25% = 7,000 Avios or Etihad miles.  Cost per Avios or Etihad mile = 2.21p

Verdict: Better than Hilton or Carlson but still more expensive than buying Avios directly or using Starwood

Test 5: IHG Rewards Clublink to buy points

30,000 IHG Rewards Club points costs $345. Transfers into 6,000 Avios + 25% = 7,500 Avios.  Cost per Avios or Etihad mile = 2.97p

There is a loophole which allows you to buy IHG points substantially more cheaply than this at $210 for 30,000. Even at this price, though, the cost per mile is still too high at 1.94p. This is more expensive than buying them from BA.

Verdict: Definitely avoid at the full price

Test 6: Marriott Rewardslink to buy points

30,000 Marriott Rewards points costs $375. Transfers into 10,000 Avios or Etihad miles + 25% = 12,500 miles.  Cost per Avios or Etihad Guest mile = 1.94p

Verdict: Also no use, more expensive than buying directly from BA

Test 7: Shangri-La Golden Circle

You cannot buy Golden Circle points, as far as I can tell

Conclusion

The only hotel programme where you are likely to get some value from buying points and then transferring them to British Airways is Starwood.

However, with Avios currently offering a 25% bonus on large purchases of miles, the price is roughly the same as taking the Starwood route – and with no FX fees and less messing about required.  I wouldn’t bother with Starwood on this basis.

Starwood is not taking part in the current Etihad Guest transfer bonus.  You could, of course, buy 20,000 Starwood points anyway and transfer them into 25,000 Etihad Guest miles – you just won’t get an extra 25% on top.  You would be paying 1.36p per Etihad mile on this basis.  You cannot normally buy Etihad Guest miles at all.

If you are short of Etihad Guest miles, remember that you can do a ‘cash and points’ redemption and Etihad will ‘sell’ you 25% of the miles you need for just 0.58p!

(Want to earn more hotel points?  To see our complete list of promotions from the major chains, click here to visit our ‘Hotel Promos’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Important dates for your diary
25% bonus on Amex and hotel point transfers into Etihad Guest
About Head for Points

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Comments

  1. Whether you book for full cash or part pay , Etihad’s recently introduced a new booking class – ‘T’ ( Economy ) will not get you any guest miles . Unfortunately there are no warnings in the booking page about it. But you can identify it from the first letter of fare basis code displayed in the fare rules page. BTW for part pay tickets, etihad will credit proportional guest miles based on the cash component of the ticket.

    • James67 says:

      Thanks J, I was pondering whether to aim for 75 or 100% miles for my first Etihad booking. Based on this and the lesser options to collect miles it seems 75% may be the better option.

  2. What's the Point says:

    Hi Rob

    I can only see a 30k to 7k conversion for Marriott to Etihad – has this ratio changed recently?

    • My bad, sorry. I didn’t double check that because I forgot Marriott is more generous with some airlines than others. Will fix later.

  3. Tom C says:

    Do KrisFlyer ever run any promotions like these for transfers?

  4. Lambs says:

    Can you transfer from avios to Starwood if what to have enough to use their reward program?

  5. It is useful to have confirmation of the maths but it is no surprise that to direct purchase points
    with corporates rarely offers commercial advantage.

    In the markets there is a more generous equation @ 20,000 Starwood points for $480 after discount, no fees, and this brings home something more advantageous.

    A better deal which was not covered here was Starwood SPG to AC Aeroplan, with a 25% bonus ( only just finished ) which offered a compelling equation for transatlantic travel with low YQ added – a trader’s secret is that AC is much more commercial that utilising UA.

  6. OT – does anyone know if you can transfer IHG points earned through e-rewards into a different named IHG account – same family name though. Don’t want to have to set up different family member accounts in IHG to make the transfer.