The American Airlines promotion offering a 20% bonus on transfers from Starwood Preferred Guest is still running until August 7th. Partly inspired by this deal, and partly by my article yesterday on the value of a Hilton HHonors point, I wanted to consider if it ever makes sense to transfer hotel points to airlines.
In general, hotel points are best redeemed for hotel stays. Let’s look at the points needed for a top category redemption valued at, say, £250 a night:
Club Carlson – 70,000 points = 7,000 Avios
Hilton HHonors – 80,000 points = 8,000 Avios
Hyatt Gold Passport – 30,000 points = 12,000 Avios
IHG Rewards Club – 50,000 points = 10,000 Avios
Le Club Accorhotels – 16,000 points (for €320 voucher) = 8,000 Avios into BA or 16,000 Avios into Iberia Plus
Marriott Rewards – 45,000 points = 12,000 Avios
Melia Rewards – 28,000 points (and rises) = 4,200 Avios (but 14,000 Miles & More!)
Starwood Preferred Guest – 30,000 points = 35,000 Avios
Apart from Starwood, who have a very good conversion ratio, you are generally better leaving large stashes of hotel points where they are. Assuming you value Avios points at 1p each, you don’t get to 50% of the value of the equivalent hotel room, and often a lot worse.
Of course, personal choice also plays a part. You generally get the best value from hotel points in expensive big cities like London or New York. If your travels take you more to Lyon or Newcastle then your hotel points may be worth less to you. If you also find yourself just a few Avios short of an award, transferring from a hotel programme may be a better deal than buying Avios from BA at 1.6p.
If you only have a small amount of hotel points, it is a different game. Apart from IHG Rewards Club, which runs regular sales of rooms at 5,000 points per night (up to 95% off!), small balances can be of little use.
A couple of years ago I tidied up some of my small hotel balances by converting a lot to Avios, often topping up first from American Express Membership Rewards, and didn’t regret it. If you will never earn enough for a free room, you might as well convert.
Expiry dates can also be an issue and can prompt a transfer. My recent series of articles on expiry dates covered the current rules for each hotel scheme – see our ‘Hotel Promos’ page for links.
The other thing to remember is that the hotel chains convert to many airlines, often over 20. Perhaps you will get more value converting to another scheme? I have converted SPG points to Lufthansa Miles & More in the past, because I love the Lufthansa First Class service but their miles are hard to earn in the UK.
If you had a huge volume of hotel points, you may be able to get enough points from scratch in, say, the American Airlines programme for a tax-free UK to US redemption. I once used SPG points to book 4 business class seats on Emirates from Dubai to London. Avios are not always the answer.
Final thought. You can transfer IHG Rewards Club points to someone else for $5 per 1000, Hilton points for $25 per 10,000 and SPG points for FREE if you share an address. Perhaps a transfer to someone who can use a larger total to reach the target they need for a hotel room is a better deal than a handful of Avios.
(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.)