The general view of hotel loyalty programmes is that Starwood Preferred Guest is the only scheme where it is is worthwhile trading your points for airline miles.
There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that – since the conversion rate for most airlines including British Airways is 1:1 – it sounds generous. IHG Rewards Club is 5:1 into Avios which to the average reader appears to be far worse.
Secondly, Starwood adds an extra 5,000 miles to your pot if you convert 20,000 SPG points at once. This means that you are getting 1.25 airline miles for every SPG point. Hilton HHonors, on the other hand, only gives you 0.1 airline miles per point.
The ‘Starwood is best’ view simply isn’t born out by the maths. Inspired by this ludicrously detailed examination of the major hotel loyalty schemes on US site Travel Update, I thought I would run the numbers.
The question I asked was …..
How much do you need to spend with the major hotel schemes to earn 10,000 Avios?
I am assuming that the reader has whatever status comes with doing 20 nights via 20 one-night stays per year in the relevant loyalty programme. Given the amount of money they need to spend to earn 10,000 Avios this is a logical assumption.
Marriott Rewards – $2,500
10,000 Avios requires 30,000 Marriott Rewards points. You earn 10 points per $1 plus a 20% bonus for being Silver.
Starwood Preferred Guest – $3,333
10,000 Avios requires 10,000 Starwood points. You earn 2 points per $1 plus a 50% bonus for being Gold.
Le Club AccorHotels – $3,583 (€3,225)
10,000 Iberia Plus Avios requires 10,000 Accor points (the conversion rate to BA is worse so use Iberia). You earn 3.1 points per €1 as a Silver member. Note that Accor is changing the structure of its loyalty scheme in January 2017.
Club Carlson – $3,703
10,000 Avios requires 100,000 Club Carlson points. You earn 20 points per $1 plus a 35% bonus for being Gold.
Hyatt Gold Passport – $4,347
10,000 Avios requires 25,000 Hyatt points. You earn 5 points per $1 plus a 15% bonus for being Platinum.
IHG Rewards Club – $4,545
10,000 Avios requires 50,000 IHG Rewards Club points. You earn 10 points per $1 plus a 10% bonus for being Gold.
Hilton HHonors – $5,714
10,000 Avios requires 100,000 Hilton HHonors points. You earn 15 points per $1 when you choose ‘points and points’ earning plus a 2.5 points per $1 bonus for being Gold.
Interestingly, even if we up the ante to earning 25,000 Avios per year to trigger the SPG ‘5000 mile bonus’, Marriott is still in front. 25,000 Avios requires 70,000 Marriott Rewards points which is $5,833 of spending for a Silver member. With SPG, 25,000 Avios requires 20,000 Starwood points which is $6,666.
This analysis does not consider the fact that some chains let you earn miles directly if you agree not to earn points. Because these are generally fixed amounts such as 500 Avios per stay they may work out better for you if you do lots of cheap one-night stays.
Despite what many people think, Marriott Rewards is actually the most rewarding programme for earning airline miles if you are looking to convert hotel points.
The only caveat – and it is a large one – is that Hilton HHonors and IHG Rewards Club are more aggressive in terms of running bonus point promotions. Even with the current Hilton ‘double points’ promotion, however, it is still less generous than Marriott Rewards if you want to convert your points to Avios.
(Want to earn more Avios? Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)