Avios added as reward option with hotel booking site Agoda PointsMAX

Back in July we wrote about Agoda.  It is a hotels.com-style hotel booking website, originally launched in Asia.  It was acquired by Priceline and is now a sister company to booking.com.

The reason that Agoda had become interesting is that it had started to offer frequent flyer miles with every hotel booking you make via a new service called PointsMAX.

This put it into competition with Kaligo.com, Rocketmiles and PointsHound – PointsHound also being owned by Priceline.

When we wrote about it back in July, British Airways was not a PointsMAX partner.  BA, Iberia Plus and avios.com have been added to the site in the last couple of weeks so it is worth discussing the service again.

In advance of British Airways coming on board, Agoda offered Head for Points a free credit to spend on their website to find out how PointsMAX works and whether or not it’s worth considering Agoda for your next trip.

I had a holiday booked in Croatia and still needed accommodation for one of the nights so I chose to use the Agoda credit towards it.

How Agoda PointsMAX works

The Agoda website seems pretty straight forward:  you enter your destination, travel dates and number of beds required.  Click on any of the images to enlarge:

agoda points max website start page

If you do a search without signing in, you will see a list of available accomodations for the regular price:

Agoda search results no points options

By signing in as a member, you are often offered lower prices.  This is because signing in means that Agoda is allowed to show lower rates at hotels where it has agreed not to undercut the official rate in public.

Agoda sign up member

The new British Airways partnership was not yet live when I booked, although it is live now.  Instead, I created my account and chose Etihad Guest as my PointsMAX program.

Agoda points max choose loyalty program

Not every accommodation listed on Agoda earns points or miles.  I only realised that after having spent an hour trying to find somewhere suitable ….

In the end there was only one hotel in the whole of Split for my date that I could earn miles with: the Dioklecijan Hotel & Residences. To make the most of the credit, I decided to book a Junior Suite with balcony and sea view. If you click on this image, you can see the different prices.

junior suite price difference etihad points

For non members the price would have been $344.

The choice of miles earning options varied depending on whether you wanted to pay before arrival or pay at the property.  For pre-paying, there were two options as you can see from the screenshot:

  • $302.25 when earning 1,350 miles
  • $271.56 when earning 278 miles

Paying on arrival would have been $304 and with no miles earned.  As Agoda had given us $350 to spend, I booked for $302.82 + tax to get the maximum of 1,350 Etihad Guest Miles.

booking-agoda-dioklecijan

To be honest, in this example, PointsMAX was a bad deal.  I paid an additional $30.69 in order to get an additional 1,072 Etihad Guest miles.  That worked out at 2.86 cents per mile.

On the other hand, some properties ARE a good deal for ‘buying’ extra miles.  Take a look at this screen shot taken yesterday using Avios as your mileage currency:

Agoda Avios

You can choose between:

  • £116.14 when earning 699 Avios
  • £117.82 when earning 2,400 Avios

In this scenario, it is a no-brainer to pay the extra £1.68 to earn the extra 1,701 Avios.

One other point to note about Agoda is that it works with airlines such as Qatar Airways where it is hard to accumulate miles as a UK resident.  PointsMAX is one of way of picking up miles in these programmes.

Did the hotel live up to the promised expectations?

I also wanted to look at whether the Agoda site was offering accurate and honest descriptions of the hotels it offers.  This is especially important when booking a remote property like the one I booked in Split where there is not necessarily a lot of independent information available online:

Here are two screenshots from the Agoda website.  The room:

picture suite chosen hotel agoda

and the balcony:

chosen hotel balcony agoda

In comparison here are some real life pictures.  The balcony:

agoda-split-dioklecijan-hotel-room-balcony

and the room – or rather one of the rooms as we got upgraded to a family suite!

agoda-split-dioklecijan-hotel-room

The highlight – and certainly one of the reasons people book the Dioklecijan Hotel in Split – was actually the rooftop. It has a pool, jacuzzi, gym, sauna, steam room and bar with lots of deckchairs and sofas.  Even for a one-night stay this was welcomed.

agoda-split-dioklecijan-hotel-rooftop-pool

Obviously you can tell the difference between a professional and an iPhone camera picture. Nevertheless I was happy to see that the hotel with its rooms and amenities lived up to the pictures on the website.

Conclusion

PointsMAX is still a work in progress for Agoda, with new airlines being added regularly.  Adding British Airways Executive Club means that there is a reason to keep an eye on it now.

The model, whereby you are in effect given the chance to buy airlines miles cheaply when you book a hotel with Agoda PointsMAX, has potential.  You need to look carefully at the pricing though.  In my example paying an additional 2.86 cents per Etihad Guest miles makes no sense.  In the Avios screenshot I took yesterday, on the other hand, you are paying virtually nothing for the additional 1,701 Avios.

I should mention that the Etihad Guest points haven’t reached my account yet, but will hopefully at some point in the near future – I was told it can take 30 days from check-out.  We are very close to that now.

Remember that any room booked via Agoda PointsMAX will NOT earn hotel loyalty points from the hotel itself as it will be treated as a third-party booking.  You may or may not get your status benefits depending on the chain and the attitude of the individual hotel.  That is not an issue with an independent hotels such as the one I stayed at.

You can have a play around with PointsMAX to check out the Avios – or other airline – earning potential here.

(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.)

Bits: 50% bonus on HSBC transfers to Avios, £15 LON-EDI train tickets, 40% bonus on Hyatt points
Etihad, Alitalia etc aligning loyalty schemes + airberlin (oneworld) status match
About Head for Points

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Comments

  1. The relative pricing between getting more miles (and paying for them) and getting getting fewer was analysed and was good. However, did the $350 credit mean you failed to mention whether this is actually a good deal in the market or not? I say this as Kaligo and Rocketmiles seem to price in the cost of the miles they award.

    • Erico1875 says:

      I think with “pre pay” value needs to be measured against prices achievable via the likes of Trivago and Skyscanner.

      • And with pre-pay you also need to factor risk into value. Twice this week I have had airline schedule changes that made me glad I had no prepaid hotel stays. I tend to avoid these and highly restrictive airline sale tickets as much as I can.

    • Raymond Hennessy says:

      I’m still waiting for AA points for a stay in July. When I e-mailed Agoda,they said I have to chase AA for the points.

  2. Beware that Agoda can be naughty, and charged my a dynamic currency conversion rate for my only booking with them i.e. billed in GBP at their rate, despite being quoted in USD. Nowhere was this mentioned in the booking process as far as I could tell.

    I got the difference back when I complained, with some difficulty, but won’t be using them again.

    • Many years ago I used agoda and asiarooms very successfully to get good deals, particularly in major cities outside Asia. However, they then deteriorated rapidly, I guess after the priceline takeover, and I think asiaroons was tui.

  3. BA and Avios.com have been on there a while (possibly only a week or 2 though – my memory is hazy!) but every time I’ve checked they’ve offered less avios than they would AA/UA miles on the same booking. I only book at the lower end in properties most people here wouldn’t be seen dead in, so I don’t know if that’s replicated everywhere or not!

    • Callum:

      “Lower end Properties”, “Hazy Memory”, have you had a recent stay at the Hans Brinker (Amsterdam) ??

      http://hansbrinker.com/amsterdam/

      Can be booked through booking.com but not Agoda it seems.

      Have been there twice-and, survived! :) .

    • From the few properties I’ve looked at, it has been the other way around. Wanting AA miles, the number of Avios on offer seems far higher in value terms. E.g. 100 AA, but 350 Avios, etc.

  4. Do you know if you can or will be able to convert their reward points into pointsmax?

    I Must have missed the last article and not noticed points max as im still crediting everything as their reward points which dont appear to do anything

  5. Monopolies commission says:

    I used to find Agoda hide the taxes until payment page and not onlt that, once added in often became more expensive rather than appearing the cheapest. So
    I stopped using them a year or two ago.

  6. Actually I wasn’t too bothered about it dragging my average down, so I was happy to use Agoda.