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Which airlines let you transfer miles INTO hotel loyalty programmes?

Almost all hotel loyalty programmes let you transfer you points into certain frequent flyer schemes.  What is far rarer is for a frequent flyer scheme to let you transfer your points INTO a hotel programme.

This didn’t used to be the case.  If you go back a decade, Hilton HHonors had quite a few airline partners including American Airlines.  Over the years the deals have fallen away.

Booking hotels directly with your miles

Of course, many airlines let you book hotels directly using your loyalty points.  You can do this with your Avios points via the British Airways hotel portal which can be accessed here.

It is not the greatest deal.  You receive just over 0.5p per Avios point when you spend them on hotels this way.  More importantly, because these are third-party bookings, you are unlikely to receive any status benefits from the hotel.  You may not even receive points on your food and drink spend depending on the chain.  Some chains, eg Starwood, only give free internet if you book direct.

The other downside is that, because the number of Avios required is based on the cash price that night, there is no arbitrage.  On a busy night you will need more points.  This is not how the hotel loyalty schemes work.

Hotel

Lufthansa is up for a bit of everything. Lufthansa allows you to redeem miles at a truly shocking rate for Best Western gift cards.  It also has a hotel booking portal which works in an identical way to the Avios one.

Emirates has an odd scheme where you can redeem your Emirates Skywards miles directly for Marriott hotels, mainly in the Middle East, at fixed prices.  This does create some arbitrage opportunities but the list of properties is eclectic to put it mildly.  Here is the list of Marriott redemptions they offer.

Virgin Atlantic allows you to redeem your Flying Club miles for a selection of hotels offered by Kaligo.com.  I ran through the maths on those redemptions in this article.  There are also some hotels you can book directly with Virgin miles, including a week on Necker Island if you have 1.2 million miles to spend!

Direct transfers into hotel loyalty programmes

As far as I know, there are still four transfer options from mainstream European frequent flyer schemes:

Virgin Atlantic to Hilton HHonors

Full details can be found on the Virgin website here.  This was, two years ago, a fantastic deal.  You got 2 Hilton points per mile and I would have valued a Hilton point at 0.5p.  Hilton then devalued massively AND cut the Virgin conversion rate.

Today you will receive 1.5 Hilton HHonors points per Virgin Flying Club mile.    Based on my 0.33p 2016 valuation of a Hilton point, you are getting 0.5p of value per Virgin mile.  This is a pretty poor deal although, if you received the miles from business travel, you may be insensitive to that.

It is certainly a poor deal if you obtained your Virgin miles via credit card spend, Tesco Clubcard or American Express Membership Rewards transfers.  The only exception would be if you needed to top up your Hilton balance before a redemption.

Virgin Atlantic to IHG Rewards Club

Full details can be found on the Virgin website hereThe transfer rate is 1 IHG Rewards Club point for 1 Virgin Flying Club mile.   IHG points can be redeemed for Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, InterContinental etc hotels.

Based on my 0.5p valuation of an IHG Rewards Club point, this deal is also not great.  There is one upside though – these transfers count for IHG Rewards Club status.

We are now approaching the end of 2016.  If you a little short of hitting or retaining Platinum or Spire Elite status, it may be worth moving over some Virgin miles (minimum 10,000) to guarantee your status for 2017.

There is another quirk to consider.  When you hit or retain Spire Elite status, you receive a bonus of 25,000 IHG Rewards Club points – or you can get a Platinum card for a friend.  If you were 20,000 IHG points short of Spire, transferring 20,000 Virgin Atlantic miles would effectively get you 45,000 IHG Rewards Club points if you factor in this bonus.

As IHG Rewards Club is not an Amex Membership Rewards partner, routing Amex to Virgin to IHG is a potential compromise – albeit one which does not offer the best value for your American Express points.

Finnair Plus to IHG Rewards Club

Yes, little old Finnair also lets you convert your Finnair Plus points to IHG Rewards Club.  Details are here.

As Finnair is a partner with American Express Membership Rewards, this could be another way of indirectly turning Amex points into IHG nights.

Unfortunately, the transfer rate is even worse than the Virgin deal.   You need 2 Finnair Plus points for every 1 IHG Rewards Club point which means you are effectively getting 0.25p per Finnair point.

If you happen to have 20,000+ Finnair points sitting unused – from the days before you knew better! – then this is of course a ‘better than nothing’ way of using them.

Note that I am not 100% certain whether transfers from Finnair to IHG count as ‘qualifying’ towards status.

Finnair Plus to Le Club Accorhotels

This is a relatively new partnership – the details are here.  As with the IHG deal, it offers a complex way of turning Amex points into Accor points.

It is hard to recommend it unless you have a very small Finnair balance to use up.  It requires 7,000 Finnair points to receive 1,000 Accor points.

The Accor scheme is ‘fixed value’.  2,000 points get you a €40 hotel voucher.  That means you are getting €20 for 7,000 points which is roughly 0.2p per point!

Conclusion

There are a few ways of moving airline miles into hotel points.  The value is generally poor, however, and – unless you are chasing IHG status – it is only recommended if you are topping up a hotel account or emptying out an airline one.

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

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Comments

  1. 1.2 million miles for a week on Necker Island sounds like a great deal! Isn’t the cash rate somehing like $40,000 per night?

    • $40k / night for full island rental it seems. A mere $27k / week for a villa.

      • The BBC documentary about Necker made it look a bit odd – but obviously a good way for RB to get guests to cover the running costs while he lives there.

    • Yes, it is a good deal on a pence per mile basis.

      • As per one of the US bloggers who made this redemption recently, Virgin Atltantic are not taking reservations using miles for this beyond January 2017 as they are expecting this award to go up in price.

  2. How do the Finnair -> Hotel scheme transfers validate – by name / address?

  3. Dannyrado says:

    OT: Did I read somewhere that virgin are getting rid of miles booster?

  4. OT: Got an email this morning saying Hyatt Gold passport is set to be completely revamped!

  5. the real harry says:

    O/T hotels – Travelodge – hat tip Chanchi HUKD
    25% off Travelodge stays in Jan and beginning of Feb + stack with Saver Rates e.g. London Heathrow Central £13.50
    Looks a decent promo if you are looking for a cheap UK night stay in Jan or beginning of Feb (1 Jan – 10 Feb). Can stack with saver rates – get the 25% off personalised code via https://www.myvouchercodes.co.uk/travelodge
    A few examples using the 25% off on Saver rates:
    – London Heathrow Central double room – £13.50 Sunday – £15.75 in the week
    – Manchester Salford Quays double room – £15.75 Sunday – £17.25 in the week
    – Sheffield Central double room – £18.75 Sunday – £21.75 in the week
    – Birmingham (various) double room – £17.25 Sunday – £23.25 in the week

    ***
    LHR looks interesting if you have an early morning flight :)

  6. OT
    Which is considered the best lounge to use just now at Gatwick North? I have a couple of free passes from my Amex Gold card that I need to use before I cancel.

    • It seems to vary by time and day.
      We went to No1 in September at 0430 and it was only half full and food etc. satisfactory but others have had different experiences.

  7. neuromancer says:

    I know it’s a bit out of scope, but LATAM Fidelidade lets you transfer to Accor (3:1) and Hilton (1:1.25). GOL Smiles also can be transferred to Accor at 3:1

  8. I am a little short of IHG Platinum, should I transfer VA miles before the end of 2016 or at the start of 2017? Do they expire? Thanks.

  9. OT Here – Did anyone win some amazon vouchers from 3more?

    We must have had some winners!

  10. Warning, OT:

    I have 200000 avios and I want to book a business flight from LCY to NYC.

    Is it better to issue the AMEX (£195 fee) in order to get a year down the line the 241 voucher and spend only 100k miles for 2 tickets OR go for 200k spend without having to issue (£195 better off) and wait for AMEX’s 241? (I want to try BA001 and hence 100k return is needed per ticket)

    Your thoughts would be highly appreciated.

    • 100k Avios are worth a lot more than £195 (and you’d get 26k for getting the BAPP card), but I suppose the key issue is whether you want to wait a while until you’ve triggered the 241 or whether you want to get a booking made now.

    • Don’t forget you can get the card , pay the £195 , spend £10k , get the 241 and cancel the card refunding you the £195 pro-rata on what’s left of your year..

      Or spend £3000 within 90 days and kop the 26000 avios and then cancel.

      • Did very well with my BAPP: applied in September, got the 26K bonus, 15k for adding supp card holders, 10K for spending £10K between sept and Nov, 241 voucher. I can’t complain. So 66 000 Avios and a 241 voucher for my £10000. I can’t complain. I am thinking of cancelling for a pro-rata refund.

  11. OT my last batch of Tesco Life Insurance points have posted. Have cancelled the direct debit with my bank. Any need to let Tesco know?

  12. MR collector says:

    O/T I’ve got 29,000 Qatar Q miles due to expire at the end of December. Going to struggle to fly anywhere in the next month. Has anyone found a way to extend or use?