It was due a return and now it is back. I’m talking about the ‘bonus when you transfer your hotel loyalty points to British Airways Avios‘ promotion.
The bonus is usually 25%. This time, as they did in Summer 2016, when you transfer hotel loyalty points to British Airways, you get a 35% bonus.
There are a few simple rules you must follow:
Rule 2: Only transfers from the following hotel programmes count:
- Club Carlson
- Hilton Honors
- Hyatt Gold Passport
- IHG Rewards Club
- Marriott Rewards
- Shangri-La Golden Circle
- Starwood Preferred Guest
Le Club AccorHotels is NOT included but that is normally the case.
Rule 3: There are minimum transfer requirements in theory, but these are the same as the lowest possible transfer out of that programme. Nothing has changed compared to the normal transfer rules.
Rule 4: Only lump sum transfers of existing points get the bonus. Points earned directly from stays (ie 500 Avios for a stay at a Hilton property) do not attract the bonus as they would fall under the minimum transfer threshold.
Rule 5: You can make multiple transfers from multiple programmes and, based on past experience, all will attract the bonus.
So, is this a good deal or not?
I am normally a bit sceptical about this offer when it runs at 25%. In general, a 25 per cent bonus is not enough – for any promotion – to make a bad deal a great deal. At 35% we should look more closely.
In general, hotel points are best redeemed for hotel stays. Let’s look at the points needed for a high category room redemption, worth £250 a night. The Avios conversion does not include the 35 per cent bonus.
Club Carlson – 70,000 points = 7,000 Avios
Hilton Honors – 80,000 to 90,000 points = 8,000 to 9,000 Avios
Hyatt Gold Passport – 25,000 to 30,000 points = 10,000 Avios to 12,500 Avios
IHG Rewards Club – 50,000 to 60,000 points = 10,000 to 12,000 Avios
Marriott Rewards – 45,000 points = 12,000 Avios
Shangri-La Golden Circle – 9,500 points (Shard, Paris, Maldives cost double) = 9,500 Avios
Starwood Preferred Guest – 25,000 to 30,000 points = 30,000 to 35,000 Avios
Looking at these numbers, you are probably better leaving large stashes of hotel points where they are.
With the Hyatt, Marriott and IHG examples, you are trading a £250 hotel room for (12,000 * 1.35) 16,200 Avios points. That still isn’t a great deal.
The only exception is Starwood Preferred Guest. Starwood has always been uncompetitive for high end redemptions versus airline miles and even without a transfer bonus miles look a decent option! I think you get a better deal from 47,250 Avios than one 30,000 SPG points night in a top Starwood hotel. Personally, though, I prefer to use my SPG points for items such as concert tickets via SPG Moments.
Be careful with Starwood v Marriott
If you are thinking of converting Starwood or Marriott points, you need to do some jiggly maths first. You can now convert SPG points to Marriott at 1:3, or vice versa. It may be a better deal to move your miles from one programme to the other first, as each has different Avios transfer arrangements. There is no right answer here as it depends entirely on how many points you have in each scheme.
Note that if you redeem for one of the ludicrously good value Marriott Travel Package rewards, you will get a 35% bonus on the Avios element of the package!
For a small amount of points it is a different game
A couple of years ago I tidied up some of my small hotel balances by converting 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 and a 35 per cent bonus is a good excuse.
The other thing to remember is that the hotel chains convert to many airline programmes, often over 20. You may get a 35 per cent bonus via Avios, but perhaps topping off another account may be more useful? 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. Avios are not always the answer.
Here is my final thought:
You can transfer IHG Rewards Club points to someone else for $5 per 1000, Hilton points for $25 per 10,000 (and this will be FREE from later in the Spring) and SPG and Carlson points for free if you share an address. Hyatt points can be pooled if you ring and redeem them immediately. Marriott transfers are reportedly now free although the website still quotes $10.
Perhaps a transfer to a friend who can use a larger total for a hotel room is a better deal than Avios, even with the bonus?
PS. Tomorrow I will look at whether, given some of the current promotions on buying hotel points, there is an arbitrage available. Can you buy hotel points with a big bonus and then transfer them on to Avios for another bonus?
(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.)