What is the best hotel scheme? – Le Club AccorHotels – The Facts

This is the fourth of our overview series of the main hotel loyalty schemes. Each scheme will be covered over two posts on consecutive days. One will list the basic facts of the scheme, the other will be my subjective view of what is of particular merit.

Le Club AccorHotels covers 3,500 hotels globally. These operate under the Sofitel, Pullman, M Gallery, Novotel, Mercure, Adagio and Ibis brands, plus Orbis in Poland. Accor also owns for Formule 1 / F1 and Jo&Joe brands but these do not participate in the programme.  It also recently acquired Raffles, Swissotel and Fairmont which, at some point, will be integrated into Le Club, as well as upmarket Airbnb clone onefinestay.  The home page for the programme is here.

What is the geographic spread?

Accor has the largest number of non-US hotels of any chain. The group is well represented throughout the UK (Sofitel St James, their poshest UK hotel, is pictured below) at all price points.  The Sofitel at Heathrow Terminal 5 is connected directly to the airport and is an impressive hotel.  Liverpool also gained a new Pullman recently.

The chain is poorly represented in North America and, globally, it is not well represented in the luxury market.  This should change when the Swissotel, Raffles and Fairmont properties are fully integrated.

Do I use them?

Not much, although when I was young and poor I found ibis to be a decent compromise between quality / security and value.  A few years ago Accor had a promotion offering easy-to-earn €40 vouchers. I collected five and used them at the Sofitel in Luxembourg.  I did book into the very impressive new-style Novotel Blackfriars on an exceptionally cheap offer rate in order to review it for the site – see here.

We also reviewed the new ibis Styles at Heathrow last year and found it very impressive.

Le Club AccorHotels logo

Elite membership levels

On 1st January 2017, Accor made some major changes to Le Club.  Bringing themselves in line with other major loyalty programmes, only base points earned from hotel stays will now count towards status.

Before 2017, ALL points – however you earned them – counted towards status progression.  This meant that it was easy to reach top-tier status by timing your stays around a couple of generous bonus point promotions each year.

Accor did reduce the number of points required to earn status from January – Platinum dropped from 25,000 points to 14,000 points for example – but anyone who took heavy advantage of Accor promotions will still need far more nights to retain their status.

Accor has three elite levels to the programme:

Silver – requires 10 nights or 2,000 points. Benefits are free internet, a welcome drink and a 25% point bonus.

Gold – requires 30 nights or 7,000 points. Benefits are free internet, a welcome drink, room upgrade, late check-out or early check-in and a 50% point bonus.

Platinum – requires 60 nights or 14,000 points. Benefits are free internet, a welcome drink, room upgrade, lounge access, late check-out and early check-in and a 75% point bonus.

Some Accor brands offer specific extra benefits to different tiers.

Platinum status is no longer given free to American Express Platinum card holders.  This was a major loss for Amex as Accor was the only chain to offer free top tier status.

Suite upgrades are NOT an elite benefit.

Full details of elite benefits can be found here.

Accor does not offer lifetime status.

Sofitel St James 350

Earning and spending points

Accor does not have a typical ‘earning and burning’ structure.  Spending is totally revenue based with no opportunity for arbitrage.

Non-status members earn 2.5 points for every €1 spent at the hotel.  On the website, this is described as a 5% rebate.

For every 2,000 points you collect, you can redeem for a €40 Accor voucher.  The primary use of these is to redeem in Accor hotels.  You can now redeem these online which allows them to be used against cheaper prepaid rooms.

As long as you avoid Ibis and Adagio properties, you are effectively receiving cashback (in Accor vouchers) of 5% as base member up to 8.8% for Platinum members.

If you don’t want to spend your voucher in an Accor hotel, there are a small number of other options such as Europcar and Club Med holidays.  Sports tickets (for example French Open Tennis) are also available for points but this appears to be on an ‘invite only’ basis.  Accor also offers tickets for events at the arena it sponsors in Paris.

Exceptions – Accor has some weird exceptions to points earnings.  At Ibis, Ibis Styles and Adagio, you earn 1 per €1.  At Adagio Access you earn 0.5 per €1.  In China, you earn nothing at Ibis hotels, every day.

There are also a few other partners where you can earn points but the only relevant one for a UK resident is Europcar.

Bizarrely, Accor has a partnership with Finnair and another with Qatar Airways which allows you to transfer your Finnair or Qatar Airways miles into Le Club AccorHotels points.  The exchange rate is very poor (7:1 for Finnair, 9:2 for Qatar) and as these transfers no longer count towards status it is not an option for earning Gold or Platinum quickly. You can generate Finnair miles, but not Qatar Airways miles, by transferring American Express Membership Rewards points.

Bonus points

The group does not run the sort of regular, back to back, global promotions that we have come to expect from Marriott, Hilton and IHG.  You cannot book an Accor property and automatically expect to be able to take advantage of an offer.

Recent promotions have focussed on large bonuses for members bookings numerous 2+ night stays.  These deals can be tricky to maximise, however, as you need to book within a short window for stays at a later date.

It also runs regular private sales for Le Club members which offer cash discounts of up to 50%. See our ‘Hotel Promos‘ page for any current global offers.

Accor has a Facebook app which offers bonus points if you activate it during your stay at an Accor hotel – see this article for details.

Points expiry

In theory, your points will expire exactly 12 months from your last stay.  In reality, earning points from an Accor partner will also extend them – but there are very few Accor partners out there.  You can learn more about stopping Accor points expiring in this article.

Can you upgrade using points?

No – except to the extent that you negotiate a better room for cash at check-in and then use your Accor vouchers to pay for it.

Are ‘cash and points’ redemptions available?

Yes, to the extent that you can part-pay your room with Accor vouchers whilst paying cash for the balance.

Airline redemption options

Accor points can be transferred to a number of airlines.

Uniquely among major hotel programmes, Accor has different exchange rates for different airlines. British Airways is 2:1 whilst Iberia is 1:1 so you should ALWAYS move your Accor points to Iberia Plus. You can then use ‘Combine My Avios’ to move them to your British Airways account.

Because you could use your points for an Accor voucher instead, you are effectively paying 2 Eurocents per Avios (2,000 Accor points = €40 or 2,000 Iberia Plus Avios). This is very expensive and you would be better off using the points for a hotel stay if possible.

Can I earn Avios directly without collecting points?

Yes, see ba.com here. You can earn Avios by showing your British Airways Executive Club or avios.com card at check-in. The amount will depend on which brand you are staying with – it is 1.25 Avios per €1 with the upper end brands.

You will not earn any Le Club AccorHotels points. However, you must still be a member of Le Club AccorHotels in order to do this.

Credit card partnerships

Can you get elite status with a UK credit card?  Not any longer.  The American Express Platinum offer for free Platinum status ended in 2016.

Is there an Accor credit card in the UK?  No

Is Accor an Amex Membership Rewards partner?  No.  In theory you could transfer to Finnair at 1:1 and then on to Accor at 7:1 but this is a massive loss of value.

Purchasing and transferring points

You cannot purchase Accor points. This is not surprising, given that they can only be redeemed for a fixed cash value.

My opinion

Part Two of this article tomorrow will focus on my personal opinion of Le Club AccorHotels.

(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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  1. Arriving LHR T5 a week on Friday around 10pm. Novotel and Mercure at LHR both on the Happy Mondays at £40. Any recommendations?