Until 13th July, British Airways is offering a 25% bonus (10% with Starwood) if you transfer hotel points from seven major loyalty schemes into Avios. Etihad Guest is offering a similar deal until 6th June.
Since most of the hotel programmes allow you to buy points – and some currently have special offers – I thought it would be interesting to see if any of the deals were so good that you were effectively buying cheap Avios or Etihad miles by buying hotel points.
This is easily the best deal on the table. Until May 31st, Starwood is offering a 25% discount when you buy SPG points.
Starwood points convert at 1:1 into airline miles. When you convert 20,000 at once, you receive a bonus of 5,000 miles. The extra 10% bonus from the British Airways promotion is on top of this.
Until May 31st, the maths looks like this:
Buy 20,000 Starwood points for $525 after discount (£340, plus any FX fees on your credit card)
20,000 Starwood points gets you 25,000 Avios
Additional 10% bonus gets you to 27,500
Cost per Avios point = 1.24p per point
This is cheaper than buying points at the standard BA rate.
Two extra things to note:
As you can get two seats in the SPG Suite at the O2 for a major concert for 20,000 points, you can effectively buy two tickets for any major gig for £340
There is no bonus on SPG conversions to Etihad Guest in the current promotion so the maths above only works for Avios transfers
Club Carlson devalued its conversion rate to airline miles two years ago and was never going to be a contender here at the standard rate.
40,000 Club Carlson points will cost you $280. These would convert into 4,000 miles + 25% = 5,000 miles. Cost per Avios or Etihad mile = 3.62p.
Given the pathetic conversion rate of Hilton points to Avios or Etihad Guest (10:1) this was never going to be a good deal!
10,000 Hilton points costs $100. Transfers into 1,000 Avios or Etihad Guest + 25% = 1,250 miles. Cost per Avios or Etihad mile = 5.18p
Hyatt is running a bonus for up to 40% bonus points until May 31st.
10,000 Hyatt points costs $240, which is 14,000 points with the bonus. This transfers into 5,600 Avios + 25% = 7,000 Avios or Etihad miles. Cost per Avios or Etihad mile = 2.21p
Verdict: Better than Hilton or Carlson but still more expensive than buying Avios directly or using Starwood
30,000 IHG Rewards Club points costs $345. Transfers into 6,000 Avios + 25% = 7,500 Avios. Cost per Avios or Etihad mile = 2.97p
There is a loophole which allows you to buy IHG points substantially more cheaply than this at $210 for 30,000. Even at this price, though, the cost per mile is still too high at 1.94p. This is more expensive than buying them from BA.
Verdict: Definitely avoid at the full price
30,000 Marriott Rewards points costs $375. Transfers into 10,000 Avios or Etihad miles + 25% = 12,500 miles. Cost per Avios or Etihad Guest mile = 1.94p
Verdict: Also no use, more expensive than buying directly from BA
Test 7: Shangri-La Golden Circle
You cannot buy Golden Circle points, as far as I can tell
The only hotel programme where you are likely to get some value from buying points and then transferring them to British Airways is Starwood.
However, with Avios currently offering a 25% bonus on large purchases of miles, the price is roughly the same as taking the Starwood route – and with no FX fees and less messing about required. I wouldn’t bother with Starwood on this basis.
Starwood is not taking part in the current Etihad Guest transfer bonus. You could, of course, buy 20,000 Starwood points anyway and transfer them into 25,000 Etihad Guest miles – you just won’t get an extra 25% on top. You would be paying 1.36p per Etihad mile on this basis. You cannot normally buy Etihad Guest miles at all.
If you are short of Etihad Guest miles, remember that you can do a ‘cash and points’ redemption and Etihad will ‘sell’ you 25% of the miles you need for just 0.58p!
(Want to earn more hotel points? To see our complete list of promotions from the major chains, click here to visit our ‘Hotel Promos’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)