Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How to use small orphan amounts of miles and points – Part 2 (Airlines & Shopping)

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This is the second part of the updated article I began yesterday, discussing the best ways to ‘zero out’ loyalty card accounts which you want to abandon.  You need to remember that you may first need to ‘top off’ an account by earning a few more points before you can reach the smallest redemption level.

Yesterday I looked at the hotel schemes.  Today I look at some of the major European airline and shopping schemes.  I have not covered Avios as Head for Points readers are generally keener of building those up!

Tesco Clubcard

If you have multiple cards in your name, try to get them up to 150 points using extra points coupons or offers.  150 points is the trigger to receive vouchers.  You can then chuck the card.

The easiest options are bonus Clubcard points for giving Tesco Bank your insurance renewal dates and 25 Clubcard points with Tesco Views (the latter is repeatable monthly).

Tesco can also merge accounts together if you contact them, although you may be wary of doing this if you have been putting aggressive multiple purchases through it.

American Express Membership Rewards

If you are closing your Amex card and emptying your Membership Rewards account, you will discover that transfers to Avios are in multiples of 1,000.  If this leaves you with 1-999 spare points, get a Nectar account and transfer the exact balance there.  Each point is worth 0.5p.

Club Carlson is another option, requiring a minimum transfer of just three Amex points.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Lufthansa Miles & More

Emirates Skywards

Etihad Guest

Etihad is a partner with Amex Membership Rewards which lets you top up your account to a suitable level.  There is also a generous hotel booking promotion at the moment.

You can also cash out via PointsPay.  This is an impressive scheme for small balances which I have used – you get 0.4p per point, delivered as a ‘virtual Visa’ card number.  There is no excuse for having an unused Etihad balance.

Etihad has a UK credit card.  You can also transfer in Heathrow Rewards points as well as the usual mix of car hire and hotel partners.

SAS EuroBonus

SAS used to let you redeem small amounts of miles for iTunes and Amazon vouchers but these seem to be permanently out of stock recently.  You can redeem for Radisson and Park Inn hotels amongst other hotel offers.

SAS EuroBonus is also an American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner.

Apologies for the lack of Flying Blue coverage, but this scheme is really not my strong point!  Please leave any further suggestions or ideas I have missed in the Comments below.

Comments (23)

  • Tilly71 says:


  • n says:

    Etihad – their occasional raffles are another way to burn off any small totals of miles, if you’re the gambling sort.

  • Tical says:

    For a while I used to credit all my Lufthansa and Austrian flights to Aegean in order to get Gold status but now have 20,000+ miles at Aegean with no good use. Any suggestions?

    • Rob says:

      20,000 must, surely, be enough (or nearly enough) for a UK to Germany / Switzerland / Austra etc flight on LH / Swiss / Austrian, or Adria to Croatia? Or perhaps a one-way to the Middle East?

  • DS says:

    Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: e-rewards

    500 additional Flying Club miles when you complete your first survey within 2 months of enrolling.*

  • Jan says:

    Not directly related, but I sometimes use to transfer small amount of points to various accounts with orphan miles, so that I have activity and thus pro-long the expiration time (hoping to earn additional miles later). Of course, this is not always possible with all of the various Frequent Traveller or Frequent Guest Programms.

    Another point, if you have an Asia Miles account. You can earn Asia Miles by buying return tickets for the Hong Kong Airport Express and Asia Miles has no minimun treshold for transfering points to other programms (again, must be possible which is not the case for all programms). But doing it this way, I keep at least some of my account alive.

    • Rob says:

      I do write about occasionally. Got a good result last year when I turned some useless Virgin American miles into IHG.

  • Ian says:

    I have until now maintained an American Airlines account for my wife and I.

    Problem is I am getting fed up with flying with them – and when we do use the points say on BA there are crazy taxes to add on which make the redemption poor (I think!)

    I am now thinking I ought to switch to using my BA account for future flights on BA.

    So how does one use balances of 52,000 and 38,000 as I have no need to go to the USA this year? Any suggestions?

    • Rob says:

      Etihad to the Middle East. Fantastic deal – 40,000 each way in First, 30,000 each way in Business, no taxes apart from APD (which is obviously £100+).

      A380 business class is amazing if you dig out my review. Abu Dhabi is a 30 minute taxi ride to Dubai, don’t forget. You could buy 8,000 for your account and another 22,000 for your wife.

      Or … buy 2,000 for your wife, go down First Class then use Avios to come back on BA. You would have 12,000 AA left which is good enough for a European return.

      Also worth noting that – because AA treats all of Europe as one zone – AA miles are a decent deal for European BA redemptions to far flung parts of Europe like Greece. Tax will be higher than on an Avios redemption but you need fewer miles for the longer flights.

      • Ian says:


        Do we have to call AA in the US to book such flights? Really not too sure.

        • Rob says:

          I think you need to call them to book Etihad flights, yes. Easiest thing to do is register for an Etihad Guest account and then use that to access the Etihad website and search for redemption space. If you can see reward seats at the standard pricing level (NOT the higher price bands) then AA can book the same seats.

          Ignore the miles requirement shown by Etihad – the number of AA miles required is based on the AA reward chart and not the Etihad one.