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Check the exchange rate carefully when your hotel points post

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The majority of the major hotel loyalty schemes work on the basis of how many $ you spent on your trip.  The main outlier is Accor which is € driven.

This means that, for the majority of your stays, the value of your stay will be converted into $ or € in order to calculate how many points are due.

This can lead to various problems, so it is often worth keeping an eye on what is happening.

For UK hotel stays, one common problem is the double deduction of VAT.

Points are awarded on the value of your expenditure excluding tax.  Because UK consumer law means that prices must be shown including sales tax, it needs to be deducted from your spend before your points are calculated.  I have seen numerous examples, most often with IHG, where the hotel has input an ex-VAT figure which the rewards programme has treated as VAT-inclusive – and thus deducted another 20%!

Another issue is the use of a pathetic exchange rate.

I had an email this week from a reader who had stayed at, shall we say, a flagship Marriott hotel in the UK.  The points from a recent stay were converted into US$ at a rate of $1.23 per £1.

This was on a day when the official rate was $1.51!

The reader initially thought that it was a VAT issue – but no.  The hotel confirmed in writing (and I have seen the correspondence) that $1.23 was the correct exchange rate that Marriott Rewards was using to convert UK stays into $.

The hotel was so embarrassed by this that it credited the reader involved with additional points as a goodwill gesture.  I still find this difficult to believe, however, because there is no history of Marriott historically undercrediting members for UK stays except on a property level basis.  Because the difference is so close to the VAT level I am tempted to believe that someone has made a mistake somewhere in the hotel.

Irrespective of fault, however, the lesson is that you should keep an eye on what you receive from you stays and file a complaint if the number seems too low.

PS.  VAT is also proving to be an issue with IHG’s Accelerate promotion.  Some people have been given a target of spending $40 on food and drink.  This is $40 excluding VAT which is causing problems for some guests at UK hotels.  They believe they have spent enough to trigger the bonus but IHG says not.

Hotel offers update – June 2022:

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

Want to buy hotel points? There is:

  • a 80% to 100% bonus when you buy Hilton Honors points by 19th July 2022 (buy here)
  • a mystery 40% to 55% bonus when you buy Marriott Bonvoy points by 15th July (buy here)
  • a 30% bonus when you buy 5,000+ World of Hyatt points by 1st August (buy here)

Comments (16)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Anon says:

    Hilton do not do there PR any favours on their £–>$ XE Rates

    • John says:

      I don’t stay at UK Hiltons but always got a reasonable EUR-USD rate.

      With IHG it’s right about 70% of the time, the rest just doesn’t make sense but probably haven’t lost out overall especially given the overly generous bonus points which we weren’t really meant to get (which have now been replaced by the ‘target achievement’ style of promotion)

    • Ian says:

      Can’t say I have ever checked hilton. Maybe I should!

      • DW201 says:

        mmm – Im thinking the same. I have a crazy amount of stays over the last few years and havent checked a single one.

        Anyone had any issues/joy out of hilton?

  • Andreas says:

    It’s the same with SPG. I had a stay in December that cost €228.65 (incl. 20% tax). According to my calculation, I should have received 412 points (I’m just a Preferred Guest) – the net cost was €190.55, converted to USD it’s $206. On the basis of receiving 2 pts per eligible USD, that should have been those 412 points. Yet I was only credited 288 points, meaning according to SPG the “eligible” rate was only $144, or €132 – 60 Euros less than is on the official hotel invoice. When I inquired about this, the SPG Customer Representative told me that hotel was ONLY earning $144 from my stay, thus that’s why I only got 288 points. I went through their T&C’s but could not find that I had anything that would not qualify as not “eligible charges.” Do you think I should dispute this with SPG? I know it’s quite a minor difference in points, but I somehow feel I was not treated fairly.

    • Mark says:

      Too bloody right. And ask them to explain their workings out and put it in writing.

  • James says:


    Every time that I do not get the right number of points I email MR in Ireland. I usually get an adjusted number of points within the week. They seem to use the or similar to calculate the number of points. You will need the VAT receipt/bill from the hotel

    I probably have got about 100-1500k points this way. I remember one stay where the hotel gave me 12 points instead of 4k of points.

  • USATB says:

    I’ve just been hit with a super strange error.. booked two rooms for two nights, knew one would be non-qual as an overlapping stay – however they entered BOTH rooms as overlapping and non-qual. the property think they’ve done it right as they say each room is an overlap with the other (gave up trying to explain the correct logic).. net result you’d think would be zero points… but oh no.. for some random reason they’ve split out the breakfast from a rate including breakfast and applied points to that part… root cause may be entering both as non-qual.

    £400+ spent as a spire = circa 750 points with half showing as elite qualifying.

    Waiting for the 7 day rule before raising with IHG online.

  • Ian says:

    I see this email came with an advert for BA.

    Someone needs to tell BA that their sale finished yesterday.

    False advertising by them.

  • Liz says:

    Where do you find the ‘official’ exchange rate and can you check it back to a specific date after the event?

  • Jordan D says:

    Can someone remind me how many Marriott points per USD I should be getting?

  • Chris says:

    I had this issue recently with HHonors. After all the converstions i calculated my stay should have been approx $670, instead Hilton paid out on $440. Due to all the offers etc running i estimate i missed out on >10k points. I took this issue up with HHonors and this was the response i received.

    “Please be advised that the points awarded for stays at hotels within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio outside the U.S. will be based on local currency converted to U.S. dollars. This rate will be determined at our sole discretion, based on standard currency conversion methods but may vary from currency conversion rates used by credit card companies”

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