Nutmeg Avios

Which is the most generous hotel programme for earning Avios points?

The general view of hotel loyalty programmes is that Starwood Preferred Guest is the only scheme where it is is worthwhile trading your points for airline miles.

There are a couple of reasons for this.  The first is that – since the conversion rate for most airlines including British Airways is 1:1 – it sounds generous.  IHG Rewards Club is 5:1 into Avios which to the average reader appears to be far worse.

Secondly, Starwood adds an extra 5,000 miles to your pot if you convert 20,000 SPG points at once.  This means that you are getting 1.25 airline miles for every SPG point.  Hilton HHonors, on the other hand, only gives you 0.1 airline miles per point.

The ‘Starwood is best’ view simply isn’t born out by the maths.  Inspired by this ludicrously detailed examination of the major hotel loyalty schemes on US site Travel Update,  I thought I would run the numbers.


The question I asked was …..

How much do you need to spend with the major hotel schemes to earn 10,000 Avios?

I am assuming that the reader has whatever status comes with doing 20 nights via 20 one-night stays per year in the relevant loyalty programme.  Given the amount of money they need to spend to earn 10,000 Avios this is a logical assumption.

Marriott Rewards – $2,500

10,000 Avios requires 30,000 Marriott Rewards points.  You earn 10 points per $1 plus a 20% bonus for being Silver.

Starwood Preferred Guest – $3,333

10,000 Avios requires 10,000 Starwood points.  You earn 2 points per $1 plus a 50% bonus for being Gold.

Le Club AccorHotels – $3,583  (€3,225)

10,000 Iberia Plus Avios requires 10,000 Accor points (the conversion rate to BA is worse so use Iberia).  You earn 3.1 points per €1 as a Silver member.  Note that Accor is changing the structure of its loyalty scheme in January 2017.

Club Carlson – $3,703

10,000 Avios requires 100,000 Club Carlson points.  You earn 20 points per $1 plus a 35% bonus for being Gold.

Hyatt Gold Passport – $4,347

10,000 Avios requires 25,000 Hyatt points.  You earn 5 points per $1 plus a 15% bonus for being Platinum.

IHG Rewards Club – $4,545

10,000 Avios requires 50,000 IHG Rewards Club points.  You earn 10 points per $1 plus a 10% bonus for being Gold.

Hilton HHonors – $5,714

10,000 Avios requires 100,000 Hilton HHonors points.  You earn 15 points per $1 when you choose ‘points and points’ earning plus a 2.5 points per $1 bonus for being Gold.

Interestingly, even if we up the ante to earning 25,000 Avios per year to trigger the SPG ‘5000 mile bonus’, Marriott is still in front.  25,000 Avios requires 70,000 Marriott Rewards points which is $5,833 of spending for a Silver member.  With SPG, 25,000 Avios requires 20,000 Starwood points which is $6,666.

This analysis does not consider the fact that some chains let you earn miles directly if you agree not to earn points.  Because these are generally fixed amounts such as 500 Avios per stay they may work out better for you if you do lots of cheap one-night stays.


Despite what many people think, Marriott Rewards is actually the most rewarding programme for earning airline miles if you are looking to convert hotel points.

The only caveat – and it is a large one – is that Hilton HHonors and IHG Rewards Club are more aggressive in terms of running bonus point promotions.  Even with the current Hilton ‘double points’ promotion, however, it is still less generous than Marriott Rewards if you want to convert your points to Avios.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

Bits: LAST DAY for 480 Avios on £8 HP ink cartridges, Virgin places big A350-1000 order
Bits: double Avios at Gate 365 this weekend, 80% bonus when you buy Hilton points
About Head for Points

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  1. Alex W says:

    Good article. With Hilton though, if you were solely intending to convert to Avios I imagine you would choose “points and miles” not “points and points”.

    I wish I had realised earlier that using hotel points for hotels is usually more lucrative than converting to Avios. I now see hotel redemptions like a 2-4-1 because you only need 1 hotel room for a couple, whereas you need 2 flights for a couple.

    It would be interesting to know which hotel scheme is most lucrative in terms of earning for hotel redemptions. Although I am sure there are many variables.

    • Zander says:

      Using hotel points for hotel redemptions has always been better than converting to Avios/Flying Club, I’m surprised that it took you a while to realise such.

      As far as which is best for redemption, there are too many variables to stay for definite, I’ve personally found Hilton to be best for my needs but I’ve been staying at Marriott and Ritz Carlton properties for the last 2 weeks and earning potential to redemption isn’t too bad from a cursory glance but to be fair, I didn’t pay for these rooms so it’s strongly tipped in my favour!

      • Alex W says:

        As a beginner it wasn’t obvious that the hotel points were more valuable. It would probably be worth saying that in this article. I remember when I first used this site I was very excited about collecting as many Avios as possible. With retrospect I slightly regret using sites like Kaligo in the past.

        • The Kaligo promotions are usually so good that they still make sense, to be fair.

        • Brian says:

          Collecting Avios for hotel stays, either directly through the hotels or via Kaligo etc, is good if you aren’t staying in any one brand enough to get plenty of points to redeem there.

        • …. or use Rewards and get a free night for every 10 nights booked, for the average value of those 10 nights. I redeemed one of these last night, story to follow.

        • Genghis says:

          And if you want status benefits as a rule of thumb you should book direct.

  2. What's the Point says:

    What is the general view on having Marriott and SPG points separate at the moment?
    Are they likely to just combine both schemes together 1:1?

  3. O/T for the attention of Seb if you’re reading this. I’ve managed to find a way to sort the Air Berlin referral. If you’re on Flyertalk send me a PM (see link in my name above). I”m also on Twitter – @ker_fuffle

  4. krys_k says:

    Do the points go to the person staying or the person paying? I’ve got to put my team up in hotel on two projects and reckon I’ll spend around £30k. Be good if I could get the points!

    • The named guest. However most chains have schemes for bookers too such as IHG Business Advantage and SPG Pros.

      • Nick Burch says:

        Starwood lets you get credit for up to 3 rooms booked in your name, as long as you pay for all 3 and as long as your SPG number is on all 3 bookings (and no-one else’s)

        Hilton lets you get credit for IIRC 2 rooms, but only if they’re on the same bill

        If it doesn’t credit properly, getting it fixed with SPG is much easier than with Hilton!

        Or, for >3 rooms, go down the meeting planner route as Raffles detailed

  5. Retron says:

    IHG at least have “bonus point package” deals – it’s how I get most of my points, as it adds an extra fiver to the cost of the room in return for 5000 points (=1000 Avios before bonus).

    In reality, getting 50000 points costs me around £800 worth of stays. And if (as in my case) you only convert when a bonus is on it gives even more than that!

    I assume the other hotel chains have similar points-boosting rates?

    • Sort of … you occasionally see ‘double points’ rates with Hilton. Some SPG hotels give bonus points on suites or club room although it often bumps up the price.

      • Alex W says:

        I’ve never done a double points rate at Hilton as the extra cost has never worked out in my favour.

    • Fenny says:

      I stayed at the Park Inn in Sofia last month (nice place) on a 442 deal costing EU106 for 4 nights plus about EU40 in F&B. I ended up earning 9126 Club Carlson points. Gold status courtesy of my now cancelled Amex Plat.

  6. Travel Update isn’t just a US site – I’m backing the UK’s corner in the site! Soon to be delving into UK air miles…

  7. Graeme says:

    I have some hilton points (around 17000) which I am unlikely to use for stays, I was wondering if you move them to Virgin Flying Club, can you then move them to IHG or are they deemed non-transferrable once in VFC? I use IHG a lot and am chasing status and the transfer would help from VFC to IHG assuming they still count for status..

    • Can do but the rate into Virgin is dire (7:1?). Best to use for a cash and points room or a Hilton At Play auction event.

      • Graeme says:

        Thank you for the response I’ll check out both of your suggestions. You are of course correct, the rate is poor 10,000 HH for 1,500 VFC miles…

  8. ElectroDuende says:

    I know is a not very big program, but if the intention is collecting avios, I’d take a look to Melia Rewards. It transfers points to Avios in a 100:30 ratio, so you will need 33.333 points to get 10.000 avios. points per euro/dollar are 10/11/13/14 depending on your status (your qulification should give you gold, so 13 points per euro/dollar (excluding taxes). If you use the melia AMEX (only available in Spain, as far as I know), that will give you 5 extra points per euro (including taxes).

    So 10.000 avios for 2564 € excl. taxes (and less than 1800 using their AMEX).