How to use small orphan amounts of miles and points – Part 1 (Hotels)

I thought it was about time to revise and update the lists I first published in 2012 about the best way to use up small amounts of miles and points.

What I want to explore is ‘What is the smallest or most optimum small reward, and how can you ‘top-off’ an account?’.  Please join in the discussion with your ideas in the Comments section.  

Today I will look at some hotel loyalty schemes, and Part 2 later this week will focus on some airline and shopping schemes.  Click on the links to read relevant historic Head for Points posts on the topic mentioned.

In all cases below except Accor, there is a formal ‘buy points’ option you can use to get to the level you need for a redemption.  This page (click) has links to the ‘buy points’ pages of the major airline and hotel schemes.  However, I try to find more creative ideas that don’t involve spending money.

How to spend small amounts of points or top up a small balance to something worthwhile:

Club Carlson

Hilton Honors

World of Hyatt

My prefererred small Hyatt reward is the 6,000 point suite upgrade, although this is only now valid for one night instead of fourHyatt has ‘cash and points’ awards, so you may have enough for a reward after all.  You can also buy Hyatt points.  Airline transfers are from 5,000 points.

You can also use 2,000 points for a $10 dining or spa credit at a Hyatt hotel – you do not need to be a guest to do this.  Another option is to use 6,000 points for a one-day Avis car hire redemption

Accounts can be topped up by eating at a participating Hyatt hotel restaurant or crediting an Avis car rental to Hyatt.  That’s it!

You can merge your Hyatt points with those of your partner, but I think you need to redeem them at the same time.

Hyatt is not an American Express Membership Rewards partner.

The World of Hyatt expiry rules are summarised here.

IHG Rewards Club

Le Club AccorHotels

Marriott Rewards

Starwood Preferred Guest

In Part 2 of this article later this week, I will look at some airline and shopping programmes.

(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.)

Great BA Amex / Amex Gold / Amazon offer: register ASAP for 500-1000 easy Avios or MR points
Highland games: no BA / Loganair codeshare deal as Flybe launches in competition
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.


  1. Alex W says:

    What about Meliá? I’ve still got those 2000 points for signing up ages ago.

    • 100 Melia = 30 Iberia Avios

      • Genghis says:

        Don’t think the 2k sign up points can be transferred out

        • Sussex bantam says:

          That’s correct – the 2000 sign up can’t be transferred out. I think you need a stay to make the account live

          I tried purchasing some more (minimum 5 euro purchase) but this didn’t make my account ‘live’ and I couldn’t tranafer out either the 2000 or my newly purchased ones.

    • They’re coded separately, you can only use them with Melia IIRC.

    • Alex W says:

      Thanks all

  2. Stephen C says:

    Useful article! Are there any better ‘cash out’ options for larger amounts (hotel and airmiles)? Have several large balances (Avios, IHG, Club Carlson) but spending opportunities are limited for the next few years due to family circumstances. All earned via work or credit cards so I’m thinking it would be better to get cash for them now rather than let them devalue over now, they cost me nothing to earn.

    • the real harry1 says:

      there aren’t any particularly good ways to cash out Avios

      apart from flights/ hotels, which can be excellent value, the other uses such as buying wine with your points seem to me to be a bit expensive (often valuing the Avios @ about 0.5p) – but your view of value may be different to mine

      if you’re not bothered by 0.5-0.6p, car hire is fair but I think it stops being offered (on Avis, anyway) on 30th November (with latest booking 31st August) & they don’t seem to offer many locations

      • Stephen C says:

        Thanks. Not bothered about taking 0.5p if that gets me something that is close to cash for airmiles, obviously not going to get close to that on hotel points! Car rental would have been handy, but family travel is now stopped for this year pending a new addition in early November so will miss the Avis boat at least.

        • Alex W says:

          If you don’t want to fly, I’m sure there must be some baby friendly IHG or Carlson hotels in the UK you could take a well earned rest in the next year or so.
          I really would try and hang on to the Avios for future flights if you can. Even Part Pay with Avios gets you something like 0.67p per point, with no availability concerns.

    • Graeme says:

      IHG have a number of options in terms of retail gift cards, obviously the value is not great but at least they are something you can use and gain a tangible benefit from. They include Amazon, Boots, M&S among others starting at 4000 points for a £5 voucher..

  3. Axel h says:


    New AMEX offer today. Spend £25+ in Amazon and get 1000 MR. Fingers crossed its working with email gift cards

  4. Relaxo says:

    OT – HIlton related. Thought I would check here before contacting CS.
    Had a Points & Cash stay (booked under the old P+C redemption system) at the Conrad Dublin last weekend. Pre-tax rate for the cash portion was 83 euro. Stay credited with 321 points.
    1) Is this a mistake? Or do points &cashstays earn fewer points than standard earning rates?
    2) Room booked under my name but setlled the bill using gf’s Hilton barclaycard. Any reason why she wouldnt get the 2500 bonus pts for first 4 stays?

    • Alex W says:

      321 points could be for dining or other incidental spend?
      You wouldn’t normally get any HH for jsut the room rate on a cash and points booking.
      It should trigger the Barclaycard bonus but you might have to chase them for it.

      • Relaxo says:

        Thanks Alex. We had no incidental spend though & according to new rules points+cash redemptions do earn. Granted this was booked under the old rules so might not qualify, but can’t explain the 321 pts in that case…

      • My experience the same as Alex W, we stayed at Hilton Park Lane and didn’t get the starter bonus as we’d forgotten to buy anything on the card.

        Relaxo, what were your impressions of the Dublin Conrad?

        • Relaxo says:

          Overall – nice & classy property. However, was my first time at a Conrad so dont have a directly comparable reference point. King Deluxe room was spacious. Early check-in was very helpful for us. Location within 15 – 20 mins walk to most places on the tourist trail. & right next to Airport shuttle bus stop. Took advantage of the overnight complimentary shoe shine service. Can combine buffet & a-la carte menu for breakfast -good food but restaurant is small & can get very cramped.
          Negatives – no pool, no exec lounge, surrounded by taller buildings so only front facing rooms have a decent view.

        • Thank you Relaxo. Being close to the airport shuttle bus is always a plus.

    • You shouldn’t have received any points for a Points and Money redemption under the old rules.

      Under the new rules, Points and Money is no longer a redemption stay but just money off a flexible booking.

      During the changeover, Hilton’s systems or the hotel’s systems got confused somewhere. Particularly if there was an upgrade, they may have just converted the redemption into a “paid” stay. This happened to me on about half of my Points and Money bookings under the old rules but after the changeover. As you got more than you should have, just keep quiet.

      As for the 2500 points for first 4 stays upon opening the Hilton barclaycard. When you applied for the Hilton card, you gave barclays an Honors number. This is the account which will be credited with the 4x 2500 points regardless of names.

      Barclays sets a flag on the Honors account, which takes about 2 months after getting the card, and then the next 4 stays will receive 2500 points regardless of whether anything is paid. It is NOT done by barclaycard detecting 4 transactions at Hilton hotels – BUT barclaycard seems to think it is.

      I prepaid for 3 Hilton hotels on the card and received nothing. I had not yet stayed, but barclays did not know that**. I complained and received my 7500 points + £200 compensation. I then had 3 redemption stays, where I paid nothing. When those redemption stays posted, I got another 7500 points under the headings BARCLAYS 2ND/3RD/4TH STAY BONUS.

      **Make sure your phone number on barclaycard and Hilton are different, as Hilton uses phone number as a security question. Barclays complaint handlers will call Hilton and impersonate you to find out your points activity, but Hilton will refuse to give this out if your phone numbers differ.

      • Relaxo says:

        Thanks. I will probably have to chase th3m up on it in due course. That’s quite the impersonation charge there…

  5. Richard O'neil says:

    Here’s a question on this topic of the best way to use up miles. I’m not a big collector of miles, but have managed to amass around 35,000 AMEX rewards points. What is the best way of spending them?

  6. Wally1976 says:

    OT – has anyone’s 1000 Avios bonus for signing up for Marriott Rewards actually hit their BAEC account yet? I can see the activity on the Marriott account as per Rob’s article at the weekend but nothing on BAEC yet.

  7. How to Amex give people ‘Avios’ on a Platinum card say?

    • Alex W says:

      They don’t, you get Membership Rewards points. These can then be converted to Avios if you want.


    I have a Barclaycard Hilton Honors card. If I use it every few months for non Hilton usage ie normal shopping will this keep my HH points live for a further 12 months?

  9. Greg R says:

    Le Club Accor Points – 40 Euro Voucher (for 2000 points) now scrapped?
    Just wanted to flag that I have just over 2000 Le Club Accor points due to expire in 3 days time and have been going round the houses trying to get a 40 Euro voucher for a 2000 points redemption.
    Long story short, you can’t find this on their website now (it’s been removed) and their Customer Service Rep finally emailed me back:
    “I’m getting back to you regarding your request related to the conversion of your reward points to vouchers. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience related to the latter as the vouchers are not proposed anymore.
    On the other hand, if the offer which you plan to book corresponds to a flexible rate, not subject to prepayment, you can use Le Club Accor Hotels hotel Rewards points directly to pay for all or for a part of your stay. This mode of payment can be alternative to the feature “Booking with my points”.

    So . . . I can only use them for a direct booking – not a voucher.
    Anyone have any other ideas of a way to rescue my marooned 2000 points for something!

    • Relaxo says:

      Yes, I remember this was publicized on some other loyalty blogs. There was a cutoff date for ordering vouchers. Strangely enough I cant for the life of me figure out how to redeem points for bookings on their website. Previously there used to be a button that popped up at the payment page but this has diappeared now. Have emailed and posted on their fb pages for clarification but no word yet. Hope they arent being deliiberately dodgy…got almost 20K LCpoints in my account!

    • Alex W says:

      You should be able to convert them to 2000 Iberia Avios?

      • Alex W says:

        NB though the article sats you need 3000 to convert to Iberia, there is a trick to get round this minimum amount by auto converting. Search old HFP articles.

  10. signol says:

    Hilton. I’ve reset expiry before by buying points, the minimum was 1000 for something like $6 if memory serves.

  11. So would 9000 Marriott points transferred to Avios through SPG end up as 9000 avios?

    • No. 9000 Marriott = 3000 SPG = 3000 Avios.

      • OK thanks. With the alternative being £15 of Amazon vouchers (7,500 Marriott points) I’m essentially buying them for 50p/avios so not bad. Thanks!