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

This is the second part of the updated article I began two weeks ago, 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.

Part 1 looked at the hotel schemes.  Today I look at some of the major European airline schemes and Tesco Clubcard.  I have not covered Avios as Head for Points readers are generally keener to build those up!

Tesco Clubcard (points convert to Avios or Virgin Flying Club)

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 at Sainsburys or another partner.

Club Carlson is another option, requiring a minimum transfer of just three Amex points.  Hilton Honors requires a minimum transfer of 200 points.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Lufthansa Miles & More

  • SPEND – You can cash out small amounts into Heathrow Airport shopping vouchers via Heathrow Rewards
  • SPEND – There are hotel redemptions available via the new M&M hotel booking portal
  • SPEND – Remember that one-way redemptions are allowed on Lufthansa and all its partners, so you need fewer miles than you think
  • SPEND – Keep an eye on the regular list of destinations which are on mileage sale
  • TOP-UP – Whist Lufthansa is not an Amex partner, you can get the dedicated Miles & More credit card to top off an account.  Getting the M&M credit card also stops your miles expiring, so you may not have to rush to spend them after all.
  • TOP-UP – You can indirectly earn Miles & More miles via Amex Membership Rewards by transferring them to Starwood Preferred Guest at 2:1 and then on to Lufthansa at 1:1, with a 25% bonus for moving 20,000 points at once
  • TOP-UP – You can transfer in from Heathrow Rewards (and out, see the first point) and of course the usual hotel programmes, or credit a car rental (there is a 50% bonus until 31st August 2017)
  • TOP-UP – You can also earn Miles & More miles from shopping at Bicester Village!

Emirates Skywards

Etihad Guest

Etihad is a partner with Amex Membership Rewards which lets you top up your account to a suitable level.

You can also cash out via the Etihad Guest Rewards Card / PointsPay.  This is an impressive scheme for small balances which I have used – you get 0.55p per point, delivered as a ‘virtual Visa’ card number.  There is no excuse for having an unused Etihad balance.  I wrote more about Points Pay here.

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, Scandic Hotels, First Hotels, Best Western (selected countries only) amongst other hotel offers.  You can also redeem points for lounge access.  Expiring points, from just 1000, can be donated to charity.

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.

(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: Virgin East Coast sale, IHG 'buy points' bonus, earn Nectar points with South Western
Bits: 1000 free Marriott points, Euston hotel closures, Qatar food pre-orders
About Head for Points

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  1. The Original Nick. says:

    Any suggestions what I can do with 4500 Topbonus miles?

  2. Transfers from MR to Avios is in increments of 500 points but must be a minimum of 1000 points. So you can transfer 1500 points

  3. Any idea how often Heathrow rewards to Avios bonus tends to occur / when next one might be? I have a large number of HR points to transfer, so a 50% bonus would be well worth having!

  4. Is anyone familiar with the best use of Delta sky miles? These do not seem to expire, which I guess is good. I have I believe 29k miles which is short of the 30k required for a short haul return flight within Europe, I believe (taxes on top).

    Wonder though if there is any better use out there for these miles given I only top up the rare occassions I fly Aeroflot, KLM or Delta…


  5. Can you still spend Emirates miles on Easyjet?

  6. Sean Chiang says:

    I have 35,000 Qatar its expiring at the end of this year and have tried unsuccessfully for many months to redeem for a flight.

    Does anybody know if I can covert them to another airline programme or something to that effect?

    • Why can’t you redeem? Any flight bookable on as an Avios redemption, on any oneworld airline, can be booked via QMiles if you call them. How far you get for 35,000 is another question.

  7. Daftboy says:

    You can also spend Miles & More at the Lufthansa Worldshop, which has quite a reasonable range (incl Lufthansa branded things) – not quite as good value since GBP/EUR has dropped but there is no min amount of miles you can use so good for small/uneven amounts

  8. I have a couple of questions regarding points transfers if anyone knows the answer?

    1. Does Marriot ever offer a bonus for points transfers to Avios or BAEC? Or shall I move them anytime?

    2. Anyone know if there is a way to turn HHonors into Avois?


  9. Sorry OT – Can I get the IHG Platinum just for the sign-up bonus and cancel immediately? I imagine I could easily hit £200 in a day with a well timed hotel stay – will i get almost all of the £99 back?

    same with the starwood platinum cards, both hubby and I have already triggered bonus points – can we cancel them now to get best refund on the £75 or do we have to wait for the SPG points to be posted to our statements?

    • Genghis says:

      IHG Creation card cost of £99 is a sunk cost (i.e. no refund). It’s currently offering 20k IHG points sign up bonus (at 0.4p = £80) so not worth it just for a sign up churn. The value of this card comes from long term spend, i.e. spend £10k and get a free night in any IHG hotel.

      For SPG Amex, pro-rata refunds are possible. Wait for the points to transfer from your Amex SPG account to your SPG accounts and then you can call up to cancel to get most of your £75 back.

      • Genghis says:

        And if anyone is hoping for a quick sign up of Creation IHG and then cancel, take note of ” If your IHG Rewards Club Premium Credit Card account is closed within the first 6 months of opening, IHG reserves the right to deduct the 20,000 bonus Rewards points from your IHG Rewards Club account.”
        No idea if it’s enforced

      • Oh wow. thanks for this. not gonna apply for the ihg cards then………..

        • Consider keeping one of your SPG cards for 6 months so you can refer the other person in 6 months time, then cancel (and repeat every 6 months). This would get 5k referer bonus and the refer-ee bonus is an extra 1k SPG points. Should be easily worth the extra £30 or so fee for keeping the card longer.

        • You might as well both cancel, with one re-applying in 6 months and then re-referring the second person and both cancel again. You can churn more times this way (as once cancelled, you can’t have another sign up bonus for 6 months)

    • Only Amex offer pro-rata refunds. MBNA and Creation it’s a fixed cost. Plus IHG White card T&Cs definitely has 6/12 period where you can’t cancel without risking them pulling back points – Black might be the same but little point in rushing to cancel given you won’t get the fee back anyway!

  10. Suggestions to use or keep American Airlines miles from expiring? My mother has around 45,000 miles expiring mid-next month. I think last time they were due to expire she purchased some more but it cost like £50 to do the minimum so she is less keen on doing that.

    • No car rentals or hotel stays planned?

      • She doesn’t no, but maybe I can convince her to book a hotel for me rather than them going to waste! 🙂

    • If you use award wallet post a comment on their blog and you will receive 5 AA miles, which will hopefully reset expiry.

    • TigerTanaka says:

      I have the free AA Visa card which I only have to keep my 50k AA miles fresh.

  11. Hsergio10 says:

    if i closing my amex gold (250k ish MR points), can i transfer them into my Plat amex account?

    • Genghis says:

      “If you close your Card Account and leave at least one other Linked Card Account in the
      Programme open, you will continue to earn Points in your Points Account through any Linked
      Card Account(s).”

    • You shouldn’t have a separate account – you are only meant to have 1 MR account which all of your cards feed into.

  12. I continually get an error when adding my Nectar Card for AmexMR transfers – any ideas?

    • Have you ever linked your Nectar account to any MR-earning cards previously? Sometimes this can cause an issue even if the other card is long cancelled. Ring Amex and have them check – they can remove the old link manually and you should be good to go…

    • It is only an 11 digit number required, if you tried to add the whole card number.

  13. OT – I’m about to hit the BAPP companion voucher spend in the next month or two. Do I need to retain the BAPP to then be able to use it? I was contemplating hitting the spend limit, getting the voucher, taking out the AMEX Pre Rewards Gold Card and then cancel the BAPP card.

    • Genghis says:

      In short – no. But you need an Amex (any Amex of any person) to pay the fees.

      • Great, knew you’d be able to help! I’ll flip to the GC to get the 20k bonus spend.

        Have Amex ever offered a bonus for a supplementary card with the BAPP?

        • Genghis says:

          Very recently there was a pop up I believe. I’ve never taken advantage as I always get him n hers cards on sign up anyway (to hit the spend targets).

        • Cool – it seems to have gone so I’ll keep my eyes peeled. It’d be nice to get the Mrs a supplementary on my card for a bonus (she can still spend on her free Amex card). She can then upgrade her free card when I cancel my BAPP to try to get another companion voucher and then we can then get into properly churning.

        • thehornets says:

          Tom… It never hurts just to ask Amex if they will give you a bonus for a supplementary card. I have done this before on Rewards Gold and it worked…

        • Thanks, I’ll give it a go. Presumably it won’t matter if she already has an Amex card?

  14. Thanks Raffles. Sorry my first post doesn’t seem to have worked:

    Please can you do something for Iberia Avios where you have household BA and Avios accounts and therefore cannot transfer points? But not really enough Iberia Avios to make it worthwhile divorcing the Avios household.

    • the real harry1 says:

      open an a/c & transfer there instead

      • the real harry1 says:

        oops sounds like you already have an a/c – that one is easy to separate, takes a couple of days & you can nominate 1 a/c holder to get 100% of the points – then pull in the IB points

        no particular reason to have 2 HH a/cs in any case – I keep BA as HHA and as ‘separates’ which seems to give decent flexibility

  15. points query.

    I have an upcoming Singapore flights (bagged a really well priced trip to Australia in recent sale in J)
    I am OW Frequent Flyer and not sure which program I should credit the Singapore points (potentially to be used in OW)?

    • Optimus Prime says:

      You can check here –

    • SQ aren’t in Oneworld so you can’t credit to any of their programmes. Either credit to a *A or you can transfer them across to Virgin Australia. KrisFlyer (SQ’s own programme) unfortunately has a hard 3 year expiry rule, but on the upside you can transfer in from Amex MR and availability is much better via KF than *A partners, so if you think you’ll be able to use them perhaps just stick with SQ? My main *A programme is United, they at least reset expiry anytime you credit miles.

  16. OT Avis Iberia 18000 offer is back, but this time is only for the first 100 reservations

  17. Can you get the Hilton 5 nights for the price of 4 redemption using a small amount of points and then upgrading to what you want with money?

  18. Hi all,

    Any good ideas for using up a few thousand Aeroplan (Air Canada) miles please? I can’t see an option to convert them into anything I can use in the UK and no Canada trips planned.

  19. Any tips for KLM?

  20. Is there any way to convert Emirates Skywards miles to BA miles ?