Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Bits: booking a hotel this week?, 80% bonus buying Hilton points, 35% discount on SPG points

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News in brief:

Booking a hotel this week?

There was a spike in readership to our hotel pages yesterday so it seems that people are looking to get some bookings in place during this quiet(er) time between Christmas and New Year.

As a reminder, here are some promos worth remembering if you are looking to book for 2018:

Hiltonthis article looks at the current sale, covering ALL weekends in 2018

Radisson – this link gives you an exclusive 10% discount on many Radisson Blu hotels in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

Melia – HfP is one of a handful of partners promoting a code worth 10% off your next Melia stay at selected hotels.  You need to book via this landing page and enter code 0393-MELIA10 in the Promotional Code box.  You will also get triple Avios (9 per €1) if you book by 31st December.

Best Western – stays before the end of January will earn you a £10 Best Western gift card, but you must pre-register.  Details in this article. – you will get double Avios if you book by December 31st for stays by March 31st, details in this article.  Remember that bookings via do not qualify for hotel points or status benefits so it is best used for independent hotels or chains where you do not collect points.

You can find details of all of the Spring promotions from the major chains on our ‘Hotel Offers’ page here.  As a quick summary:

Hilton Honors – 2000 bonus points per stay – registerarticle 

IHG Rewards Club – a new round of Accelerate starts on 1st January with targeted bonuses, usually generous – registerarticle 

Marriott Rewards – 2000 bonus points per stay but only from your 2nd stay – registerarticle 

Starwood Preferred Guest – double points (plus an extra 500 at weekends) but only from your 2nd stay – registerarticle 

There are no global Hyatt, Accor or Carlson promotions currently announced for January to Easter.

LAST CALL:  80% bonus for buying Hilton Honors points

Until 29th December, Hilton Honors is offering an 80% bonus when you purchase 20,000+ points.

The Hilton ‘buy points’ page is here.

Regular readers of Head for Points will know that I tend to value Hilton points at 0.3p each.  You are paying 0.42p ($800 / £600 for 144,000) here so the maths does not look good.

Five star Hilton, Conrad and Waldorf-Astoria hotels typically run to 80,000 points per night.  In this sale you would be paying $444 for 80,000 points which is often more than you would be paying for a five star in a major city.  This is not a bargain.

However, Hilton Honors IS a decent deal at cheaper point levels.   To dig out my ‘usual suspect’ examples, the Hampton by Hilton in Sheffield, for example, is 10,000 points per night on most nights.  At 0.42p per point you would be paying roughly £42 per night if you bought the points.  That is a 58% discount on the typical nightly rate of £100.  Hampton properties include free breakfast as well.

On the other hand, the Hilton Sheffield is 30,000 points per night.  You would be paying around £125 for those points which is the same as the typical £125 cash cost – and you would earn points and miles back on the cash rate.

If you just buying a handful of points to top off your account, the price per point doesn’t matter anyway.  If you a few thousand short of a redemption then this is a decent opportunity to buy them.

…. and your last chance to buy Starwood points for 35% off

Starwood is offering a 35% discount when you purchase SPG Starpoints before 29th December. The link to buy is here.

The good news is that the discount is not staggered.  As long as you buy more than 5,000 points, you get the full 35% off.

At the top end, 30,000 points will cost you $682.50 (£509).  Assuming that you convert them to airline miles with the 25% uplift for moving chunks of 20,000 at a time, these can be converted to 37,500 airline miles in the majority of programmes.

This works out at 1.35p per airline mile.  This is not a great deal most of the time (you can often pick up Avios for 1.0p) but it might make sense with some other programmes.  You cannot buy Lufthansa Miles & More miles directly so being able to get them for 1.35p may well work for some people.

30,000 Starwood points would also convert into 90,000 Marriott Rewards points.  If you are working towards a Marriott Travel Package redemption – and they are great value as this article explains – then buying the full 30,000 Starwood points may well make sense.

The rules are straightforward – points post within 24 hours, maximum purchase of 30,000 points per year, your SPG account must be 14 days old to participate.

If you are interested, you can buy SPG points via this link.  The 35% discount ends tomorrow, Friday.

Mariott Bonvoy American Express credit card

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards (August 2021)

There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card usually comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.

Until 31st August 2021, the bonus is doubled to 40,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.

You can apply here.

American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit card

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

40,000 points sign-up bonus and Gold Elite status Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.

Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as they hold the card?  It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

You can also earn American Express Membership Rewards points with American Express Gold (20,000 bonus points), the American Express Rewards Credit Card (5,000 bonus points) and – for small business owners – American Express Business Gold (20,000 bonus points) and Business Platinum (40,000 bonus points).

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which can be used to earn Marriott Bonvoy points

(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.)

Comments (121)

  • Kevin says:

    Anybody able to recommend a decent family orientated hotel within around 30 miles of London? Ideally Hilton but not too fussed if not. Looking for somewhere to base ourselves for a week in the summer so relatively easy access to motorways would be useful.

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      Syon Park is probably the obvious Hilton choice, close to the M4, nice grounds and used to be a WA so it’s well appointed.

      A more unorthodox choice within the Hilton group would be Maidstone. It suffers a bit from dated Hilton syndrome, but it’s well positioned for the Kent countryside, close to the M20 and has a pool.

      • RussellH says:

        If using it as a base, you do not need a car at Syon Park to get into London. It is a short walk to the buses along London Road. 267 / 237 to Gunnersbury station, connect for the District line and London Overground. Not difficult to get to Richmond or Twickenham either, good bases for tourist boats upriver.

    • John says:

      Syon Park, Dartford, Watford, Ealing, Cobham

    • Tilly says:

      Dartford and Watford.

  • Npwharf says:

    Kevin, Hilton Wembley might be worth a look. Nice hotel, good transport links.

  • Chris says:

    Can’t see any mention of hilton bonus being 3k points at weekends

    • David says:

      Nor can I! Tell us more Rob!

      • Eli Gold says:

        anyone received the extra 50% bonus yet?
        I transferred a small amount initially a couple of weeks ago to see if it works. the bonus still hasn’t been applied and AMEX say it can take up to 8 weeks for the extra 50% to be triggered (to use her words-and it cn not be hurried manually).
        I’d like to do a Waldorf Astoria stay in February at 72,000 HiltonHonours points (24,000 MR points) but am afraid the room won’t be available by the time i get the bonus (or perhaps February won’t even be available by the time i get it).

    • Rob says:

      Sorry, brain fail yesterday. Deleted. The problem with knowing 99% of this stuff off the top of my head is that I often don’t fact check in situations where a normal person would …..

  • Tom says:

    I think that I might start to look at hotel point collection next year as we now have a decent stash of BA avios. Any obvious tips (aside from the SPG card, which I was one of those declined even with a 999 credit score)?

    • Genghis says:

      Did you question your SPG Amex rejection?
      For us, the IHG Black is the best non-Amex.
      Register for IHG Accelerate and maybe do a mattress run if the numbers work.

      • Simon J says:

        Same with me for the IHG card. I have a decent accelerate target this quarter. Also thinking about getting the hilton card.

      • Tom says:

        TBH I didn’t go back to query it, maybe I should have!

        I’ll take a look at the IHG card – we’ve got some SPG points sitting in an historic account (again, didn’t;t know what we were doing). We’re off to Florence in May, and I’ve seen that there is a new Sheraton (Four Points) opening in Siena in Feb. They’re offering free stays at 2666 a night so that might be worth cashing those in for some cheap nights.

  • Tom says:

    Enjoyed reading all the comments about the trips made by the readers last year and it has really inspired me so that my wife and I can enjoy our first business class flight together (realistically in 2019)

    This year will be the first year I am able to apply for credit cards easily so I am planning my churning right now.

    So, open question to you all…. What’s your gameplan for this year to earn points, and how do you intend to use them?

    Mine will be…
    Amex gold for me
    Refer to amex gold for my wife
    Hilton for me (have plans for weekend night)
    Hilton for wife
    Wife refer me for amex plat
    I refer wife for amex plat
    Wife refer me for BAPP
    Then long game is to trigger 241.

    Opportunistically earning club Carlson points and Hyatt through work trips.
    Looking for the next Lego/print cartridges also!

    What’s yours?!

    • Tom says:

      And just to avoid confusion… There are two tom’s!
      Between us, we should be able to take the right route.

      • Polly says:

        Can one of you please become Tom1, so that we can be less confused too, then we know who we are replying to!

        • Tom Cook says:

          Ha ha good point, Polly!

          I’m the Tom above (7.06am), the one who took your advise to go in F for 20k avios each back from NYC. Great experience, fun un the Concord Room (some of the convos we heard were hilarious, LA Agent, that’s all I’ll say)!

        • Polly says:

          Hi Tom,
          Knew you would love it, just for the eavesdropping if nothing else! Sounds v mysterious too…bet you are thoroughly enjoying this hobby…
          Now bring on the Jan Qatar sale….Asia awaits, somewhere, anywhere…can’t decide which one to go for SIN, HKG or KUL. Would love to depart from Pisa or Milan this time instead of Scandinavia…but anywhere will do. Waiting for that elusive c£850 fare to appear….

        • Tom1 says:

          ok – Tom1 i am!

        • Tom Cook says:

          Thanks Polly again!

          It was a laugh, and being a night flight we managed to get some decent sleepy rather than hitting the first class benefits hard! Annoyingly the pilot made up an hour flying back so that curtailed our F experience! Still an amazing thing to do.

          We’ve got Mykonos and Florence booked on redemptions for next gear already….but hankering after an Easter break for some sun! Still tryIng to get my head round using other carriers to trigger tier and avios points! Defo plan to try and sort free hotel stays next too! So much to learn / do!

    • mark2 says:

      suggest you upgrade Gold to Platinum for 20,000 MR, which will give 18,000 rather than 9,000 when referring wife (same for her).
      Always refer from Platinum.
      Be careful to not have too many spend targets at same time.

      • Genghis says:

        Get yourself paypoint cards / bills for as many utilities as you can so can pay on Amex at Co Op. I’ve now only got CT and Thames Water. British Gas does them but moved from them when MSE collective ended.

        • Tom1 says:

          Thanks Genghis – how does this work with contracts where DD is compulsory ?

          Have a feeling i read someone saying if their monthly fee is £50, they pay £49 a month by Amex/Paypoint a week before the DD is due to be taken, which triggers £1 on DD and still satisfies the requirement to pay by DD ?

          First one i checked was Severn Trent water who state that Paypoint cards cannot be used on accounts paid by DD. Or is that just what they want you to believe ?

        • Polly says:

          Great new name btw!
          With these dd can subtly suggest your income can be variable..thus the pp card might be useful at one point! But they may not actually issue them as you say. But most utility cos will have them for alternative payment methods. They just want the easy option of dd. Yes you pay 2 weeks or so before dd is due.
          Sse and bt gave me them. Sky don’t. Just check them all. Some councils do ours don’t. EE take amex too. V handy for bonus..
          Also recently more in line cos offer pay pal so am using amex more that way too quite by chance…

        • Genghis says:

          For BG where I had to have a DD For cheap tariff I asked them to lower the DD amount

    • Lewis King says:

      Good morning Tom,

      It’s lovely to hear that you’re starting this crazy game we play. I myself started in late 2016 and quickly racked up enough points for a 2-4-1 to Mumbai in F. It’s amazing how quickly you can get going.

      The last year and a bit went something like this:

      – BAPP referred by in laws, 27,000 Avios.
      – Continue on the way to getting 2-4-1
      – somewhere along the line get Gold card, referred by Rob. Refer in laws, get 9,000 + 22,000 MRPs.
      – invite partner to gold card, get 9,000 + 22,000 MRPs.
      – get a free BA card for partner that has enhanced sign up bonus she was pushed – 10,000 avios.
      – a few more gold card churns and an enhanced nectar card bonus along the way too.

      Next year I’m going to start looking into hotel loyalty too as I’ve not even started with that!

      I wrote a medium article about my year here: which is a bit more detailed.

      Any questions, the comments on this site are a goldmine of information, don’t hesitate to ask!

      • Genghis says:

        Interesting article. Perhaps I should start writing in 2018. An edit required though: “26,000 Avios upon spending £3,000 in the first three months of Cardmembership, if I refer you. 20,000 if I don’t.”

        It’s 25k if I don’t refer you.

      • Polly says:

        You are still missing couple of tricks here. See my reply to Tom…if chasing higher avios nos
        Gold to Plat before referring back..always! If high fees matter…
        Plat to BAPP, if poss.. Higher bonus both of you, then drop to free BACC for part fee refund. Don’t wast time referring for the BACC….basically every 6/12 one of you is being referred, earning a bonus etc etc..avios will build up v quickly then the 241 can try for F cabin to Asia further afield!

        • Lewis King says:

          Thanks Genghis, I’ll modify that when I have a chance!

          Polly, thanks. I am trying to persuade the other half to let me sign up for Platinum, but the high upfront cost is putting her off. I’ll keep trying though 😉

        • the real harry1 says:

          @ Lewis – Plat fee is refunded pro rata so you can bank the points in (say) 3 days if you hit the spend target quickly – then cancel

          total cost usually under a tenner

        • Polly says:

          Was rushing so probably didn’t explain. The short term upgrade to Plat when you are near the end of your gold timeframe ie 8 mths or whenever it suits you to churn…this might be as little as a months fees max 2/12 fees. Enables you to be cross referred from plat to either your bapp or gold. But the newly upgraded Plat holder gets 18k MRs instead of 9k referring from the gold card. Plus you get a 20k MRs bonus for a 1k spend in 1mth. Definitely worth having.
          This is currently our game plan..learned from Genghis at al here. We do a slightly longer 8 mths churn…but amex gets virtually all our annual spend…so guilty we do not feel..!
          Then if you get gold you do the same…continue the cycle…
          Just reassuring her no big fees involved here…

        • Lewis King says:

          Thanks Polly/Harry. I will continue to look into this. 90% of our spend is via Amex too so I’m sure they don’t miss us too much when we churn 😉

    • Polly says:

      If you want to reduce fees, perhaps you could upgrade to Plat before you refer your wife for gold. You get an extra 20k MRs for a 1k spend, maybe one months plat fee? Or maybe not charged fee at all! You will then also get 18k MRs for your wife’s gold referral instead of 9k from a gold card referral. Use link mentioned here regularily.
      Once her card arrives, and you have banked your MRs, cancel etc
      Hilton plus Hilton or whatever.
      Before she refers you back for plat she should upgrade to plat from gold for a month or so, thus benefitting from the higher referral 18k, when she refers you. That’s if gold suits you to have
      Same when you refer her back for gold.
      More importantly before she refers you for the BAPP, she upgrades to plat again briefly, so she earns 18k avios for your BAPP referral, now that Plat has crossover referrals again!
      Once you bank your 241 downgrade to free BACC. Hold until time to refer your wife for a BAPP.
      If you don’t need to trigger a 2nd 241 that soon, just downgrade and hold until time to re refer you back. Pro rata refund.
      Aim to be going for spend bonus every 6 months or so.
      This way very little outlay of fees but Amex still gets all your spend, and you get 1000s of avios etc
      Also as Genghis says, get as many Pay point cards as you can for utilities. Eh BT won’t accept Amex on line but PP accepts Amex. And pre pay bills by phone, some accept Amex that way but not on line, weird.
      And of course if close to a spend bonus, and need to pre spend, gift cards for Tesco, Waitrose etc v useful, as you will spend that anyway. Enjoy the hobby though…

      • the real harry1 says:

        set up your default payment card on PayPal as Amex

        • the real harry1 says:

          take the easy 0.8p/ Avios option when getting a redemption flight – works for Economy/ Premium Economy but doesn’t stack up for Business

          easiest way to pay 0.8p/ Avios – just click & pay

        • Polly says:

          I have used your system a few times esp when we do our 4 x ba metal sectors to retain silver.
          Have done c 30 rfs sectors to and from dub this year alone…so avios v useful esp on my short notice flights. Next year will be to know so many of the regular crew they used to prepare snack bags for me to take to the hospital etc.. sick mum…l did message ba about them as it really helped.

        • the real harry1 says:

          sorry to hear about your mum, hope all goes as well as we can hope for

  • Joan says:

    Slightly OT but re hotels , can anyone recommend somewhere lovely to stay in southern Cyprus in May for a week
    for me and my partner – special birthday for him .? ????thanks
    ( I’ve used up a soon to expire Amex companion voucher for the business class flights as I have another voucher coming available soon so wanted to save my points for somewhere farther afield later in the year )

  • David says:

    OT I’m afraid but advice required! My parents are flying with BA MAN-LHR-HKG and SIN-LHR-MAN in WT+ January/February but are not BAEC members and have little interest in becoming them. They’re willing however to let me do whatever I need to in order to take advantage of their travel.

    What are the pros and cons of them being registered BAEC members at my address and joining my household account when in fact they might live 300 miles away…?

    Are there any major risks?

    • Genghis says:

      My MIL is part of our HHA. Not had any problems.

    • Rob says:

      No problems, except that you are restricted in who you can redeem for outside a HHA – anyone else you book for must be on your Friends and Family list.

      • David says:

        That’s good news. If BA were to lose their baggage, would it end up being delivered to my house? (That may sound like a silly question!)

        • John says:

          No, the bags would be delivered to wherever they ask them to be delivered. Baggage services should not be able to access BAEC data.

        • Rob says:

          It would go to wherever the person who reports it lost asks for it to be sent.

        • Lady London says:

          When airlines have lost my luggage before, including BA, they’ve been quite happy to deliver it to wherever I’m staying when they’re able to deliver it.

  • S879 says:

    Is the 35% SPG bonus the best they offer? If not, how frequently are these offered? I’m looking at redeeming them at a Tier 4 Ritz Carlton (long way to collect) but wondering if the Marriott package is worth it as the chart is showing I need a lot of Marriott points for Tier 4.

    • Genghis says:

      You’ll need to run the numbers for your circumstances but buy the Marriott 1-5 package and then top up the difference if you then decide to go for something more pricy. Optionality has a value.

      • George says:

        How does the topping up work? I’m just putting together the last few points for a 9 package w/ 120k Avios but holding onto the points until booking would be handy. Is the top up price the same as buying the higher package outright? Is there any documentation of this anywhere?


        • Genghis says:

          No doc I don’t think but essentially difference between the certificate you bought and the category you want to book.

    • guesswho2000 says:

      Basically, yes – there was a targeted 50% in November 2016, but in general, ranges from 20-35% – this from Pointhacks for SPG bonuses over the past few years:
      November-December 2017 (current offer) 35 Highest public offer
      June-July 2017 35 Highest public offer
      March 2017 30
      November 2016 50 Highest targeted offer
      June 2016 30
      March 2016 25
      December 2015 25
      September 2015 20 Lowest public offer
      May 2015 25
      December 2014 25
      May 2014 25
      Average 29.55%

    • Alex W says:

      I don’t recall seeing any more than 35% bonus in the last couple of years. If there was, it was targeted and we didn’t get it!

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