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)

  • Ann says:

    I hit 15k spend on my gold Amex this year and am waiting for Feb anniversary to trigger the 10k MR before cancelling and getting pro-rata refund. If I upgrade to Platinum after 1 year anniversary to get the 20k MR do I still get the fee refund for gold and then get the pro rata refund for Platinum in due course?

  • BLT says:

    OT – Cn’t see it mentioned anywher, got a 100 off 1000 spend at Trailfinders on my Amex Platinum. I know a few people have used this before.

    • Tom Cook says:

      Yep – also got spend £600 get £200 back from American Express travel too which looks like a good offer

  • Optimus Prime says:

    OT – any hotel recommendations for Rome in February? Would like to stay nearby Piazza Navona or Pantheon. Has anyone been to Palazzo Navona?

  • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    OT – Saw Sainsburys selling £25 Uber gift cards for £20 until 9th January. Can be redeemed for GBP-denominated travel or Uber Eats.

  • Alan says:

    All this talk of referring partners has reminded me that we need to do something a bit different as we are mid-churn on our Gold cards (spending target of current card met but still waiting for 6 months to expire for wife to be re-referred).

    Can you still cross refer from the Gold Card?i.e. can I refer my wife to a BA AMEX card (free card) from my gold card and get the 9000 MR points?


    • Polly says:

      Alan can only cross refer from Plat perhaps upgrade briefly to Plat.. get your 20k MRs for 1k spend.. refer get your 18k MRs. Don’t waste a bacc referral..if you can go for the bapp you get 18k she gets 26k.then pro rata refund and cancel or when drop down to free bacc…see what suits…

      • Alan says:

        Thanks Polly, that’s very helpful. Am I correct in thinking that a couple of months ago you could do a Gold card referral to different cards?

        If you follow the referral link that you are given it does have the “See our other cards” tab.

        Presumably though, that would mean only the person you referred would get the account opening bonus – unless you are referring from a Platinum MR card. But misleading.

        • Genghis says:

          Previously you could only refer within the same family of cards. I.e. Amex Plat->Gold, BAPP->BA Blue. Now you can refer between different card families. The person doing the referring gets their relevant bonus depending on the card they hold (eg. 18k MR for Plat / 5k SPG for SPG) and the person applying for the card gets the bonus relevant for the card they’re applying for (eg 26k avios after £3k spend on BAPP, 11k SPG after £1k spend on SPG Amex in 3months).

      • Alan says:

        Just live chatted with AMEX and they reckon you can cross-refer from the Gold Card and receive the 9000 points. Obviously, the platinum card gives you more points but it does require spending money!!

        • Genghis says:

          Prorata refunds available.

        • Alan says:

          I appreciate that Genghis, still requires payment first though! I’m a mere amateur at this and, compared to many on here, am a pauper – the cost, even for a short while, does make a difference to monthly budgets.

          I know its a balancing act (points v cost) and its also a mental thing whereby paying for a card seems just plain wrong to my old-fashioned way of thinking. Maybe some counselling will get me over that!

        • Genghis says:

          I completely understand. This is only a hobby and should not affect “real life”. But paying for a card usually unlocks another benefit which could be worthwhile for you. Eg. 241 on BAPP / Reward night on IHG Black etc. Need to run the numbers / pros and cons for your circumstances.

        • Alan says:

          Thanks Genghis. We are currently using MR points for Virgin miles but we can only churn through the MR cards every 6-7 months. This leaves some spending available for other cards and getting the extra 9000 MR points wouldn’t go amiss either. I think it would be useful to get Avios (for short haul) or some hotel points – not sure which is the best way to go yet. I’m not particularly loyal to any single hotel chain – I just look for value when booking a hotel.

          Could always go for Nectar again I suppose, that’s easily usable as cash (my wife uses ebay a lot!).

          Hmmm. Decisions, decisions.

  • the real harry1 says:

    O/T just messing with flight options on & saw this message: ‘The web site can only accept bookings up to 355 days in advance. Please contact your Executive Club Service Centre if you need to book for more than one year ahead.’

    so can you actually phone them & book more that 355 days ahead?

    also, fwiw, Xmas school hols fall awkwardly next year, looks like state schools break up on Friday 21st December

    • Rob says:

      I don’t think it is physically possible because the flights are not loaded into the system!

    • Yorkieflyer says:

      I have booked Cathay redemption flights using Avios at 358 days out by ringing BAEC

      • the real harry1 says:

        cheers Yorkie – didn’t know that was possible

        could be a semi-secret way to beat the fast-fingered at midnight T-355

        or might explain why your incredibly popular redemption has always disappeared at a few seconds after midnight

    • Anna says:

      I’ve known package holidays be advertised for dates more than 12 months in advance, not sure if this applies to BA though.

    • Polly says:

      Good discovery..could well be useful….

  • the real harry1 says:

    O/T prize for whoever turns this into a points-earning opportunity: big Ebay discount —>
    •20% discount on all items 12 to 6pm 28/12/17
    •£20 minimum spend
    •£75 max discount
    When you checkout there’s an option to input code
    •Code: PNY2018

    racking my brains, I wouldn’t buy Avios on Ebay as too risky, can’t think of anything else, the Tesco vouchers look over-priced

    • JamesB says:

      Are gift cards excluded? If not you could try getting them for certain shops, make a purchase, return the purchase for a cash refund to a debit card…

      • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

        Category exclusions are Property, Cars, Motorcycle and vehicles

        • the real harry1 says:

          pretty sure this is hitting all-time record heat on the deals site, currently nearly 10,000 degrees C

          still haven’t worked out how to optimise for points

        • the real harry1 says:

          ‘£150 Amazon Gift Card for £111.20!’

          sounds decent, happy with my boots 🙂

        • Rob says:

          The Real Harry1, where are you seeing this Amazon gift card deal on Ebay UK site? I cannot find it at all. 🙁

        • the real harry1 says:

          as reported by others, no reason to doubt it – they might have got the only one?

          happy with my -20% Berghaus boots! 🙂

        • the real harry1 says:

          £25 PSN currency card for £19.19

    • Louise says:

      Great day selling my tesco lego! Stock nearly all gone!

  • Gill says:

    I’m looking for any advise on where to start with hotel points.
    We’re heading east in October, returning from HKG with no decision on where we’ll fly to as yet. We’ll probably spend at least three nights in HK.
    Is there any hotel points program worth targeting or avoiding for Hong Kong redemption?

    • Rob says:

      Easiest option is a Hilton Visa for you and your partner. That is two free weekend nights. HOWEVER the voucher is only good for 6 months so you don’t want to apply until May. Conrad in Hong Kong would be a good place to use them as HK is very pricey.

      Rest of Asia is better value, except Tokyo, so paying cash is fine. There are some excellent redemptions out there if you dig around, eg the Doubletree in Kuala Lumpur is 10,000 Hilton points per night (so the Amex Gold sign-up bonus would get you 4 nights) and has a great reputation. In places like Thailand and China you might as well just pay.

      • Brandon says:

        OT too… I managed to book some BA flights to the Seychelles in June (thanks to the Rob/HFPs – my 1st First!),

        Can anybody please tell me what is my best option for getting accommodation with Hilton in the Seychelles is please? I have a load of virgin miles 300k (which id prefer to keep), but wondering if i can do the Hilton VISA x 2 (i am there for 2 weekends – June 20 – July 2nd)- I have a couple amex offers to help ease the pain (Amex Travel – Spend £200 or more, get £50 back etc).. would love some amazing hilton beach front action, so any advice welcome

    • Scott says:

      I would say Marriot for HK. Hilton has poor coverage as you do not want to end up in Mongkok at the Hilton Garden Inn and Conrad is pricey on points but very nice. You can’t go wrong with the JW Marriott or Renaissance. Both good locations but JW is still overall better in terms of luxury and location. Also both decent point redemptions. Do not rule out the Marriott Courtyard also which is an area many people would not think of staying but very local and where a lot of expats live. Great food around the hotel and fun area. Starwood is OK in HK but all none of the properties have both a great location and quality hotel. There is also IHG for being in the iconic harbour hotel but unless you have status or willing to pay an uncharge will not get any decent view. Just shout if have any more questions re HK. Used to live there and miss it every day!

      • New Card says:

        Any experience of the Ritz-Carlton HK? Pricier (in Marriott points) than the JW Marriott – but worth it?

        • Scott says:

          Stunning hotel and rooms. Club lounge is probably the best in the world. I would say JW is still better location. ‘OZone’ bar at the the top of the RITZ is worth a visit as it it highest bar in the world. Be warned though it gets busy, expensive even for HK and tough to get good photos. Head to ‘ RED Bar’ instead which is outside and would argue has better views.

    • Gill says:

      Thank you both. Two nights at the Conrad on the Hilton Visa would work as we’ll be there over the weekend – in the diary for April.
      I was planning to start ramping up on Marriott / SPG. We’ll be there at least 4 nights so hotel hopping is definitely an option. Plenty of options for me to look into more.

      • JamesB says:

        Throughout Asia there is also a separate Hilton program that can offer excellent value. Cannot recall the name but Rob covered the Thai version here on HFP a couple of years ago so try searching Hilton Thailand on the HFP search field. If you have avios then recommend flying return flight frim HFP due to low taxes. If you are planing on revenue flights Finnair has many Asian destinations exUK at the moment ranging from £1449 to £1999 which you could use for open jaw. Bookings through 15 January IIRC

        • Gill says:

          Thanks – we have the return flight from HKG booked using our Lloyds voucher + avios but we’re still on the lookout for either redemption or exUK outwards in that general direction.

          Looks like the Hilton Premium Club Asia for anyone else who is interested.

        • New Card says:

          Great point – although some of the benefits appear to have been cut back since the HfP post about it (especially the free dining) – unless I am missing something…

      • Polly says:

        Totally not point related hotel The Harbour Grand Kowloon is a very nice place good prices fab breakfast right by the waterside. Stunning rooftop pool great lounge servings..

    • Cate says:

      Just to add to what Scott said, with Marriott you can also book four nights on points and get the 5th night free.

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