What is the best hotel scheme? – Le Club AccorHotels – The Facts

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This is the third of our overview series of the main hotel loyalty schemes. Each scheme will be covered over two posts on consecutive days. One will list the basic facts of the scheme – basically ‘How does Le Club AccorHotels work?‘ – and the other will be my subjective view of what is of particular merit.

Le Club AccorHotels covers 3,400 hotels globally. These operate primarily under the Sofitel, Pullman, M Gallery, Novotel, Mercure, Rixos, Adagio and Ibis brands, plus Orbis in Poland. Accor also owns for Formule 1 / F1, Banyan Tree and Jo&Joe brands but these do not participate in the programme, and neither does Ibis Budget. It recently acquired Raffles, Swissotel and Fairmont and these will be integrated into Le Club from mid 2018.  The home page for the programme is here.

What is the geographic spread?

Accor has the largest number of non-US hotels of any chain. The group is well represented throughout the UK (Sofitel St James, their most upmarket UK hotel until The Savoy is integrated, is pictured below) at all price points. The Sofitel at Heathrow Terminal 5 is connected directly to the airport and is an impressive hotel. Liverpool also gained a new Pullman.

The chain is poorly represented in North America and, globally, it is not well represented in the luxury market. This should change when the Swissotel, Raffles and Fairmont properties are fully integrated.

Do I use them?

Not much, although when I was young and poor I found ibis to be a decent compromise between quality / security and value. A few years ago Accor had a promotion offering easy-to-earn €40 vouchers. I collected five and used them at the Sofitel in Luxembourg. I did book into the very impressive new-style Novotel Blackfriars on an exceptionally cheap offer rate in order to review it – see here.  The new Novotel at Canary Wharf also looks very good.

We are visiting the Pullman London St Pancras this week and will review it.  We also reviewed the new ibis Styles at Heathrow and found it very impressive.

Le Club AccorHotels logo

Elite membership levels

On 1st January 2017, Accor made some major changes to Le Club. Bringing themselves in line with other major loyalty programmes, only base points earned from hotel stays now count towards status.

Before 2017, ALL points – however you earned them – counted towards status progression. This meant that it was easy to reach top-tier status by timing your stays around a couple of generous bonus point promotions each year.

Accor did reduce the number of points required to earn status from January 2017 – Platinum dropped from 25,000 points to 14,000 points for example – but anyone who took heavy advantage of Accor promotions now needs far more nights to retain their status.

Accor has three elite levels to the programme:

Silver – requires 10 nights or 2,000 points. Benefits are free internet, a welcome drink and a 25% point bonus.

Gold – requires 30 nights or 7,000 points. Benefits are free internet, a welcome drink, room upgrade, late check-out or early check-in and a 50% point bonus.

Platinum – requires 60 nights or 14,000 points. Benefits are free internet, a welcome drink, room upgrade, lounge access, late check-out and early check-in and a 75% point bonus.

Some Accor brands offer specific extra benefits to different tiers.

Platinum status is no longer given free to American Express Platinum card holders. This was a major loss for Amex as Accor was the only chain to offer free top tier status.

Suite upgrades are NOT an elite benefit.

Full details of elite benefits can be found here.

Accor does not offer lifetime status.

Sofitel St James 350

Earning and spending points

Accor does not have a typical ‘earning and burning’ structure. Spending is totally revenue based with no opportunity for arbitrage.

Non-status members earn 2.5 points for every €1 spent at the hotel. On the website, this is described as a 5% rebate.

For every 2,000 points you collect, you can redeem for a €40 Accor voucher. The primary use of these is to redeem in Accor hotels. You can redeem these online which allows them to be used against cheaper prepaid rooms.

As long as you avoid Ibis and Adagio properties, you are effectively receiving cashback (in Accor vouchers) of 5% as base member, rising up to 8.8% for Platinum members.

If you don’t want to spend your voucher in an Accor hotel, there are a small number of other options such as Europcar and Club Med holidays. Sports tickets (for example French Open Tennis) are also available for points but this appears to be on an ‘invite only’ basis. Accor also offers tickets for events at the arena it sponsors in Paris.

Note that Accor has some weird exceptions to points earnings. At Ibis and Ibis Styles you earn 1.25 per €1, with Ibis Budget earning nothing at all.  Adagio is 1 per €1.  At Adagio Access you earn 0.5 per €1. In China, you earn nothing at all Ibis hotels, every day.

There are also a few other partners where you can earn points but the only relevant ones for a UK resident are Europcar, a subscription deal for The Economist and ClubOpinions market research surveys.

Accor has a partnership with Finnair and another with Qatar Airways which allow you to transfer your Finnair or Qatar Airways miles into Le Club AccorHotels points. The exchange rate is very poor (7:1 for Finnair, 9:2 for Qatar) and as these transfers no longer count towards status it is not an option for earning Gold or Platinum quickly. You can generate Finnair miles, but not Qatar Airways miles, by transferring American Express Membership Rewards points.

Bonus points

The group does not run the sort of regular, back to back, global promotions that we have come to expect from Marriott, Hilton and IHG. You cannot book an Accor property and automatically expect to be able to take advantage of an offer.

Recent promotions have focussed on large bonuses for members bookings numerous 2+ night stays. These deals can be tricky to maximise, however, as you need to book within a short window for stays at a later date.

It also runs regular private sales for Le Club members which offer cash discounts of up to 50%. See our ‘Hotel Promos‘ page for any current global offers.

Accor has a Facebook app which offers bonus points if you activate it during your stay at an Accor hotel – see this article for details.

Points expiry

In theory, your points will expire exactly 12 months from your last stay. In reality, earning points from an Accor partner will also extend them – but there are very few Accor partners out there. You can learn more about how to stop Le Club AccorHotels points expiring in this article.

Can you upgrade using points?

No – except to the extent that you negotiate a better room for cash at check-in and then use your Accor vouchers to pay for it.

Are ‘cash and points’ redemptions available?

Yes, to the extent that you can part-pay your room with Accor vouchers whilst paying cash for the balance.

Airline redemption options

Accor points can be transferred to a number of airlines.

Uniquely among major hotel programmes, Accor has different exchange rates for different airlines. British Airways is 2:1 whilst Iberia is 1:1 so you should ALWAYS move your Accor points to Iberia Plus. You can then use ‘Combine My Avios’ to move them to your British Airways account.

Because you could use your points for an Accor voucher instead, you are effectively paying 2 Eurocents per Avios (2,000 Accor points = €40 or 2,000 Iberia Plus Avios). This is very expensive and you would be better off using the points for a hotel stay if possible.

Can I earn Avios directly without collecting points?

Yes, see ba.com here. You can earn Avios by showing your British Airways Executive Club or avios.com card at check-in. The amount will depend on which brand you are staying with – it is 1.25 Avios per €1 with the upper end brands.

You will not earn any Le Club AccorHotels points. However, you must still be a member of Le Club AccorHotels in order to do this.

Credit card partnerships

Can you get elite status with a UK credit card?  Not any longer. The American Express Platinum offer for free Platinum status ended in 2016.

Is there an Accor credit card in the UK?  No

Is Accor an Amex Membership Rewards partner?  No. In theory you could transfer to Finnair at 1:1 and then on to Accor at 7:1 but this is a massive loss of value.

Purchasing and transferring points

You cannot purchase Accor points. This is not surprising, given that they can only be redeemed for a fixed cash value.

My opinion

Part Two of this article tomorrow will focus on my personal opinion of Le Club AccorHotels.

(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.)

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  1. I’ve almost reached Platinum on Accor and it is the only hotel loyalty program I find worthwhile. Otherwise I use hotels.com and it’s effective 10% discount.

    Accor isn’t too great for North America, however

  2. wetboy1uk says:

    anyone registered for their club opinions survey scheme. Have been trying to log in since January and their customer service is quite honesty crap. They keep sending me links which take me back to the sign in page. I have to say all of accor hotels customer service seems extremely poor.

  3. It may be worth noting that Ibis Budget is not a member of the scheme, only Ibis (regular) and Ibis Styles are.

  4. Love Mama Shelter in Los Angeles and Paris.

    Rio looks good, pity Istanbul closed.

    Earn and redeem LCAH in all of them now.

  5. Regarding the tickets to events, they are all together on one space now:
    Under “Elite Experiences”, the choice will change depending on the country that it detects. There are currently all of the Arena events (they just put more for sale last week, but they sold out rapidly), and I have 4 experiences of the moment in France. They are also expecting to release some tickets for the Rolland Garros soon.
    Another point to raise about LeClub changes htis year, they have now officialised their soft-landing policy in section 8 of theri T&C:
    “- If, during the previous calendar year, the Member did not reach one of the thresholds allowing them to maintain their current Status, they will be awarded the Status directly below the one previously held, as indicated on the above scale.”

  6. Hsergio10 says:

    Quick Question
    I have 5k accords points
    If i take advantage of the Economist offer i.e 12000 points, would i be eligible to get platinum status? (12k+5=14k>14k)


    • I wouldn’t think so. These points should be award points and not status points.

      • Since Accor changed the rules in Jan 17 only base points from stays count for status. It should extend your expiry date though.

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