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Which is the most generous hotel programme for earning Avios points?

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The general consensus about hotel loyalty programmes is that Starwood Preferred Guest is the only scheme where it is is worthwhile trading your points for airline miles.

There are a couple of reasons for this.  The first is that – since the conversion rate for most airlines including British Airways is 1:1 – it sounds generous.  IHG Rewards Club is 5:1 into Avios which to the average reader appears to be far worse.

Secondly, Starwood adds an extra 5,000 miles to your pot if you convert 20,000 SPG points at once.  This means that you are getting 1.25 airline miles for every SPG point.  Hilton Honors, on the other hand, only gives you 0.1 airline miles per point.

The ‘Starwood is best’ view simply isn’t born out by the maths, however.  In terms of how many Avios you earn per $1 spent at a hotel,  Starwood isn’t the most generous.  I thought I would run the numbers.

Hotel

The question I asked myself was …..

How much do you need to spend with the major hotel schemes to earn 10,000 Avios?

I am assuming that the reader has whatever status in a particular comes with doing 20 nights via 20 one-night stays per year in the relevant loyalty programme.  Given the amount of money they need to spend to earn 10,000 Avios this is a logical assumption.

Ranked by lowest spend to highest spend needed to earn 10,000 Avios:

Marriott Rewards – $2,500

10,000 Avios requires 30,000 Marriott Rewards points.  You earn 10 points per $1 plus a 20% bonus for being Silver (requires 10 nights).

Starwood Preferred Guest – $3,333

10,000 Avios requires 10,000 Starwood points.  You earn 2 points per $1 plus a 50% bonus for being Gold (requires 10 stays).

Le Club AccorHotels – $3,778  (€3,225)

10,000 Iberia Plus Avios requires 10,000 Accor points (the conversion rate to BA is worse so use Iberia).  At most midscale brands, eg Novotel, you earn 3.1 points per €1 as a Silver member (requires 10 nights).

Radisson Rewards – $4,000

10,000 Avios requires 100,000 Radisson Rewards points.  You earn 25 points per $1 for being Gold (requires 20 stays).

IHG Rewards Club – $4,545

10,000 Avios requires 50,000 IHG Rewards Club points.  You earn 10 points per $1 plus a 10% bonus for being Gold Elite (requires 10 nights).

World of Hyatt – $5,000

10,000 Avios requires 25,000 World of Hyatt points.  You earn 5 points per $1 for being Discoverist (requires 10 nights).

Hilton Honors – $5,555

10,000 Avios requires 100,000 Hilton Honors points.  You earn 18 points per $1 being Gold (requires 20 stays).

Interestingly, even if we up the ante to earning 25,000 Avios per year to trigger the SPG ‘5000 mile bonus’, Marriott is still in front.  25,000 Avios requires 70,000 Marriott Rewards points which is $5,833 of spending for a Silver member.  With SPG, 25,000 Avios requires 20,000 Starwood points which is $6,666.

This analysis does not consider the fact that some chains let you earn miles directly if you agree not to earn points.  Because these are generally fixed amounts such as 500 Avios per stay they may work out better for you if you do lots of cheap one-night stays.

Conclusion

Despite what many people think, Marriott Rewards is actually the most rewarding programme for earning airline miles if you are looking to convert hotel points.

The only caveat – and it is a large one – is that Hilton Honors and IHG Rewards Club are more aggressive in terms of running bonus point promotions.  Even with the current Hilton ‘double base points’ promotion, however, it is still less generous than Marriott Rewards if you want to convert your points to Avios.

Of course, with Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest merging in August, this distinction becomes moot and we will need to re-run the analysis at that point.

(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.)

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Comments

  1. Steve says:

    How about Melia?

    I believe with 10 points per $ plus 30% tier bonus for Gold (10 nights) must put them ahead – although admittedly with a smaller UK footprint.

    • Steve says:

      Forgot to say they also have a 30,000 points to 10,000 Avios rate.

  2. the real harry1 says:

    Starwood’s is the only credit card (in the schemes above) where you get 18,000 MR points for referring your significant other/ self from Plat, 11,000 Starwood points on the referral to the cardholder & can send each other points to get over the 20,000 hurdle to trigger the 5,000 bonus. (And save faster pro rata on the £75 fee/s if you close the card/s.)

    So I would hold that it has a massive advantage vs the other hotel schemes (& their cards where applicable). Worth about 34,000 Avios. Per card.

    • Alex W says:

      Eh? If you’re aiming for Avios, you can refer from Amex Plat to Plat, gold, BAPP, BA Free etc as well as SPG. All of these get you 18k Avios for the referral, plus the signup bonus on top.

      • the real harry1 says:

        My point was, the ones you name are not hotel schemes, many of which also run a credit card so points collecting can be made 2 ways, hotel & card spend. I’d take that into consideration when judging ‘best hotel chain for earning points’.

    • Did I read that right in that you can refer yourself to the other Amex Cards and get 18000 MR points?

  3. Jeremy says:

    Not necessarily representative of the long term, but with the current Starwood-Marriott setup, you surely only need 60,000 Marriott points to get 25,000 avios? Convert to 20,000 SPG points and then get the 5000 bonus.

    • True, for simplicity I stuck with the original rates. As I said, it is moot come August for Starwood and Marriott anyway.

  4. On the flipside whats the best way to convert avios points? Im starting to think business class on british airways (Europe) sucks 😕

    • Optimus Prime says:

      Have a look at the Avios Redemption University series on this site – https://www.headforpoints.com/avios-redemption-university/

      Also Michele is running an article about that today – https://www.turningleftforless.com/5-great-value-luxury-avios-flight-redemptions/

    • Alex W says:

      Club Europe is not a good use, IMO, particularly if you have Oneworld Sapphire (BA Silver) or above status, or lounge access via another route.

      Under the “favourites” tab of this website there are the ‘Avios Redemption University’ articles.

      The best uses of Avios for me are:
      – Short haul economy during peak times e.g. school holidays.
      – Long haul upgrade using avios from WTP to Club World.
      – Long haul Club World for the Avios price of WTP, using Lloyds upgrade voucher.
      – Long haul First with BAPP 241 voucher.

      All of these examples should be able to get you 2p “value” per Avios .

      • Charlie T. says:

        I’d normally agree but I’ve got a two year old and a three month old and am redeeming CE seats to TLS this summer for a long holiday. As a non status flyer this is awesome – the blocked middle seat means that we have more space for the little’un we have a massive pile of luggage for all the kid’s kit (nappies, floats for pool, Brio etc) so the extra allowance is useful and being able to fast track bag drop (particularly on the return leg) rather than queuing with kids for however long is priceless. Plus the lounge is a safe place to base ourselves and self anaesthetise for the trials ahead! The thought of splashing out £1k between us for our seats cash makes me a bit queasy but the 38 ish k Avios (using a 241) plus £110 (I think) seemed a bargain.

      • HAM76 says:

        Most of these other options won‘t work well, when only one person in the family has status, you have kids and you need to plan your vacation a long time in advance. I see way more availability in Club Europe for three or more seats than in First or Club World. At least in T5 the lounge situation has improved as kids are free in the Plaza Premium lounge when you have Amex Plat. Club Europe is still simpler, as everyone has louge access, board early, etc.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Honestly. Earn status and fly around Europe in an economy exit seat.

      • the real harry1 says:

        Yep, not for me (Avios to buy CE seat) but you could see how people can judge it worthwhile with lounge, extra luggage, no middle, painless boarding/ de-planing, DYKWIA factor. Say you invested the points in T3 – you’d get all those great lounges to try out as well.

        • the real harry1 says:

          Not to forget food/ booze – thanks again to the rather pleasant cabin crew guy who happily topped me up with pretty much a whole bottle of Champers and a couple of Cognac chasers at Easter when I generously swapped my seat down back with my wife, who’d been upgraded HBO—>CE.

          She values quality time chatting with the kids 🙂

      • Doug M says:

        Agree. Often get great value out of these.

    • Best use is with a 241 to Sydney in first. But good luck finding availability.

      Best “easy” use is on European short haul on the little embraer aircraft when flying out of stansted to somewhere you want to go anyway. Half decent lounge; decent onboard catering; great seat and the flights are often pretty empty.

      Saying that, we did a short haul flight in CE this weekend on avios and a 241 (I have more 241s than I can use so don’t mind burning one on this). As we have a small baby and are now just bronze, it was actually a pretty good use of them.

      • Sydney is a TERRIBLE deal even with a 241 in Business (First is impossible to get so forget that). You can just about always buy cash tickets to Sydney in Business Class for £1999 or less, the fall back is China Eastern from Amsterdam. They are in SkyTeam so you’d earn lots of miles back.

        Even with a 2-4-1 you’re looking at 300,000 Avios plus £1500 in taxes. If cash tickets were £4000 for two then you’re only getting 0.83p per Avios.

        If you found Sydney tickets for £1750 return in Business, which happens fairly often, you’re down to 0.66p per Avios. And that’s with a 2-4-1. Without a 2-4-1 it is unbelievably bad value.

        Even £1500 Business Class to Sydney comes up now and again – Malaysia Airlines was selling ex-Heathrow tickets for that last year in a sale, and you’d earn Avios and BA tier points. That takes your 2-4-1 ‘value’ down to 0.5p per Avios AND you’d have had a worse product on BA than on Malaysia, and that’s before you factor in the sackload of Avios the cash ticket would earn, plus the BA Silver card you’d virtually have earned just from the one trip.

        • Agreed but alas nothing like last year’s sale on Malaysia this year.

  5. I must admit that i find the “best hotel chains for airmiles” discussion a little redundant without considering the likes of Rocketmiles or Kaligo.

    I stay in a hotel on business 1x night a week. My average stay of between £100-£125 earns me in average 2,500 airmiles which a) can be credited to nearly ANY airmiles program or b) converted to Heathrow Rewards (which I’m currently doing) where you can decide later where to credit them.

    So, in terms of how much hotel spend is needed to earn 10,000 avios, then with rocketmiles, you’re looking at £500 spend, and that doesn’t even require any status! This frankly craps all over the $2,500 spend required for Hilton to get the same!!!

    Yes you can’t credit you stays to a hotel loyalty scheme if that’s important to you, but if you’re intersted in getting air miles for hotel stays, then this is a brainier!

    Appreciative that im all about airmiles over hotel miles but I’ve earnt nearly 200,000 miles in 2 years….

    • But from what I’ve seen, rocketmiles and kaligo tend to be more expensive than booking direct, so really you’re just duping your employer into buying the miles for you. If that’s the case, I think it’s indefensible.

      • Doug M says:

        I believe it’s Hilton that often offer double points rates, same thing, buying points. Depends on who you work for, I hate business travel and do as little as possible. I also make clear to my boss it’s all about what’s in it for me if I have to travel.

      • Bagoly says:

        Coming in equal to Starwood on this race, and with much more flexibility (but no status recognition), is avios through booking.com.
        4 avios per GBP, so currently spending USD3,326 gets 10,000 avios.
        https://www.avios.com/gb/en_gb/collect/booking-com

        I’m not sure whether that will be affected by the changes at avios.com

        booking.com also offers 2 Aegean miles per EUR, 1 M&M per EUR etc.
        Particularly useful where one needs to top up a small amount for a redemption, or the miles scheme requires activity to keep miles valid.

    • True, but you are trading off elite status benefits there and deliberately picking hotels with the highest Rocketmiles rates.

      Why aren’t you crediting Rocketmiles to Heathrow Rewards? Makes no sense taking Avios. Take HR points and then hold out for a conversion bonus to Avios or move to another airline or cash out for shopping vouchers. If you’d taken HR points you would have got £4,000 for your 200k points in the HR ‘double up’ deal last year.

  6. Scott says:

    I’ve used Kaligo once for a hotel that I wasn’t a member of and the price was pretty much the same as the hotel direct.

    As said, a lot of the time, Kaligo / Rocketmiles are more costly than booking direct.
    To me, it depends on the hotel and whether a couple of thousand Avios outweighs things like breakfast I might not eat as I leave 2hrs before it starts, or an upgrade to a fancier room for a 6hr overnight airport stay.
    For something minimal like 600 Avios for a stay, I’ll generally book direct as it comes across as “safer” in my opinion than going through a third party site.

    If anyone wants a nice enough deal for a hotel this weekend, the Hampton at Liverpool airport is selling for £185+ or its usual 10k points.
    You can buy 5000 points + 100% bonus for around $50 / £38 at present.

  7. Alex W says:

    The first thing I would say to a beginner is DON’T try and collect Avios from hotel stays. I was too blinkered when I started, and too obsessed with Avios. I later realised that the value you get from collecting the hotel’s own points got you MUCH better value by using them for hotel stays.

    Secondly – Marriott hotel and air travel packages aren’t mentioned above, which can get you a significant quantity of Avios AND 7 nights in a hotel. These must be one of the best uses of hotel points and I’m aiming to get 1p per Marriott point (3p per SPG) this way. That’s double the value you would get by converting SPG directly to miles/Avios.

  8. Scott says:

    There’s pros and cons to just collecting hotel points.
    There are times when a few stays only earn me a small amount of say Hilton points which knock maybe £40 off the price of a hotel. The Avios earned may be enough for a RFS to somewhere where the cash price is £200-£300+ so it works out better this way.

    A lot of my hotel stays are a night here, a night there, in £50+ airport hotels rather than 14 nights in somewhere posh in the Seychelles for example, so I’m not exactly raking in too many points at the end of the day.

    • mark2 says:

      True, but don’t forget how many points you can earn on credit cards e.g. SPG Amex, but, of course, that will be at the expense of airline points.
      We each have to decide our own strategy and tactics and constantly update them.

    • Alex W says:

      @Scott, my stay pattern is similar to yours and I think it’s still worth considering hotel points: For a RFS, assume you need at least 4000 Avios (+£35). Based on the article, you would need to spend $2,222 at Hilton to earn 4000 Avios. Assuming you’re Hilton Gold, you could instead earn 2,222 x 18 = 40,000 Honors points. Used wisely, these could get you a £200 hotel room.

      Other advantages of hotel points from my perspective:
      – Usually no taxes and charges.
      – Availability for hotel redemptions is so much better than flights.
      – If travelling as a couple, you only need 1 hotel room, whereas you would need to redeem for 2 flights, i.e. 8,000 Avios +£70. I think of hotel redemptions as like a 241 voucher every time!

  9. The whole premise of this article is flawed as it looks at cost to generate points. Trouble is: THIS IS IRRELEVANT It doesn’t matter whether it cost you £50k of hotel spending for your pot of hotel points, they were through credit card spend/churn, or whether you were given them all free because you found a turd on the hotel carpet, they are now worth the same. I’d imagine most HFP readers will have accumulated points by some combination of these routes (and others).

    Therefore the only sensible way to value them is in terms of opportunity cost: I can get X Avios per point but give up the opportunity of Y cash value, or Z hotel room value. If you rewrite the article in these terms it would be far more useful.

    This error is the same heuristic as valuing a share in terms of where it is relative to the price you happened to buy at rather than the current performance of the company. How much cash you spent historically to get your points now is no longer relevant to their current value.

    • Alex W says:

      I think the article is assuming you haven’t earned the points yet, it’s to help you choose which hotel brand to use in the future if you want to earn the most Avios. I agree though, that it does not consider the potential value of the hotel points you’re giving up to earn Avios instead.

      • Correct. There is a totally different article to be written on ‘which hotel chain gives you the most value back for spending £2,500?’.

    • the_real_a says:

      There are various angles to look at getting best value. In any given town, most of the “similar” brands are priced at around the same level (give or take) so if you wanted to maximize points earning for your annual redemption you could choose your hotel brand accordingly. Many of my colleague feel a hotel room is a hotel room and they don’t care much about which brand they use and i always found there are generally 3-4 acceptable brands in any location we need to visit.

  10. Retron says:

    I’d wager IHG is actually the best by far IF you can take advantage of the bonus point packages.

    For example, I stay a couple of times a month on a flexible basis at the HI Reading West. They charge an extra fiver for 5000 points, which works out as 1000 Avios (or 1200 or more if you wait for a conversion bonus). That’s on top of whatever you’ve paid for the room itself.

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