Which airlines let you transfer miles INTO hotel loyalty programmes?

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Almost all hotel loyalty programmes let you transfer you points into certain frequent flyer schemes.  What is far rarer is for a frequent flyer scheme to let you transfer your points INTO a hotel programme.

This didn’t used to be the case.  If you go back 15 years, Hilton Honors had quite a few airline partners including American Airlines.  Over the years the deals have fallen away.

Booking hotels directly with your miles

Of course, many airlines let you book hotels directly using your loyalty points.  You can do this with your Avios points via the British Airways hotel portal which can be accessed here.

It is not the greatest deal.  You receive just over 0.5p per Avios point when you spend them on hotels this way.  More importantly, because these are third-party bookings, you are unlikely to receive any status benefits from the hotel.  You may not even receive points on your food and drink spend depending on the chain.  Some chains only give free internet if you book direct.

The other downside is that, because the number of Avios required is based on the cash price that night, there is no arbitrage.  On a busy night you will need more points.  This is not how the hotel loyalty schemes work.

Hotel

Lufthansa is up for a bit of everything. Lufthansa allows you to redeem miles at a truly shocking rate for Best Western or Radisson Blu gift cards.  It also has a hotel booking portal which works in an identical way to the Avios one.

Emirates has an odd scheme where you can redeem your Emirates Skywards miles directly for Marriott hotels, mainly in the Middle East, at fixed prices.  This does create some arbitrage opportunities but the list of properties is eclectic to put it mildly.  Here is the list of Marriott redemptions they offer.  You can also redeem Emirates Skywards miles for ANY hotel via their partnership with Rocketmiles.

Virgin Atlantic allows you to redeem your Flying Club miles for a selection of hotels offered by Kaligo.com.  I ran through the maths on those redemptions in this article.  There are also some Branson-owned hotels you can book directly with Virgin miles – although Necker Island (1.2 million miles for a week) is currently unavailable following hurricane damage.

Direct transfers into hotel loyalty programmes

As far as I know, there are still five transfer options from mainstream European and Middle East frequent flyer schemes which let you earn hotel points by sending over your airline miles:

Virgin Atlantic to Hilton Honors

Full details can be found on the Virgin website hereYou will receive 1.5 Hilton Honors points per Virgin Flying Club mile.    Based on my 0.33p valuation of a Hilton point, you are getting 0.5p of value per Virgin mile.  This is a pretty poor deal although, if you received the miles from business travel, you may be insensitive to that.

It is certainly a poor deal if you obtained your Virgin Flying Club miles via credit card spend, Tesco Clubcard or American Express Membership Rewards transfers, because those miles had an opportunity cost.  The only exception would be if you needed to top up your Hilton balance before a redemption.

Virgin Atlantic to IHG Rewards Club

Full details can be found on the Virgin website hereThe transfer rate is 1 IHG Rewards Club point for 1 Virgin Flying Club mile.   IHG points can be redeemed for Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, InterContinental etc hotels.

Based on my 0.4p valuation of an IHG Rewards Club point, this deal is also not great.  Importantly, these transfers NO LONGER COUNT TOWARDS IHG STATUS following a recent change.

As IHG Rewards Club is not an Amex Membership Rewards partner, routing Amex to Virgin to IHG is a potential compromise – albeit one which does not offer the best value for your American Express points.

Finnair Plus to IHG Rewards Club

Yes, little Finnair also lets you convert your Finnair Plus points to IHG Rewards Club.  Details are here.

As Finnair is a partner with American Express Membership Rewards, this could be another way of indirectly turning Amex points into IHG nights.

Unfortunately, the transfer rate is even worse than the Virgin deal.   You need 2 Finnair Plus points for every 1 IHG Rewards Club point which means you are effectively getting 0.2p per Finnair point.

If you happen to have 20,000+ Finnair points sitting unused then this is of course a ‘better than nothing’ way of using them but it is hard to recommend otherwise.  These transfers have never counted towards IHG status.

Finnair Plus to Le Club AccorHotels

Le Club AccorHotels is the Novotel / Sofitel / Ibis / Mercure etc loyalty programme.

The details of the Finnair deals are here.  As with the IHG deal, it offers a complex way of turning Amex points into Accor points by routing them via Finnair Plus.

It is hard to recommend it unless you have a very small Finnair balance to use up.  It requires 7,000 Finnair points to receive 1,000 Accor points.  The Accor scheme is ‘fixed value’.  2,000 points get you a €40 hotel voucher.  That means you are getting €20 for 7,000 points which is roughly 0.2p per point!

Qatar Privilege Club to Le Club AccorHotels

This is the most recent offer on this list.  I was surprised when it appeared because I didn’t think airlines wanted to do this sort of thing any longer.  Full details of the Qatar Airways conversion deal – and the detailed instructions on how to do it – are on the Qatar Airways site here.

The ratio is 4.5 : 1, with a minimum of 4,500 Qmiles getting you 1,000 Accor points.

An Accor point is redeemable for 2 Eurocents of free hotel room.  This means that 4,500 Qmiles gets you €20 of free stay.  This is weak at under 0.4p per mile although better than the Finnair to Accor deal.

It also offers a roundabout way of converting Qmiles into Avios.  Accor points convert into Iberia Plus Avios points at 1:1 (bizarre, since the conversion rate into BA is 2:1!).  This means that 4,500 Qmiles would get you 1,000 Avios in an Iberia Plus account which you could then move to BA via ‘Combine My Avios’.  This is only really going to be useful if you have a small number of Qmiles you can’t otherwise spend.

Conclusion

There are a few ways of moving airline miles into hotel points.  The value is generally poor, however, and it is only recommended if you are topping up a hotel account or emptying out an airline one.

(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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Comments

  1. OT (sorry!): I cancelled my amex gold about a year ago, however I am still able to login to my online account which shows a negative balance (as in they owe me money).

    Is there anything else I need to do to trigger the 6 month period before reapplying for the gold card or am I now able to apply and get the bonus again (including referral)? Thanks!

    • fivebobbill says:

      You’ll need to call them. This happened to me last year, I was counting down the clock to my 6 month re-apply, then with just a week or so to go I discovered my old Amex account was still active online.
      I called them and queried it, explained that I had cancelled some time ago and wanted to apply for a new card and avail of the bonus, but he told me his screen showed I hadn’t cancelled the old card, and if he did it now my countdown clock would re-start.
      Fortunately I had made a note of the very date I cancelled (for the 6 month trigger). The matter was then passed to their “technical” dept to check their records, ie. phone recordings from that date (I kid you not), and they would get back to me. I heard nothing for a week and called them again, when they eventually conceded and told me to leave it for a week or so then re-apply. He actually gave me his name in case the new card bonus then didn’t pay, then I could call him and he’d add the points manually.
      So couldn’t complain with the service in the end… however I now retain all my cancellation letters…!

  2. Fun OT question: I’ve never seen this before. I’m booking a Holiday Inn.
    Cash 45.60 GBP, or 10,000 points + 46.84 GBP
    Yep – more expensive than cash when you part-pay with points
    Am I just unlucky or does this happen to other people too?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      is the cash rate prepay and the points technically refundable (you get points back instead of cash)

      So the real comparison is the best flexible rate vs the points +cash rate

  3. I find its more expensive to pay with points than cash! so crazy. thanks for the post, very comprehensive

  4. Does anyone know how the merger of Marriott Rewards and SPG has affected moving 20k SPG points to Virgin to then get 5k bonus? Can I still do it?

  5. Apologies for the change of topic, but I just stumbled on something startling and wanted to see if anybody here knows anything about it, in particular whether it’s real or not.

    Apparently Best Western status can be used to match for British Airways status! It sounds too good to be true, so I’m presuming it’s fake unless I see something to corroborate it.

    http://www.statusmatcher.com/report/55882

    This is of particular interest to me, as I have Diamond Select status with Best Western…

  6. Thanks Rob. I wonder what the motivation was of that person, to take the time to lie to random readers.

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