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Should you convert Clubcard, Amex, Heathrow or HSBC points to Avios on receipt?

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This article is another of the ‘how to’ pieces we have been running over August for the benefit of newer readers, although hopefully everyone will get some value from them.

A regular email question I receive from readers is about ‘convertible’ points.  There is a psychological desire to move, say, your Tesco Clubcard points to Avios as soon as you receive them, perhaps because you like to see your Avios balance increasing.

This is not a logical approach.  This is how I see it:

In general, you should value ‘convertible’ points more highly than a point which has no other use.  It is therefore worth choosing ‘convertible’ points if given the choice, and you should keep your points unconverted for as long as possible.

There are a number of ‘convertible’ currencies you will come across.

The main ones are American Express Membership Rewards points and Tesco Clubcard points.

Heathrow Rewards points, HSBC Premier MasterCard points and most hotel scheme points are also, to a lesser or greater extent, convertible.

Membership Rewards to Avios

This is the key point I want to make:  if you have 1 American Express Membership Rewards point, it has more value than 1 Avios point even though the former converts into the latter.

There are various reasons for this:

An Amex point will hold its value better.   If you transfer them to Avios and Avios devalues, you have lost out – you can’t convert them back.  Keeping them as Amex points means that you have alternative options.

American Express or British Airways may decide to run a conversion bonus at some point for moving your points across to Avios.  If this happened, 1 Amex point would be worth more than 1 Avios.  (The possibility of a conversion bonus is why I NEVER recommend auto-converting Tesco points to Avios, even if you are 100% sure that is what you will spend them on.)  Whilst I admit that Amex and Clubcard bonuses are thin on the ground, Heathrow Rewards and HSBC Premier HAVE been running them.

Amex may run a great promotion with another partner which allows you to get far more value from a point than you would get from 1 Avios.

Your personal priorities may change, and you may decide that you would prefer to redeem your Amex points for something else other than Avios.  By not converting, you retain the flexibility.  Within 12 months, for example, you will be able to redeem Virgin Flying Club miles for Air France and KLM flights which may make it more relevant for you.

I have written on HFP before that I do not convert my Tesco Clubcard points into Avios.  For three years I used them for Safestore as we have some furniture with them and Safestore accepted Clubcard vouchers at 3 x face value.  That deal has now ended but you can now redeem for Uber credit at 3 x face value.  My choice is therefore to use 100 Clubcard points for either £3 of Uber credit or receive 240 Avios.  If I took Avios I would be valuing them at 1.25p each – and I don’t.

There is another reason why keeping Amex and Tesco points in their ‘original’ form as long as possible makes sense.  Both convert to Avios points within 24 hours of a transfer being initiated.  If a reward seat opened up and I didn’t have enough Avios, I would be confident enough to assume that the seat would still be there tomorrow morning when I could have converted points across.

Some American Express transfers are INSTANT – Virgin, Delta and Emirates – as long as you have already linked your accounts.  There is absolutely no reason whatsoever, except for a conversion bonus, why you should move points to those airlines before you need them.

Transfer timing is one reason why you may want to move across hotel points before you need them.  The last time I moved some Starwood points to an airline (Lufthansa) it took 28 days!  I was lucky that the redemption I wanted was still available.  You shouldn’t rely on a hotel scheme moving your points across to British Airways in a hurry.  If you will be totally reliant on a hotel transfer to make a redemption you have planned, you may want to move them in advance.

In general, however, if you want to maximise the value of your points then you want to maximise their flexibility.  For ‘convertible’ currencies, this means keeping them in their original form as long as possible.

(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. Of course you can only keep the MR points until you cancel the card. This is my practice to get another big slab of MR points after six months.

    • I was going to ask about that. Am about to cancel some cards to reapply later. With Avios being my preferred redemption scheme but not actually neeeding the points at the moment is there any “holding” options I might not be aware of for Amex Rewards points. I.e. anywhere I can transfer them now that would still give me flexibility across different airlines later on the off chance I didn’t want to put them into Avios. I don’t use points for Hotels as I tend to use Air BnB.

      • Genghis says:

        Marriott but with a loss in value.
        Ie. 40k MR = 40k avios
        Or 40k MR = 60k Marriott = 25k avios

  2. for clubcard voucher getting 3x value at evans cycles is good if you cycle. Even better if you get them to price match to chain reaction cycles who are often much cheaper. price match in store is basically just showing the price on your phone.

    • Genghis says:

      Alternative = cycle to work? In a lot of cases the 3x could go to only 1.8x effective value.

      • Thsnks Chris, fancy treating myself to a new bike, will run comparisons to VS/Avios.

        G – Your employer needs to run a cycle to work scheme.

        Hmmm can you stack these?

        • Genghis says:

          v true. But as Rob notes the bulk of the readership are investment bankers, prob not an issue for most HfP readers lol 🙂

      • cycle to work is generally 1k max and you have to buy a bike. I use the vouchers more for parts.

        • Genghis says:

          Can also be used for “Safety equipment”. Can be interpreted sensu lato. A colleague spent the full £1k on very expensive lights for example.

        • Frenske says:

          Last time I bought a bike (for my wife since I sit in higher tax bracket) the price of the bike went down 20% while waiting on the voucher so I needed to buy a lot of extras to top up to the value of the voucher including spare inner tubes, etc. So there is no problem to money to the voucher for spare parts.

        • Good idea, needing some new SPDs and a jacket, they are bound to have a sale on in the next week or so, all of the shops do each Autumn.

  3. I think SPG / Marriott points should also be added to a list of currencies that are flexible and warrant a deeper thought before pressing the transfer button. The myriad of airline options available makes them, in my eyes, extremely valuable.

  4. Any idea on potential timings for another Heathrow reward to Avios transfer bonus?

  5. I actually auto convert my Tesco points into avios as I never use the likes of Uber, as there is a perfectly good bus service and 24 hr tube service where I live.

  6. With adding I think the flexibility of quick Amex transfers can be less if you haven’t already linked accounts – SPG for example took over a week for me, and ended up needing to be done over the phone.
    I’d recommend linking accounts right away, even if you never intend to transfer so you don’t hit any nasty surprises later…

  7. I have too many points in, HSBC, Tesco and MR points.
    Was tempted to take advantage of the HSBC bonus to Avios this month but haven’t seen a confirmation it is working for UK accounts….

    • It is working for everyone it seems.

    • it is – well, for me at least.

      I did a test run of 250 Avios, and got sixty-something points bonus.

      Then sent over the rest of my points, and the bonus came through too. You might’ve got an email promoting it about a week ago.

      • Yes our bonus was actually included in the total transferred, good to see, as it was a faff getting the transfer through.

        • Can’t get the transfer to work on HSBC it dies all the other rewards except airlines….

  8. Thomas O'Brien says:

    i’m logged in to my Clubcard account at the moment but i’m unsure what option to chose to turn off auto convert? Any help is appreciated

  9. What is the trick for linking Nectar to my MR account? Tried various number of zeroes in front but none seem to work

  10. FlyUpTop says:

    Is the upgrade from Amex Gold to Platinum trick still working these days where you don’t get billed the annual fee for 2-3 months in?

    • Only if u have a gold charge card.

      Varying reports on whether you get charged or not (I never have). Last time I upgraded was in Jan and still not been charged anything!

      • Tilly71 says:

        Yes, gold charge card. Keep my fingers crossed.

      • Wife upgraded to the plat a few months after paying the gold renewal fee. They pro ratered the gold fee refund then chsrgetgr plat fee on billing cycle.

    • Billing is often based on when your Gold fee would be due.

      • Tilly71 says:

        Ahh I see, I upgraded from gold at the start of year 2 and the annual fee was processed to my account. I paid pro rata one month so probably will get the plat annual fee billed at the end of month 1. ????

      • So if you cancelled before the Gold fee was due there would be no charge?

        • Genghis says:

          Correct

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Tbh I’ll probably keep it for 2 years. Can Justify £450 for 2 years of 18k referrals, all the plat benefits and keep c200k points convertible.

        • FlyUpTop says:

          The timing of cancellation hit one month’s pro rata fee unfortunately awaiting my 10k MR bonus for year 1.

  11. Mr(s) Entitled says:

    How many years do things have to be in storage before it simply makes sense to get rid? Assume the answer is 3yrs plus.

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