Transferring hotel points to airline miles … when is it worth it?

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All of the major hotel points currencies allow you to transfer your points into airline miles.  You will often find the airlines encouraging it – every 9-10 months, British Airways offers a 35% transfer bonus when you move hotel points into Avios.  This offer last ran in March so it is probably due to return soon.

Today, I wanted to consider if it ever makes sense to transfer hotel points to airlines.

Hotel logo

In general, hotel points are best redeemed for hotel stays.

Let’s look at the points needed for a top category redemption valued at, say, £250 a night:

Hilton Honors – 80,000-90,000 points = 8,000-9,000 Avios

IHG Rewards Club – 50,000-60,000 points = 10,000-12,000 Avios

Le Club AccorHotels – 15,000 points (for €300 voucher) = 15,000 Avios in Iberia or 7,500 Avios in BA

Marriott Bonvoy – 60,000 points = 25,000 Avios (rate is 3:1 but you get a 5,000 Avios bonus for converting 60,000 points)

Melia Rewards – 28,000 points = 8,400 Avios

Radisson Rewards – 70,000 points = 7,000 Avios

World of Hyatt – 30,000 points = 12,000 Avios

With the exception of Marriott Bonvoy, where converting to miles is not a bad deal, you are generally better leaving large stashes of hotel points where they are. Assuming you value Avios at 1p each, you are lucky to get 50% of the value of the equivalent hotel room and often a lot worse.

Marriott Bonvoy is the only scheme where I could justify moving my points into airline miles, although I would only do this if I needed the miles immediately.

Of course, personal choice also plays a part.  You generally get the best value from hotel points in expensive big cities like London or New York.  If your travels take you more to Lyon or Newcastle then your hotel points may be worth less to you.  If you also find yourself just a few Avios short of an award, transferring from a hotel programme may be a better deal than buying Avios from BA at 1.6p.

If you only have a small amount of hotel points, it is a different game. Apart from IHG Rewards Club, which runs regular sales of rooms from 5,000 points per night and Hilton Honors, where you can now use as few as 5,000 points for a cash discount on your next booking, small balances can be of little use.

A few years ago I tidied up some of my small hotel balances by converting a lot to Avios, often topping up first from American Express Membership Rewards, and didn’t regret it.  If you will never earn enough for a free room, you might as well convert.

Expiry dates can also be an issue and can prompt a transfer. My series of articles on expiry dates covered the current rules for each hotel scheme – see our ‘Hotel Promos’ page for links to the relevant article on expiry rules for each chain.

The other thing to remember is that the hotel chains convert to many airlines, often over 20.  Marriott Bonvoy has 40 airline partners.  Perhaps you will get more value converting to another scheme?  I have converted SPG (now Marriott Bonvoy) points to Lufthansa Miles & More in the past, because I love the Lufthansa First Class service but their miles are hard to earn in the UK.  Marriott Bonvoy is often the only UK partner for a lot of niche airline programmes and the Starwood Amex the only way to earn their miles via daily spend as a UK resident.

Final thought. You can transfer IHG Rewards Club points to someone else for $5 per 1000, Hilton Honors points for free via the new Points Pooling option and Marriott Bonvoy points for FREE if you share an address.  Perhaps a transfer to someone who can use a larger total to reach the target they need for a hotel room is a better deal than a handful of Avios for yourself.

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Comments

  1. Marknewstart says:

    Morning…..I have a marriot certificate for a category 6 hotel am looking to use. I see a category 7 hotel is possible to upgrade to category 7 by adding points/money to the certificate?

  2. Can you transfer/pool points with Marriot like you can with Hilton?

    Combining 2* SPG 30k Amex sign up bonuses seems to be a good idea

  3. yes, but you have to call. doesn’t take long and they arrive almost immediately.

  4. Do you have to watch timing as not always that fast? I thought you did an article on that a while ago. IHG to virgin was definitely weeks.

  5. I need to top up my exec club balance to make a redemption shortly and could use either Marriott points or my HSBC points. Which would be the better choice to transfer from?

    • HSBC points are earned 2 per £ and transfer 2:1 so you’re getting 1p per Avios – that’s what I’d go with.

    • Bonglim says:

      For me I would use hsbc points. Because:
      I don’t offen use the other airlines to which hsbc transfers work
      I do sometimes use Marriott hotels
      There are very few/ no airlines that hsbc can be used for that Marriott cannot be used for.

      The main downside of using hsbc points is hsbc are more likely to offer a transfer bonus, they do so periodically and by transferring now you are missing the bonus. So if you never use hotel redemptions and you don’t want to use Marriott points for moments or something else then maybe use the Marriott points now and await a hsbc transfer bonus.

      Hope I have not muddled things too much!

  6. OT: Supplementary Cards
    I received two offers on my BAPP which I can only see on my app. I can’t see these online so I assume they are targeted. These are offers I would never use but the supp cardholder on my account would. My other half has the supp and can’t see the offers when she logs into the app so we can’t add the offers to her card as the only place we see them is my app. Is there any way of getting the offers to her? Does supplementary card spend trigger offers on another card but the same cardmember account?

    • Would have to register the supp card in their own account to get the offers.

    • Shoestring says:

      You don’t need to get the offers to her on her own card – just (you) sign up to them then spend the money on her behalf via your card

      • That’s not correct, each card has to be enrolled in the offer to redeem it

        • Shoestring says:

          Of course it’s correct – I said for Waddle to enrol on his card then spend (on her behalf) on his card

        • David, Shoestring is suggesting Waddle saves the offer on their own card and spend on behalf of other half.

        • Thanks all, I understood what Shoestring meant. I’d put the offer on my card and do the shopping for her. Just a shame she can’t have the offers on her card as one of them is for Cafe Nero which I never go to and she does regularly.

        • Shoestring says:

          Swap cards for a bit, nobody checks name or signature these days

        • got a feeling shoestring harry heading for another meltdown soon, based on some of his comments today. see you in 6 months.

    • Ask Amex support while logged in to the supp account as I believe they can add offers

  7. Is there an old article perhaps about when it’s worth transferring the other way? From airline miles to hotel points

  8. The streets says:

    I was shocked to discover the points expiry dates of some hotel programmes for no activity – 12 months for IHG? I’m sure there is a hfp article but a reminder for all airlines and hotels may be a welcome reminder!

    • We have an annual series of articles on this and there is a permanent link on our Hotel Promos page. However Award Waller will tell you anyway if you sign up.

      It is a pain. I had a slight Jumeirah panic recently but luckily F&B spend counts so I popped in to the Knightsbridge one, had coffee and cake and got another 12 months,

      • you certainly lead a privileged life Robert…!

      • Did I read this correctly , IHG points can be earnt on food and beverage spend by popping into one of their properties and buying a snack, without having a room booking?

        • No. IHG does not allow this. Some chains do, however – I did an article once if you search. Hyatt does, Melia does, Marriott does in most places, Jumeirah definitely does.

          If IHG did it we’d have to stop holding our parties at the Holiday Inn or it would take 5 minutes to pay for each drink …..

    • That’s why I like Award Wallet – not much of an issue for most of mine but helps remind me when my Dad’s IHG points are going to expire and I can make (and cancel) a quick redemption!

  9. Bonglim says:

    Can you transfer unlimited Marriott points between spouses, or is it limited to 50k or 100k?

    We (will) have almost exactly 120k each and an upcoming 240k redemption.

    • FlyingChris says:

      Believe it’s sending/receiving a maximum of 100k per calendar year & the limit is hardcoded into the system. Just did this myself – you can’t do it online, have to call – but quick and usually painless.

      Though the first time got an operator who thought it was 100k per rolling 12 months (not calendar) – then hanging up and trying again got someone who knew the rules and put it through. (we transferred our limit last year just before the end of 2018).

    • sending 100k/receiving 500k

      • This is correct. I tried to do more recently but the agent couldn’t get it to work. She checked with a manager and confirmed the 100/500k limits per calendar year

    • guesswho2000 says:

      Unless it’s changed, you can transfer any amount as long as it’s used immediately for a redemption – the 100k limit is for transferring of points to sit in the receiving account.

      So if you want to make a 400k redemption, and need to transfer 200k from another account, you need to do it by phone and make the redemption over the phone, there and then.

  10. Ian Wilcock says:

    Not really relevant to this post… But was wondering if selling Amex points is possible? I’ve seen sites that offer to buy them but didn’t know how legitimate they were.

    Any advice would be appreciated.

    • Chrisasaurus says:

      My advice.is don’t do it.

      You can get a (terrible) 0.5p per MR as a statement credit and anyone offering to buy them from strangers for more than that is quite obviously up to no good and presumably looking to buy MR from stolen accounts or somesuch.

  11. OT: The £5 Amex cashback for Paypal just posted for me, longest ever wait, maybe 60+ days at a guess.

  12. Slightly at a tangent but sometimes there is a stronger argument to choose miles over hotel points on paid stays. Perhaps only relevant on very cheap hotel spends when you get a set amount of miles whatever you spend but they’re in a hard to come by program and you’re short a few.

    • I agree on one-off stays, certainly. I took Avios from an Accor stay two weeks ago because my one Accor stay every 18-24 months will never amount to anything.

      • Down the Back says:

        Hi Rob,

        I remember back in Nov ?? changing over Accor earnings to Avios via Iberia account as there was some promotion, lost track of it a little as currently concentrating on Marriott Platinum challenge. Is the promotion over and should I change it back to taking the Accor points for Accor stays ?

        Thanks DtB

        • New promotion just launched for up to 7500 points (convert to miles/avios) for 3x 2 night stays. I imagine Rob will run the story soon.

        • I take the Avios because I know I will never earn 2,000 Accor points for a voucher. You may feel differently.

  13. 10k bonus points for five Hilton stays just posted for me – strangely it posts on the 6th stay !

    This has to be the best promo around

  14. rams1981 says:

    OT stayed at ihg recently with one points room and one cash room. Should the cash room get status points etc?

    • rams1981 says:

      And count towards accelerate?

    • Yes

      • rams1981 says:

        Thanks

        • rams1981 says:

          Appears Hilton have done the same where I stayed after. Though perhaps takes some days to sort.

        • This is a recent positive change from Hilton, previously paid stays were nonqualifying if they were part of a stay otherwise paid by points. For example, people sometimes tried fronting an award stay with a paid night in a better room or suite in the hope they could keep that suite or room for the entire stay. Often it worked but under the old rules they lost their points for the paid night. I never did this personally as I have enjoyed almost 100% upgrade success as Diamond and some of them have been fantastic.

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