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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.

(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. 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

  2. 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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