Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How to use small orphan amounts of frequent flyer miles and hotel points – Part 1

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I thought it was about time to revise and update the lists I first published in 2012 about the best way to use up small amounts of miles and points.

What I want to explore is ‘What is the smallest or most optimum small reward, and how can you ‘top-off’ an account?’.  Please join in the discussion with your ideas in the Comments section.  

Today I will look at some hotel loyalty schemes, and Part 2 – coming in a day or so – will focus on some airline and shopping schemes.  Click on the links to read relevant historic Head for Points posts on the topic mentioned.

In all cases below except Accor, there is a formal ‘buy points’ option you can use to get to the level you need for a redemption.  This page (click) has links to the ‘buy points’ pages of the major airline and hotel schemes.  However, I try to find more creative ideas that don’t involve spending money.

How to spend small amounts of points or top up a small balance to something worthwhile:

Hilton Honors

IHG Rewards Club

Le Club AccorHotels

Marriott Bonvoy

Radisson Rewards

World of Hyatt

My preferred small Hyatt reward is the 6,000 points per night suite upgrade.  You can also upgrade to Club rooms using points for a small premium.

Hyatt has ‘cash and points’ awards at half of the usual points price so you may have enough for a reward after all.  You can also buy Hyatt points.  Airline transfers are from 5,000 points.

You can use 2,000 points for a $10 dining or spa credit at a Hyatt hotel – you do not need to be a guest to do this.  Another option is to use 6,000 points for a one-day Avis car hire redemption

Accounts can be topped up by eating at a participating Hyatt hotel restaurant or crediting an Avis car rental to Hyatt.

You can merge your Hyatt points with those of your partner but both accounts need to have had a cash stay in the previous 12 months.

Hyatt is not an American Express Membership Rewards partner.

The World of Hyatt expiry rules are summarised here.

In Part 2 of this article, which will appear in a day or so, I will look at some airline and shopping programmes.

(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.)

Comments (34)

  • s879 says:

    OT as no bits: My Priority Pass card has arrived as I opened an Amex Platinum. Do I need to activate it to use it as it has given me a membership and pin or can I just show it at the airport lounge?

    • Genghis says:

      Just use.

    • Cormac says:

      Just show it. No activation required.

    • Alan says:

      It’ll work straight away but I’d install the app and setup digital card, saves having to carry the physical one.

      • Lady London says:

        Some places can;t use the digital card either temporarily or permanently. I’d suggest keeping a .pdf or downloaded copy of the pass on the phone as well as within the digital application. If you need to retrieve the pass in the app at short notice some airports have really bad signal and no wifi so best to keep hard pass as well as making copy on phone as I suggest on above.

        • Alan says:

          Interesting – haven’t had to show the physical card for a couple of years now. Also found latest version of the app seems to cope better with being offline (on Android at least, don’t know about iOS). Have one in my passport wallet just in case but as I say not had to use it in ages 🙂

  • Olly says:

    Rob, any advice on the best way to use up small amounts of airline points? I’ve got from 3000 to 6000 with Singapore, Thai, Emirates, Etihad and Air Asia that I an unlikely to fly with again before they expire. I know they’re not worth hardly anything but I hate to waste them.

    • Rob says:

      See tomorrow!

      • Russ says:

        Thank you Rob.

        And if HFP readers miss that there will be another chance to read the plagiarized version released as original thought on an American blog a couple of hours later.

  • ankomonkey says:

    TOP-UP (Accor and IHG): Both have survey taking deals with SSI (now merged with e-rewards) where the survey reward is points. It’s the same deal as the Avios version (can’t remember name). While you’re unlikely to earn enough from just this to redeem, they can be useful for keeping accounts alive or topping up small numbers of points.

    • David says:

      The Accor survey site I use is called Opinion Club. Is that just a different front end for e-rewards?

  • Russ says:

    I do wish Hyatt would release a point earning card. They’re expanded their reach with recent buyouts but one still doesn’t seem forthcoming.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Or tie up with AMEX so we can transfer MR points.

      • Alan says:

        Yes would much prefer this – would be great to have a wider range of transfer partners for MR.

      • Rob says:

        That would, if the rate was sensible, be exceptionally useful. Surprised they don’t do it, because there is little incentive to earn Hyatt points in the UK given the few options to earn more and the few options to top up.

        • tom1 says:

          Note on the Hyatt – I transferred some points from a colleague last month – neither of us had a cash stay in the last 12 months but that wasn’t queried.
          They did make us both complete our profile (add telephone number which I thought was strange), but apart from that it worked ok.
          Also to note, it doesn’t have to be your partner – any other member Is fine.

          • Rob says:

            Thanks. I personally had a transfer from my wife to me refused about 18 months ago because of the ‘no stay’ rule.

  • Jonny says:

    Thank you for the IHG tip. Just got a small amazon voucher!

  • Kevin says:

    OT, am I right that I can still can collect HH points for up to 2 rooms booked at the same time?

  • Concerto says:

    What about Golden Circle of Shangri-la hotels? I have a small number of points which will expire at the end of this year.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Best use is dining credit in Shangri-La restaurants and bars ie the shard

      • tom1 says:

        yes- I used mine at the Traders hotel in KL, bought me a couple of beers in the skybar overlooking the Petronas towers.
        Very smooth, staff knew exactly what to do.

    • Nog says:

      I have 250 points. Do you just show your membership account from your phone or is there something else you have to do?

  • Optimus Prime says:

    OT – Marriott Bonvoy Up To Two Free Nights For Stays In Middle East & Africa Through December 31, 2019. Note that officially this offer is only available for Mastercard cardholders and the stay must be paid using one.