How to earn Avios or Virgin miles at Best Western – and how to get a status match

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Best Western is the newest major hotel chain to become a British Airways partner.  Whilst you have been able to earn Avios for the past 18 months or so, many people still seen unaware of the partnership so I thought I’d run through it again today.

You can either earn a flat 500 Avios points per stay OR collect Best Western Rewards points as usual and then convert them into Avios as a lump sum.   You can credit the points to any Avios scheme – BAEC, Air Italy / Meridiana, Iberia Plus or Vueling Club.  Aer Lingus AerClub is not on the list but if you selected Vueling Club and gave your 3081xxxxxx number it should work OK.

When I ran a reader survey a couple of years ago on which hotel chains you used, Best Western performed surprisingly strongly.  Now that you can earn Avios with them it is worth knowing more about Best Western Rewards, especially as they have a generous status match scheme.

If Avios is not your preferred scheme, Best Western is also a Virgin Atlantic partner.

The ba.com page outlining the Avios / Best Western partnership is here.

How big is Best Western?

The Best Western brand covers 4,000 hotels worldwide in 80 countries.  What differentiates the group from chains such as Hilton is that every hotel is independently owned and managed and they are given far more leeway in terms of how they operate.  The hotels are generally smaller in terms of room numbers than you would find from the bigger chains and the average rating is probably around a three star.

Today there are 250 Best Western hotels in the UK (website here).

Whilst you are only going to find Best Western and BW Premier Collection properties in this country, the brand is trialling new concepts such as Sure Hotel, Glo and Vib.

In February 2019, Best Western bought WorldHotels, a marketing group representing 300 luxury hotels across the world – see our article here.  It is not yet clear how, if at all, this will be integrated into Best Western Rewards.

Best Western Rewards

Best Western Rewards

The Best Western Rewards scheme is free to join via this page.  You start off at Blue.  There is also a status match deal I will outline below.  The tier levels are outlined here and are:

Gold – requires 10 nights, 7 stays or 10,000 points.  The only benefit is a 10% points bonus.

Platinum – requires 15 nights / 10 stays / 15,000 points per membership year – Gold benefits plus room upgrade and recognition gift.  Points bonus is 15%.

Diamond – requires 30 nights / 20 stays / 20,000 points per membership year – Platinum benefits plus a 30% points bonus

Diamond Select – requires 50 nights / 40 stays / 50,000 points.  Diamond benefits plus a 50% points bonus.

Status runs on a calendar year basis.  Once you hit the target for the next tier, you are promoted immediately and retain it for the rest of the current calendar year and all of the following year.

Earning Best Western Rewards points

You can retro-claim points for stays from up to 30 days before you joined, so you haven’t necessarily missed out if you had a recent stay and were not a member at the time.

You will earn 10 points per $1 spent on your entire bill when paying eligible rates.  You do NOT earn points on restaurant charges or anything else charged to your bill apart from the room rate.

You can earn points on up to three rooms per night as long as they are all booked in your name and you occupy one of them.

Alternatively, you can take airline milesBoth Avios / British Airways and Virgin Atlantic offer 500 miles per stay.  A list of other participating airlines can be seen in the dropdown menu on the sign-up page – it includes American (250 per stay), Lufthansa (500) and Flying Blue (250) amongst other.

You cannot transfer points from American Express in the UK (you can in some other countries) and there is no UK credit card.

Points can be transferred free of charge between members who share the same address.

How can I spend Best Western points?

There are a variety of hotel and non-hotel rewards options as you can see here (log-in required).  Best Western Rewards points do not expire so you don’t need to hurry to use them.

High Street and Amazon vouchers are priced at £5 for 2,000 points.  Given that this would require $200 (£150) of ex-VAT spend, you are looking at a 3.3% return.  This is not great, although it improves if you have status, and is only based on your room rate and not incidental spend.  Other reward options are available but you might as well take a gift card which is close to getting cash.

Free room nights in the UK cost between 8,000 and 36,000 points.  As a Blue member you are looking at spending, before VAT, £595 to £2,650 to earn a free night worth, say, £75 – £200.  This is not a bad return if we assume you are getting 7%-8% back on average.  Free nights in overseas hotels start at 4,000 points.  These must be booked via telephone.

Best Western UK is no longer a Tesco Clubcard partner.

You can convert points to Avios … but is it the best option?

You can also convert your existing Best Western Rewards points balance into Avios.  5,000 Best Western points will get you 1,000 Avios.  

You should compare Avios with other redemptions though.  5,000 Best Western Rewards points will get you 1,000 Avios or £12.50 of John Lewis / Waitrose or amazon.co.uk gift voucher.  This means that you are ‘paying’ 1.25p per Avios and I think that is too much.

If Avios is your goal, you need to have a think before each Best Western stay – should you take the fixed ‘500 Avios per stay’ or you should you take the points and convert them later?

For cheaper stays, take the fixed 500 Avios.  The break-even point is a total stay cost (room only) of £222 for a Best Western Blue member.  Take a £222 room bill, strip off 20% VAT, convert to $ and you get $250 which is 2,500 Best Western points which is 500 Avios.  If your room bill is a lot more than £222, take the points and convert.  If it is a lot less, take the fixed 500 Avios points.

For clarity …. you CANNOT convert lump sums of points into Virgin Atlantic or any other airline scheme.  They only appear to allow this for Avios, and you cannot do lump sum transfers online at the moment.

Best Western Rewards will match your existing hotel or Virgin Atlantic status

Best Western has a generous status match policy.  If you have status with any other hotel chain, it will be matched.

A couple of years ago I tested their responsiveness by sending a copy of my IHG Rewards Club Platinum statement (this was before Spire Elite became the top tier) to the UK office.  It took 10 calendar days to receive an email confirming my match to Diamond status.

The form you need to send them can be found on the Best Western website here (PDF).

You can also match Virgin Flying Club status.  A Virgin Silver will receive Best Western Platinum whilst a Virgin Gold receives Best Western Diamond.  Full details are on the Virgin website here.

Conclusion

Best Western Rewards is a decent scheme but not a hugely exciting one.  It is hampered by the very loose relationships between the group and its properties and the very varied nature of the hotels, which makes standardised benefits impossible.  It is worth taking the chain more seriously now that you can earn Avios, however.

If your travels take you to occasional Best Western properties, my suggestion is to get a status match via any other hotel or Virgin Atlantic status you have – the benefits are modest but you will be front of the queue for upgrades.   You should then take the flat 500 Avios or Virgin miles per stay as your reward unless you are running up large room bills or are confident of eventually earning enough points for a free night.

I would think twice before converting lump sums of Best Western Rewards points into Avios, because you are ‘paying’ 1.25p per Avios compared to redeeming for Amazon or John Lewis / Waitrose vouchers.  That is not a great deal in my view.

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Comments

  1. If I stay at BWs it’s because there are no suitable hotels from my usual chains and they are the cheapest suitable option on hotels.com. Invariably the hotels.com price is equal to or cheaper than the price booking direct (even before factoring in the 9.09% pre-tax rebate from the rewards scheme).

    I have not bothered with the status match last time I read about it on HFP, because assumed that, as with other chains, indirect bookings don’t qualify for points or status accrual/benefits but is this actually the case?

    • Limited sample size, but my last trip to the states, stayed at 3 BWs (have diamond status from a status match, as recommended here, thanks HfP), and in all 3, ‘recognised’ at check-in as diamond, thanked for my brand loyalty, given a small goodie bag (couple of bottles of water, trail mix, crisps), and an upgrade to a larger/higher room. 2 were booked on Hotels.com, and the other on Bookings.com. Maybe just luck, but one of the better experiences in a myriad of ‘lesser’ brands stays, and all BW staff seem very customer focussed, more so certainly than most ‘high end’ brands. They may not be the newest, smartest places in town, but for the price, and indeed experience, excellent!

      • How did the property have/get your BW Rewards details, I assume this cant be added to the hotels.com booking?

        • Asked if I was a rewards member at check in then cross referenced my email to membership no. as my phone, and hence electronic membership card, were dead.

  2. I had a UK BW suggest I book directly with the hotel rather than via BW to get a lower price. Apart from the points bonus I’ve never had a tangible benefit from matches status. I’ve yet to find a redemption stay because when I last looked about 2 years ago the software was very cumbersome and the points for everything I looked at was absolutely at the top end of what they state as the points needed. So while I always find the UK staff at BW office and hotels friendly and efficient and my stays comfortable, I prefer to find a Hilton if I can for the clear branding, free breakfast and upgrade, and easy to use redemption.

  3. Bagoly says:

    I have long credited BW stays to to M&M.
    They often run joint promotions.
    E.g. the current one is 1000M&Ms extra for first and second stay on top of the usual 500.
    https://www.miles-and-more.com/row/en/earn/en/partner/hotels/best-western/earn/promotional-offer/1907_earn_promotion_triplemiles.html

    Even better, the B&W next to my client credits me with miles even when the client pays the bill direct!

  4. Concerto says:

    Really interesting article. When you explain the maths behind your thinking it’s really helpful. I’ve got a soft spot for Best Western, with memories of the Bruntsfield one on the Meadows in Edinburgh.

  5. Chewbacca says:

    Timely piece, will be staying at BW tonight and tomorrow. If I am the guest but the company pays (ie invoice made out to to company and gust noted as me) can I still get the points I guess not in which case I should pay the bill directly and expense it?

    • Charlieface says:

      Vast majority of loyalty schemes credit the guest not the payer unless the payer is also staying. I think Best Western also.

  6. TGLoyalty says:

    Any really good properties in the uk worth staying at?

  7. In the UK we have Best Western, Best Western Plus, Best Western Premier Collection, Best Western Signature Collection and, Sure Stay, Sure Hotel Collection. There is an Aiden underway and hopefully a Saidie soon.

    Chewbacca, you can get your points, just let them know your Rewards number when you check in/out.

    TGLoyalty, we have lots of gorgeous Best Westerns in the UK; where do you want to go? Gleddoch House, Keavil House, Beamish, Walton Park are 3 certainly worth mentioning that I can think of right now.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Thanks to be honest where is anywhere interesting in the uk. My plan is to start visiting more of the uk countryside and cities/town/villages.

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