Is Accor Live Limitless the best hotel loyalty scheme? (Part 1)

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This is the third of our overview series of the main hotel loyalty schemes. Each scheme will be covered over two posts on consecutive days. One will list the basic facts of the scheme – basically ‘How does Accor Live Limitless work?‘ – and the other will be my subjective view of what is of particular merit.

EDIT:  Since this article was published, Le Club AccorHotels has been renamed as ALL – Accor Live Limitless.  Virtually all of the key points of the programme remain the same.

Le Club AccorHotels covers 4,200 hotels globally. These operate primarily under the Sofitel, Pullman, M Gallery, Novotel, Mercure, Rixos, Adagio, Banyan Tree, Mantis, Angsana, Movenpick, Raffles, Swissotel, Fairmont and Ibis brands. Accor also owns for Formule 1 / F1 and Jo&Joe brands but these do not participate in the programme, and neither does Ibis Budget.  The home page for the programme is here.

Accor has announced that Le Club will be rebranded as Accor Live Limitless in 2020.  There will be some changes but the main structure of the programme will remain the same.  The company has announced a huge burst of promotional activity to support the rebranding, including a wave of major sponsorships – including a shirt deal with Paris St Germain football club.

Accor Live Limitless

What is the geographic spread?

Accor has the largest number of non-US hotels of any chain. The group is well represented throughout the UK at all price points, including The Savoy which is managed by Fairmont.

Regular travellers are most likely to come into contact with them via the Sofitel at Heathrow Terminal 5 and at Gatwick.  There is also a low key but impressive Sofitel in St James in Central London.

The chain is poorly represented in North America.  Historically it was not well represented in the luxury market but that has improved sharply with acquisitions such as Banyan Tree, Delano, Swissotel, Raffles and Fairmont.

Do I use Accor hotels?

Not much, although when I was young and poor I found ibis to be a decent compromise between quality / security and value.

A few years ago Accor had a promotion offering easy-to-earn €40 vouchers. I collected five and used them at the Sofitel in Luxembourg. I did book into the very impressive Novotel Blackfriars on an exceptionally cheap offer rate in order to review it – see here.  The new Novotel at Canary Wharf also looks very good.

We reviewed the new ibis Styles a couple of years ago at Heathrow and found it very impressive.

Le Club AccorHotels logo

Elite membership levels in Le Club AccorHotels

Accor has three elite levels to the programme:

Silver – requires 10 nights or 2,000 points (€800 of eligible spend). Benefits are free internet, a welcome drink and a 25% point bonus.

Gold – requires 30 nights or 7,000 points (€2,800 of eligible spend). Benefits are free internet, a welcome drink, room upgrade, late check-out or early check-in and a 50% point bonus.

Platinum – requires 60 nights or 14,000 points (€5,600 of eligible spend). Benefits are free internet, a welcome drink, room upgrade, lounge access, late check-out and early check-in and a 75% point bonus.

Some Accor brands offer specific extra benefits to different tiers.

Only base points from hotel spending count towards status.  This is normal practice across hotel loyalty schemes, but until 2017 Accor had counted all points, wherever they came from.  Whilst Accor has very few partners, and no credit card, it did run a lot of bonus point offers which made earning status relatively easy.  This is no longer possible.

Since 2016, Platinum status is no longer given free to American Express Platinum card holders.  This was a major loss for Amex as Accor was the only chain to offer free top tier status.

You can still get ‘free’ Gold status as a benefit of purchasing the ibis Business card for £65This article covers the ibis Business card benefits.

Suite upgrades are NOT a guaranteed elite benefit although it is understood that they will be available when the scheme rebrands as Accor Live Limitless.

Full details of elite benefits as they are today can be found here.

Accor does not offer lifetime status.

Sofitel St James 350

How do you earn and spend Le Club AccorHotels points?

Accor does not have a typical ‘earning and burning’ structure. Spending is totally revenue based with no opportunity for arbitrage.

Non-status members earn 2.5 points for every €1 spent at the hotel. On the website, this is described as a 5% rebate.

For every 2,000 points you collect, you can redeem for a €40 Accor voucher. The primary use of these is to redeem in Accor hotels. You can redeem these online which allows them to be used against cheaper prepaid rooms.

As long as you avoid Ibis and Adagio properties, you are effectively receiving cashback (in Accor vouchers) of 5% as base member, rising up to 8.8% for Platinum members.

If you don’t want to spend your voucher in an Accor hotel, there are a small number of other options such as Europcar.  Sports tickets (for example French Open Tennis) are also available for points but this appears to be on an ‘invite only’ basis.  Accor also offers tickets for events at the arena it sponsors in Paris.

Note that Accor has some weird exceptions to points earnings. At Ibis and Ibis Styles you earn 1.25 per €1, with Ibis Budget earning nothing at all.  Adagio is 1 per €1.  At Adagio Access you earn 0.5 per €1.

There are also a few other partners where you can earn points.  Relevant ones for a UK resident are Europcar, Club Eurostar (you can convert points both in and out), Qatar Airways (ditto) and ClubOpinions market research surveys.

Most importantly, in the last couple of weeks Le Club AccorHotels has announced a partnership with the Air France / KLM loyalty scheme Flying Blue.  You can now earn airline miles PLUS hotel points when you stay at an Accor property, and earn hotel points PLUS airline miles when you fly with Air France of KLM.  You can register for this partnership here – and you absolutely should.

Accor has more traditional one-way partnerships with British Airways and another with Iberia which allow you to transfer your Le Club AccorHotels points into Avios.  Weirdly, BA and Iberia have different exchange rates.  Swapping your points to Avios with BA gives you a 2 to 1 rate whilst doing so with Iberia gets you a far better 1 to 1 transfer rate.  Of course, what you should do is convert to Iberia and then move your Avios from Iberia Plus to British Airways Executive Club using the ‘Combine My Avios’ function.

Think carefully before you do this, however.  Because you could use your points for an Accor voucher instead, you are effectively paying 2 Eurocents per Avios (2,000 Accor points = €40 or 2,000 Iberia Plus Avios). This is very expensive and you would be better off using the points for a hotel stay if possible.

Does Le Club AccorHotels run bonus point offers?

The group does not run the sort of regular, back to back, global promotions that we have come to expect from Marriott, Hilton and IHG.  You cannot book an Accor property and automatically expect to be able to take advantage of an offer.

Recent promotions have focussed on large bonuses for members bookings numerous 2+ night stays. These deals can be tricky to maximise, however, as you need to book within a short window for stays at a later date.

It also runs regular private sales for Le Club members which offer cash discounts of up to 50%. See our ‘Hotel Promos‘ page for any current global offers.

Accor has a Facebook app which offers bonus points if you activate it during your stay at an Accor hotel – see this article for details about Accor’s ‘Places’ app.

Do Le Club AccorHotels points expire?

In theory, your points will expire exactly 12 months from your last stay.  In reality, earning points from an Accor partner will also extend them – but there are few Accor partners out there. You can learn more about how to stop Le Club AccorHotels points expiring in this article.

Can you upgrade Accor hotels using points?

No – except to the extent that you negotiate a better room for cash at check-in and then use your Accor vouchers to pay for it.

Are ‘cash and points’ redemptions available?

Yes, to the extent that you can part-pay your room with Accor vouchers whilst paying cash for the balance.

Can you transfer Le Club AccorHotels points to airline miles?

Accor points can be transferred to a number of airlines.

Uniquely among major hotel programmes, Accor has different exchange rates for different airlines. British Airways is 2:1 whilst Iberia is 1:1 so you should ALWAYS move your Accor points to Iberia Plus. You can then use ‘Combine My Avios’ to move them to your British Airways account.

Because you could use your points for an Accor voucher instead, you are effectively paying 2 Eurocents per Avios (2,000 Accor points = €40 or 2,000 Iberia Plus Avios). This is very expensive and you would be better off using the points for a hotel stay if possible.

Can I earn Avios directly without collecting points?

Yes, see here. You can earn Avios by showing your British Airways Executive Club or card at check-in. The amount will depend on which brand you are staying with – it is 1.25 Avios per €1 with the upper end brands.

You will not earn any Le Club AccorHotels points. However, you must still be a member of Le Club AccorHotels in order to do this.

Le Club AccorHotels UK credit card partnerships

Can you get elite status with a UK credit card?  Not any longer. The American Express Platinum offer for free Platinum status ended in 2016.

Is there an Accor credit card in the UK?  No

Is Accor an Amex Membership Rewards partner?  No. In theory you could transfer to Finnair at 1:1 and then on to Accor at 7:1 but this is a massive loss of value.  The same applies to routing Amex to Club Eurostar to Accor.

Purchasing and transferring Accor points

You cannot purchase Accor points.  This is not surprising, given that they can only be redeemed for a fixed cash value of 2 Eurocents each.

My opinion

Part Two of this article later this week will focus on my personal opinion of Le Club AccorHotels.

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  1. Can one earn Avios directly at higher rate by showing Iberia card?

  2. Philodemus says:

    Thank you for a helpful summary. A few thoughts:

    I think redemption “vouchers” are not so common nowadays. Rather, you make a booking through the Accor app or website and it debits your points as instructed.

    You still redeem in units of 2,000 points, though. So all redemptions are “points and cash” unless your bill miraculously comes out to an exact multiple of €40.

    There is an extra benefit of free breakfast for Platinum members in Asia-Pacific, which is nice to have if you qualify.

  3. For clarity, GUARANTEED suite upgrades are not an elite benefit but suite upgrades are available. Off the top of my head I have been upgraded to suites from a luxury room at Sofitels in Berlin, Dubai, Munich and Hamburg (two levels at the latter in fact, to a premium suite) as gold or platinum.

    • Waribai says:

      Yes, but many hotels will only do a one category upgrade even if there are suites available unless you are booked into a higher category room, they won’t upgrade you. I was at Park Lane Hong Kong last week and they would only put me from a superior to a deluxe and made a big point of saying how I had been upgraded.

  4. I avoid Accor like the plague, having experienced their (lack of) customer service on multiple occasions.

    • Peter K says:


    • Lady London says:

      +1. For complete Customer Dis-service I would say Accor runs rings round Iberia. And that is really saying something, that they are worse than Iberia. And yet Accor achieves that.

  5. Simon Adlington says:

    This summer my partner and I had the most amazing experience with Accor. Orient Express from Paris to Montreaux Jazz festival. Lunch en-route prepared by the young French chef of the year from 2016, courses themed on the regions we were traveling thru at the times. 2 nights lake view room + full board at Fairmont Le Montreux Palace , tickets for Janet Jackson one evening and Chilly Gonzales the next. VIP access to Accor party tent on the lake. We really could not spend any money other than the champagne from the mini bar. Rooms either side of our stay were £900 a night. All this for 30,000 points. This is not the first value redemption I have had with Accor previously using points for VIP Suite at O2 London. The Swiss trip was by far the most outstanding value experience I have ever had. Happy to stay with and recommend them.

    • Wow, fantastic result for (basically) €600 or 30,000 Avios!

    • Was the Orient Express part of the package as well? I saw an ad of past experiences on accor website and this one is posted for 25.000 but no mention of the train.

  6. *Not much, although when I was young and poor I found ibis to be a decent compromise between quality / security and value.*

    Well, lah-di-dah, we had to stay at a Days Inn next to the motorway. But we were ‘appy!

    • When I was young and poor I dialled 0800 404040 and stayed in the Regent Palace Hotel in London.

      • That was indeed a quality hotel – although location couldn’t be beat!

      • +1
        Those shared filthy bathrooms down the corridor 😱

      • Lady London says:

        It was a laughing stock. THF had much better hôtels available for the same price on promos as the Régent Palace. Such as the one nr Brunswick Square.

  7. Simon Adlington says:

    Yes Rob a fantastic result. Forgot to mention Eurostar travel via Amex points also. Would not have been possible had I not been introduced years ago to HFP also. Thank you.

  8. Rob, a silly question, was a Raffles hotel the first place you ever earned or burnt points at? Was that the genesis of your FT handle? 😉

    • Oddly not. Back in the old days many FTers used their real names. As the site grew this got less appealing so they had an amnesty to let you switch. This was near to my original name. Inspiration was more Hornung than Stamford.

      • RussellH says:

        Yes. I always assumed that the hotel got its name somehow from Hornung, but it is so long since I read it and have since donated my copy to Oxfam

        • Shoestring says:
          • Just reopened after refurbishment I believe. Looking forward to reading new reviews.

          • Lady London says:

            Raffles is currently listed as a ‘new’ hôtel by Accor and will earn 4x points if book by early Sept and stay by late Oct.

            One of my dreams is to stay there.

          • Shoestring says:

            no need to stay there (at vast expense after the refurb)

            stay somewhere else and just get in about 10 Singapore Slings in the Long Bar

        • Lady London says:

          You are a bad boy, Shoestring! Nope I want the full experience.

          I did have a good look round the Fairmont Peace Hotel in Shanghai, also now sadly an Accor Hotel, and tried to persuade myself that the meal and drinks I had there were enough but really I want to stay to get the full experience. Ditto Raffles which hopefully has been brought back to its best.

  9. No credit card makes them uncompetitive as a loyalty programme, and the booking website is clunky.

    But I like the hotels in the Accor brand

  10. Regarding Gold status via the ibis Business card – currently £65 for one year, but I signed up last month for two years for £119. This offer might still be available.

    • Lady London says:

      Cost of signing up varies geographically. Like a lot of hôtel chains being Asia-Pacific or, say, China seems to get privileges of all sorts not
      offered in Europe.

      Check the rules on everything you do with Accor very carefully. If something goes wrong there will just be no way they will ever fix it. Even if its their fault. Even if they agree they didn’t do the correct thing. I use Accor as they are impossible to avoid in France where I expect to have further clients. Sadly there is usually an Accor hotel around when I land a client with particularly miserable budget expectations for my expenses too. But I avoid Accor hotels where possible and I ‘sup with them with a long spoon’.

  11. Is Movenpick actually participating in Le Club AccorHotels? I can’t find any information confirming that on the Movenpick website.

    I somehow picked up the impression that it wouldn’t be until Accor Live Limitless launched….

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