How I earned 7,000 Heathrow Rewards points (= 7,000 Avios) with a £135 Rocketmiles hotel booking

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Back in September, we wrote about an excellent hotel promotion.

Hotel booking site Rocketmiles was (and still is) offering ‘first time users’ 5,000+ easy Avios or other airline miles for a one night booking.

I tried this offer out myself last week when I was up in Manchester to visit PremiAir.  I earned a total of 7,000 Heathrow Rewards points on a £135 room booking which will convert into at least 7,000 Avios.  Read on for how that worked out.

What is Rocketmiles?

Rocketmiles – if you are not familiar with it – is a similar website to PointsHound, Agoda and Kaligo.com.  You can earn airline miles and other loyalty points in a wide variety of schemes when you book your hotel stays via rocketmiles.com.

The one downside of Rocketmiles is that your stays will be treated as ‘non-qualifying’ by the hotel.  This means that you won’t earn points in the hotel’s own loyalty programme and you probably won’t get your status benefits either.  Rocketmiles, Kaligo.com etc are best used when booking a stay at an independent hotel or at one where you don’t actively collect their points.

Rocketmiles 5000 points bonus

Get 5,000+ miles with your first Rocketmiles booking

Via this special link, you will earn 5,000 bonus miles, on top of your base miles, when you make your first booking through Rocketmiles.

You have until 31st December to book and the stay can be at any point in the future.  You get 5,000 bonus points on all participating hotels.

Not all hotels are participating.  There seems to be some sort of cost threshold, and you also do not get the bonus if you book one of the hotels on the site which is offered via the Rocketmiles partnership with booking.com.  It is very easy to see which hotels are taking part, however.

You should assume that ‘first booking’ means that NONE of the following have been used before to book via Rocketmiles – your rewards programme number, your credit card number AND your email address.

Of the reward schemes we tend to cover on Head for Points, the following are included in the offer:

  • American Airlines AAdvantage
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest
  • Flying Blue
  • Heathrow Rewards
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

“But what about Avios?” you shout …..

I was coming to that.

IN THEORY, Avios is excluded.  The small print of the offer says:

“Promotion cannot be redeemed through AerLingus Aer Club, Amazon.com Gift Cards, American Airlines Business Extra, British Airways Executive Club, Caesars Total Rewards, Malaysia Enrich, @MyAirItalyClub, Norwegian Rewards, REI Gift Card, Sony Rewards, Uber Gift Cards, Vueling Club.

All of the companies highlighted are Avios partners.

However, IN REALITY, you CAN earn 5,000 Avios from this offer.  How?  By crediting to Heathrow Rewards.

Heathrow Rewards Rocketmiles

Why should you credit your Rocketmiles stay to Heathrow Rewards?

Usually, when you earn miles via Rocketmiles, they are sent directly to the partner of your choice – Avios, Virgin Flying Club, Etihad Guest etc.

The Avios airlines, however, are excluded from this offer.

However, if you credit to Heathrow Rewards instead you can ultimately move the bonus to Avios and earn 5,000 points.

Why?  Heathrow Rewards has a lot of 1:1 transfer partners.  5,000 Heathrow Rewards points from this offer can be transferred into:

  • 5,000 Avios
  • 5,000 Virgin Flying Club miles
  • 5,000 Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles
  • 5,000 Royal Brunei RoyalSkies miles
  • 5,000 Emirates Skywards miles
  • 5,000 Aegean Miles&Bonus miles
  • £50 Heathrow Airport shopping voucher
  • £100 Heathrow Airport parking voucher

…. and you could even mix and match across the various redemptions.  You can leave your points sitting in Heathrow Rewards until you are firm about where you need them.

There is also the opportunity for a transfer bonus

Heathrow Rewards ran some aggressive transfer bonuses in 2017 and 2018.  So far in 2019 we have only seen one deal – a 50% bonus on transfers to Asia Miles, which is still running until 18th November.  However, we used to see:

  • 100% bonus on redemptions for Heathrow shopping vouchers
  • 50% bonus on transfers to Virgin Flying Club
  • 50% bonus on transfers to Avios
  • 100% bonus on transfers to Miles & More

Even if your only interest from Rocketmiles is earning Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines or Emirates miles – which you can earn directly from Rocketmiles – it may well make more sense to credit your stays to Heathrow Rewards instead and wait for a transfer bonus.  If there is no bonus, you can still convert at the standard rate and you aren’t any worse off.

The bonus points show up during the booking process for participating hotels so there is no risk that you do not get them, unless Rocketmiles later identifies you as a ‘previous customer’.  You will see something like this on screen, with the extra 5,000 points clearly marked where it is offered (click to enlarge – this screenshot is in $ but you can switch to £ pricing via a menu option, and you pay in £):

Rocketmiles 5000 bonus points

Do not book if you don’t see the 5,000 bonus points listed.  It means that your hotel is not participating.

How did it work out when I tried it?

Needing a hotel in Manchester for one night – and knowing that I had to check out early and would get breakfast at PremiAir – I was fairly ambivalent about where I stayed as long as it was decent.

This seemed like the perfect opportunity to check out this deal.

Booked five days in advance, there were only TWO participating hotels in Manchester.  I chose the Marriott Manchester Victoria & Albert Hotel on the edge of the City Centre:

Manchester Marriott Victoria and Albert hotel

The price was £135.  This was the same as the price offered on marriott.com to non-members of Marriott Bonvoy.  The discount for Bonvoy members was very tiny so I only ‘overpaid’ by £5 or so.

This hotel earned 2,000 base Heathrow Rewards points plus the 5,000 bonus.  This was an excellent return of 7,000 Heathrow Rewards points.  If Heathrow Rewards ever repeats its ‘100% bonus on transfers to Heathrow shopping vouchers’ offer then I can cash them in for £140-worth.

There was also a VAT quirk, however.  Rocketmiles books your room from outside the UK and so no VAT is triggered.  As this was a HFP work trip, I would be able to reclaim the VAT usually – a £135 room only really costs me £112.50.  The net difference, adjusting for income tax and NI, is that I ‘overpaid’ in total by around £17 plus the value of the Bonvoy points I would have earned.  This was worth it for 7,000 Heathrow Rewards points.

(For anyone travelling for personal use, ignore the VAT discussion above.  It doesn’t impact you.)

It was interesting to note that Rocketmiles paid the hotel £77.  This means that Rocketmiles will have broken even on the transaction after paying Heathrow Rewards £50-70 for my 7,000 points.

Don’t worry about your Heathrow Rewards points expiring. You need to go three years without earning points for that to happen, and simply spending £1 in the airport gets you another three years.

I checked out on Wednesday 6th November and the Heathrow Rewards points posted yesterday (Monday 11th):

Heathrow Rewards Rocketmiles offer

Conclusion

This is a good deal if you are new to Rocketmiles and well worth a try if you can fit it in to your schedule.  Remember that you need to book by 31st December but the stay can be at some future date.

The special Rocketmiles booking page is here.  Remember that you must be a first time Rocketmiles customer, and that means using a credit card number, email account and transfer partner account number which is they do not recognise.

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Comments

  1. How did you find out how much Rocketmiles paid the hotel? Is it on the folio at checkout?

    • I spotted the ‘rate charged’ on the receptionist’s screen at check-in when taking up this offer the weekend before last. Fair to say there was a substantial gap! However; the rate shown wasn’t available to me anywhere when I made the booking 6+ weeks ago.

      • It was on the document I was asked to sign at check in.

        • I once had to sign a similar document on checking in, and in the rate box was the text DO NOT REVEAL RATE TO GUEST

        • Any idea how to get this wholesale rate? No wonder hotels are so expensive if so much (half, in this case) gets skimmed off the top by OTAs etc. I thought they get much less, around 15 percent

          • It’s a bed bank rate. The hotel will have sold 5,000 annual nights (guaranteed volume, buyer takes the risk) at this price under 1 contract to Tourico or similar. Most end up with tour groups but some come back via Kaligo etc.

            Expedia commission is around 22%.

          • Thank you, Rob! Very interesting

          • I’d love to see an article on bed banks and how to access those rates 🙂

          • You can’t.

            I met HotelBeds last week as it happens. It’s a simple model – there are thousands of hotels, and there are thousands of groups who need rooms in bulk. Bed banks sit in the middle as a one-stop intermediary for both sides.

            Most of the time they will take a big commitment – perhaps 2,000 nights over a year, albeit with flexibility over what nights they are used – at a guaranteed price for a big discount. The bed bank then tries to place those rooms with tour groups etc. When the rooms enter the retail chain (eg via Rocketmiles or Kaligo) the seller is obliged to use ‘rate parity’ and charge the same as the hotel itself is charging. This leads to fat profit margins which allows the sort of generous rewards funded by Rocketmiles etc.

          • Very interesting.
            I met a guy at HFP party who worked for a website that did multiple night bookings at different hotels.
            I think at the time it was possible to just book one night and get the cheaper non-public rate.

          • Nightly.travel

  2. Prices seem to be quoted in US $ when I click through, does this adjust to £ at the point of booking?

    • Rob Clark says:

      This is my worry as well. If I charge in dollars I’ll get an overseas charge on AMEX. I’ve gone through to booking page and it’s sill in $

      Anybody know?

      • There is an option at the top of the page to change currency. It defaults to $ unless you switch it. Card is charged in whatever currency you switch it to.

        • Thank you! Found it, wasn’t very obvious on a mobile, but was obvious when I used a normal computer.

  3. Undoubtedly a good return on a £135 room but nothing worth getting overly excited about considering I just earned over 55k IHG points for staying 4 nights (including 2 in Inverness) for about £190 by combining the last IHG sale rates with that other place. Wasn’t even as cheap as it could have been given I had to purchase breakfast rates at a CP and HI. It was also too late to take advantage of the 4x offer. I still have to take advantage of Rocketmiles myself but hope to bag my 5000+ on a useful room costing substantially less than £135.

  4. Ian McDowall says:

    I looked at this recently and it gives you the chance to choose BAEC for the avios and then says that for the hotel I want that I’d earn 4k avios. It then offers a higher price for the room for extra avios which I think is very good at 0.57p per avios.
    But in this article you are saying I can’t credit BAEC, so why does it give me the chance to do this?

    • Just down to the deal they have with IAG. This is why Rob focuses on Heathrow Rewards, it is a flexible currency so you can transfer to avios or other miles if you wish or just use for shopping. The real prize though is that Heathrow Rewards themselves have run some very generous conversion bonus although there have been less of those this year for some reason.

    • southlondonphil says:

      @IanMcDowall You can earn ‘regular’ Avios with Rocketmiles, based upon the hotel offer and the value of the room, but you can’t get the FIRST BOOKING BONUS of 5000 additional ‘points’ in any flavour of Avios with this promotion, you have to pick one of the other loyalty programmes that isn’t excluded.

    • I’ve found you usually get more Heathrow points than avios using rocketmiles, also the promotion only gives the sign up bonus to Heathrow rewards.
      The promotion seemed not to be triggered on hotel stays under £100, though this was not per night so longer stays triggered the bonus.

  5. Generally speaking I use hotels.com when the main chains in the UK are £300+/night. Call me a miser but that’s too much for a product barely differentiated from HIX. As was the case in Brighton Sat 2nd Nov when I needed a bed and not much else, the rocketmiles bed priced up within £10 of hotels.com but with a few thousand avios on top. Assuming they post, it can work out just not every time I would assume.

  6. Geoff Brooks says:

    Did exactly this with booking in Berlin. 7000 avios for £126

  7. Do Heathrow Rewards points expire?

    • If have three years with no earning activity, yes. Note spending does not count. You only need to spend £1 in Heathrow to reset the 3 years though (or if abroad buy a £5.50 Heathrow Express ticket online).

  8. ankomonkey says:

    I got 4000 TK miles for £52 last year. And the hotel room of course.

  9. memesweeper says:

    What does Rocketmiles show up on the credit card bill / invoice as?

  10. Charlieface says:

    Better question is why you would pay £130 for a room in Manchester anyway. Was it peak season?

    • It was a work trip so I guess the price wasn’t too important. And he didn’t pay £130.

      • I was in the room working from 2pm until midnight. Price was comparable to other 4-star options.

        I mean, really, what’s the point? Why would I want to stay in a dumpy budget hotel to save £50? I was in the hotel working for 10 hours. My ‘personal’ cost is only a fraction of what I pay because I get a 50% tax write-off and I keep all the points. The ‘saving’ would be £25, not £50, in return for which I would have to spend one of my few remaining days on this planet in a cheapo hotel. Why would I do that? HFP generates £25 in the time it takes me to have a shower.

        At some point you will wake up one morning and realise that no-one is going to give you a prize if you die with a pile of money in the bank, having lived a more depressing life than was otherwise necessary in order to get to that point. One ‘upside’ of my Dad dying at 48 (so I have now overtaken him) is that deliberately having a shittier life than you need to has never appealed.

        On the upside, if you ever want a job you’re welcome to come and work for us, since I can clearly dump our “all business travel travel, only 4/5 star hotels” travel policy for you 🙂

        • Sussex Bantam says:

          Amen to that Rob

        • Happy to work for you if you keep the existing travel policy and need an experienced traveller who also writes articles for businesses! Live down the road from you… 😊

        • This is where I think charlieface represents the true demographic readership of this site – whether you like it or not…..
          They are not spending a god dam penny that don’t need to on travel!

          • If that were true, nobody would be flying in business class or staying in nice hotels, which clearly isn’t the case….

            And Rob’s hotel was effectively free anyway, because £135 of room costs him under £70 personally (HFPs profit is reduced by £135 which reduces his tax bill) and the points are worth £70, or £140 if there is a double up offer. £50 for an Ibis Budget would have cost him more….

          • Lady London says:

            Er….IBIS Budget *shudder*.

            And I’m definitely on the cheapo side of the house.

            Sorry to hear about your Dad going at only 48, Rob.

            One other way to look at being cheapo, it’s kind of the same thing, is to say if I’m cheap I can get to see a lot more places around the world …so kind of another way of achieving the same aim of living it rather than leaving it.

          • Lady London says:

            Yes Bazza but we’re all aspirational which is what sets us apart.

          • Spurs Debs says:

            As my Mum would say why go away and stay in a room worse than your own home. I’m currently sitting on balcony of my king suite in Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah which was upgraded from a twin basic room. Booked in Hilton 30% off sale and after reading Robs articles on this and the Waldorf on the palm. Flew out club world paid £700 return WTP fare upgraded with points. I earn 10k points as silver plus it’s double Hilton points promotion.
            My time off is far to precious to stay in a dump.
            Although £8 for a pot of tea I’m so glad I always bring my supply of tea bags with me.

          • Those suites are OK! Trying to remember which ones we had the other week – I think it was 328 and 329.

            What is OK about this place is that the patisserie is OK for a snack (ok, coffee and cake!) if you’re not in the mood for a full meal.

          • Spurs Debs says:

            The cakes/ desserts are lovely. I’ve got room 607 very nice sea view with huge balcony. I’ve not explored much as only got here today. Been as far as spa to book treatments and restaurant for dinner.

          • Lady London says:

            Own tea bags, first stop after arriving : the spa to book treatment, followed by booking dinner in the restaurant….. you have your priorities right, @Spurs Debs!

    • Charlieface says:

      Actually I think I’m very unrepresentative of the readership. I’m probably far younger than most, I live in ‘up naarth’ and I probably earn a fraction of what most people here earn. I also don’t actually travel that often, I’m really on HFP mainly for the deals, bonuses and tricks, as I often book travel for others.
      Maybe I’m more of an MSE reader, except more brains 🙂

      • Well, why pay £500 if you can get a perfectly adequate room for £125?

        Equally, if you feel that the room you want is worth £500 and you aren’t getting into debt to pay it, why not splash out?

        My point of view tends to be the former, because I feel the £500 room is not four times as good as the £125 room. But the cheaper room is certainly 4 times better than a hostel going for £30. I have no problem with people who choose the latter point of view though (except that I will express my opinion that such a room is not worth £500 to me).

        Also agree that when you are younger you should save money for your “old age”, but this means that when you get older you need to start spending it else there was no point saving it.

    • Wait a minute…. I paid £237 in Manchester last month (Hilton Piccadilly). Was that a rip off?

      (I got a refund as it was a work trip otherwise I would have taken train from Leeds in the morning)

      • Not sure if you mean the DT Piccadilly or the Hilton Deansgate, but yes, it would have been a ripoff if it was a personal trip. DT usually goes for £66. I once paid £79 as I was desperate. The Hilton usually goes for under £100, but the lounge sucks and it’s far from where I want to be when I go to Manchester.

        But clearly your work trip generated more than £237 + train fare of value for your company, so it wasn’t a ripoff in that sense.

        • It’s not a ripoff if there is an event in Manchester and every hotel could sell its room five times over. Or are you seriously telling me we should change the law so a hotel has to charge the same price 365 days a year?

  11. Thank you. I have booked the Sheraton on Bath Road near Heathrow Airport for next week. £140 for the night and 8000 Heathrow / Avios points! Bargain.

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