The general consensus about hotel loyalty programmes is that Marriott Bonvoy is the only scheme where it is is worthwhile trading your points for airline miles.
There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that – since the conversion rate for most airlines including British Airways is 3:1 – it feels more generous than the competition. IHG Rewards Club is 5:1 into Avios which to the average reader appears to be far worse. Hilton Honors is 10:1. Points are not all created equal, however, so you shouldn’t read too much into these ratios.
Secondly, Marriott Bonvoy adds an extra 5,000 miles to your pot if you convert 60,000 points at once. This means that you are getting 1.25 airline miles for every three Bonvoy points if you convert in chunks of 60,000.
Is the ‘Marriott is best’ view born out by the maths? I thought I would run the numbers.
The question I asked myself was …..
How much do you need to spend with the major hotel schemes to earn 10,000 Avios?
I am assuming that the reader has whatever status in a particular comes with doing 20 nights via 20 one-night stays per year in the relevant loyalty programme. Given the amount of money you need to spend to earn 10,000 Avios this is a logical assumption.
I have ranked the results by lowest spend to highest spend needed to earn 10,000 Avios. These numbers are all post-tax / post-VAT spend:
Marriott Bonvoy – $2,727
10,000 Avios requires 30,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. You earn 10 points per $1 at most full service brands plus a 10% bonus for being Silver Elite (requires 10 nights).
Accor Live Limitless – $3,547 (€3,225)
10,000 Iberia Plus Avios requires 10,000 Accor points (the conversion rate to BA is worse so you should credit stays to Iberia and move them across via ‘Combine My Avios’). At most midscale brands, eg Novotel, you earn 3.1 points per €1 as a Silver member (requires 10 nights).
Radisson Rewards – $4,000
10,000 Avios requires 100,000 Radisson Rewards points. You earn 25 points per $1 for being Gold (requires 20 stays).
IHG Rewards Club – $4,545
10,000 Avios requires 50,000 IHG Rewards Club points. You earn 10 points per $1 plus a 10% bonus for being Gold Elite (requires 10 nights).
World of Hyatt – $5,000
10,000 Avios requires 25,000 World of Hyatt points. You earn 5 points per $1 for being Discoverist (requires 10 nights).
Hilton Honors – $5,555
10,000 Avios requires 100,000 Hilton Honors points. You earn 18 points per $1 being Gold (requires 20 stays).
This analysis does not consider the fact that some chains let you earn miles directly if you agree not to earn points. Because these are generally fixed amounts such as 500 Avios per stay they may work out better for you if you do lots of cheap one-night stays.
Marriott Bonvoy remains the most rewarding programme for earning hotel points if your ultimate aim is to convert them into airline miles.
The only caveat – and it is a large one – is that Hilton Honors and IHG Rewards Club are more aggressive in terms of running bonus point promotions. Even with the current Hilton ‘2,000 bonus points per stay’ promotion, however, it will be less generous than Marriott Bonvoy if you want to convert your points to Avios unless you are doing lots of cheap one-night stays.
I would also encourage you to think twice before converting hotel points into Avios. If you will never earn enough for a free night then it is obviously a good idea to transfer them, but in general you will maximise value by using hotel points for free hotel nights.
PS. Take a look at this article if you are interested in using your Avios points to book hotel rooms, instead of earning Avios from them.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (August 2021)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!
There are two official British Airways American Express cards:
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points, such as:
We also recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card:
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.
(Want to earn more Avios? Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)