Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Which airlines let you transfer air miles INTO hotel loyalty programmes?

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Almost all hotel loyalty programmes let you transfer you points into certain frequent flyer schemes.  What is far rarer is for a frequent flyer scheme to let you transfer your miles INTO a hotel points programme.

This didn’t used to be the case.  If you go back 15 years, Hilton Honors had quite a few airline partners including American Airlines.  Over the years the deals have fallen away.

Booking hotels directly with your miles

Of course, many airlines let you book hotels directly using your loyalty points.  You can do this with your Avios points via the British Airways hotel portal which can be accessed here.

It is not the greatest deal.  You receive just over 0.5p per Avios point when you spend them on hotels this way.  More importantly, because these are third-party bookings, you are unlikely to receive any status benefits from the hotel.  You may not even receive points on your food and drink spend depending on the chain.  Some chains only give free internet if you book direct.

The other downside is that, because the number of Avios required is based on the cash price that night, there is no arbitrage.  On a busy night you will need more points.  This is not how the hotel loyalty schemes work.

Transfer air miles into hotel points

Lufthansa is up for a bit of everything. Lufthansa allows you to redeem miles at a truly shocking rate for Best Western or Radisson Blu gift cards.  It also has a hotel booking portal which works in an identical way to the Avios one.

Emirates has an odd scheme where you can redeem your Emirates Skywards miles directly for Marriott hotels, mainly in the Middle East, at fixed prices.  This does create some arbitrage opportunities but the list of properties is eclectic to put it mildly.  Here is the list of Marriott redemptions they offer.

Virgin Atlantic allows you to redeem your Flying Club miles for a selection of hotels offered by Kaligo.com.  I ran through the maths on redeeming Virgin Flying Club miles via Kaligo in this article.  There are also some Branson-owned hotels you can book directly with Virgin Flying Club miles, including Necker Island.

Direct transfers into hotel loyalty programmes

As far as I know, these are the transfer options from mainstream European and Middle East frequent flyer schemes which let you earn hotel points by sending over your airline miles:

Virgin Atlantic to Hilton Honors

Full details can be found on the Virgin website hereYou will receive 1.5 Hilton Honors points per Virgin Flying Club mile.    Based on my 0.33p valuation of a Hilton point, you are getting 0.5p of value per Virgin mile.  This is a pretty poor deal although, if you received the miles from business travel, you may be insensitive to that.

It is certainly a poor deal if you obtained your Virgin Flying Club miles via credit card spend, Tesco Clubcard or American Express Membership Rewards transfers, because those miles had an opportunity cost.  The only exception would be if you needed to top up your Hilton balance before a redemption.

Virgin Atlantic to IHG Rewards Club

Full details can be found on the Virgin website hereThe transfer rate is 1 IHG Rewards Club point for 1 Virgin Flying Club mile.   IHG points can be redeemed for Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, InterContinental etc hotels.

Based on my 0.4p valuation of an IHG Rewards Club point, this deal is also not great.  Importantly, these transfers NO LONGER COUNT TOWARDS IHG STATUS following 2018 changes.

As IHG Rewards Club is not an Amex Membership Rewards partner, routing American Express points to Virgin Flying Club miles to IHG Rewards Club points is a potential compromise – albeit one which does not offer the best value for your American Express points.

Transfer frequent flyer miles into hotel points

Finnair Plus to IHG Rewards Club

Yes, little Finnair also lets you convert your Finnair Plus points to IHG Rewards Club.  Details are here.

As Finnair is a partner with American Express Membership Rewards, this could be another way of indirectly turning Amex points into IHG nights.

Unfortunately, the transfer rate is even worse than the Virgin deal.   You need 2 Finnair Plus points for every 1 IHG Rewards Club point which means you are effectively getting 0.2p per Finnair point.

If you happen to have 20,000+ Finnair points sitting unused then this is of course a ‘better than nothing’ way of using them but it is hard to recommend otherwise.  These transfers have never counted towards IHG status.

Finnair Plus to Accor Live Limitless

Accor Live Limitless is the Novotel / Sofitel / Ibis / Mercure etc loyalty programme.

The details of the Finnair deals are here.  As with the IHG deal, it offers a complex way of turning Amex points into Accor points by routing them via Finnair Plus.

It is hard to recommend it unless you have a very small Finnair balance to use up.  It requires 7,000 Finnair points to receive 1,000 Accor points.  The Accor scheme is ‘fixed value’.  2,000 points get you a €40 hotel voucher.  That means you are getting €20 for 7,000 points which is roughly 0.2p per point!

Finnair to Nordic Choice Hotels

This is a VERY niche one, but the option is there if you want it.  Details are here.  23,000 Finnair Plus points will get you 7,500 Nordic Choice Club points.

I have no idea if this is a  good deal or not, but might be worth investigating as Nordic hotel prices can be eye-watering at times.  Remember that you could go from American Express Membership Rewards to Finnair Plus to Nordic Choice Club.

Qatar Privilege Club to Accor Live Limitless

Full details of the Qatar Airways conversion deal – and the detailed instructions on how to do it – are on the Qatar Airways site here.

The ratio is 4.5 : 1, with a minimum of 4,500 Qmiles getting you 1,000 Accor points.

An Accor point is redeemable for 2 Eurocents of free hotel room.  This means that 4,500 Qmiles gets you €20 of free stay.  This is weak at under 0.4p per mile although better than the Finnair to Accor deal.

It also offers a roundabout way of converting Qmiles into Avios.  Accor points convert into Iberia Plus Avios points at 1:1 (bizarre, since the conversion rate into BA is 2:1!).  This means that 4,500 Qmiles would get you 1,000 Avios in an Iberia Plus account which you could then move to BA via ‘Combine My Avios’.  This is only really going to be useful if you have a small number of Qmiles you can’t otherwise spend.

Flying Blue to Accor Live Limitless

This is the newest deal on this list, launching in mid 2019.

It is part of a genuinely ambitious partnership between Accor and Flying Blue.  Once registered:

When you stay at Accor hotels, you will earn 1 Flying Blue airline mile per €1 – on top of the Accor points you would usually earn

When you fly with Air France, KLM or HOP!, you will earn 1 Accor hotel point per €2 – on top of the Flying Blue miles you would usually earn

You can only be better off by registering for this offer.  As far as I can tell, there is no downside.

You can also transfer lump sums of Flying Blue miles to Accor.  Unsurprisingly, the rate is not great:

4,000 Flying Blue miles = 1,000 Accor points

This means that you are swapping 4,000 Flying Blue miles for a €20 Accor hotel discount.  This is just 0.5 Eurocents per mile, which is poor.  Of course, if you have Flying Blue miles you can’t use it is better than nothing.

Our full article on the Accor and Flying Blue partnership is here.

Club Eurostar to Accor Live Limitless

Whilst this article is focused on airline schemes, it would be remiss not to remind you that Club Eurostar points can also be transferred to Accor Live Limitless – details here.

I should also briefly mention the partnership between United Airlines and Marriott Bonvoy, even though this article is in theory restricted to EMEA schemes.  If you have Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite status, which is not many people admittedly, you can move up to 50,000 United MileagePlus miles per year into Marriott Bonvoy.  You can learn more about the Marriott and United RewardsPlus partnership in this article.

Conclusion

There are a few ways of moving airline miles into hotel points.  The value is generally poor, however, and it is only recommended if you are topping up a hotel account or emptying out an airline one.

(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 (22)

  • PhilW says:

    What about United mileage plus silver level transfer to Marriott Bonvoy?

    • Rob says:

      I ignored that because a) the article is only about European and Middle East programmes and b) the need to have status but on reflection it deserves a line.

  • Marcw says:

    Bad work Rob. Probably a copy and paste from your last iteration.

    Anyway, Qatar Privilege Club is not that *new* anymore – it’s been there already a few years!

    You haven’t mentioned the recent Flying Blue – ALL Accor relationship.

  • Dawn says:

    O/T just heard from friends in JHB that Emirates have suspended flights to JHB from 7 March for the foreseeable future.

  • Matthew says:

    Not sure if mentioned already – but the extra 10k IHG points for free card appears directly in my IHG account yesterday. The normal bonus for spending £500 is still showing on my IHG card and hasn’t transferred over yet as not had the first statement generated.

  • The Savage Squirrel says:

    Virgin 2:3 ratio with Hilton is a bit rubbish, but I’ve used it a couple of times to top up 10k points to get over the line for a redemption. I see it as still far better than paying cash to top up unless there’s a decent offer on.

    • BJ says:

      This is my most painful point/miles habit. I transferred well over 200k FC miles to Hilton over the years because for different reasons at different times FC and Virgin just didn’t work for me. Needless to say I was a bit anxious about any regrets I might have following the FB partnership. Wasn’t so bad in the past when the exchange rate was better and Hilton hotels did not cost so many points but it’s painful now.

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      From one squirrel to another…
      With the Hilton Barclaycard now closed to new applicants.
      The VA cards are the best Hilton earning cards out there at present.

  • Boi says:

    What I found useful was booking hotels via BA and earning 15 Avios per £. I opted for this rather than Hilton/IHG points.
    But then I got annoyed coz charge taken as “Avios group”. I was hoping for another 3 Avios/£ via BAPP. Oh well… 🤣

    • BJ says:

      Is that still running? I looked for it on a booking last month but I couldn’t find it and only got
      1 avios/£.