Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How to use small orphan amounts of frequent flyer miles and hotel points – Part 2

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This is the second part of the updated article I began two weeks ago, discussing the best ways to ‘zero out’ loyalty card accounts which you want to abandon.  You need to remember that you may first need to ‘top off’ an account by earning a few more points before you can reach the smallest redemption level.

Part 1 looked at how to use unwanted points in hotel schemes.  Today I look at some of the major European airline schemes and Tesco Clubcard.  I have not covered Avios as Head for Points readers are generally keener to build those up!

Using small numbers of Tesco Clubcard points

Tesco Clubcard (points convert to Avios or Virgin Flying Club)

If you have multiple cards in your name, try to get them up to 150 points using extra points coupons or offers.  150 points is the trigger to receive vouchers or allow in-app points conversion.  You can then chuck the card.

Tesco can also merge accounts together if you contact them.

American Express Membership Rewards

If you are closing your American Express card and emptying out your Membership Rewards account, you will discover that transfers to Avios are in multiples of 1,000.  If this leaves you with 1-999 spare points, get a Nectar account and transfer the exact balance there.  Each point is worth 0.5p at Sainsburys or another partner.

Radisson Rewards is another option, requiring a minimum transfer of just three Amex points.  Hilton Honors requires a minimum transfer of 200 points.

Another option, if you are closing a Gold or Platinum American Express card to avoid the annual fee, is to get the FREE American Express Rewards Credit Card.  Holding this card will keep your Membership Rewards balance alive after you have closed your Gold or Platinum. You can learn more about the Amex Rewards Credit Card in this article.

Using small numbers of Virgin Points

Virgin Flying Club

Lufthansa Miles & More

Using Emirates Skywards miles for Arsenal tickets

Emirates Skywards

Etihad Guest

Etihad is a partner with Amex Membership Rewards which lets you top up your account to a suitable level.

You can also cash out via the Etihad Guest Rewards Card / PointsPay.  This is an impressive scheme for small balances which I have used – you get 0.55p per point, delivered as a ‘virtual Visa’ card number.  There is no excuse for having an unused Etihad balance.  I wrote more about Points Pay here.

Use small amounts of SAS Eurobonus miles

SAS EuroBonus

You can redeem SAS points for Radisson and Park Inn hotels, Scandic Hotels, First Hotels, Best Western (selected countries only) amongst other hotel offers – see here.  You can also redeem points for lounge access.

Expiring points, from just 1000, can be donated to charity.

SAS EuroBonus is also an American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner if you need to top-up your account..

Apologies for the lack of Flying Blue coverage but this scheme is really not my strong point!  Please leave any further suggestions or ideas I have missed in the comments below.

Remember that Part 1 of this article, which shows how to use up or top up hotel loyalty points, is here.

Comments (9)

  • Bobster says:

    Flying Blue: All points are currently protected until end 2020 (due to Covid). This could be extended but if it isn’t their standard and rather strict rules will subsequently apply (basically points expire after 2 years unless a flight is taken).

    Options to spend seem limited to the two Air France online shops.

    Other thoughts welcome…I’m sat on 25k points. Not enough to help with flights for a family; not that we would fly at the moment anyway.

    • E says:

      I have a similar problem (sitting on about 30000). I’d thought I’d have to make a booking for a flight late next year and hope I still wanted to take it. My points were due to expire at the end of this month so the extension hasn’t really helped me. I’m hoping they extend expiry.

  • oliver says:

    SAS also have a decent charitable giving page (unlike BA which appears to have lost all of theirs). You can even use low numbers of miles to offset your emissions via Vi Skogen (agroforestry NGO working in East Africa).

  • Ian says:

    I would not agree with throwing away the Tesco clubcard – most of their offers are now reliant upon having a clubcard – so whilst the points may not go up the savings will.

  • Sambe says:

    Ah I was hoping for Flying Blue tips. It currently seems they are insistent on not extending their expiry past the end of this year and it’s rather hard to take a qualifying flight from the UK (without quarantine or double quarantine). They refused to accept my partner airline flight pre-COVID so I’m sitting on a few hundred quid of points about to become worthless. I guess Accor is the main (bad value) option?

  • JohnT says:

    United Airlines allows use of points to book hotel rooms and can pay a few $ if rate+tax more than the exact balance. As with all these anything better than losing them.

  • Annie says:

    Thank you for this. I had quite a few Emirates Skywards points due to expire soon. I did not want to buy any of the stuff in their shop so thought I was just going to lose them. Now I can have a treat next time I go through Heathrow. So easy and in the account instantly.