In my previous article I outlined ‘the facts’ of the Accor Live Limitless loyalty scheme. This article is my personal opinion, highlighting areas where I think you might want to focus.
The 10-second summary:
Strong points – big global network, decent Platinum benefits at Sofitel including lounge access, elite members generally treated well, luxury options improved with Swissotel / Raffles / Fairmont / Mondrian / Delano acquisitions, Air France KLM partnership lets you earn points whilst flying
Weak points – points have a fixed monetary value so no opportunity for arbitrage, little choice but to redeem for airline miles at poor rates if you don’t want to redeem for a discount on an Accor stay, no credit card partner, no free breakfast for Platinum unless there is a lounge
The longer version:
I think that Accor gets a slightly tough time from Head for Points. Why? Because part of the skill of the miles and points game is arbitrage – redeeming points at places which offer an oversized return. Because Accor has a ‘points equal cash’ structure (2000 points = €40 off), you can’t beat the system.
It also runs very few big global promotions, making it harder to build up your points. The promotions it does run often have very narrow booking windows which makes them tricky to use. Taken together, it means that Accor doesn’t get much editorial coverage.
On a personal level, Accor does not seem to want to work with us – even though we sell chunky numbers of rooms for them – which means that we don’t get access to hotels to review, competition prizes or news on what they are doing.
For the regular guest, though, Accor Live Limitless works well. It is easier to earn Platinum, whether via nights or spend, than top tier in any competing programme.
Once you are Platinum, you are getting 8.8% of your room bill back in Accor vouchers. Spend a working week in a Sofitel running up a £750 bill and you will ‘earn’ £66 for yourself – albeit £66 you need to spend in another Accor hotel.
The benefits – for Platinum members – are also pretty decent at the right properties. At a Sofitel (such as Heathrow Terminal 5 pictured above) you will get lounge access (ie free breakfast, snacks and drinks), an upgrade, late check-out, early check-in AND 8.8% of your room bill back in vouchers. You can’t complain about that. The lack of free breakfast at hotels without a lounge is a negative, however.
Anecdotally, hotels seem to be good at delivering elite benefits. You can’t ‘game’ elite status with Accor – it’s not given away free as a credit card perk – and the hotels know that status guests have earned it via ‘heads in beds’. The only way of getting status easily is by paying £65 for an ibis Business card which comes with Accor Gold status.
My experience of Accor properties is not extensive. However, their UK network is surprisingly good, with Novotel and Mercure hotels in most major business cities. The Sofitel St James in Mayfair is a very impressive UK flagship and a decent place to spend your vouchers if you wanted a break in London. Gleneagles (above), a recent acquisition, will soon become the top UK hotel in Accor Live Limitless.
We have reviewed two new UK Accor hotels in recent years and both were impressive. Novotel Blackfriars (review) has the new contemporary look being rolled out across the chain, and a swimming pool. The ibis Styles at Heathrow (review) is also showcasing a new, modern design – despite “only being an ibis” I think any HfP reader would be happy there.
The new Novotel at Canary Wharf looks impressive. Whilst not reviewed, I enjoyed my stay at Mercure St Paul’s in Sheffield in 2019. Gleneagles, of course, is outstanding. When I was in Dubai in December, we did one night at the new Sofitel The Obelisk near the airport which was exceptionally good.
For the average Head for Points reader, the programme got less valuable when American Express Platinum stopped giving out Accor status as a benefit. For everyone else, the fact that points earned from promotions no longer count towards status following the 2017 changes hit those who earned status the hard way.
One modest loophole is to buy an ibis Business Card for £65 (£119 for two years). This gives automatic Gold status in the AccorHotels scheme.
If Accor Live Limitless was a ‘normal’ loyalty scheme then the addition of Raffles, Fairmont and Swissotel to bulk up the luxury portfolio would have been hugely exciting. Imagine being able to redeem a handful of points for a night at The Savoy in London.
In reality, the revenue-based redemption model meant that the acquisition was welcomed with little more than a shrug, since the number of points required for a free room is huge. You get the same value per point as you’d get at an Ibis.
All that said, it would be unfair to criticise the scheme too much. If you manage to earn Platinum status, stay in brands which have lounges and are happy to use your points for hotel room discounts, it can work out well.
It is also worth flagging the VERY interesting Air France KLM partnership. If you taking an Air France KLM flight, you will earn Accor points AS WELL AS Flying Blue miles. You can learn more about the Flying Blue and Accor partnership here. It also works the other way – when you stay in an Accor hotel, you will earn Flying Blue miles AND Accor points.
As for me, I have my Accor account set up to auto-convert any points I earn into Iberia Plus Avios, at the rate of 1:1. (Do not convert into British Airways Avios as the rate is 2:1, in one of the odder quirks of the miles and points universe.) I use ‘Combine My Avios’ to move them across to my British Airways Executive Club account. I have no interest in stacking up points inside my Accor Live Limitless account.
The Accor Live Limitless website is here if you want to find out more.
Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from Accor and the other major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.
New to Accor Live Limitless? Read our two-part overview of Accor Live Limitless here and here and our article on expiry rules here.