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Is Accor Live Limitless the best hotel loyalty scheme? (Part 2)

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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

How does Accor Live Limitless work?

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 milesYou 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.

Accor Live Limitless update – August 2022:

Earn bonus Accor points: Accor is not currently running a global promotion

New to Accor Live Limitless?  Read our overview of Accor Live Limitless here and our article on points expiry rules here. Our analysis of what Accor Live Limitless points are worth is here.

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.

Comments (34)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Lou says:

    Can you use the gold status from the Ibis card to status match to Hilton?

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      I would of thought so.

    • Zana says:

      I’m not sure that Hilton would accept it, purely because Hilton would want to see a list of your stays in Accor. I did successfully do a status match with Accor Platinum to Hilton Diamond a few years ago but Hilton wanted to see my Accor statement for all the nights (and properties) that I stayed at Accor properties to qualify for Platinum. If one just purchased the Ibis card to get Gold, then you’re likely not going to have the list of stays to backup your status – I think Hilton would just decline the status match.

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        I’m sure with Hilton status matching you have to submit evidence of atleast one stay as standard.

  • Peter says:

    Anyone had experience of a bulk one transfer to Iberia? I started the process 100k from Accor to Iberia over a month ago. Got the email confirming it would take up to 6 weeks and still nothing.
    I will chase this week.

    • Peter K says:

      If they said it would take up to six weeks, then why not wait until the 6 weeks are up?

      • Peter says:

        I was asking if anyone had tried, upto 6 weeks could mean 2 weeks or 6. Real life experience would help

    • Red Flyer says:

      I did Bonboy to Iberia last week but no timeline given and still not showing up in IB account.

  • ankomonkey says:

    Status must be earned the hard way and no arbitrage opportunities with the points means no fun for points collectors. There is no game to play. Add in the naff customer service and you have the least engaging loyalty scheme out there.

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      Except by Amex Plat route, Ibis card, creation cards etc?

    • Lady London says:

      Indeed. Accor’s inadequate customer service is a big issue and a reason never to invest in them

  • Jk says:

    I quite like their hotels, the quality across Asia was very high. However the customer support is absolutely awful – to the point where it felt deliberately obtuse. Add in the other issues with the program as highlighted by Rob above, meant I ended up booking them via rocket etc and forgoing status for points up front.

    • Tim says:

      What do you expect?! It’s the French! Which credit card company has the best customer service? Creation of course! Which energy company is the best? EDF! Stupid!! 🙂

  • Zoe says:

    I have found my Flying Blue counter resets incrementally.
    I have just lost some miles that I presume I earnt 2 years ago and the remainder in my account will expire 31/12/2021.
    I had stayed in Accor hotels using the double dip hoping to keep my Flying Blue account active but I think this can only be done by taking a flight.

  • Andrew says:

    I hope the new owners of Gleneagles do a bit of a refresh of the estate. The “front end” looks great, but for those of us who are regular visitors to Auchterarder (always use the station flyover of the A9 at the South End if you value your life), the back area really needs a deep clean and paint.

    Heading towards Gleneagles by train or car, from the south, you might notice a mysterious building on the horizon. It’s one of UKs only six-star hotels – and has never opened to the public. It’s mothballed until Scotland achieves independence and becomes a tax haven

    Read about it here:-

    • RussellH says:

      Thanks very much for that!
      I worked in Auchterarder from 1981 to 1999, so am always interested in news from the area.

    • Paul Pogba says:

      Fascinating on so many levels. How could anyone think an independent Scotland could become a tax haven when it has a budget deficit and its largest companies would leave if it left the Union?

  • LostAntipod says:

    I was a platinum member for about a decade. Enjoyed some excellent upgrades, free welcome drink, that sort of thing, mostly in Sofitel and MGallery of which the Asian ones have been outstanding. So I was quite a fan. When querying points balances or having an issue with a booking, the member service channels and online help desks are regularly exasperating, however.

  • Tim says:

    The word arbitrage comes up a lot on this site, and whilst I appreciate its use, technically it’s only arbitrage if you find for example, a hotel room at £200, but can buy points for £175, and do so in one transaction. Using a stash of saved points to book a hotel room isn’t really arbitrage in my book, though with the continued implied use on this site, maybe even OED will update their definition! 🙂

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      You are looking at the cost element, while others look at value. There are two sides to a coin.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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