Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Which is the best hotel loyalty programme for earning Avios points?

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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 is 5:1 into Avios.  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.

Hotel

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 based on net spend, ie without VAT:

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 – $3,840  (€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 – $4,545

10,000 Avios requires 50,000 IHG Rewards points.  You earn 10 points per $1 plus a 10% bonus for being Gold Elite (requires 10 nights).

World of Hyatt – $4,545

10,000 Avios requires 25,000 World of Hyatt points.  You earn 5.5 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.

Conclusion

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 were, pre covid, more aggressive in terms of running bonus point promotions.  This is not the case at the moment but it may swing back in 2022.

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 credit cards

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:

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points, such as:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

We also recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

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.)

Comments (13)

  • Ian says:

    Surely with double or triple points available at Hilton currently, their figure is much lower.

    You say Hilton are not running a points bonus, but they are.

    • Paul Pogba says:

      but many hotel chains have bonus schemes throughout the year, how would you reflect that? An article that ranks the best hotel programme based on promotions that might not run again wouldn’t be that useful.

      • Dev says:

        You got o use base numbers! Bonuses are frequent but cannot be relied upon!

        Another element you could add is the extra miles you would get from a co-brand credit card as that is a realistic scenario. Not sure if they change the numbers much!

        • Genghis says:

          Adding co-brand card points could make the numbers worse in some cases, ie legacy HH Visa pays 3 HH / £1 = 1p / £, vs say if the person has a BAPP earning 1.5 avios / £ = 1.5 p (or floor of 1.2p) / £ meaning a min of -0.2p. Gets v confusing and individual v quickly.

          • Dev says:

            My bad … I meant using BonVoy card for
            Marriott, Hilton cars for Hilton, IHG card for IHG, etc. That’s realistic enough to add as a second figure, surely?

            Agree that any other card scenarios would get way too complex!

  • WaynedP says:

    Agreed.

    Factoring in co-brand ccards only works if you stick to one exclusively, e.g. Amex Marriott Bonvoy which does enhance Marriott analysis above.

    But if you use more than one ccard for your finite annual spend, then there’s an individual opportunity cost to using one card above another.

    Rob’s article provides a good “base option” starting point, but each of us needs to do our own further analysis based on own financial choices.

    • Russ says:

      Generally agree. It may also depend on which is harder for you to accumulate; enough points for travel or enough points for hotel stays. Then at the least you’d have to consider your status with a chain and if they have a credit card they’ll let you have.

  • Doug M says:

    My intention is to always use the points in the program that issued them. Anything else becomes too complex to care about. The exception was switching a number of Virgin to Hilton as a safeguard against Virgin failing.

  • ayearinmx says:

    Hotels.com gives 6 Avios per £1 (no rewards) or 3 Avios per £1 (with rewards)… so that means you only need to spend £1667 (or £3333)…. Booking.com is also 6 for £1 I believe….

    • mr_jetlag says:

      And you get just under 10% back on the rewards programme.

  • FatherOfFour says:

    Is it the case that some chains will give points on bookings made via booking agents (eg business bookings) and some will only offer points if the stay is booked directly?

  • mr_jetlag says:

    many (most) will not give points for any bookings not made directly with the hotel. Exceptions for specific agent channels eg Virtuoso.

    • FatherOfFour says:

      That’s what I thought. I pick up IHG points on work stays, but am not expecting Hilton points on my BAH booking. Therefore, it could be argued that it is easier to accrue IHG points. I guess the assumption of Rob’s article is that it is personal spend.

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