Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

When is it worth transferring hotel loyalty points to frequent flyer miles?

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All of the major hotel points currencies allow you to transfer your points into airline miles.  You will often find the airlines encouraging it – every 9-10 months, pre covid, British Airways offered a 25% to 35% transfer bonus when you moved hotel points into Avios.

Today, I wanted to consider if it ever makes sense to transfer hotel points to airline miles.

In general, hotel points are best redeemed for hotel stays.

How many Avios would you get for the points cost of a £250 hotel night?

Let’s look at the points I expect you would need for a redemption valued at roughly £250 a night:

Hilton Honors – 80,000-90,000 points = 8,000-9,000 Avios

IHG Rewards – 60,000-70,000 points = 12,000-14,000 Avios

Accor Live Limitless – 15,000 points (for €300 voucher) = 15,000 Avios in Iberia Plus or 7,500 Avios in British Airways Executive Club

Marriott Bonvoy – 60,000 points = 25,000 Avios (rate is 3:1 but you get a 5,000 Avios bonus for converting 60,000 points, I took Category 7 as being equivalent to a £250 hotel)

MeliaRewards – 28,000 points = 8,400 Avios

Radisson Rewards – 70,000 points = 7,000 Avios

World of Hyatt – 30,000 points = 12,000 Avios

When is it worth transferring hotel loyalty points to frequent flyer miles?

With the exception of Marriott Bonvoy, where converting to miles is not a bad deal (you get 25,000 Avios for the points usually required for a £250 hotel room), you are generally better leaving large stashes of hotel points where they are.

Assuming you value Avios at 1p each, you are lucky to get 50% of the value of the equivalent hotel room and often a lot worse.

Marriott Bonvoy is the only scheme where I could justify moving my points into airline miles although I would only do this if I needed the miles immediately.

Of course, personal choice also plays a part.

You generally get the best value from hotel points in expensive cities like London or New York.  If your travels take you more to Lyon or Newcastle then your hotel points may be worth less to you.  If you also find yourself just a few Avios short of an award, transferring from a hotel programme may be a better deal than buying Avios from British Airways at 1.6p.

If you only have a small amount of hotel points, it is a different game. Apart from IHG Rewards, which is moving to revenue-based pricing and does now have rooms for 10,000 points at times, and Hilton Honors, where you can now use as few as 5,000 points for a cash discount on your next booking, small balances in hotel programmes can be of little use.

A few years ago I tidied up some of my small hotel balances by converting a lot to Avios, often topping up first from American Express Membership Rewards, and didn’t regret it.  If you will never earn enough for a free room, you might as well convert.

Expiry dates can also be an issue and can prompt a transfer out.

Hotels points can be a way to build an airline balance away from Avios

The other thing to remember is that the hotel chains convert to many airlines, often over 20.  Marriott Bonvoy has over 40 airline partners.  Perhaps you will get more value converting to another scheme?

Marriott Bonvoy is often the only UK partner for a lot of niche airline programmes and the Marriott Bonvoy American Express the only way to earn their miles via daily spend as a UK resident.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

40,000 bonus points (SPECIAL OFFER) and 15 elite night credits Read our full review

Final thought. You can transfer IHG Rewards points to someone else for $5 per 1000, Hilton Honors points for free via the Points Pooling option and Marriott Bonvoy points for free if you call.

Perhaps a transfer to someone who can use a larger total to reach the target they need for a hotel room is a better deal than a handful of Avios for yourself.

Hotel offers update – October 2022:

Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.

Want to buy hotel points? There are no special offers currently running for buying hotel points.

Comments (6)

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

  • NigelthePensioner says:

    The thing is – What room type are you getting for your base requirement points? If you book with points or expedia or xyz (inc, you will surely get an inner courtyard view of the extractor fans of the kitchen. If you want an exec room with lounge access etc or a suite, then either it will not be available with points or the points required will be hugely more than the banner rate. Do you want to stay at a Marriott group resort in the Maldives? Research for the Maldives is essential to see what you will get vs what you really expect or want for such a destination.
    Im not a fan of hotel redemptions as you can tell, preferring to transfer them to am airline loyalty scheme. Most seem to transfer to either BA or Virgin.

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      You got to have a tactical approach to this. Staying alone or for a stopover or near airport? Basic room should suffice and will help you avoid last min cash price markup. Staying with family or for a longer period? Pay to upgrade – usually costs less to pay at check in. For the hotel, it’s effectively full profit as their cost doesn’t increase much. Negotiate and you might be able to get some non-cash benefits like late checkout. Obviously depends if it’s peak season or not.

      • Russ says:

        it depends what’s important to you. there is always going to be the concern you may get a less than desired room whilst with flying you are more likely to get what you paid for.

  • BJ says:

    Surprised there is no mention of the potential impact of the imminent Bonvoy switch to revenue-based rewards. While it seems likely nothing will change with respect to airline transfers in the short term things might do so further down the road, perhaps next year when the new Bonvoy changes are fully in place. Given this uncertainty, anybody dithering on Bonvoy to airline transfers might want to trigger them now while they are certain of what they are getting.

    5000point Hilton and 10000 point IHG awards are mentioned but 5000-12500 point Bonvoy awards are not. I would guess that there are comparable, or perhaps even more, Bonvoy opportunities at the low points level than there is for the other two chains, not least because they have many more hotels overall and presence in markets where room rates are not so high.

  • Lady London says:

    Are Iberia and BAEC estimated points the right way round in the article? I have only had one small coffee this morning though

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

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