I thought it was about time to revise and update the lists I first published in 2012 about the best way to use up small amounts of miles and points.
What I want to explore is ‘What is the smallest or most optimum small reward, and how can you ‘top-off’ an account?’. Please join in the discussion with your ideas in the Comments section, and I will add in any additional ideas.
Today I will look at hotel loyalty schemes. Part 2 – coming in a day or so – will focus on some airline and shopping schemes. Click on the links to read relevant Head for Points articles on the topic mentioned.
In all cases below except Accor, there is a formal ‘buy points’ option you can use to get to the level you need for a redemption. This page (click) has links to the ‘buy points’ pages of the major airline and hotel schemes. However, I try to find more creative ideas that don’t involve spending money.
Note: I give links below to the expiry policies of various hotel programmes. These rules may have temporarily changed due to coronavirus so please double check.
How to use up Accor Live Limitless points
- EXPIRY RULES – you can check the Accor Live Limitless expiry rules here
- SPEND – you require 2,000 points before you can redeem Accor points for credit towards a future booking. 2,000 points get you a €40 saving. Transfers to airline miles require a minimum of 2,000 points but for Avios you need 3,000 points (Iberia, at 1:1) or 4,000 points (BA, at 2:1).
- SPEND – Accor’s new ‘Experiences’ rewards have some low cost redemptions although there is only one UK option at the moment (Elvis Costello tickets)
- TOP-UP – you can earn points from the ClubOpinions market research scheme
- TOP-UP – various airlines allow you to transfer your miles INTO Accor, including Finnair and Qatar Airways
- TOP-UP – you can earn Accor points when flying on Air France KLM as well as transferring Flying Blue frequent flyer miles into Accor
- TOP-UP – you can transfer Club Eurostar points into Accor Live Limitless
- TOP-UP – you can credit a Europcar car rental to Accor (unless, like me, your Accor account has a letter in the number!)
- TOP-UP – you can earn Accor points by crediting Bicester Village shopping
- TOP-UP – Note that there is no Accor UK credit card
How to use up Hilton Honors points
- EXPIRY RULES – you can check the expiry rules of Hilton Honors points in this article
- SPEND – Remember that ‘cash and points’ bookings can be booked from as few as 5,000 points, so you can use up a small number of points to save money on your next stay
- SPEND – Transfers to airline miles are available from 10,000 Hilton points
- SPEND – You can transfer points to another person for free, using the points pooling option
- SPEND – You can donate points to charity
- TOP-UP – Remember you can top-up from American Express Membership Rewards (1:2). The 20,000 Amex points sign-up bonus offered with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold would get you 40,000 Hilton Honors points.
- TOP-UP – You can top-up from and Virgin Flying Club (2:3) transfers
- TOP-UP – You can credit a car rental
- TOP-UP – You can top-off an account by turning Marriott Bonvoy points into Hilton by transferring via Virgin Flying Club, although there is a loss of value on the way. For example, 60,000 Bonvoy points gets you 25,000 Virgin Points which gets you 37,500 Hilton points.
- TOP-UP – You can top-off an account by turning Tesco Clubcard points into Hilton Honors points by transferring via Virgin Flying Club
- TOP-UP – Note that there is no current Hilton Honors UK credit card which is open to new applications
How to use up IHG One Rewards points
- EXPIRY RULES – you can check the expiry rules for IHG One Rewards points in this article
- SPEND – ‘Cash and Points’ means that you need fewer miles than you think to book an award – you can buy additional points during the booking process
- SPEND – Airline mile redemptions are available from 10,000 points
- SPEND – Plenty of UK High Street retailer gift cards are on offer from £5 per 4,000 points
- SPEND – The IHG Digital Rewards catalogue has downloadable magazines, newspapers, books, games and movies from 600 points
- SPEND – You can pay $5 per 1,000 to transfer orphan IHG One Rewards points to a third party – this is not a bad deal compared to the cost of buying points outright
- TOP-UP – You can top-up with Virgin Flying Club points (10,000 miles minimum, 1:1 rate)
- TOP-UP – You can top-up with Finnair miles (20,000 minimum, 2:1 rate)
- TOP-UP – Note that there is no current IHG One Rewards UK credit card which is open to new applications
How to use up Marriott Bonvoy points
- EXPIRY RULES – you can check the expiry rules for Marriott Bonvoy in this article
- SPEND – Marriott Moments lets you redeem small amounts for tickets to cultural and sporting events
- SPEND – You can transfer up to 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for FREE to another person each year
- SPEND – You can donate 2,500+ points to charity
- SPEND – You can transfer Marriott points to Hilton Honors or IHG One Rewards by routing via Virgin Flying Club, albeit with a loss of value
- SPEND – PointSaver awards and ‘cash and points’ awards mean that you may need fewer than you think for a redemption – although there are very few of these on offer
- SPEND – You can get Marriott to book a cash flight ticket for you via their flight booking service
- SPEND – You can redeem points for a cash credit when staying at a Marriott hotel
- TOP-UP – You can convert Amex Membership Rewards points to Marriott Bonvoy at 2:3. The 20,000 Amex points sign-up bonus offered with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold would get you 30,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.
- TOP-UP – You could get the Marriott Bonvoy American Express credit card which comes with a sign-up bonus of 20,000 Marriott Bonvoy points and earns 2 points per £1 spent (you also get 15 elite nights each year towards Bonvoy status)
- TOP-UP – You can credit a Hertz or Sixt car rental to Marriott
- TOP-UP – United Airlines Silver card holders can transfer their United Airlines MileagePlus miles to Marriott at 1:1. If you are a Bonvoy Titanium member you can get an automatic status match to United’s Silver status.
How to use up Radisson Rewards points
- EXPIRY RULES – You can check the Radisson Rewards expiry rules in this article
- SPEND – Airline transfers are available from just 2,000 points (200 miles)
- SPEND – ‘Points and Cash’ redemptions are often available from 5,000 points although the saving offered over the cash rate is often not huge
- SPEND – Radisson Rewards has a number of charity partners on their website who accept donations of points. The minimum donation is 3,000 points.
- SPEND – Redeeming for a pre-paid Mastercard is poor value but does at least exist as a last resort
- SPEND – Many hotels offer ‘in property’ rewards such as redeeming for meal credit, although if you are doing stays then you are unlikely to be looking to empty your account
- SPEND – You can transfer your Radisson Rewards points – FOR FREE – to another person
- TOP-UP – You can top-off an account with American Express Membership Rewards points at 1:3, with no minimum transfer. The 20,000 Amex points sign-up bonus offered with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold would get you 60,000 Radisson Rewards points.
- TOP-UP – You can credit car rentals from Sixt to Radisson Rewards
- TOP-UP – Note that there is no Radisson Rewards UK credit card
How to use up World of Hyatt points
My preferred small Hyatt reward is the 6,000 points per night suite upgrade. You can also upgrade to Club rooms using points for a small premium.
Hyatt has ‘cash and points’ awards at half of the usual points price so you may have enough for a reward after all. You can also buy Hyatt points. Airline transfers are from 5,000 points.
You can use 2,000 points for a $10 dining or spa credit at a Hyatt hotel – you do not need to be a guest to do this. This is surprisingly good value at the higher levels, eg $1,000 of credit for 65,000 Hyatt points. Another option is to use 6,000 points for a one-day Avis car hire redemption
You can merge your Hyatt points with those of your partner but both accounts need to have had a cash stay in the previous 12 months.
Hyatt is not an American Express Membership Rewards partner.
In Part 2 of this article, which will appear in a day or so, I will look at how to use small amounts of points in some airline and shopping programmes.