Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How to use small orphan amounts of frequent flyer miles and hotel points – Part 2

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This is the second part of the updated article I began two weeks ago, discussing the best ways to ‘zero out’ loyalty card accounts which you want to abandon.  You need to remember that you may first need to ‘top off’ an account by earning a few more points before you can reach the smallest redemption level.

Part 1 looked at how to use unwanted points in hotel schemes.  Today I look at some of the major European airline schemes and Tesco Clubcard.  I have not covered Avios as Head for Points readers are generally keener to build those up – and if you did want to bail out, the obvious route is to convert them to Nectar and go on a spending spree at Argos, Sainsburys or eBay to get 0.8p per Avios.

Using small numbers of Tesco Clubcard points

Tesco Clubcard (points convert to Virgin Points)

If you have multiple cards in your name, try to get them up to 150 points using extra points coupons or offers.  150 points is the trigger to receive vouchers or allow in-app points conversion.  You can then chuck the card.

Tesco can also merge accounts together if you contact them.

American Express Membership Rewards

If you are closing your American Express card and emptying out your Membership Rewards account, you will discover that transfers to Avios are in multiples of 1,000.  If this leaves you with 1-999 spare points, get a Nectar account and transfer the exact balance there.  There is no minimum conversion into Nectar.

Radisson Rewards is another option, requiring a minimum transfer of just three Amex points.  Hilton Honors requires a minimum transfer of 200 points.

Another option, if you are closing a Gold or Platinum American Express card to avoid the annual fee, is to get the FREE American Express Rewards Credit Card.  Holding this card will keep your Membership Rewards balance alive after you have closed your Gold or Platinum. You can learn more about the Amex Rewards Credit Card in this article.

Using small numbers of Virgin Points

Virgin Flying Club / Virgin Points

Lufthansa Miles & More

Using Emirates Skywards miles for Arsenal tickets

Emirates Skywards

Etihad Guest

Etihad is a partner with Amex Membership Rewards which lets you top up your account to a suitable level.

You can also cash out via the Etihad Guest Rewards Card / PointsPay.  This is an impressive scheme for small balances which I have used – you used to get 0.55p per point, delivered as a ‘virtual Visa’ card number.  There is no excuse for having an unused Etihad balance.  I wrote more about Points Pay here although I haven’t run the numbers for some time on the current value.

Use small amounts of SAS Eurobonus miles

SAS EuroBonus

You can redeem SAS points for Radisson and Park Inn hotels, Scandic Hotels, First Hotels, Best Western (selected countries only) amongst other hotel offers – see here.  You can also redeem points for lounge access.

Expiring points, from just 1000, can be donated to charity.

SAS EuroBonus is also an American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner if you need to top-up your account..

Apologies for the lack of Flying Blue coverage but this scheme is really not my strong point.  The obvious way to cash out of Flying Blue miles is by transferring them into Accor Live Limitless hotel points in chunks of 4,500.  Please leave any further suggestions or ideas I have missed in the comments below.

Remember that Part 1 of this article, which shows how to use up or top up hotel loyalty points, is here.


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – October 2022 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

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

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER), £200 travel credit and unbeatable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.

Barclaycard Select Cashback credit card

1% cashback and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (31)

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

  • Njb says:

    How can I transfer skywards mikes to amex – I can only find how to do it the other way?

    • Blair Waldorf Salad says:

      You can’t. You’re limited to Emirates partners.

  • Njb says:

    *miles !!

  • cariocaseb says:

    Hey Rob, what I did already twice this year was getting expired LH miles reimbursed through Swapi. Not sure whether they continue to expand that proposition to other Airline FFPs or hotel schemes as well, but maybe that’s at least sthg for those schemes that let points expire, and at least you can utilise them through Swapi (once reinstated there) against a wide range of redemption options.

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

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