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 One 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.
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, and assume you have whatever status comes with doing 20 one-night stays per year.
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 – $3,290 (€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).
IHG One Rewards – $3,571
10,000 Avios requires 50,000 IHG One Rewards points. You earn 10 points per $1 plus a 40% bonus for being Gold Elite (requires 20 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).
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.
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 One Rewards were, pre covid, more aggressive in terms of running bonus point promotions. It remains to be seen if this is the case, but it’s worth noting that, as of today, the only chains running promotions are Hilton and IHG (click for our list of all current promos).
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. This should always be done via Nectar Hotels (0.8p per Avios) and never via the British Airways hotel booking portal (0.55p per Avios).
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (October 2022)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous 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:
There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.
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.
Run your own business?
We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,000 Avios.
You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.
There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.