Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Is Accor Live Limitless the best hotel loyalty scheme? (Part 1)

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This is the first of our overview series on the major hotel loyalty programmes, which hasn’t been updated for almost two years. Each scheme will be covered over two articles on consecutive days. One will list the basic facts of the scheme – basically ‘How does Accor Live Limitless work?‘ – and the other will be my subjective view of what is of particular merit. Articles on the other major programmes will follow over the next five weekends.

Accor Live Limitless covers 5,300 hotels globally.  Folowing an acquisition spree over the last few years, the group now has 43 brands which is more than any other chain:

  • the ‘legacy’ brands include Pullman, Sofitel, Mercure, Novotel and Ibis
  • recent acquisitions have added Fairmont, Swissotel, Movenpick, Banyan Tree, Gleneagles, Hoxton, Delano, Mondrian and Raffles amongst others (not all of which are part of the loyalty scheme)
  • other brands, often with only a couple of sites, include Faena, Jo+Joe, SLS, Rixos, M Gallery, Peppers, 25 Hours, Mama Shelter, Tribe and Greet

The home page for the programme is here. The full list of Accor brands is here.

Accor Live Limitless review

What is the geographic spread?

Accor has the largest number of non-US hotels of any chain.

The group is well represented throughout the UK at all price points, including The Savoy which is managed by Fairmont. Gleneagles in Scotland and the Hoxton chain joined the Accor fold in 2021 but are not yet available for earning or redeeming points.

Regular travellers are most likely to come into contact with them via the Sofitel at Heathrow Terminal 5 and at Gatwick.  There is also a low key but impressive Sofitel in St James in Central London pictured further down.

The chain is poorly represented in North America. 

Historically Accor was not well represented in the luxury segment. This has improved sharply with acquisitions such as Banyan Tree, Delano, Swissotel, Raffles and Fairmont.

What are the elite levels in Accor Live Limitless?

Accor Live Limitless has four elite levels, with a new Diamond tier added at the time that ALL was launched:

  • Silver – requires 10 nights or 2,000 points (€800 of eligible spend). Benefits are ‘priority welcome’, late check-out if available and a welcome drink and a 25% point bonus.
  • Gold – requires 30 nights or 7,000 points (€2,800 of eligible spend). Additional benefits include a room upgrade if available, late check-out or early check-in if available and a 50% point bonus.
  • Platinum – requires 60 nights or 14,000 points (€5,600 of eligible spend). Additional benefits include executive lounge access if available, Suite Night Awards and a 75% point bonus.
  • Diamond – requires 26,000 points (€10,400 of eligible spend). Additional benefits include complimentary breakfast on weekends, 10 Dining & Spa Rewards per year worth €10 each and the ability to gift Gold Status to a friend. You receive a 75% points bonus.
Is Accor Live Limitless the best hotel loyalty scheme?

This HfP article compares the number of nights or spending required to earn top-tier hotel status. It is easier to earn Accor Platinum status, either by nights or by spend, than it is to earn comparable benefits from Hilton Diamond, Hyatt Globalist, IHG Diamond Elite or Marriott Platinum.

Accor allows you to earn points from two rooms per night – click the link for full details. Importantly, it is the ONLY major chain which allows you to earn credit towards elite status from multiple rooms. Other hotel schemes will give you points towards free nights for multiple rooms, but not points towards status. I earned Accor Diamond status via this route when we booked two rooms at the Fairmont in Barbados in 2021.

Platinum status was, until 2016, given free to American Express Platinum card holders.  The removal of this benefit was a big loss for American Express as Accor was the only chain to offer free top tier status to cardholders. American Express Platinum continues to gift Hilton Gold, Marriott Gold, Radisson Premium and Melia Gold status to cardholders.

You can still get ‘free’ Accor Live Limitless Gold status as a benefit of purchasing the ibis Business card for £65This article covers the ibis Business card benefits. If you are planning an expensive Accor stay, it might make sense to buy this first due to the value of the Gold elite status bonus you would get on future trips.

Suite upgrades – at the time of booking – were introduced when Accor Live Limitless replaced Le Club AccorHotels. They were very hard to use until recently, when it became possible to book online. This was a big step forward and made them far more valuable. The number you receive each year as an elite member is driven by your spending.

Accor is the only major hotel chain to offer soft landings with elite status. If you do not retain your status you only drop by one level.

Full details of elite benefits can be found here.

Accor does not offer lifetime status.

Sofitel St James hotel

How do you earn Accor Live Limitless points?

Accor does not have a typical ‘earning and burning’ structure. Spending is totally revenue based with no opportunity for arbitrage.

Non-status members earn 2.5 points for every €1 spent at the hotel at most brands. On the Accor website, this is often described as a 5% rebate.

Lower earning rates apply at Ibis, Ibis Styles, Mama Shelter, Mantra, Peppers, Breakfree, Art Series, Adagio, Jo&Joe and Greet. Some brands do not participate in Accor Live Limitless at all.

Here is the official earning chart (click to enlarge) which includes the elite bonus. In terms of earning status points, what counts is what a ‘Classic’ member receives as you can see from the bottom row.

This is what you earn per €10, oddly, so divide by €10 to get points per €1 spent.

Accor earning chart

There are a few other partners where you can earn points.  Relevant ones for a UK resident are Europcar, Club Eurostar (you can convert points both in and out) and ClubOpinions market research surveys. There is also an online shopping portal called Accor Collections.

Most importantly:

You can only register for one of these airline partnerships, and you cannot change your selection for 12 months. For the majority of our readers, you would want to register for the Qatar Airways partnership. You can transfer the Avios from Qatar Privilege Club to British Airways Executive Club via this process.

This HfP article looks at the full list of ‘two way’ airline partnerships run by Accor Live Limitless. Accor is the ONLY major hotel chain which lets you convert airline miles into their points.

In general, it is far harder to earn Accor points without staying in their hotels than it is with IHG, Hilton or Marriott.

Accor Live Limitless review

What are Accor Live Limitless points worth?

We have an article dedicated to working out what Accor Live Limitless points are worth which you can find here.

Unsurprisingly, given the revenue based nature of redemptions, our mid-point valuation is 2 Eurocents. You can only beat this by redeeming for event tickets.

How do you spend Accor Live Limitless points?

For every 2,000 points you collect, you can redeem for €40 of Accor credit. The primary use of this is to redeem in Accor hotels.

At the core brands, you are effectively receiving cashback (in Accor credit) of 5% as base member, rising up to 8.8% for Platinum members.

If you don’t want to spend your credit in an Accor hotel, there are a small number of other options such as Europcar.  Sports tickets (for example French Open Tennis, or events at the Accor Arena in Paris) are occasionally made available for points. In London, you can redeem points for events at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith. In recent years there have been excellent value redemptions for tastings at the Taste of London food festival.

Accor has partnerships with British Airways and another with Iberia which allow you to transfer your Accor points into Avios.  Weirdly, BA and Iberia have different exchange rates.  Swapping your points to Avios with BA gives you a 2 to 1 rate whilst doing so with Iberia gets you a far better 1 to 1 transfer rate.  Of course, what you should do is convert to Iberia and then move your Avios from Iberia Plus to British Airways Executive Club using the ‘Combine My Avios’ function.

Think carefully before you do this, however.  Because you could use your points for an Accor voucher instead, you are effectively paying 2 Eurocents per Avios (2,000 Accor points = €40 or 2,000 Iberia Plus Avios). This is very expensive and you would be better off using the points for a hotel stay if possible.

Does Accor Live Limitless run bonus point offers?

The group does not run the sort of regular, back to back, global promotions that we have come to expect from Marriott, Hilton and IHG.  You cannot book an Accor property and automatically expect to be able to take advantage of an offer.

A typical Accor promotion will involve earning double points by booking numerous 2+ night stays during a fixed period, with stays needing to be booked well in advance to qualify. They are not hugely flexible.

See our ‘Hotel Offers‘ page for any current global offers.

Accor Live Limitless review

Do Accor Live Limitless points expire?

Your points will expire exactly 12 months from your last activity.

If you do not have a stay planned, you could eat or drink at an Accor hotel, buy something via the Accor Collections online shopping portal (it can take 2-3 months for points to credit) or transfer in some points from Eurostar, Qatar Privilege Club or Flying Blue.

You can learn more about how to stop Accor Live Limitless points expiring in this article.

Can you upgrade Accor hotels using points?

No – except to the extent that you negotiate a better room for cash at check-in and then use your Accor credit to pay for it.

Are ‘cash and points’ redemptions available?

Yes, to the extent that you can part-pay your room with Accor credit whilst paying cash for the balance.

Can you transfer Accor Live Limitless points to airline miles?

Accor points can be transferred to a number of airlines.

Uniquely among major hotel programmes, Accor has different exchange rates for different airlines. British Airways is 2:1 whilst Iberia is 1:1 so you should ALWAYS move your Accor points to Iberia Plus. You can then use ‘Combine My Avios’ to move them to your British Airways account.

Because you could use your points for an Accor voucher instead, you are effectively paying 2 Eurocents per Avios (2,000 Accor points = €40 or 2,000 Iberia Plus Avios). This is very expensive and you would be better off using the points for a hotel stay if possible.

Accor Live Limitless reviewed

Can I earn Avios directly without collecting points?

Yes, see ba.com here. You can earn Avios by showing your British Airways Executive Club card at check-in. The amount will depend on which brand you are staying with – it is 1.25 Avios per €1 with the upper end brands.

You will not earn any Accor Live Limitless points. However, you must still be a member of Accor Live Limitless in order to do this.

What are the Accor Live Limitless UK credit card partnerships?

Can you get elite status with a UK credit card?  No – but you can buy an ibis Business loyalty card for £65 which comes with Gold status.

Is there an Accor credit card in the UK?  No

Is Accor an American Express Membership Rewards partner?  No. In theory you could transfer to Avios at 1:1, move them to Qatar Privilege Club at 1:1 and then transfer to Accor at 4:1 but this is a massive loss of value.  The same applies to routing American Express points to Club Eurostar or Flying Blue.

Purchasing and transferring Accor points

You cannot purchase Accor points.  This is not surprising, given that in most cases they can only be redeemed for a fixed cash value of 2 Eurocents each.

My opinion

Part Two of this article – click here – gives my personal opinion of Accor Live Limitless.


Accor Live Limitless update – January 2023:

Earn bonus Accor points: Accor is not currently running a global promotion

New to Accor Live Limitless?  Read our review of Accor Live Limitless here and our article on points expiry rules here. Our analysis of what Accor Live Limitless points are worth is here.

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

Comments (21)

  • WaynedP says:

    “You can only register for one of these airline partnerships, and you cannot change your selection for 12 months. For the majority of our readers, you would want to register for the Qatar Airways partnership.“

    Not sure I agree, given it only works for QR if you credit your flight to Privilege Club (thereby foregoing the TPs of crediting to BAEC).

    Personally, I would opt for the AF/KLM partnership for earning Accor points when flying AF/KLM and crediting flights to Virgin Airmiles as I would always credit QR flights to BAEC and never earn Accor points on QR flights as a result.

    • RussellH says:

      Not at all sure what you are getting it here, Wayne, but surely the two options are earning a few avios via Qatar, or a few Flying Blue miles from one’s Accor stays.
      The avios can then be moved to BAEC quite simply. TPs do not come into the reckoning.

      FB miles are of no value to me at all – I have never been on AF, and once on KLM. Most of the FB miles I have earned have been from the original Accor-KLM link, but after a few years I still only had 627. At least, though, FB allowed me to transfer 500 miles to Médecins sans Frontières.

      I cannot see me ever flying on Qatar, but earlier this month I swapped to Accor-Qatar Privilege Club because the few avios I shall earn next weekend from an Ibis Styles stay can be moved to BAEC where I have enough to be potentially useful.

      • WaynedP says:

        I see your point, which explains Rob’s comment written in the context of a primary focus on “points from stays” and secondary mention of airline program affiliation.

        My own perspective is one of being more likely to jump on an attractive business class AF/KLM fare in the next two years and earning incidental Accor points rather than booking a points-earning stay with Accor, given my own certain Silver BAEC status until January 2025 and my having skin in the game to various degrees with Marriott, IHG & Hilton (but none with Accor).

        Anyone in that, or similar, position would likely credit any Qatar flights to BAEC (for extra lifetime TPs and enhanced possibility of achieving Gold), leaving the only route to gaining any Accor points being from signing up to the AF/KLM partnership.

        • Rob says:

          You’re looking at this wrong, assuming you stay at Accor occasionally.

          When you do the hotel stay you ALSO earn Avios or Flying Blue miles, depending on what you chose. I just got a couple of thousand from St Andrews. Most HfP readers have little use for FB miles (except to convert them BACK into Accor which is what I did after my 2021 Barbados stay) but now you can get Avios in Qatar and move them to BA to spend.

          And, if you had the odd AF/KLM flight, you can credit that to Virgin.

  • Go197 says:

    I find prices booking at Accor direct are very often much higher than at other booking sites. They have a best rate guarantee but I don’t trust those – the small print gives them too many escape routes, such as the cancellation cut off being 4pm instead of 6pm or some other trivial difference. You have to be very very careful.

    They also have a confusing array of paid routes to gain status and discounts:

    – Ibis business gives you Gold everywhere and a 10% discount at Ibis
    – Accor Business Plus costs twice as much (150GBP), gives you 15% off at all brands, but does not give you any status
    – Accor Plus gives you one free night, 10% off rooms and 50% off dining, but all only for hotels in Asia. It also gives you Silver status. The price shows as $295 if I use a VPN set to UK, but here in Thailand it’s showing me 7400THB which is about185GBP

    Three options which very different benefits. The dearest gives Silver and a free night, the middle gives no status, and the cheapest gives Gold!

  • 1nfrequent says:

    I have said it before, but while there are problems with the Accor scheme (customer service support being the biggest issue for me), I find that this scheme works for me. They have a good mix of hotel types and strong geographical spread in the UK and Europe so I can usually find a decent hotel in a good location for a reasonable price. I’m currently Gold (went down from Platinum last year). I get upgraded about 80% of the time, which I’m happy with because I always pay for the room I’m happy to stay in in any event. This is usually on the basis that I am a single traveller.

    When I was Platinum I had the suite upgrade, which I found easy to use on line. I’m not a big suite person – nice to have but not a necessity so I enjoyed it but it’s not a big draw for me.

    The one thing I would add, is that if you’re paying for stays yourself in the UK, then Accor tends to have the best discounts on Topcashback. Obviously TCB has its own issues but I have a 99% success rate getting that cash back and it can be up to 15% off the price. Given that the Accor properties are generally competitive with other chains, the TCB cash back is normally what tips me over.

    I get this is not for everyone and I’m not claiming that it is, but I thought I’d share because I have generally been very satisfied with it and would pay for the Ibis business card to retain Gold if I didn’t earn it.

    1F

  • Kevin C says:

    Did a couple of Fairmont hotels in Quebec last year and so went down the ibis business route to become gold. Neither hotel was booked direct.

    At the Queen Elizabeth Montreal (booked through Amex on a 3 for 2) we were given welcome drink vouchers which we could use on anything including cocktails. We also got free upgraded internet.

    At the Le Manoir Richelieu (booked through an OTA at about half the cost Accor were quoting) we didn’t get welcome drinks but were allowed a late checkout.

    At neither hotel did I get a single Accor point for incidental spend, which presumably is company policy on third party bookings.

  • Guernsey Globetrotter says:

    The Ibis business card Gold status route can also be gamed slightly in that if you are only interested in Gold status and not so much in the 10% discount at Ibis properties then if you pay in January for one year (so the card expires in January the following year) then you get Gold status for 2 calendar years or £32.50 per annum. Makes it worth it if you stay for a couple of nights a year imho: At LGW Sofitel last night we got upgraded from basic level room (no breakfast) to a Luxury room with club lounge access ( free drinks, canapés, cheese & biscuits & other nibbles). Free breakfast too although we didn’t need as headed to BA First lounge courtesy of One World Emerald status. The stay will earn about 2,000 points (€40 value) with the triple points promo. 1,250 Avios also via BA Portal. We keep the points to use for Experience redemptions (had a Chelsea Flower Show Raymond Blanc experience a few years ago that was incredible value). If you regularly fly out of LGW or LHR with overnight stays (which we do from Guernsey) then you can get good value from Accor as you can’t beat the Sofitels for convenience 😎

    • Rob says:

      Yes, shame those Chelsea packages were only for one year. Part of the reason I took points from our monster Barbados stay was because it would have easily funded a Chelsea package – which then never appeared.

    • Rob says:

      Good point. Might update our article on this, as its January.

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