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.
The full series of articles can be found here:
- Review: Is Hilton Honors the best hotel loyalty scheme?
- Review: Is IHG One Rewards the best hotel loyalty scheme?
- Review: Is Marriott Bonvoy the best hotel loyalty scheme?
- Review: Is Radisson Rewards the best hotel loyalty scheme?
- Review: Is World of Hyatt the best hotel loyalty scheme?
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.
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.
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 £65. This 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.
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.
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.
- Accor Live Limitless has a partnership with the Qatar Airways loyalty scheme, Qatar Privilege Club, which allows you to earn Avios PLUS hotel points on every stay. You will also earn Accor hotel points PLUS Avios when you fly with Qatar Airways and credit your flight to Qatar Privilege Club. You can register for this partnership here.
- Accor Live Limitless has a partnership with the Air France / KLM loyalty scheme Flying Blue. The linked article explains how it works. You can earn airline miles PLUS hotel points when you stay at an Accor property, and earn Accor hotel points PLUS airline miles when you fly with Air France or KLM. You can register for this partnership here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Part Two of this article – click here – gives my personal opinion of Accor Live Limitless.
Accor Live Limitless update – April 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.