Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

When should you transfer hotel loyalty points to frequent flyer miles?

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All of the major hotel points currencies allow you to transfer your points into airline miles.  You will often find the airlines encouraging it – every 9-10 months, pre covid, British Airways offered a 25% to 35% transfer bonus when you moved hotel points into Avios.

Today, I wanted to consider if it ever makes sense to transfer hotel points to airline miles.

The starting point for the discussion is that in general, hotel points are best redeemed for hotel stays.

transferring hotel loyalty points to frequent flyer miles

How many Avios would you get for the points cost of a £300 hotel night?

Let’s look at the hotel points I expect you would need for a redemption valued at roughly £300 a night, and how many Avios you would receive if you converted the hotel points instead.

Based on a £300 room you would get roughly the following number of Avios instead:

  • Accor Live Limitless – 17,000 points (for a €340 voucher) = 17,000 Avios in Iberia Plus or 8,500 Avios in British Airways Executive Club
  • Marriott Bonvoy – 60,000 points = 25,000 Avios (rate is 3:1 but you get a 5,000 Avios bonus for converting 60,000 points)
When is it worth transferring hotel loyalty points to frequent flyer miles?

With the exception of Marriott Bonvoy, where converting to miles is not a bad deal (you get 25,000 Avios for the points usually required for a £300 hotel room), you are generally better leaving large stashes of hotel points where they are.

Assuming you value Avios at 1p each, you are lucky to get 50% of the value of the equivalent hotel room and often a lot worse.

Marriott Bonvoy is the only scheme where I could justify moving my points into airline miles although I would only do this if I needed the miles immediately.

Your personal travel plans also make a difference here

You generally get the best value from hotel points in expensive cities like London or New York.  If your travels take you more to Lyon or Newcastle then your hotel points may be worth less to you.

Why? Because most semi-revenue based schemes (Hilton, IHG, Marriott) still have some sort of top-end cap in place. Hilton Honors, for example, rarely goes above 120,000 points per night. IHG has an informal cap of 120,000 points per night, except at luxury resorts. This means you still get outsize value at peak dates in peak cities.

If you also find yourself just a few Avios short of an award, transferring from a hotel programme may be a better deal than buying Avios from British Airways.

If you only have a small amount of hotel points, it is a different game. Apart from Hilton Honors, where you can now use as few as 5,000 points for a cash discount on your next booking, and Radisson Rewards, where any balance can be used for a cash saving, small balances in hotel programmes can be of little use.

You may prefer to tidy up small hotel balances by converting to Avios.  If you will never earn enough hotel points for a free room, you might as well convert.

transferring hotel loyalty points to frequent flyer miles

Expiry dates may prompt you to convert

Expiry dates can also be an issue and can prompt a transfer out to an airline. We have dedicated articles looking at the expiry rules of the major hotel schemes:

Hotels points can be a way to build an airline balance away from Avios

The other thing to remember is that the hotel chains convert to many airlines, often over 20.  Marriott Bonvoy has over 40 airline partners.  Perhaps you will get more value converting to another scheme?

Marriott Bonvoy is often the only UK partner for a lot of niche airline programmes such as Air Canada Aeroplan and American Airlines AAdvantage. The Marriott Bonvoy American Express is the only way to earn their miles via daily spend as a UK resident.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

20,000 points sign-up bonus and 15 elite night credits each year Read our full review

Here’s my final thought. You can transfer IHG One Rewards points to someone else for $5 per 1000, Hilton Honors points for free via the Points Pooling option and Marriott Bonvoy points for free via their online tool. Hyatt allows you to transfer points for free if both accounts have had a cash stay in the last year.

Perhaps a transfer to someone who can use a larger total to book a better hotel room for themselves is a better deal than a handful of Avios for yourself?

Hotel offers update – December 2023:

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

Want to buy hotel points?

  • IHG One Rewards is offering a 100% bonus (some members may see less) when you buy points by 30th December. Click here.
  • Marriott Bonvoy is offering a 30% bonus when you buy points by 20th December. Click here.

Comments (9)

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

  • Froggee says:

    Ah yes. I scrambled together 188,000 Krisflyer miles, topping up my HSBC and Amex balances with Marriott and Hyatt transfers so I could get 4x one-ways from Singapore to Tokyo for the Olympics in J. The flights otherwise would have cost £7,000. I felt very smug and then along came Covid leaving me with 188,000 expiring miles that weren’t convenient to use given the whole nuclear family thing.

    The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
    Gang aft agley

  • JohnTh says:

    Be aware of the timings for transfers as can take a few weeks. Hopefully covered in other articles about it?

  • flyforfun says:

    “Marriott Bonvoy is often the only UK partner for a lot of niche airline programmes such as Air Canada Aeroplan and American Airlines AAdvantage.”

    What makes AA Advantage niche? It’s one of the worlds biggest FF programs and it made more sense to use it rather than BA when I was doing TATL travel. Even when flying BA in the rest of the world, I’m pretty sure I got to the Exec Platinum status faster than I would have got to Gold on BA at the time. And the perks! 8 upgrade vouchers per year (pay any fare Y, get upgraded to J and once we got upgraded to F at the gate due to my status for MIA-LHR overnighter).

    It’s probably not as generous these days, but I still have have loads of miles that I’m slowly burning, but I’m keeping the account alive with the use of hotel points. Current company travel policy means we’re supposed to take the cheapest rate on offer via our online TA which often means the rate that doesn’t offer points. Well, we’re “supposed” to take that rate, anyway 😉

    • Rob says:

      If you can’t earn non-flying miles as a UK resident, it’s niche!

      • Blair Waldorf Salad says:

        Mmm I’m inclined to agree with flyforfun here. Since AA moved to their new elite earning system, the quickest and cheapest way to get OW elite status appears to be by booking hotels via AA. I recall working out for a friend the paltry number of nights they’d need to stay in an unremarkable Manchester hotel in order to achieve OW Sapphire.

        Of course spending AA miles is a doddle and without the nonsense BA CFTs. But the elite status itself is problematic if flying with AA itself – no lounge access for their own Sapphires for instance.

  • CamFlyer says:

    I transferred out a part of my Bonvoy balance to AAdvantage earlier this year. I was loathe to do so, but I used ~60,000 Bonvoy points to enable me to secure 3 x J [South Asia]-AUH-LHR one way on EY was well worth it. I had enough AA points for 2.5, and was looking at £2,000 cash for the third ticket, or purchasing miles. I was very happy with the value I achieved. In retrospect it wasn’t significantly better value than purchasing miles, but it did help me get 3 x J return to South Asia for <£1,000 (after all fees, charges, etc), with convenient routings and timings (well, an overnight in IST outbound and 6 hours in Abu Dhabi returning—see my note a while back about day use hotels).

  • John Gartside says:

    Great article- so transferred Hilton Honours points ( not likely to to use until?…) for BA avios which I will soon require.

  • BJ says:

    Even before the covid Virgin panic I was transferring close to 100% of Virgin miles to Hilton for many years. Absolutely no regrets about this, Virgin flights made little sense outside London an SE with no domestic connections excepting brief Little Red period. By contrast there was loads of value in Hilton points up to a few years ago, particularly given that reward nights counted for promotions etc. However, I am now building Virgin points balance as AF/KLM can provide value on intra-Europe flights and regional connections to destinations that are not available direct from UK regions. I may be tempted by ICN if it ever happens but not at same prices as GRU.

    About 90%+ Marriott points have also gone to airlines. Travel packages with 35% bonus to BA in conjunction with amex vouchers were impossible to resist. With their demise I then transferred to Alaska MP where attraction has been JAL flights before the recent devaluation, and 60k Finnair J flights from Asia to the UK. I don’t see much contemporary value in redeeming Bonvoy room rewards despite your valuation, pricing is much to high across the brand spectrum most places most of the time. There is almost always something just as useful at Hilton or IHG that makes much more sense on points or cash.

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