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 staying 20 nights via 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 but could be as low as $2,182
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) so 11 points per $1 in total. You need to spend $2,727 to earn 30,000 points.
However …. if you transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to Avios in chunks of 60,000 points, you receive a bonus 5,000 Avios. This means, pro rata, you’d only need 24,000 Bonvoy points to earn 10,000 Avios. At 11 points per $1, this would require spend of $2,182.
Accor Live Limitless – $3,508 (€3,225), but could be as low as $2,653 (€2,439)
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). Earning 10,000 points means that you need to spend €3,225.
However …. if you register for the Qatar Airways / Accor Live Limitless partnership, you earn an extra 1 Avios per €1 spent, deposited into your Qatar Airways Privilege Club Avios account after every stay. You can easily move these across to your BA account. This improves the earning to the equivalent of 4.1 Avios per €1 and means that 10,000 Avios needs just €2,439 of spend.
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) for a total of 14 points per $1. Earning 50,000 points requires spending pre-taxes of $3,571.
Radisson Rewards – $3,703
10,000 Avios requires 100,000 Radisson Rewards points. You earn 27 points per $1 for being Premium (requires just 3 stays or 5 nights). 100,000 points will require spending of $
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). This means that 25,000 points requires you to spend $4,545 pre-tax.
Hilton Honors – $5,555
10,000 Avios requires 100,000 Hilton Honors points. You earn 18 points per $1 being Gold (requires 20 stays) which means that you need to spend $5,555 to earn 100,000 points.
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 are more aggressive than the other chains in terms of running bonus point promotions. It is worth noting that, as of today, the only chains running promotions are Hilton and IHG (click for our list of all current promos). Earning promotional points will allow you to earn more Avios from a stay.
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.
The one exception is Marriott Bonvoy where the conversion maths just about works. I value a Bonvoy point at 0.5p and an Avios at 1p. 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points converts into 25,000 Avios, because it triggers the extra 5,000 Avios for converting in chunks of 60,000. Plugging in my valuations, you are swapping £300 of Marriott points for £250 of Avios. This is close enough to make it a fair deal.
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 (0.67p per Avios) and never via the British Airways hotel booking portal (0.55p per Avios).
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (February 2024)
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. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.
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 10,500 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.