When is it worth transferring hotel loyalty points to frequent flyer miles?

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, British Airways offers a 35% transfer bonus when you move hotel points into Avios.

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

Hotel logo

In general, hotel points are best redeemed for hotel stays.

How many Avios would you get for the points cost of a £250 hotel night?

Let’s look at the points needed for a top category redemption valued at, say, £250 a night:

Hilton Honors – 80,000-90,000 points = 8,000-9,000 Avios

IHG Rewards Club – 60,000-70,000 points = 12,000-14,000 Avios

Accor Live Limitless – 15,000 points (for €300 voucher) = 15,000 Avios in Iberia Plus or 7,500 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, I took Category 7 as being equivalent to a £250 hotel)

MeliaRewards – 28,000 points = 8,400 Avios

Radisson Rewards – 70,000 points = 7,000 Avios

World of Hyatt – 30,000 points = 12,000 Avios

With the exception of Marriott Bonvoy, where converting to miles is not a bad deal, 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.

Of course, personal choice also plays a part.  You generally get the best value from hotel points in expensive big 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.  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 at 1.6p.

If you only have a small amount of hotel points, it is a different game. Apart from IHG Rewards Club, which is moving to revenue-based pricing and does now have rooms for 10,000 points at times, and Hilton Honors, where you can now use as few as 5,000 points for a cash discount on your next booking, small balances can be of little use.

A few years ago I tidied up some of my small hotel balances by converting a lot to Avios, often topping up first from American Express Membership Rewards, and didn’t regret it.  If you will never earn enough for a free room, you might as well convert.

Expiry dates can also be an issue and can prompt a transfer. My series of articles on expiry dates covered the current rules for each hotel scheme – see our ‘Top Hotel Points Offers’ page for links to the relevant article on expiry rules for each chain.

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 and the Marriott Bonvoy American Express the only way to earn their miles via daily spend as a UK resident.

American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit card

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

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

Final thought. You can transfer IHG Rewards Club points to someone else for $5 per 1000, Hilton Honors points for free via the new Points Pooling option and Marriott Bonvoy points for FREE if you share an address.  Perhaps a transfer to someone who can use a larger total to reach the target they need for a hotel room is a better deal than a handful of Avios for yourself.

When is it worth transferring hotel loyalty points to frequent flyer miles?