For a number of years, British Airways (BA) has run a bonus for converting various hotel points currencies to Avios. This promotion usually comes around roughly every 6-9 months and last ran in February/March of this year. The latest version of this deal launched over the weekend:
You will receive a 35% bonus when you convert hotel points to Avios between 22nd September and 31st October 2017.
To put that in perspective, in the past we have regularly seen bonuses of 25% although more recent versions have been an improved offer of 35%. It is pleasing to see that trend continue.
That said, converting hotel points to Avios is, under normal circumstances a poor proposition, and you would be better off finding a different use for them.
But is this bonus enough to change that thinking?
Which programs can I transfer from?
The following hotel programs are included this time around:
As you can see, of BA’s regular hotel transfer partners, Best Western, Le Club Accorhotels and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) are not included. Traditionally, Le Club Accorhotels are always excluded and SPG’s inclusion has been hit and miss.
Why you generally shouldn’t convert hotel points to Avios
As mentioned, I don’t normally recommend transferring hotel points to Avios and here’s why:
Hilton Honors points
Here’s the cost of a one-night stay in November at the Conrad Hong Kong:
As you can see, the cheapest available rate is £370. Alternatively, you can choose to redeem 80,000 Hilton Honors points for a (free) reward night.
Ordinarily, Hilton Honors points convert to Avios at a 10:1 ratio. If you decided to convert 80,000 Hilton Honors points under this promotion you would receive 10,800 Avios (80,000 ÷ 10 x 1.35).
For most people, I would assume a £370 saving is far more preferable than 10,800 Avios!
World of Hyatt points
Here’s the cost of a random one-night stay at the Park Hyatt Vienna during November:
As you can see the cheapest room available comes in at £489. Alternatively, as this is a Category 6 Hyatt property, you could redeem 25,000 World of Hyatt points for a free night.
Ordinarily, World of Hyatt points convert to Avios at a 2.5:1 ratio. If you decided to convert 25,000 Hyatt points under this promotion you would receive 13,500 Avios (25,000 ÷ 2.5 x 1.35).
Even more compelling than the Hilton example above: a £489 saving surely trumps 13,500 Avios!
Are there any exceptions?
There are a couple of notable cases whereby you may be able to justify converting your hotel points to Avios, and they both involve Starwood (SPG) points.
1.) Transferring SPG points to Avios – Although SPG points are technically not included in this promotion, you can circumvent this by converting them to Marriott Rewards points first (at a 1:3 ratio).
Marriott Rewards points convert to Avios at differing ratios depending on how many you convert. The sweet spot seems to be exchanging 30,000 Marriott points for 10,000 Avios.
This means that if you accumulated 10,000 SPG points from opening the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card and wanted to transfer them to Avios, this bonus could look quite good.
10,000 SPG points – 30,000 Marriott Rewards points ÷ 3 x 1.35 = 13,500 Avios.
While that is a nice little extra, you can do better. Starwood offers a constant bonus when converting 20,000 SPG points to Avios in the shape of an extra 5,000 Avios thrown in. That means if you can boost your balance up to 20,000 SPG points, your total is worth 25,000 Avios.
2.) Marriott Rewards Hotel + Air Packages – I have a much fuller article on these to come but for now, I’ll make do with a brief overview.
One of the best features of the Marriott Rewards program is their Hotel + Air packages. These allow you to exchange Marriott points for a combination of airline miles and a certificate for a 7-night stay at a Marriott property.
The amount of Marriott points required to buy a package varies according to your preferred airline program and category of hotel you wish to stay in. You can view the different options here.
The rates for Avios (and Virgin Atlantic) are as follows:
A certificate for 7 nights at a Category 1-5 hotel + 120,000 Avios would cost 270,000 Marriott points or 90,000 Starpoints.
The excellent thing about the above packages is that they also attract the 35% bonus. This means that 90,000 Starpoints (in my example) is really worth 162,000 Avios. That’s a pretty solid return even before considering the value of the 7-night certificate!
How to transfer hotel points to Avios
If you do decide you want to empty out various hotel point balances, here’s how to go about it.
Simply visit this page on ba.com and when prompted, log-in to your Executive Club account. There is no registration required.
Bonus points can take 4-6 weeks to appear in your BA account. However, the few times I have transferred using this promotion, the bonus has always posted alongside the regular points.
There is a minimum points transfer required to partake of this bonus. Minimum amounts vary between hotel partners:
- Club Carlson – 2,000 points
- Hilton Honors – 10,000
- Hyatt Gold Passport – 5,000
- IHG Rewards – 10,000
- Marriott Rewards – 10,000
- Shangri-La Golden Circle – 2,500
You must initiate any transfers by 31st October 2017.
On balance, I wouldn’t recommend transferring Club Carlson, Hilton Honors, IHG Rewards or Marriott Rewards points to Avios unless you had a cast-iron reason for doing so.
Given that those chains have significant footprints in the UK as well as other collecting opportunities, it shouldn’t be too difficult to rack up enough points for a free night.
On the other hand, World of Hyatt and Shangri-La’s Golden Circle are far more niche for UK residents. You may feel that the odds of ever being able to accumulate a sizeable enough balance to make a decent redemption are low. If so, there is a logic in waiting for a bonus like this one, before converting them to a program you know you can get value from, such as Avios.