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In addition to (what I like to think of as) the three amigos – RocketMiles, Kaligo and PointsHound – there is now a new way to earn Avios for hotel bookings, this time through booking site Agoda.
For of those of you not familiar with Agoda, it’s one of the bigger online booking sites around these days and is owned by the Priceline Group, who also own Booking.com and (you guessed it!) Priceline, amongst other travel-related sites.
Agoda now offer something they have decided to call ‘PointsMAX’, which essentially allows you to earn Points/Miles with a wide range of loyalty programmes from your hotel bookings.
As regards Avios, both the BA website and the Agoda BA Avios page lead with a very exciting ‘up to 10,000 Avios’ headline, but what’s the reality?
The first thing to note is the warning on line 1 of the Ts & Cs, “The rates for PointsMAX bookings may be different from regular bookings at the same conditions”. In other words, you’re probably going to have pay more than you otherwise would to get the Avios.
The Terms also state that “the collection rate of Avios for PointsMAX bookings is a minimum of 2 Avios per $1 spend. The Avios award will be based on US – Agoda will work out the exchange rate if you pay in GBP”, so let’s look at an example and see how it actually works.
As you can see below, the lowest rate at the Shangri La at the Shard in London for the date I looked at is £450.00, but that doesn’t earn any Avios. To earn Avios, you need to pay £45.00 more for 3,750 Avios – which works out at 1.2p per Avios and that is not a good price.
For some of the the other examples I looked at the price per Avios worked out even higher, at about 1.4p per Avios, so this doesn’t look like a good option.
If you do happen to find a bargain though, the Avios will be credited to your account in 6-8 weeks after the hotel stay is complete.
Perhaps slightly more interesting are some of the other Points/Miles currencies that Agoda are offering. American Airlines AAdvantage Miles for instance appear to be earned (in small quantities) on every booking – even when the price isn’t artificially raised:
Generally though, unless Agoda offer some sort of first user bonus or similar, I suspect you will do much better by booking direct (via cashback sites) and taking advantage of the hotel chains own loyalty programme bonus Points promotions, or by using RocketMiles (ironically, also owned by Priceline!).
The apparent success of companies that specialise in offering airline Miles for hotel bookings meant that a move into this area by at least one of the major booking websites was all but inevitable at some point.
Theoretically, this could be a a very good thing for consumers as competition and the economies of scale that large booking sites could bring should mean more Miles per £1.00, but unfortunately that doesn’t appear to be the case here.
It’s possible there might be some bargains available using Agoda PointsMax so I wouldn’t rule it out entirely, but I looked closely at about 25 hotels in 6 different places for different dates and didn’t spot anything. Anybody find anything interesting?