Five Reasons I Love Hotel Loyalty Points (But Not Airline Miles)

Some links to products and partners on this website will earn an affiliate commission.

As an avid collector of points and miles, it’s fair to say I have a fairly hefty stash of both. However, my general view of them is enormously different.

As the title to this post rather suggests, I much prefer hotel loyalty points.

Hotel points I see as a flexible, almost universally applicable currency with hotel chains. Compare that to the inflexibility, raft of conditions and additional costs that come with airline miles, and I think it’s difficult to disagree too strongly with my assessment.

Here’s my concise five point summary of the relative benefits of hotel points…


If I want to redeem my hotel points for a particular night at a particular hotel, chances are I probably can, even at fairly short notice.

Taking a random upcoming November night in a London Hilton, I’m instantly presented with a range of luxury hotel redemption options (all at quite reasonable redemption rates, I should add):

Compare that to airline miles redemptions, where an intended Saturday to Saturday flight in August may well, if you’re lucky, end up being a Tuesday to Friday flight in November. Oh and those first class redemptions you wanted? Well you can fly out…. premium economy, but coming back there’s just one economy seat left. Oh and that’ll be £500 each-way too (see below).

Here’s a snippet of Business Class flights to Bangkok using Avios in November:

That’s right, nothing.

Looking at the next six months it’s almost as bleak, with NO outbound flights at all:

Not the greatest situation to be faced with when you’ve spend the last couple of years (and all your Tesco points) desperately saving up for an Avios redemption.


When you buy a hotel room with points, it pays for the hotel room. While you’d sort of hope this was obvious, it doesn’t come close to explaining the position with airline miles.

Nope. Book a redemption flight using airline miles, and you’ll be hit with taxes, fees, fuel surcharges and any other possible admin charge that airlines can think of to add to their bottom line and reduce your value.

Here’s a Business Class return flight from London to Bangkok in June 2019.

That dream trip to Thailand can be covered with a mere 150,000 Avios. Oh and £584.54.
It certainly makes British Airways description of such redemptions as “Reward Flights” a little hard to take at face value. Imagine buying your other half a Rolex for Christmas, only to somewhat undermine their wide-eyed joy and wonderment by demanding they now reimburse you £750 in service fees.

I joke, but it really is pretty galling when you spend years saving up for a flight redemption, only to be told that yes, your 250,000 airline miles will get you a luxury redemption, yes there is availability, but you will also have to pay £950 in additional charges for the privilege. Lufthansa are particularly guilty of this – to the extent that I find it bordering on the impossible to actually find any value whatsoever in Miles&More miles redemptions with them.

Indeed, it’s a sad truth, but actually many “travel hackers” have largely given up purposefully collecting airline miles at all, safe in the knowledge that the next Qatar sale will offer them a cash flight that’s barely much more than the additional charge on many redemption flights.

That really is a ridiculous situation, but it’s happening.

In the case of Economy redemption flights versus Economy cash flights, it happens so often it’s frankly unacceptable. (Indeed, at this point I am going to give a small shout out to the beleaguered British Airways, as their Reward Flight Saver, which caps the taxes/fees on intra-Europe Avios redemptions, is a fantastic benefit. Albeit the type of benefit that should be offered much more frequently to loyal travellers/points collectors. The fact is, it shouldn’t really be a “fantastic benefit”, it should be the norm.)


If I fly with British Airways, I’ll often find an Avios haul at the end of it so derisory I’ll wonder why I even bothered to log my Executive Club details for the flight.

(Those who know me will realise I’m saying that for effect – I’d sell my kidney if I earned 50 Avios on the transaction – but hopefully you take my point).

Compare that to hotel stays. When I stay at Hilton, they shower me with so many points for doing so that I’m often genuinely not sure what a large number of them actually relate to.

Then there’s the bonus points promotions. Airline promos for bonus miles are few and far between, while you can rest assured that the majority of major hotel chains almost certainly have a bonus point deal on. As I write for example, the likes of Marriott, Hilton, Starwood and IHG are all running generous promos.


We’ve heavily flagged the fantastic value you can get from redemptions at “low end” chain hotels.

However, it doesn’t always have to be the budget conscious that benefit from some great value on hotel stays.

Value varies enormously depending on when and where you going, but by way of fairly random examples, you’ll find excellent value with Hilton in the wonderful Istanbul (and indeed other parts of Turkey):

You’ll also get great value with Marriott in South Africa.


Tying up all the above, really, is my final point. Hotel points are just a much easier proposition. There’s no detailed logistics required for their redemption, no need to go on advanced reward checking web sites or plan convoluted routes around the globe, starting in Helsinki.

In short, for me, hotel loyalty points encapsulate the pleasure of travel hacking – easy earning and burning – with very few of the frustrations. Sadly, this is often absent from airline miles collecting, which even with a number of easy earning opportunities can end up being an absolute pain to redeem.

That said, those devaluations are an absolute nightmare…

hotel points


  1. Tilly71 says

    Got to agree, especially with Hilton. When your sitting in a £500 a night villa for 95k HH points is a pretty good feeling.

    • Tim says

      I have to disagree on this one. London Marriott hotels can be had for 25000 points – I don’t see 80000 as good value at all even if you allow for the difference in points value. BA – try booking on the day or night before. Availability is typically wide open for intra EU and UK domestic flights in economy. And typically wide open in Club Europe from seven days out. UK: £200+ train fare or 4500 Avios plus £17.50 on a same day booking?!?

      • Miles Hunt says

        It’s an interesting debate, and I appreciate your input. I certainly agree that there are counter arguments, and you make a very good one. The BA Reward Flight Saver option is indeed an excellent redemption option, but it’s the exception rather than the norm as far as I’m concerned.

        For me, the bottom line is that if I have a holiday coming up and a stash of hotel points and airline miles, I’m always much more confident about the effective deployment of my hotel points over the miles. Joe will argue that’s because I’m a one-trick pony, but anyway…

  2. Tim says

    Being fairly new to this I wondered for a while what I was missing as air miles never seemed to stack up. This is an interesting read as I think I was heading towards the same conclusion.

  3. Sean Ellingham says

    Can’t say I agree, as the additional costs involved in staying somewhere that earns points don’t come close to being balanced by the supposed value of those points – which is why I don’t have any. For example, my local DoubleTree by Hilton is £119 a night for a random date in November, whereas my local Premier Inn is £61 for the same night – these are both flexible rates, include WiFi, don’t include breakfast, and ultimately offer the same facilities (i.e. a bathroom and somewhere to sleep). The redemption rate for the DoubleTree in November starts around 32000 points, so if I’ve worked this out correctly, I’d be able to get a “free” night there after a 23 night stay – or I could just stay at the Premier Inn for half the price and forget about “free” nights.

    • Miles Hunt says

      All fair points, and you’re talking to a Premier Inn worshipper here. However, I think it depends how you earn your points to a degree. I get a lot of Hilton points from credit card spend and work stays, so I find these (very usable) points are often available to me by the bucketload when I’m booking my family holidays. Per my response to Tim, I also find them much easier to use in a helpful way than any similar mileage stash.

      That said, if I don’t have the points or the redemption isn’t good value, rest assured you’ll find me in the Premier Inn.

      • Tim says

        Prior to the Hilton cash plus points devaluation – where you get could get, as an example, both Hiltons in Prague and Budapest for 12k points plus £20, the Hilton points were very useful. But significantly less so now. And if you look at the typical rates across the hotel schemes – Poland being the exception in Europe – they just don’t give you the bang for the buck, when compared to points for airfares – Avios reward saver being a good example, but also the distance based redemption schemes with Aegean and AirNZ and Star. At the end of the day: it’s a bit like comparing apples with bananas. My personal take is: keep a minimum balance in schemes for last minutes redemptions, then burn and earn as quickly as possible over and above that minimum.

      • Sean Ellingham says

        I’d agree that how you earn you points influences your view – if you mainly travel for work then it’s much more justifiable, since businesses are more likely to put you in a chain with a loyalty scheme, and of course if you aren’t ultimately paying for your stays then any additional costs don’t factor in. Besides, with frequent work travel both airline and hotel schemes become far more useful, just through earning higher volumes of points.
        I only travel for personal reasons, so don’t build up points that quickly. I also don’t drive, so anywhere I stay needs to be centrally located or have (or be close to) decent public transport, which often precludes various hotels that may have cheaper redemption rates. Ultimately though, I find airline miles more valuable simply because the available options when flying from A to B are typically limited, whereas there are usually plenty of options for accommodation at various price ranges. For me this is helped by the fact that my closest airports are Heathrow and Gatwick, and the cost of getting to Luton or Stanstead typically wipes out any savings that might be had from low-cost carriers (plus public transport to Luton and Stansted from London is quite poor compared to Heathrow and Gatwick, so often I couldn’t fly on the cheapest flights from either if I wanted to).

  4. mahomed says

    I got to agree I did get a Pointsbreak @ 5 k per night last year which saved me a considerable sum of money as I had a 10 day stay .

    • Tim says

      Agree on this . But how much was the rate on those nights? Trying to get back on point: [hotel points being great and airline miles less so] there are great bargains to be had in both airline and hotel schemes. As long as you put a value on your points – whether hotel or airline – and spend above that – then you’re winning the game. For example, I recently signed upto Marriott’s ‘one free night’ offer, as a, cough cough, new customer. 2x £50 nights in good Courtyards. And then three nights ago, when London prices were sky high, used the ‘free’ night in London when rates were £300+. That’s winning the game in my book, just as the flight I booked this morning from LHR to EDI [at 4500 Avios plus £17.50] – when train fares are £200 and flights are similarly priced – is also winning the game.

  5. Tilly71 says

    Also you would need to factor in even when using hotel points for redeeming stays, if your elite member what a great return of points back you get.
    I got nearly a quarter of my points expenditure back on a stay.

  6. NB says

    I come at it from a slightly different angle.

    First, I really prefer to stay in a non-chain hotel and so my chain hotel stays are limited to those occasions when a suitable, and affordable, non-chain hotel isn’t available. Second, as often as not, the chain hotels are cheaper when booked at, with its effective 10% off, than when booked directly to permit points earning. Third, despite the recent mergers, you need to keep loyal to one chain with points, rather than use across the board.

    On airlines, you choose British Airways whose sweet spot on redemptions is short haul economy, so it’s no surprise that you don’t find value in long haul premium cabins. I use United, whose sweet spot is long haul premium, and they don’t add fuel surcharges and all that other nonsense. Their real sweet spot, however, is on trips which I might need to cancel as there are no cancellation or change fees. Accordingly I value my UA miles at about 2p per mile, whereas, on the rare occasion I can even spend my BA Avios, I’m pleased to get 1p per mile.

    Having said that, it’s now far more difficult to earn miles, so that’s no longer a real focus. Instead, it’s the experiential benefits of status – extra legroom, lounge access, same day changes, more baggage allowances etc – where the real value lies. The experiential benefits of a chain hotel are limited to….an identical room on a higher floor.

  7. Dave says

    RFS was fine until they screwed everyone in the regions. If you don’t live within 2 hours of Heathrow it’s useless. There’s no credible way from MAN-LGW that doesn’t take at day and cost an arm and a leg.

    Last time I did an RFS redemption it took 11 hours MAN-LHR-FCO because as usual the MAN-LHR shuttle was late/canceled/held up due to wind etc. Would have been far more sensible to do Easyjet direct.

    • Tim says

      OK… so RFS is not as good as it was a few years ago, where as BA Gold I could book two fully refundable segments for 4500 plus £17.50. Brussels to London then London to NCL/EDI/JER 12 months out – completly changable for free. Happy days. But 4500 Avios plus £17.50 is still very good. No credible way from MAN to LGW? ‘Because as usual’… incidental nonsense not based on facts sir.

      • Dave says

        Really? Then tell me how to get from Manchester to LGW without 3-4 trains, or a flight and then bus/very long tube/train option.

        One that doesn’t cost double what the Easyjet direct flight, or 3 times the cost of the RFS.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *