While loyalty to a favourite hotel chain can bring perks such as free breakfast and room upgrades, frequent business travellers know that this isn’t always practical or even possible – some chains may not serve every city in your itinerary, or your employer may find a cheaper deal elsewhere.
That’s where it pays to be savvy and join every major hotel’s loyalty program: collecting a handful of points here and there, which can later be put to good use.
While that balance might not be enough to cover a free hotel night, small chunks of points can still be used to top-up your frequent flyer account – making that next free flight or upgrade to business class just that little bit closer.
Here’s what you need to know to turn your lingering hotel loyalty points into airline frequent flyer points with the major chains.
Accor Le Club: airline frequent flyer points
Just 4,000 Le Club AccorHotels points is all you’ll need to nab 4,000 Qantas Frequent Flyer points, while the same could also get you 4,000 Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer points from September 30.
Most of Accor’s other airline partners including Alitalia, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines serve up a lower 2,000 frequent flyer points or miles in exchange for 4,000 Le Club points, with a few exceptions.
Among them, Air France/KLM and Finnair allow Le Club members to swap as few as 2,000 Le Club points for miles, with the former returning 1,000 Flying Blue miles and the latter 2,000 Finnair Plus points on that amount.
Choice Privileges – loyalty program of brands such as Comfort Inn and Clarion – gives members the option to swap 5,000 Choice Privileges Points for 1,000 frequent flyer points with Airberlin, Air Canada (Aeroplan), Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Spirit and United.
Choice Privileges Points can also be converted into Qantas and Virgin Australia frequent flyer points, but at a considerably less generous rate of 20,000 Choice Privileges Points = 3,000 frequent flyer points.
Hilton HHonors: airline frequent flyer points
With base-level Hilton HHonors members earning up to 15 HHonors points per US$1 spent at the group’s hotels, just 2-3 nights could easily get you the five-figure balance needed to convert points into miles.
10,000 HHonors points nets 1,500 frequent flyer points with either Qantas, Virgin Australia or American Airlines, or 1,000 frequent flyer miles with most of the program’s other partners including Delta, United, Virgin America, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and more.
Hyatt Gold Passport: airline frequent flyer points
Have just 5,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points? That’s worth 2,500 frequent flyer points with a raft of airlines including Singapore Airlines, United, Qatar Airways, Emirates, Etihad and the list goes on…
You’ll receive slightly fewer frequent flyer points when converting them to Qantas – 2,400 as opposed to 2,500 – or can choose UK-based Virgin Atlantic to pocket 3,000 miles for those 5,000 Hyatt points. Virgin Australia isn’t a Hyatt Gold Passport partner.
IHG Rewards Club: airline frequent flyer points
IHG Rewards Club members face a similar 10,000-point minimum transfer threshold as with Hilton, but those points become 2,000 frequent flyer points in most frequent flyer schemes: including with Qantas, Virgin Australia, American, Delta, United and the usual Asia-based airlines.
Malaysia Airlines’ Enrich program is also linked up with IHG, but awards only 1,500 miles in exchange for every 10,000 IHG Rewards points.
Marriott Rewards: airline frequent flyer points
Once your Marriott Rewards points balance ticks over to 10,000, swap those points for 1,500 frequent flyer points with Qantas, Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines and more.
Marriott Rewards points go further with Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Delta, Virgin Atlantic and more, each offering 2,000 points in exchange for 10,000 Marriott Rewards points.
Shangri-La Golden Circle: airline frequent flyer points
Shangri-La keeps things simple: you’ll need just 2,500 Shangri-La Golden Circle Award Points before you can transfer them to its roster of frequent flyer partners on a 1:1 basis. For example, 2,500 GC Award Points = 2,500 Velocity points, 2,500 AAdvantage miles, 2,500 KrisFlyer miles and so on.
For airline partners that use kilometres as their currency rather than points or miles – such as China Eastern, China Southern and Hainan Airlines – you'll instead get 4,000 kilometres from your 2,500 GC Award Points.
Shangri-La points can’t be manually converted into Qantas frequent flyer points: these can only be earned from Shangri-La stays when choosing these as your earning preference (in lieu of GC Award Points) prior to your visit.
Starwood Preferred Guest: airline frequent flyer points
Last but not least, Starwood is generous in allowing its Preferred Guest members to convert their Starpoints into frequent flyer points on a 1:1 basis with most airlines including home-grown Virgin Australia, with a minimum transfer amount of just 2,500 Starpoints for base-level members.
As an added bonus for SPG members with higher balances, Starwood also kicks in a bonus 5,000 points every time you convert 20,000 Starpoints in one transaction: that's 25,000 Velocity points from just 20,000 Starpoints.
Also read: Earning frequent flyer points on hotel stays
Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT
Qantas Frequent Flyer Hotels Starwood Preferred Guest Shangri-La Golden Circle Hilton HHonors Agoda Le Club Accorhotels Velocity Frequent Flyer IHG Rewards Club Hyatt Gold Passport Qantas Hotels guides Choice Privileges