Travel points are the broad umbrella term I use to describe any points that are offered by a flight, hotel or credit card loyalty program. Used correctly they can save you a ton of money travelling even sometimes allowing you to travel for free or almost free!
The four main travel points I collect are American Express Reward Points (which are redeemable for any of the following options and much more,) Avios with British Airways, Hilton Honors & Marriott Bonvoy.
How do I earn travel points?
Through a credit card
This is my experience using the points system and is not a recommendation of any financial product. There are other credit cards which can earn you travel points including IHG credit card, Tesco Credit Cards (by exchanging Clubcard points for avios, hotel stays and more) & Virgin Atlantic credit card. If you email for a referral to an American Express card upon you being accepted I will receive points, this varies between 9,000 – 18,000 depending on the card I refer you from. I will inform you of the correct amount when you get in contact for a link.
The main way I collect travel points is through American Express credit cards. Each card has different earning rates for travel points (and different ‘currency’.) You can earn points on your everyday spend even after meeting a spend target. I found this to be one of the easiest ways to collect points, especially if you are able to meet the sign up spend targets for whichever card you apply! I currently have the following cards from American Express.
Click on each link to view the benefits, fees and earning rates etc. Membership reward points convert 1:2 into Hilton Honors, 2:3 into Marriott Bonvoy & 1:1 with Avios.
British Airways Premium Plus Card –
25,000 bonus Avios welcome offer, if you spend £3,000 in your first three months of Cardmembership – https://www.americanexpress.com/uk/credit-cards/ba-premium-plus-credit-card/
Platinum Card –
Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards® points when you spend £2,000 in your first three months of Cardmembership – https://www.americanexpress.com/uk/charge-cards/platinum-card
Starwood Preferred Guest Rewards Card –
Earn a 30,000 points bonus when you spend £1,000 in the first three months of Cardmembership – https://www.americanexpress.com/uk/credit-cards/starwood-preferred-guest-credit-card/
My partner has the
American Express Gold Card –
Earn 20,000 Membership Rewards® points when you spend £2,000 in your first three months of Cardmembership – https://www.americanexpress.com/uk/credit-cards/gold-credit-card
With American Express cards you can refer friends for bonus travel points (currency and amount depending on what card you have.) This another lucrative way to collect points. (I’ve seen people share their links on many forums including Moneysavingexpert.com)
If you’d like to be referred for one yourself for extra bonus points email info(at)pointsuncovered.com
By travelling or staying with the hotel or airline company.
If you plan to stay or fly using a company that has a loyalty program it’s well worth signing up for their loyalty program. Typically you will recieve points varying on the standard of room/class of travel and distance flown.
British Airways or using their partners – https://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/executive-club/collecting-avios/flights?
Most loyalty programmes have additional ways of earning points through their partners. These include estores, online surveys, other travel companies and much more!
Earning additional Avios with British Airways Partners –
How to earn more Hilton Honors Points – https://hiltonhonors3.hilton.com/en/earn-use-points/overview/index.html
Earn more points with Marriott Bonvoy – https://www.marriott.co.uk/loyalty/earn.mi
What are travel points worth?
A very subjective and personal decision. If you earn a ton of points from hotel stays and travel with work you may have a lesser valuation or if you purely earn through credit spend you may value them more…
How you are happy to travel also dictates the value of points, if you are happy to hop around Europe on a budget airline, hand luggage only with no extras. Redeeming £35pp plus avios may not seem like such a good deal just to fly BA short haul however you may find greater value redeeming for business class for the experience £50pp plus avios in Europe or flying business/first class long haul.
The same principle applies for hotels, if you will happily spend your time in budget hotels and hostels in Europe. Do hotel travel points have any value to you? Perhaps avios will be a better collection choice or maybe you’d prefer to save them up for a big trip! E.g. special occasion or when travelling to somewhere like the caribbean!
I currently value avios points at 1p, Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.66p & Hilton Honors points at 0.5p. If you have an American Express card that collects membership reward point I class them as the most valuable points. Although still at a 1p valuation I value them more as you can keep them until you want to book with another a loyalty program. This saves you from any negative changes hotel/airline loyalty programs may make to their scheme.
How do I spend travel points?
Now the easy bit, in theory! If you collect membership reward points remember to link your loyalty program account to your account. Do this before you transfer your points as it can take a few days for it to be set up. You can do that with the membership reward catalogue here – https://catalogue.membershiprewards.co.uk/
You can look up prices and availability of Avios flights on British Airways’ website here – https://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/executive-club/spending-avios/reward-flights –
Please note British Airways only guarantees to make at least two business class & four economy class seats available for avios booking. In practice however I’ve often found much more. Seats are released approx 355 days before departure. So if you are looking to book a popular route or during peak periods book early!
When searching for a points redemption enter all your dates and location as normal on the hilton website and then hit GO – https://www3.hilton.com/en/index.html
In the top right corner of the search results select Points next to
Show price per night in. Remember with Hilton if you book 5 nights with points you get the 5th night for free and only pay for 4 nights!
Another way you can see where you can go/stay with a certain amount of points is to use Hilton’s new point explorer. Here you can set how many points per night you are willing to spend and where you’d like to and it will show you all your options! – http://pointsexplorer.hiltonhonors.com/
When your are searching for a points redemption enter your location/date etc and then next to special rates tick the box states Use Points and then click find hotels! Remember with Marriott if you book 5 nights with points you get the 5th night for free and only pay for 4 nights!
As well as hotel stays one other excellent use of points if you enjoy experiences is Marriott moments where you can book a selection of concerts, sports and money can’t buy experiences using your points. You can see what is currently on offer here – https://moments.marriottrewards.com/
Other ways to spend travel points
You can view other ways you can spend your points below, please note most don’t provide the same value as booking a stay or flight but they may be of interest to you nethertheless.
British Airways (Avios) – https://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/executive-club/spending-avios
Marriott Bonvoy – https://www.marriott.co.uk/loyalty/redeem.mi
What is the best use for travel points?
This is purely down to personal preference and on what you value one of your points at. See a couple of subheadings up to give you an idea!
For example if you travel a lot in Europe you may feel the best use of your points would be to redeem for economy or business class flights with BA within Europe as the return ‘taxes & fees’ on top of your points are capped at £35 for economy and £50 for business class & include hold luggage. (Always book as two one way journeys as the taxes and fees may be lower PLUS if you need to amend one of your flights you’ll only pay the maximum of half the cap rather than the full amount!)
You may also want to save your points for a special trip for your honeymoon, staying in a luxurious hotel with business class/first class flights you couldn’t otherwise afford.
Or maybe you’ve always wanted to go long haul and see more countries however the thought of economy and no bed for X amount of hours terrifies you. Point redemptions make the price of long haul business & first class travel a lot more stomachable!
Finally you may love ‘money can’t buy experiences’ and preference those over luxurious hotels and business class flights. Marriott & Hilton provide plenty of them through their respective sites.
Hilton Auctions – https://auction.hiltonhonors.com/
Marriott Moments – https://moments.marriottrewards.com
My point is the best way you can spend them is spending them how you want. Remembering two key points.
1) Generally speaking you get the best value from redemptions by using the points in the loyalty programme you accumulated them in.
2) Long haul avios redemptions in economy are often very poor value compared to other options.
Happy travel point collecting!