Most hotel loyalty programs allow you to transfer your points to a frequent flyer account or another person, but it may not be the best use of your rewards. Check out these tips before you send off your hard-earned rewards.
If you’ve been sitting on a stockpile of hotel rewards points and aren’t sure of the best way to use them, you may have wondered if transferring your points is a good option. Maybe you want to shift some extra points to top off a frequent flyer account balance or help out a family member who’s a few points shy of a free hotel stay.
Here we take a look at which hotel loyalty programs allow you to transfer points, common transfer restrictions and whether transferring points will give you the most value for your rewards.
See related: Options for transferring points between loyalty programs
Which hotel rewards programs let you transfer points?
The vast majority of hotel loyalty programs allow you to transfer your points to a frequent flyer account. A slightly smaller number will also let you move your points into another loyalty program member’s account or “pool” points from multiple hotel loyalty accounts into one in the hopes of scoring a free night or room upgrade.
Here are some of the most popular hotel rewards programs and how their point transfer policies break down:
|Hotel rewards program
|Can you transfer points to an airline?
|Can you transfer points between accounts?
|Average point value
(via The Points Guy)
|Accor Live Limitless
|Yes (transfer to more than 30 partners; transfer ratios vary)
|Best Western Rewards
|Yes (transfer to most partners at a 5:1 ratio)
|Yes (but only if accounts share the same physical address)
|Yes (limited transfer partners)
|Yes (transfer in 1,000-point increments to many partners at a 10:1 ratio)
|Yes (pool points at no charge with up to 10 other members; a minimum of 1,000 points is required to transfer, and a maximum of 500,000 points can be transferred into a pool in a calendar year)
|World of Hyatt
|Yes (transfer a minimum of 5,000 points, mostly at a 2.5:1 ratio)
|Yes (combine points and eligible awards with any World of Hyatt member)
|Yes (transfer in 1,000-point increments for a charge of $5 per 1,000 points)
|Yes (transfer points to miles at a 3:1 ratio with most programs; transfer 3,000-240,000 points per day)
|Yes (transfer 1,000 points or more, up to a maximum of 100,000 points per year)
|Yes (redeem 2,000 points for 200 airline miles, 50,000 points for 5,000 miles or 100,000 points for 10,000 miles)
|Yes (members with elite status can transfer to another account; all other members can only transfer to another member who resides in the same household; points may also be redeemed for the benefit of another member)
|Yes (transfer a minimum of 6,000 points, mostly at a 5:1 ratio)
Transferring hotel points to a frequent flyer program
Most hotel rewards programs have at least a few airline transfer partners, with the number varying dramatically depending on the program. The Choice Privileges program, for example, features just a handful of partners, while Marriott Bonvoy lets you choose from more than 40.
See related: Transferring Marriott points
If you’re just shy of a free flight award or a dreamy fare upgrade, it may be tempting to shift your unneeded hotel points to your frequent flyer account. That’s even more true in the case of hotel loyalty programs that offer bonuses when you transfer points to a partner, such as Marriott Bonvoy, which adds 5,000 points to every 60,000-point transfer.
What you’ll need to consider, however, is the transfer ratio between a hotel loyalty program and a given airline partner. The transfer ratio tells you how points from one program carry over to another. For example, a 5:1 transfer ratio means you’d need 5 points from one program to make 1 point in another.
While you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards to a number of airline and hotel partners at a 1:1 ratio or better, hotel loyalty programs are rarely so generous. For example, Hilton lets you transfer points to United at a 10:1 transfer ratio, meaning 10,000 Hilton Honors points would get you just 1,000 United miles when transferred.
Transferring hotel points to another member’s account
Another reason you may want to transfer hotel points is to share rewards with friends and family members who are also loyalty program members. After all, since each person can have their own loyalty account, some can be closer to a free night or room upgrade than others. If you don’t have enough points to score an award yourself, you may want to “pool” your points into a single account that can make better use of them.
Additionally, if one of your travel partners has elite status at a hotel that makes them eligible for special privileges like free Wi-Fi, room upgrades or other amenities, it makes sense to funnel points into their account so that when they book an award stay, you can all reap the benefits.
A number of hotel loyalty programs allow you to share points this way, though some carry special restrictions or fees. Marriott Bonvoy, for example, makes it relatively easy to transfer points from one account to another. You don’t need to be related to the person to whom you’re transferring points or even share an address.
The Hilton Honors program also allows you to pool points with any other Hilton member, but only if the contributing account holders share the same physical address. This means a married couple could pool their points, but a family spread out across the country would be out of luck.
Meanwhile, the IHG Rewards Club lets you transfer points from one account to another, but only in 1,000-point increments, at a charge of $5 per 1,000 points.
See related: Sharing hotel points? These loyalty programs allow it
Is it worth it to transfer hotel points?
As you can see, there are a lot of options when it comes to transferring your hotel rewards points.
But know that transferring hotel points to a frequent flyer program will rarely offer you the best value for your rewards. Because of the poor transfer ratios offered between most hotel programs and airline loyalty programs, you’ll usually be sacrificing a ton of value in transferring.
Take Hilton as an example. You can transfer Hilton points to American Airlines at a 10:1 ratio, so if you were to transfer 30,000 Hilton points to American Airlines, you’d get 3,000 AAdvantage miles. While 30,000 Hilton points can get you an award night at a Category 4 Hilton hotel, it won’t even get you halfway to a 7,500-mile AAdvantage MileSAAVer award. Additionally, you’d be sacrificing pure point value: Based on The Points Guy’s valuations, 30,000 Hilton points are worth around $180, while 3,000 AAdvantage miles are worth just $42.
You’ll have to do the math on a particular transfer in order to decide if it is right for you. While you’ll sacrifice value in many cases, some transfers may be worth it.
As for transferring points between accounts, it can often be a wise strategy, allowing groups of travelers to share free nights and elite perks. But, you’ll have to watch out for fees. For example, IHG charges $5 for every 1,000 points transferred. According to The Points Guy, IHG points are only worth around 0.5 cents each. That means you lose around 1,000 points worth of value every time you transfer. Or in other words, if you were to transfer 1,000 IHG points to another account, you’d essentially be paying $5 to move $5 worth of points.
While it’s always great to have the option to transfer points, you’ll have to keep transfer ratios and point values in mind before you move your hotel points. There may be some circumstances in which transferring points makes sense – such as topping off a balance for a flight award or teaming up with a friend or family member to score a free night – but in most cases, you’ll be better off using your hotel points with the hotel.
If you want to enjoy more rewards flexibility and not be tied to individual hotel loyalty programs, you may be better off with a general-purpose travel rewards card that will let you earn and redeem points for hotel stays, airfare and more.