Many travellers who haven’t travelled extensively in Spain may be unfamiliar with the hotel chain Melia Hotels International. Before I discovered cashback websites and hotels.com, I used to stay quite frequently at Melia hotels on my trips to Madrid and elsewhere in Spain. Melia Rewards is not particularly different from many other hotel loyalty programmes – you earn 10 points per USD spent (was an American in charge of setting up this European chain’s loyalty programme???) on room charges, etc. A free hotel night would cost you between 11,000 and 42,000 points per night.
But the focus of this post is not on earning Melia Rewards the hard way, or redeeming them for hotel nights, but instead to BUY Melia Rewards points and transfer them to Lufthansa Miles & More (or Air Berlin Topbonus) at a rate of 2 Melia points to 1 mile.
Miles & More is particularly stingy when it comes to allowing members to buy miles. Members can usually buy a maximum of 20,000 miles per year, at a cost of 475 euros. (2.4 euro cents or 2p per mile) Even this current promotion celebrating the 20-year anniversary of Miles & More doesn’t help much. This restriction can be quite annoying if you find your desired destination in Lufthansa’s monthly promotion but are short a substantial number of miles or the cost of buying miles offsets the value of the reduced miles requirement.
Melia Rewards might be your answer. They are happy to sell you 100,000 Melia points for 800 euros, which in turn can be converted to 50,000 Miles & More miles. So, your cost is already reduced to 1.6 euro cents (1.35p per mile) and that’s before any bonuses. Melia recently gave a 25% bonus on buying points, and potentially Miles & More will do the same at some point for a hotel point transfer. During the 25% promotion, which coincided with Iberia’s partner promotion, I bought miles and immediately transferred to Iberia Plus (for their partner promotion) – no problems at all, the miles arrived a couple of days later. Even at 1.35p a mile, some of those Lufthansa offers look like great value! The maximum Melia points you can transfer in a year is 100,000 however, so 50,000 M&M miles is the most you will be able to get at short notice.
I’m less familiar with Air Berlin topbonus (I can’t even see an option to buy topbonus miles!), but I’m sure there must be a sweet spot in there somewhere. Maybe an Etihad redemption (no fuel surcharges) or a business class upgrade…
Melia Rewards have other airline partners, like AAdvantage, Delta Skymiles, Iberia Plus, Flying Blue, but the transfer ratios are poor and not recommended. (Unfortunately Melia no longer partners with Alitalia – not my favourite airline but the ratio was 1:1!)
I wish I’d been more ready when Melia had its 25% bonus… Next time I will be!