Virgin Flying Club reducing transfer rate to Hilton HHonors – still worth it?

I made a throw-away remark in my post on Virgin and Tesco yesterday that Virgin Flying Club is reducing the transfer ratio of miles to Hilton HHonors points.  I want to look at that more closely today.

The first thing to say is that it is VERY rare for an airline to allow you to transfer to a hotel scheme.  American used to allow Hilton transfers but stopped 18 months ago.  Finnair still lets you transfer to IHG Rewards Club but at a very poor 2:1 rate.  (Are there any others?  Please leave a note in the comments if there are.)

Virgin Atlantic

You cannot transfer Avios points to ANY hotel scheme – although you can, of course, book hotel rooms with your Avios points.  Iberia Plus will also let you use your Avios for rooms with Barcelo and, from March, Iberostar.

To some extent, we should be grateful that Virgin allows you to do any sort of transfer out.  It is a valuable option for people who earn a lot of Virgin miles through their work but do not want to redeem them for further flights, possible due to family issues or availability issues during school holidays.

This is the announcement that has appeared on the Hilton page on the Virgin site:

Flying Club members can exchange their miles for Hilton HHonors points, which can then be redeemed for HHonors rewards such as free hotel nights, experimental rewards, premium merchandise and much much more.

Please note from 6 February 2014 the exchange miles to points rate is changing. Flying Club members will be able to exchange miles at the following rate: 2 Flying Club miles for 3 Hilton HHonors points.

You can currently exchange miles at a rate of (up until 5 February 2014): 1 Flying Club mile for 2 HHonors point.

Minimum Level: 10,000 miles and then in increments of 5,000. Just call the Flying Club Helpline with your HHonors account number.

*Please note your name on your Flying Club membership account must match exactly with the name on your Hilton HHonors account for a successful transfer. Your transfer will take up to 30 days and a booking cannot be made until the transfer is complete.

Let’s run some numbers.

At present, 1 Virgin mile = 2 Hilton HHonors points.  That is moving to 2:3.

A year ago – before the massive Hilton devaluation – I valued a Hilton point at 0.5p.  This means that 1 Virgin mile got you 1p of Hilton points.  That was an excellent deal , in some cases a better deal than redeeming for Virgin flights.

The devaluation slashed the value of a Hilton point to 0.3p (‘cash and points’ redemptions, if you can find them, still get nearer 0.5p).  Convert today and you will get roughly 0.6p of value per Virgin mile.  Convert after 6th February and you’ll get just 0.45p of value per Virgin mile.

Ironically, converting to IHG Rewards Club – generally seen as a bad deal – is now marginally better.  I value IHG points at 0.5p as long as InterContinental redemptions remain at 50,000 points.  The transfer ratio from Virgin is 1:1.

At these rates, though, you should think twice before doing any hotel transfers with your Virgin miles.  If you don’t want flights, you can redeem for pseudo-cash at 0.4p per mile by taking a £50 Virgin Voucher for 12,500 miles.

(PS.  For completeness, it is worth noting that there is one other Virgin accommodation redemption option – self catering cottages in Devon at Gitcombe House.)

(To see our complete list of all current hotel promotions for the major chains, click here to visit our ‘Hotel Promos’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. I wouldnt mind a boost to my IHG account. Only Finnair transfer to IHG??

    • Possible Tesco to Virgin conversion followed by a Virgin to IHG conversion sound OK?

      • It isn’t a great use of Tesco points, because (assuming 0.5p of value per IHG point) a £1 Tesco voucher is getting you 325 Virgin with the bonus which gets you 325 IHG. At 0.5p per IHG, that is £1.60 per £1 of Tesco voucher. You’d do better using them in-store during a double-up promo.

        However … how about getting the SPG Amex (20,000 points sign-up until Friday), turning those into 25,000 Virgin miles and then sending those to 25,000 IHG points?

        Or indeed getting the Priority Club Black card? £99 fee but you get 40,000 points for signing up if you use the link on the Credit Cards Update page in the menu bar above.

  2. Is there still time to maximise the Hilton points by converting tesco club card to virgin points with 30% bonus and then to hilton at 1:2?

    Therefore for each £ of CC vouchersm you get 325 VS miles, or 650 Hilton points? I reckon I can eek out more than 0.3p per point if used wisely and not sure I have any need for any more Avios this year, so tempted to take advantage of the above if it will work?

    • Yes, Virgin transfers from Tesco only take a couple of days so you should easily have them before the 6th February cut-off.

      Do have a proper plan for using the Hilton points, though, because – whilst you can do better than 0.3p if you pick the right place at the right time – its certainly not straightforward.

      • Thanks. I will have to have a bit more of a think about possible stays over the next year, but I stay at a few of the category 2 hotels in the UK when visitng family a few times a year and with points and cash stays at them I’ve been getting between 0.5p and 1p of value from them. Ive also used a load on a 2 week stay in Goa, this time getting 1p of value from them, but need to figure out if I reckon my upcoming stays will repeat this

        • Oddly, I spoke to someone this morning whose Mum is off to Goa via her sons Hilton stash! 5,000 points vs £62 Best Flex for October is a very good deal, but certainly the exception rather than the rule.

          • Well it seems popular as I’m going in March and there were a couple of days in the two weeks without any reward availability (and then the Hyatt listed under amex FHR was also sold out for most types of room those days as well). However, even though the rate is 5,000 vs £62 I would probably value it slightly less as I am not convinced I would have chosen to stay at the doubletree if I was paying full price. Need to figure if i will get use of points elsewhere other than a few stays at Liverpool John Lennon Hampton

  3. Off topic, sorry.
    Is anyone else who recently applied and has spent on the MBNA Virgin Amex Card, still waiting for the initial 3000 bonus points ?

  4. mrtibbs1999 says:

    This devaluation is gutting for me. I have had a lot of hhonors points over the past year and a bit. At the new ratio, i’d be better getting Avios and booking hotels with them :(

  5. Wasn’t it 2:1 for US based members all along? Can’t remember to ever gotten 1:3.

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