Should you get the Virgin credit card and convert the miles to Hilton or IHG?

Virgin Atlantic has a rare feature that allows you to transfer your points into hotel loyalty schemes.   I wrote about this extensively last year when it turned out that it was pretty much the only easy way left to earn IHG’s new top tier Spire status without staying in the hotels.

I thought it was worth having another look at the Virgin Flying Club hotel transfer options in the light of the generous sign-up bonuses currently offered on the Virgin credit cards.  Could you use this to boost your hotel account?

The first thing to say is that it is VERY rare for an airline to allow you to transfer to a hotel scheme.   Finnair still lets you transfer to IHG Rewards Club but at a very poor 2:1 rate, and they also have a tie-up with Accor.  I think that is about it for European airlines.

Virgin Atlantic

You cannot transfer Avios points to ANY hotel scheme – although you can, of course, book hotel rooms with your Avios points and receive around 0.5p per point of value.  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.

Virgin to Hilton

Here is the Hilton page on the Virgin site.

You will see that the transfer rate to Hilton HHonors is 2:3.  The minimum transfer is 10,000 Virgin Flying Club miles and then in increments of 10,000 miles.

Following the Hilton devaluation in 2013, I tend to value Hilton points at 0.3p.  This is based on needing 80,000 points for a five star hotel selling for £250 cash.  ‘Cash and Points’ redemptions, if you can find them, get nearer 0.5p per point.

These valuations are based on redeeming at the higher end luxury hotels.  Hilton offfers far better value at the lower end of the scale where you can achieve 1p per point.  These Category 1 hotels are just 5,000 Hilton points per night (3,333 Virgin miles) whilst these Category 2 hotels are 10,000 Hilton points (6,666 Virgin miles).

Based on my 0.3p valuation, you get just 0.45p of value per Virgin mile when converting to Hilton.  This is not great.

You can get a better result than this by redeeming for Virgin Vouchers.  12,500 miles gets you a £50 voucher valid with various Virgin Group companies.

If you have other uses for Virgin miles I would only recommend a Hilton transfer if you are topping off an account to reach the amount you need for a reward.

On the other hand, as the Virgin White credit card is free and currently comes with 10,000 Virgin miles, you might see this as an easy way of getting 15,000 Hilton HHonors points.  You don’t need to have any plan to ever fly with Virgin.

Spire Elite card

Virgin to IHG Rewards Club

Converting to IHG Rewards Club is marginally better.  This would let you redeem at Holiday Inn, HI Express, Crowne Plaza, InterContinental etc hotels.

I value IHG points at 0.4p to 0.5p as long as InterContinental redemptions remain at 50,000 to 60,000 points.  The transfer ratio from Virgin is 1:1.

0.5p per Virgin mile is still not an excellent return.  However, if you are topping off your IHG balance, it is an easy way to get to the points required for a room.

Where IHG scores over Hilton is that point transfers count towards status.

IHG’s new top tier, Spire, requires you to earn 75,000 IHG base points to achieve it.  This would require around £5,000 of spend in IHG hotels over a calendar year.

Bonus points from IHG promotions do not count towards status.  Neither do sign-up bonuses from IHG credit cards, although normal card spend points do count.  In any case, the IHG credit cards are currently suspended for new applications.

A transfer from Virgin Atlantic is now the only way to earn a substantial number of ‘status counting’ points in one transaction.  This is my story of how I got my Spire card using Virgin miles.

Remember that you receive 25,000 bonus IHG Rewards Club points when you achieve or renew Spire status.  This increases the value you get from transferring in some Virgin miles.

Kaligo 2

Virgin to Kaligo.com

Virgin has also partnered with hotel booking site Kaligo.com to let you redeem Virgin miles for many hotels in their portfolio.  You can find more details in this article.

In general, Kaligo.com will get you 0.4p to 0.6p per mile of value.  The 10,000 Virgin miles from the free Virgin White credit card won’t get you too far here.

(Want to earn more Virgin Flying Club miles?  Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

Bits: Extra BA Las Vegas flights, new BA credit card ... in Kuwait, Iberia wine deal
Earn up to 20,000 bonus Avios with new Kaligo.com hotel promotion!
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.

Comments

  1. I earned a Barclaycard free night last year, and redeemed it for a free IC night in San Francisco. I was upgraded to a 20th floor corner room because of status – I know YMMV, and maybe a platinum too would have been granted the upgrade.

    Also if you’re able to take advantage of Points Breaks stays for 5,000 points a night, you’re effectively getting 2 nights for the price of 1, or 3 nights for the price of 2 if you’re able to redeem for 10,000 a night somewhere you want to be.

    I just wanted to say that you could make Spire for less outlay than £5,000.