Virgin Atlantic transfers to IHG Rewards Club DO still count towards status

Not everyone knows that you can transfer Virgin Flying Club miles into Hilton Honors points (details are here on the Virgin site) and IHG Rewards Club (Holiday Inn, InterContinental, Crowne Plaza etc) points.  See this IHG page on the Virgin website.

Virgin Flying Club miles to IHG Rewards Club

Tomorrow I will review the Hilton Honors transfer option.  Today I want to look at the main reason why you may want to transfer points to IHG Rewards Club.

On paper, transferring Virgin miles to IHG is not attractive.  You only receive 1 IHG Rewards Club point for every 1 Virgin Flying Club mile you transfer.

Since I tend to value IHG Rewards Club points at 0.4p to 0.5p (based on receiving £250 of value for a 60,000 point room at the InterContinental London, Paris, Hong Kong, New York etc), that is not a great result for your Virgin miles.

However, there is one upside to consider on top.

Since IHG Rewards Club changed their rules about what points count towards status, it has become more difficult to obtain 75,000 points each year to earn or retain top tier Spire Elite status.  This article explains what IHG earning activity does and does not count for status.

(Getting mid-tier Platinum Elite status is very easy, because UK residents receive it for free with the £99 IHG Reward Club Premium MasterCard – review here.)

However …. transfers of Virgin Flying Club miles to IHG Rewards Club count towards status.

Every few weeks someone emails me to ask if this deal is still going.  As I found out this week, the answer is ‘Yes’.

With my IHG stays for the year now virtually complete, I found myself on 46,000 status points.  That meant I was 29,000 status points short of renewing Spire Elite.

Spire Elite card

I could have got the IHG credit card again and earned some points that way (credit card points count for status, except for sign-up bonuses) but at the moment I am directing my spend elsewhere.

I called up Virgin Flying Club last week and transferred 30,000 miles to IHG Rewards Club.  Six days later they arrived.  As you can see from this screenshot (click to enlarge):

IHG screenshot

…. they were ‘elite qualifying’ points.

This is why I did it.  Apart from (hopefully) getting me better upgrades and treatment on my IHG stays in 2018, you receive 25,000 bonus IHG points for achieving or renewing Spire Elite.

In effect, I transferred 30,000 Virgin Flying Club into 55,000 (30,000 + 25,000 renewal bonus) IHG Rewards Club points.

That gives me a value of roughly 0.8p per Virgin mile plus the value of whatever benefits Spire Elite brings me next year.  I consider this a good use of 30,000 Virgin miles.

The value gets better the nearer you are to Spire Elite.  If you are only 10,000 status points short by December, you would effectively get 35,000 IHG Rewards Club points for moving 10,000 Virgin miles.  That would get you over 1.5p per Virgin mile of value plus the Spire stay benefits – an excellent deal.

On the other hand, if – for some odd reason – you wanted to earn Spire Elite status from scratch, it is a poorer deal.  75,000 Virgin miles would get you 100,000 (75,000 + 25,000 Spire achievement bonus) IHG points, which values your Virgin miles at around 0.6p each.

That said, it may be worth it if you had IHG stays coming up at, say, a Crowne Plaza where you knew they gave Spire Elite members Club Lounge access.  You can also match IHG Spire Elite to 90 days of Hilton Diamond status via this deal which may work for people who want the guaranteed lounge access that Hilton Diamond brings.

Whether it works for you or not, what I found this week is that IHG Rewards Club transfers from Virgin Flying Club definitely still count towards status.

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Comments

  1. For maximum ‘longevity’ in IHG Spire Elite, can someone please confirm if I am correct in believing that the best time to hit the 75,000 IHG points requirement is the 1st January in any year, as you would then get that full year + the following year? Eg. hit the 75,000 requirement on the 1st January, 2018 and get Spire Elite status for the whole of 2018 and up to 31st December, 2019??

    • Yes if the Virgin transfer method is your only way to earn IHGs. I’d suggest that most wait till nearer year end when you know how many IHGs you then have and then top up from Virgin.

      • Many thanks for confirming that Genghis!
        Nick

      • Or perhaps if you don’t already have SE and would like it for upcoming stays then do the transfer at the start of the year. If renewing, definitely wait till end

        • I agree. I only did it now because I know I won’t have much in the way of IHG cash stays before the year end and I wanted to lock down the offer now, just in case Virgin pull it or IHG changes the rules on the points counting. I don’t think they will but it was a pointless risk to take.

  2. Philip White says:

    Quick query. I’m about 12k short of Spire, with some points to land soon from CC spend. But have 4k of Virgin FC points as well…

    What period does the IHG year run? (Jan-dec or is it personal based on your sign-up date).

    What is the smallest transfer you can do from Virgin FC to IHG?

  3. I’m currently on 45k and starting to think about how to top that up, possibly via a Virgin transfer. But oddly my account says “Elite status expiration date: 31 December 2018”, which would suggest I don’t need to worry about it until next year. Or will I find myself dropped to Platinum on January 1st 2018 if I don’t? I’m assuning it may have something to do with my Ambassador year running from April, perhaps. Any ideas? And most importantly, do I need to hit the 75k if I want to keep Spire Elite next year?

    • Ssshhh

      • If you buy Ambassador for the first time, it appears – accidentally? – to extend your Elite status for another year. You should therefore retain Spire next year. I assume you haven’t been given the menu option (under ‘Spire Benefits’) to claim another 25,000 points though?

        • My Platinum status has continued to renew with my Ambassador renewal each year. Not sure if there is some sort of grandfathering here.

        • My Spire has renewed for two years due to the Ambassador renewal. Do not get the 25,000 pts but saves having to top up with Virgin pts.

          • Same here – last 2 years. Although am just about to hit 75K points due to tax on the credit card. I’m expecting/hoping to be offered the 25K points at that point.

        • Hmmm, fairly sure I’ve had two lots of 25k Spire benefits so far… And I’m on year 2 of Ambassador – was due to renew originally in December 2016 but after I complained about them taking six months to send my welcome pack, they extended to April 2017, so I renewed for 2017/18 then. Maybe that triggered a Spire extension too… Not complaining anyway 😉 But would be irritating to get to Jan 1st and discover it was an IT glitch, by which time it would be too late to top up 😉

  4. I know we’ve had this discussion before but I still think your undersell the value of the IHG points. Whilst they can be purchased for ~0.44p each when there is a 100% bonus, I would fairly consistently get 0.55p value when redeeming them. That doesn’t include the 5000 points per night PointBreaks redemptions – I recently made a booking that got about 1.9p per point.

    • If you can buy points for 0.44p (less say a 10% discount as reward stays do not earn points back, the % being affected by your split of Accelerate (can v profitable) and non accelerate stays and your specific accelerate targets etc) 0.4p is therefore the ref point for any other purchase (mattress run) / transfer (Virgin). I’d think of valuing points at lower of cost and NRV and then making a gain / loss on disposal.

      • I take your point. Though if I buy points at 0.44p, perhaps it could be argued that it’s costing me 0.73p as the tax man has already taken 40% of that money!
        It’s a moot point, as I wouldn’t buy 55000 IHG points – I just wouldn’t make the hotel stay. However, I would transfer 30000 Virgin miles, and have done.

        • Huh? That only makes sense if you can reclaim your income tax on paid stays too.

          And your valuation of 1.9p only works if you really would have paid £100 (which would earn points) for that stay. I wouldn’t pay much more than £50 for the majority of hotels on the latest pointsbreaks list… Thus regardless of what the hotel was actually charging, I would only be getting around 1p per point if I redeemed there.

          • Yeah I know, the tax thing was a bit tongue in cheek.

            It’s a genuine saving as I got the HIX in Croydon when I would otherwise have paid for a hotel on London.

  5. Recently Asian Escort Babes is Vegas’s number one escort agency. They offers access to many of Nevada’s most elite young ladies. Their service at [] is high-class and discreet. Asian Escort Babes is the place where you will find the most sexy dates in Sin City.

    • Shouldn’t you have posted this on the Telegraph website, where government ministers with expenses accounts are more likely to see it?

    • Eerrr. Excuse me?

      • Our correspondent is helpfully informing us of the excellent service offered by a company called Asian Escorts Babes in Las Vegas. It seems that the discreet and high class service is now ‘number one’ in that city, although it is unclear if this means it has won some sort of industry award, or whether it is the biggest by reference to number of escorts or turnover. In any case, this is very helpful stuff for any readers looking for sexy dates with elite young ladies. In future I would encourage the poster to put ‘OT’ at the start posts like this that do not relate to the article itself, or instead wait for Rob to write an article on the relative merits of the myriad of Las Vegas escort agencies and comment then. I would also encourage the OP to remember that the underlying purpose of the site is to discuss loyalty schemes, so telling us what he knows of the Asian Escort Loyalty scheme would be very helpful.

    • ”Recently”?? How recently? Is this like the Premier League table printed after one game? It’s a marathon not a sprint you know? Also, can you enlighten me as to how it arrived at number one? the points are scored?…On second thoughts, maybe not

    • Thanks Joseph. That’s great info and very timely as I’m in my room in Caesars Palace and I can hear sounds of 1am debauchery coming from Cleopatra’s Barge downstairs.
      Actually can’t wait to get out of LV in the morning and head to Zion. I’m on my first J redemption holiday so proper thanks to Rob and everyone else on HfP who has helped get me here. Rather than following Joseph’s tip what I’m actually doing is booking J to JNB for next summer 😀 Have fun back in Blighty y’all.

    • Do they take Amex and would the transaction count as a purchase or a cash advance?

  6. OT- Curve at UK Airport

    Has anyone used Curve with Lloyds Avios card with currency set as EUR and withdrawn EUR from Airport ATM which has such an option?
    I assume this withdrawal will not attract any fees if you are withdrawing within the withdrawal allowance of £200?

    • I would have thought that’s fine, but won’t the cash point charge you a high fee?

    • I think the majority of UK airport ATMs do not allow withdrawals in euros but rather serve as euro banknote vending machines.

      Would be safer to just withdraw from a proper euro ATM in the eurozone

    • I thought those machines issued EUR at some ludicrously poor rate but still charged in GBP? I’d say safer to stick to withdrawing when abroad.

    • the_real_a says:

      If it charges the underlying card in Euro`s then it will be fee free. The issue is when i tried they were charging an unavoidable ATM fee, or a hard to decline (i couldn’t find a way!) dynamic currency conversion (charged in pounds) – however people on here did report success when curve was launched. There are Euro ATM machines around canary wharf / central London branches if you are in the city and want to test it out with a smaller amount.

    • and also have you checked for cash advance fee which is normal on credit cards?

      • There won’t be a cash advance fee when using Curve though, that’s the benefit of it – puts the transaction through as a purchase on your card :)

  7. Rob,

    I have exactly same entries in my account with same date.
    Only difference being I have used 15K VS miles instead of 25K.

  8. Slightly dumb question – can you transfer Virgin points in to get Spire Elite and then transfer them back out to Virgin again?

  9. Sididdly says:

    I did a similar trick last year and retained IHG Spire status through Hilton stays. Year end was approaching and I was 10,000 short of Spire retention with no IHG stays planned but a few Hilton stays. I had 8000 Virgin miles so just needed to scrape together another couple of thousand. I switched my earning preference to ‘Points & Miles’ with Hilton for a couple of stays, got the additional Virgin miles and then converted to IHG rewards to retain Spire and trigger the bonus.

    • Nice. If there’s no Avios bonus, I find Virgin is the best option at 2 points per $ on Hilton stays. Unless you are planning to convert Virgin miles back to Hilton at any point – if so you’re better off with points and points.

  10. OT – currently in the T5 B lounge, both of us managed to get spa appointments, lovely and quiet compared to A, bacon rolls in plentiful supply! Thanks to HFP article earlier in the year :-)

    • Though I didn’t notice, any escorts of any nationality.

    • Yep, definitely much easier to get appointments there – you can also make them from the spa in A gates, so I sometime make an appt then go for breakkie in the Flounge before heading over to B gates for spa appt :)

  11. OT. Newsnight did a 5 minute feature last night called The Highs And Lows of British Airways. Worth a watch.

  12. Concerto says:

    OT – the Iberia Groupon deal is back. Check out the thread in the Iberia forum on Flyertalk.

  13. I’ve been wavering back and forth on whether it’s worth transferring for me, since I would probably end up needing 60k Virgin points to hit Spire. (I just don’t stay in hotels often enough – even a 2 week work trip I did recently was to somewhere with no IHG nearby!)

    The maths is firmly on the side of ‘not’.

    The reason why I waver is that I know how likely I am to decide I should stay in a functional Holiday Inn instead of the lovely Intercontinental if I’m looking at cash prices. It’s a psychological thing – can’t bear to spend the money on something that’s a luxury. Whereas moving points from one programme to another doesn’t feel like spending money – even though I know there’s a big opportunity cost!

    Stupidly, because I rarely stay in hotels and don’t normally pay for ICs – and my trip next year will use up most of my annual leave! -I wouldn’t get a huge benefit from Spire status other than the 25k points.

    Should by cut and dried, right? I should follow the maths. I should just treat myself to the IC on the cash rate this once.

    • Spire gets you nothing at IC except possibly 600 welcome points
      If you get any other benefits, you probably would have also received them as a Platinum.

      Personally I’d rather have 5 nights away in a holiday inn express than 1 night in an IC, but enough people feel otherwise

      • Fairly unlike to be staying in any hotels for at least a year after the trip I’m planning, so it’s kind of moot – I just won’t have the holiday left. Most of the trip will be spent in actual hostels, so the idea of treating myself to some luxury afterwards is appealing. But maybe I should tell myself the Holiday Inn will be luxury by comparison!

        I’ve just been seduced by the very pretty pictures of the views from the Sydney IC.

        • Sydney IC is good. But there’s not much advantage to being Spire, you need to be Ambassador as well.

          If I was you I would get the IHG Black credit card. Maybe wait until the turn of the year.

          Put £10k through that and you have a free night anywhere including ICs. You’ll Laos have at least 20,000 more elite qualifying points – that’s 20,000 fewer Virgin miles you would need to convert to get spire.

          • I have the IHG black, but the trip I’m planning to Sydney (flights booked) is before the free night voucher would post at the end of the card year, so that doesn’t help. If I go for the IC the plan would be to use points to get Ambassador for the ‘free night’ voucher (which of course is charged at one night’s Best Flex rate) and add one night on points. I’d then have the choice of paying for 2 cash nights, or transferring my Virgin points and doing another night on points and 1 on points & cash.

            Or I could just stay in the Holiday inn – I’d have enough points for 2 night on points and 1 points & cash, and would then pay for the other 2 nights.

        • Sydney IC is very nice. Was there 2 years ago. Splurged out, lovely room, high floor, view of bridge and opera house club room is on top floor. It was a lovely end to our trip. Go for it!

      • At my previous couple of IC stays in China/Hong Kong I did get the usual drinks voucher as Spire, but also a food and beverage voucher worth around $10-$15 (no minimum spend), which almost covered a cocktail at the HK IC, had I wished it could have just been a free beer or glass of wine. Not a huge benefit, but it seems to be the norm over there, at least.

    • Pangolin says:

      Nothing from your description of your travel patterns would suggest that turning 60K Virgin miles into 60K IHG points would be worthwhile for getting Spire Elite. For your travel needs, it would just be a waste of 60K miles that you could put to better use elsewhere. You don’t travel a huge amount and you say you prefer the budget brands. At the likes of HIX the rooms are practically all the same anyway, so an upgrade would probably just be a higher floor, corner room or maybe a nespresso machine in the room rather than instant coffee sachets.

      IHG status recognition is worse than any other chain except Accor, so getting Spire status is never something I’d bend over backwards trying to achieve (SPG Platinum – now that’s a different story!).

      The only genuine and irrevocable benefit from having Spire is that you can hoover up points more quickly, with the 100% bonus and the 25K qualification bonus per year. For some people, that in itself would be worthwhile but they’re more likely to be frequent travellers.

      • Yes, logically this is all entirely true.

        • I can’t stand hostels but if you can, then sure, go for the IC to have a nice end to the trip. Buy ambassador (using points or money) but no point getting spire. Try and stay in another IC before it expires.

    • Kathy, it’s your holiday and you should make sure you enjoy it. This is where logic isn’t everything. It makes sense to stay in hostels and look forward to staying somewhere special at the end of your trip.

      Does the IHG Black card give you Platinum? If so, it is likely to help almost as much as Spire at an Intercontinental, or even at a Holiday Inn. But perhaps you’d like to transfer the points to have enough points for a free night at the IC as well as to get Spire? Ambassador membership (bought with points if you would prefer) could help save money for a two night weekend stay (one night paid, one night weekend certificate) if the weekend timing works, as well as give you a room upgrade, but suggest you check the flexible rates first to make sure they seem reasonable and you really are saving money (and remember you’ll earn points as well). If you can add a points night you would have even more time to enjoy it. Perhaps you can find a Holiday Inn in Sydney that looks just as inviting?

      In any case it could be worth contacting the hotel once you have booked to let them know this is a special stay that you are really looking forward to and you have chosen their hotel because of the wonderful views. Hope you have a wonderful trip.

  14. Ruth Findlay says:

    O/T any thoughts on the current Avios deal through Iberia/Groupon with the exchange rate how it is?

  15. OT. I need some advice to bag a redemption if someone can help please…

    I’m hoping to get 4 CW flights to Orlando in August 2018. I realise this may be difficult but I’m happy to fly in/out of MIA, TPA or FLL if required so hopefully this will better my chances. At a push, we could fly out/back from NYC or BOS and sort out some internal flights.

    Is the current recommendation still to book the outbound flight via BA.com as soon as available (I think this is still 350 days before departure?) and then call BA to add the return if/when it becomes available?

    If so, does anyone know what time of day reward flights are released on the BA website and how to go about calling them to add the return? (time of day, UK or international call centre etc)

    Any tips/advice would be greatly appreciated

    • Yes, but it is 355 days ahead.

      You need to call an open BA office at 1am (during BST, otherwise midnight) to be 100% certain. The seats will drop onto the website a few hours later if not taken.

      Only 2 CW seats and 4 Economy will be loaded at 355 days. Others may or may not be added nearer to departure, based on how the flight is selling. If you want everyone on the same plane (could you stagger it?) then book 2 CW and 2 Economy and rebook the two people in Economy if anything opens up in WTP, CW or First.

      • Thanks Rob. 😀

        • I thought it was 4 CW per flight so you have save me from some disappointment,

          • it does vary; when I booked Seattle there were 9+ in each cabin but no use to you.

          • It’s a guaranteed 2 Club World and 4 Economy on every flight. PE and First are not guaranteed, but there could some and indeed more CW and Economy.

      • I’m not sure what you mean about seats appearing online a few hours later: IME they always appear online at 1am BST so there is little reason to book the outbound by phone.
        It’s also very common to see more than 2J opened on initial release. We have 5 seats booked to MCO on the first Sunday of the Easter holidays and had our pick of the next 5 days too. On the recent release there are 9+ seats available on the later flight on 30&31 July. From having tried similar in the past, I think is a weekly pattern to the release so if Dave happens to want to go 6/7/13/14 I think he has a good chance of 4 seats.
        There are limits though: we had to accept coming home from NYC … would have preferred IAD as a fallback.

    • Reward flights become available at t-355 at midnight GMT, 1am BST. Note that only 2 CW flights are guaranteed at t-355 for any flight.
      Have a read of this: http://www.headforpoints.com/2017/01/03/which-british-airways-office-call-centre-is-open-now/
      On my last redemption (South Africa so competition fierce), I booked the outbound and then the inbound online when it became available. Called up the following morning to cancel and add it to the 241. If not using a 241, then just book it online as shouldn’t really make a difference to the taxes (and then have two singles).

    • In my (relatively limited!) experience, you’re far more likely to find 4 x CW to New York, which would make a fantastic add on. We’re just waiting to take off to GCM on a 2 4 1, but only 2 CW seats were ever going to be released so we booked one cash fare, still saved about £3000 though.

    • NYC far far more likely to have availability – I’ve done that before then tacked on AA internal flight to MCO for approx £100 – with BA Gold you get decent lounge in JFK and Economy Extra seating, which I find find for a <3h flight.

      • Could book internal flights on AA with Avios also and pay minimal taxes although I understand since changes to AA program that Avios availability is worse.

        • Indeed, I’ve found availability pretty poor apart from on short 1h flights – lots of Avios swilling about in the US with their sign-up bonuses! Also with reasonably competitive cash fares available the Avios pricing can be a bit high given the distances involved.

          • I hadn’t considered using avios for internal US flights. probably worth a look as would likely save around £400.

          • Definitely worth checking, I’ve had some stonkingly good deals on short hops that were outrageously priced. In general on popular longer routes I’ve found the cash prices to be win out. Taxes/fees are gratifyingly low though on redemptions 😀

  16. Diydegsy says:

    Hi we are looking to book Flights to Barbados for July 2018 for 4 people and from what I understand everyone is saying we are probably too late to do this on 241? Rob said the other day these flights are impossible to get so has anyone any ideas on the best way to get there by business class apart from digging deep into our pockets or should we look at getting there via another route any suggestions would be helpful. We just found out about this so could not take advantage of the 355 days out. Thanks

    • July is not peak – Barbados peak is Nov to Easter. We have been twice in June and got seats ok.

    • Having booked a redemtion to Barbados in November and having taken a bit of time beforehand to see how the flight availability is, the flights go quickly initially but then quite a lot of availability opens up about 6-8 weeks before the flights are due to leave. Have a look at the availability calandar for this year and you should see what I mean.
      Whether you can wait that late in the day to cofirm your flights is another matter…

  17. the real harry1 says:

    O/T no name changes allowed on BA tickets https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/4220468/lucifer-tom-ellis-blasts-british-airways-over-ticket-row/

    as it happens a couple of years ago I did get those nice people in BA CS to change a name foc on one of our 5 tickets

    but then again I didn’t rant madly at them like some talentless over-rated ‘TV star’, just asked pleasantly

    • “Star?” Never heard of him. But if the story is true and he bought a “flexible ticket”, surely a refund is possible?

  18. O/T but Virgin related.
    Myself and my partner needs 170,000 Flying Club points for two UC redemptions. In one account we have 143,000 points and in another 33,000. Pooling the points doesn’t seem to be allowed, and transferring the 33,000 to the other account costs nearly £250.
    Is there another trick that i’m missing?
    Thanks!

    • Can’t one person book one leg of the other person (therefore cost 42,500 to the person with the fewer miles) so would need to find another 10k from somewhere?

      • Used to be able to, have been reports on v flyer of the new delta system not allowing this

        • I’d suggest calling Virgin. I enquired recently and was told this is the case (but didn’t book – just planning a redemption). Alternatively could be constructed as two singles, one paid by person with larger balance and one by person with smaller balance?

    • You can only pool if you are Gold. You could sign up for the black credit card and you’d have most of the points you need. Minus the £140 fee but it’s cheaper than your £250 transfer.

    • pointsarb says:

      Find a friendly UC agent and they will transfer the miles for you between accounts there and then free of charge while you’re on the phone. I did this around 2 months ago so not sure if things have now changed but worth a try?

  19. O/T :
    I have a free BA Amex card and have spent around £9,800 on it. My understanding is that by upgrading to the BA premium card, that I will receive the 2-4-1 voucher once hitting the £10,000.
    I want to pay as little as possible for this. Therefore my question is do I need to basically upgrade just before hitting the 10k trigger, then downgrade as soon as the 2-4-1 voucher is posted? Therefore it will only cost me a few days/week of having the BA premium card? Thanks for your help!

    • Should work either way. If you are already over it triggers immediately.

      • Great, thanks. And what is the turnaround time for getting the BA 2-4-1? Is it doable to get the 2-4-1 and downgrade the BA card within 1-2 weeks?

        • The 241 can take a few weeks to post (sometimes days though). I’d perhaps allow a month’s fees, but a bargain at say £16!

          • And depending on your circumstances you might want to pay the taxes on the BAPP for 3 avios/£.

        • I just did this within the last month. 2for1 posted to BA account a few days after I hit the spend on card.
          I haven’t downgraded yet, probably will next month.

  20. Any ideas on spending £150 at Heathrow?
    Flying out soon and hoping can buy a GC or something and earn Heathrow rewards bonus.

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