Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Virgin to Hilton (or SPG to Virgin to Hilton, or Tesco to Virgin to Hilton) …. a little trick

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Because most frequent traveller currencies can either be converted into a different one, or can be earned by converting something else, there are always odd opportunities that get thrown up. Sometimes you can do a conversion which you logically would not expect to be possible. This is one of them.

In general, a golden rule of airline programmes is that you cannot convert OUT of them. Pretty much every hotel and car hire programme lets you convert INTO airline miles, but very rarely the other way.

Virgin Atlantic 747

The main exception is Hilton. There were once quite a few airlines that let you convert into Hilton miles, but they have gradually been chipped away. Virgin is the last major airline offering a conversion into Hilton HHonors points.

The rate isn’t terrible either. Take a look here. Virgin miles can be converted into Hilton points at the rate of 1:2 (minimum 10,000 Virgin, and in multiples of 5,000).

Before Hilton devalued its award chart in February, this was a pretty good deal. It still has some merit, but the numbers don’t look as good as they did. Top-end hotels which were once capped at 50,000 Hilton points a night now run to 80,000-90,000 points, shockingly.

100,000 Virgin miles would get you an Upper Class return to the US West Coast. However, you would be paying £500+ in taxes and charges for that redemption. For some people – those people who prefer a good free hotel rather than a good free airline seat, if a choice must be made – converting those into 200,000 Hilton HHonors points may work.  6 nights at 35,000 points each at a Hilton in Prague may represent a more attractive deal.

Moving Starwood to Virgin Atlantic to Hilton

Most hotel programmes allow you to convert your hotel points into airline miles. However, the most attractive rate by far is offered by Starwood Preferred Guest. The usual transfer rate is 1:1, but you get a 25% bonus if you convert 20,000.

You can therefore do the following transfer:

  • 20,000 Starwood Preferred Guest to 25,000 Virgin Flying Club
  • 25,000 Virgin Flying Club to 50,000 Hilton Hhonors

You would not lose much value by doing this since the quality of hotel you can get for 20,000 SPG points vs 50,000 Hilton HHonors points is pretty similar. The main reason to do this would be if you were travelling somewhere with minimal SPG coverage but a decent Hilton option.

Moving Tesco to Virgin Atlantic to Hilton

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is also a Tesco Clubcard partner. This gives you the chance to turn your Clubcard vouchers into Hilton HHonors points, via Virgin.

Without a transfer bonus, the maths is not hugely compelling:

  • £10 of Tesco Clubcard vouchers gets you 2,500 Virgin Flying Club miles
  • 2,500 Virgin miles (converted in chunks of 10,000) gets you 5,000 Hilton HHonors points

On my valuation of 0.3p per Hilton point, you are only getting 1.5 x face value for your Clubcard vouchers – not great. However, if there is a transfer bonus from Tesco to Virgin going on, then the numbers get more attractive.

It is also worth noting that Hilton HHonors has a ‘cash and points’ option which can get you 0.5p per point (in my opinion), increasing the value of the conversion.

This is obviously a transfer which works best for someone who has an existing pile of Hilton HHonors points to top up. It may also be useful, though, for someone new to Hilton HHonors looking for a deal on a hotel in a city with massive Hilton coverage, such as London or New York.

(PS. For completeness, I should add that Virgin also lets you convert miles into IHG Rewards Club points for Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and InterContinental redemptions. The rate is poorer, though at 1:1. Admittedly, the two currencies are not comparable, but like-for-like you would get a poorer hotel via IHG for converting the same number of Virgin miles.)

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (September 2022)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

You can choose from two official Virgin Atlantic credit cards (apply here, the Reward+ card has a bonus of 15,000 Virgin Points):

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

A generous earning rate for a free card at 0.75 points per £1 Read our full review

You can also earn Virgin Points from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for a year and comes with 20,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 20,000 Virgin Points.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER), £200 travel credit and unbeatable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Small business owners should consider the two American Express Business cards. Points convert at 1:1 into Virgin Points.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Points

(Want to earn more Virgin Points?  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.)

Comments (2)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • moeman says:

    I have recently done a fair bit of miles/points exchanging for a trip to Oz, converting my Tesco vouchers with bonus to Virgin, then converting to HH points, took about 7-10 days to get from Tesco to Hilton, now have over tree weeks of hotels booked on points only (and hopefully will be upgraded to Exec with my hhonors Gold) in blocks of 5 nights to maximise the rate. Another little quirk that will go soon with the end of the double dip; I had virgin selected so each stay at a Hilton earned a bonus 1000 miles which you can then convert back to 2000 hhonors points.

  • Alan says:

    I’m not sure why it’s still marked as being in beta, but this was the tool that Hilton created at the time of the major devaluation this year so that people could see what the seasonal pricing would be for each property. It’s still useful and seems to work OK, so probably could do with losing the beta tag!

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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