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.)
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.)