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How I obtained the new IHG Rewards Club Spire Elite status without doing any stays

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In my article on Friday I showed how difficult it will be to earn the new top tier status in IHG Rewards Club.

Unless you spend £37,500 in a calendar year on the IHG Rewards Club Premium Visa or book a lot of stays which come with a bonus points package, you will need to spend $7,500 before VAT at InterContinental, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza etc hotels in a year to earn the 75,000 base points required.

Unless you’re me, of course.  I have found the one roundabout route left to earn those key 75,000 base points.  By making transfers to IHG from Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.

This page on the Virgin Atlantic website explains how to do it.

Before you say ‘that is a terrible idea’ and close the page, let me explain why.

First, here is the proof from my own account that 1:1 transfers of Virgin Flying Club miles to IHG Rewards Club count as base points:

Spire statement

I will now be Spire Elite until December 2016.  (My actual title is Spire Ambassador as I also have InterContinental Ambassador status.)

I have, in the past, said that transferring Virgin miles to IHG was a bad idea.  Why have I changed my mind?

The trigger is this:  you receive 25,000 bonus IHG Rewards Club points when you reach or renew the new IHG Spire Elite top tier.  These points post instantly to your account – I have already claimed mine as you can see from the screenshot.  There is an alternative of gifting Platinum status to a friend but I have discounted that in this analysis.

Analysing the value of a Virgin Flying Club transfer to IHG

I value IHG Rewards Club points at 0.5p, based on redeeming 50,000 for a five-star InterContinental night valued at £250 in a major city.

Let’s look at three scenarios for getting to the magical 75,000 qualifying points figure, based on different starting levels of elite qualifying points and assuming you take the 25,000 bonus points as your Spire Elite welcome gift:

Current elite pts: 15,000 / Transferred miles:  60,000 / IHG points earned:  85,000 / Value:  £425

Current elite pts:  35,000 / Transferred miles:  40,000 / IHG points earned:  65,000 / Value: £325

Current elite pts:  55,000 / Transferred miles:  20,000 / IHG points earned:  45,000 / Value £225

This values your Virgin miles at:

0.71p (£425 / 60,000) in example one

0.81p (£325 / 40,000) in example two

1.12p (£225 / 20,000) in example three

These are ALL acceptable valuations for a Virgin Flying Club redemption, in my opinion, and the last one is almost generous.

(It obviously depends if you have any specific Virgin redemption plans, of course. In my case, I had 170,000 miles and no plans beyond a solo US Upper Class flight.)

However, you ALSO need to factor in the 100% points bonus that you will receive on your IHG stays whilst you have top tier status AND whatever upgrades and benefits the new tier will bring.  That will add extra value on top.

Another example using Amex points

Imagine that you have no Virgin miles at the moment but obtain them by transferring in from American Express Membership Rewards points at 1:1.

You would get the same valuations – 0.71p per Amex point if you transferred 60,000 up to a whopping 1.12p per Amex point for transferring 20,000.

Again, this assumes ZERO value for the 100% base points bonus you will get as a top tier member or the value of upgrades etc.

If we ever see another American Express Membership Rewards to Virgin Flying Club transfer bonus of 20%-25%, these numbers look even better.

A final example using Tesco Clubcard points

Here is another example.  Imagine that you convert Tesco Clubcard points to Virgin Flying Club to IHG Rewards Club. 

Tesco regularly runs 20% conversion bonuses to Virgin Flying Club.  These bonuses are so frequent that my numbers assume that such a bonus is running and you receive 300 Virgin miles instead of the usual 250 per £1:

Current elite pts: 15,000 / Transferred Tesco to Virgin:  £200 = 60,000 miles / IHG points earned:  85,000 / Value:  £425

Current elite pts:  35,000 / Transferred Tesco to Virgin:  £133 = 40,000 miles / IHG points earned:  65,000 / Value: £325

Current elite pts:  55,000 / Transferred Tesco to Virgin:  £66 = 20,000 miles / IHG points earned:  45,000 / Value £225

This gives you a multiple on your Tesco vouchers of:

2.1x (£425 / £200) in example one

2.4x (£325 / £133) in example two

3.4x (£225 / £66) in example three

Again, not bad.  And, again, it ignore any benefits you get from Spire Elite.

Timing is an issue ….

If you are thinking of doing this, there is a timing issue to consider.

If you need to do a big conversion, perhaps you are better forgetting about your current small number of elite points and waiting until January 2016?  You would then get status until December 2017.

Secondly, you will obviously earn more elite points from your future stays in 2016.  If you are only 20,000 points short and know you will earn those 20,000 before New Year, you need to decide whether the value of Spire on your remaining 2015 stays makes it worthwhile blowing miles.  You CANNOT factor in the 25,000 point bonus in this calculation, because if you will hit Spire anyway then you are getting that regardless.

PS.  Because the new top tier IHG status will be hard to earn, it should have more value at a status match.  You may have an easier time getting matched to the top tier in other hotel chains.  There is additional value in that.

PPS.  Remember that there is no reason why IHG will keep these transfers as status earning in the long term.  For now, though, it works.

IHG Rewards update – July 2021:

Get bonus points: The current IHG Rewards promotion is ‘Triple Your Points’ – our full article is here. It runs from 15th May to 16th August. You receive double base points on your second stay and triple base points on your third and subsequent stays. You can register on this page of

New to IHG Rewards?  Read our two-part overview of IHG Rewards here and here and our article on expiry rules here.

Buy points: If you need additional IHG Rewards points, you can buy them here.

There is a 75% bonus when you buy IHG Rewards points by 13th August.

Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from IHG and the other major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.

Comments (106)

  • Emily says:

    Sorry if this is explained elsewhere, but what happens to points above 75,000? Do they then ‘roll over’ into the following year and count to status then or are they lost and reset at the year end?

    • Emily says:

      I meant lost in terms of status, obviously they are still there for redemptions! Sorry to not be clear!

      • Thunderbirds says:

        Only nights not required to maintain your elite status will be carried across to the following year. Points reset for status but as you say they aren’t lost.

  • Brian says:

    I must say that, until IHG announce any other definite benefits to having this new tier level, I shall be happy to be Gold or Platinum. I find that I get treated well enough, even at Intercontinentals. I’ve had two reward stays at the Mark Hopkins in San Francisco, for instances, possibly the only IC where I would be happy to spend 50,000 points, and have been upgraded on both occasions to very nice corner rooms with great views. The first time I was Platinum, the second time Gold. So I see little reason to try hard to get Spire as it stands.

    • Raffles says:

      That assumes hotels do not start prioritising Spire for upgrades.

    • flibbly says:

      What have you got that I haven’t ?

      I’ve stayed at the Mark Hopkins a few times, and NEVER got any sort of recognition at all !

      Grumble, mumble, bah humbug 😉

  • JQ says:

    Do direct transfers from Amex not count for status then?

  • Graeme says:

    Can anyone comment on whether points earned *before* the change which would now be non-base points (e.g., c.c. sign-up bonus) count towards status? I.e. I have over 60k points because of the recent sign-up bonus – can I just top up to 75k or will that 60k not count?

    • mark2 says:

      My 60,000 points do count.
      If you look on your IHG Rewards Club account it will tell you how many points you need to (a)spire!

      • sandgrounder says:

        Spire as a verb- Michael Gove will be after you! 🙂

      • Guesswho2000 says:

        Indeed, I got the free one, the 30k counted and that hasn’t changed since they apparently stopped doing so.

  • matt says:

    How long did the virgin > ihg transfer take rob?

    • Raffles says:

      5 days – they tell you it can take 30 but that is to cover themselves.

  • Manu says:


    Do other airlines transfers count? Are there others?

  • mark2 says:

    I have previously transferred 10,000 points from Virgin to IHG because I wanted to use them to pay for a stay and they do count towards Spire.
    I have still got 3349 Virgin miles left; has anyone managed to transfer a small random number or is there a high minimum?

  • Jason says:

    Very handy article.
    My wife has 62k points in her account, from the premium Visa card, which is now cancelled. We are only planning reward stays between us. So if I transfer 15k Virgin miles, she will get a 25k bonus, and enough points for 2 nights at an IC 🙂
    It may be worth getting to 132k on each account and using some points for ambassador and getting a free weekend night as well 🙂 🙂

    • mark2 says:

      If you transfer points from her IHG account to yours they will not count towards your status (from my own experience).

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