Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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)

  • Charlie says:

    I’m still waiting for you to try Virgin Upper Class!

    • Rob says:

      So am I! Unless I get an invite to any Virgin route launch, I am looking at next Spring I think, once the snow has melted in New York. I have an Etihad A380 F / Qatar A380 F pencilled in for December which takes out my only realistic window before Christmas.

      • Geoggy says:

        I’ve just done Upper Class return to SFO.

        Happy to answer any questions. My short review is, the LHR clubhouse is great. The seat I didn’t find that comfortable (on an A340), the bar was like sitting in the galley and felt “in the way” the service on board felt broadly on a par with Club World.

        I wasn’t blown away and probably won’t bother again.

        Anyway back on topic, thanks for sharing Rob. I think I’m sticking with IHG Plat Ambassador for now as no IHG stays planned for rest of 2015 and to Easter in 2016.

        I might drop the IHG VISA card also, but suspect by the time I look into it the annual fee will have been charged.

        If I drop the Hilton Vida card this doesn’t affect the free night voucher sat in my HHonours account does it?

        • Rob says:

          No, you’re fine.

        • Peter K says:

          I’ve just received mine and it has a 12 month valid period rather than the 6month mentioned often quoted by Raffles. Is this a new thing…not that I’m complaining of course! 🙂

          • Peter K says:

            My free HHonor Platinum Visa night that is.

          • Rob says:

            They have been showing as 12 months for 2-3 months now. However, until Barclays change the website, I am assuming it is a mistake and not publicising it. It would be a disaster if someone got the card, wanting a free night next Easter, only to find that Barclays had gone back to a 6 month expiry by the time their voucher arrived.

        • Will says:

          I was very disappointed with it also, it’s all show and no go. Flew to Vegas (a340 out, 747 back) Food was average (ran out of starters on way back), the seat having to flip over to go to a bed is a real nightmare if like me you struggle to sleep completely flat on a plane and the aircraft on the return had numerous technical problems.

          The pilot even said “I’m sorry for the trouble from this very tired aircraft, we are just as relieved as you to have finally landed”

          Long story short, the cabin wouldn’t pressurise on the way out, then wouldn’t decompress on landing.

          Apart from the clubhouse, there was nothing of interest.
          747 slightly nicer than the a340 in terms of layout.

          • EvilGazebo says:

            Agree that VS J isn’t all that (bar the clubhouse by all accounts – which I’ve not tried yet as I have only done UC inbound to LHR)

            But show me another airline with, for example, at least 4 x J redemption seats available on both LHR-MIA flights (i.e. 8+ total) for Good Friday 2016. And that’s *after* I booked 4 for us! Given up on avios apart from for European and US domestic redemptions.

          • Geoggy says:

            Can’t argue with that buddy. I got my SFO seats very easily. But the points saving for 2 had been a long slog with credit card sign up bonus and spend plus lots of tesco points, so back to BA for me and the 241 roulette

  • AndyGWP says:

    Got there in the end – at first I was told could only transfer 10000, so quickly came on here and whilst on the phone, I told her it was the 10000 with increments of 5000 above that, so that’s fine.

    She then wanted to set the transfer to take place in a week so I didn’t get an express delivery charge. I told her to just try it immediately so will see what happens now 🙂

    Thanks Raffles – did 15k Amex -> Virgin -> IHG, as already had 60k from credit card and for an extra 25k IHG points seemed a bit of a no brainer (as struggling to spend my Membership Rewards points!)

    • Oscarthegrouch says:

      You’re struggling to spend MRs?? Good god, wish I had that trouble!! You could give them to me…

  • Globetrotter7 says:

    Does anyone know how long it takes for e-rewards points to reach your IHG account? I did a transfer on 17th June but they haven’t reached my IHG account nearly a month later. I’m 544 points short of Spire and my cc spend will only be 526 points this month, leaving a shortfall of 18 points. So close yet so far!!!

    • Liz says:

      Normally just a couple of days – I transferred over 4000 IHG points on Friday and they appeared in my IHG account this morning. Only got 4233 points left to hit Spire – should do that hopefully by end of Aug!

      • Globetrotter7 says:

        Wow okay. I wonder what’s happened to my points. I’ll contact e-rewards about it now. Thank you

        • Liz says:

          Did you get an email confirmation about the redemption straight away when you did it?

          • Globetrotter7 says:

            No I did not. I’ve emailed them, waiting for a reply now

    • Peter K says:

      Sort of relevant. I usually transfer mine for Avios and usually it takes about 3 days or so. Once (this year) however it took exactly the 35 days they say you may have to wait. Not sure why. Check how long it says then if over contact them.

  • Clive says:

    I see the IHG Premium Visa is down to 20K but does anyone know if you get the bonus if you upgrade from standard to premium?

    • Chris says:

      I never but that was a few years back now when it was on the old system. I might be worth calling and asking them if they will match it. They will prob say no but it’s worth a go.

  • Brian says:

    You mean 50 pounds, which is 5000 (plus the bonus)…

  • Ant says:

    I might be missing something obvious but where do I find on the app how many points I need to qualify to the next level? I can see my balance but I have done a lot of redemptions in the last 6 months. Thanks

  • Paul says:

    Well I have pressed the button on this with 10000 orphaned VS miles. As a result will get this new status thanks to the 60,000 sign up bonus earlier this year counting on this occasion towards status.
    For me I have 10 nights in an Intercon beach resort coming up and a further 4 nights in a HI so having this status just prior to arrival should be useful..
    I also plan to convert my 25k bonus to IC ambassador status and this may help with the IC stay…which is on points…….so never guaranteed…but it helps and there is a free weekend night certificate to take into account also….so not a bad conversion in my view for the first year at least.

  • Ian says:

    I only need 3,300 points so should receive this within the next month or 2 from the VISA spend. I only use it for places that do not accept AMEX.

    I have a stay at Crowne Plaza in Sept, want to get upgraded before I go just to see what, if anything, they offer in practice.

    Anything has gotta be better than stale cookies at a holiday inn miami

    • mark2 says:

      I also want an upgrade before Sept, but it is not a far off as it sounds taking into account statement dates and transfer times.
      I am moving all my spending to IHG now to make sure, plus e-Rewards if I can find some surveys that work!

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