Nutmeg Avios

How to convert Marriott or SPG points into Hilton or IHG points

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.

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

The rate isn’t great to be honst. Take a look here. Virgin miles can be converted into Hilton points at the rate of 2:3 (minimum 10,000 Virgin, and in multiples of 5,000).

Virgin also lets you convert into IHG Rewards Club points.  Take a look here.  The conversion rate is 1:1 (minimum 10,000 Virgin and in multiples of 5,000).

I value a Hilton point at 0.33p and an IHG point at 0.4p-0.5p.  Whichever way you go, you won’t be getting more than 0.5p of value for each Virgin mile you move.

The IHG option has a ‘kicker’ though.  Transfer from Virgin Flying Club to IHG Rewards Club count towards IHG status.  Since you receive 25,000 bonus IHG Rewards Club points for hitting Spire Elite status with 75,000 points, and will then receive a 100% points bonus on every IHG stay whilst a Spire member, there is a decent argument for saying that the IHG deal is good value.

Let’s imagine you will end the year with 50,000 IHG status points.  Transferring 25,000 Virgin miles to IHG would get you 25,000 IHG points.  It would also trigger Spire Elite status and thus a bonus of 25,000 IHG points.  That means you are effectively getting 2 IHG points per 1 Virgin mile in this specific scenario PLUS the benefits of Spire Elite.

For anyone who earns Virgin Flying Club miles through work but doesn’t like redeeming them for flights due to the taxes and charges, this could be a good way to use them.

Moving Marriott to Starwood to Virgin 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.

Since the merger of Starwood and Marriott completed, you have been able to transfer your Marriott Rewards points into Starwood Preferred Guest at the rate of 3:1.  The minimum transfer is 1,000 points.  Transfers are free, instant and can be done an unlimited number of times.

You could therefore do the following transfer:

  • 60,000 Marriott Rewards points to 20,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points
  • 20,000 Starwood Preferred Guest to 25,000 Virgin Flying Club miles
  • 25,000 Virgin Flying Club miles to 37,500 Hilton HHonors points or 25,000 IHG Rewards Club points

(Sending 60,000 Marriott points directly to Virgin would only get you 20,000 Flying Club miles so you gain 25% by going via Starwood.)

You won’t gain any value by doing this.  In general, 60,000 Marriott points will get you a better hotel than 37,500 Hilton HHonors points or 25,000 IHG Rewards Club points.  The main reason to do this would be if you were travelling somewhere with minimal SPG or Marriott coverage but a decent Hilton or IHG option.

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

The three different types of loyalty credit cards I own
Bits: Kids fly free to Scandinavia, two nights for the price of one at Macdonald Hotels
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  1. I know you are just pointing this out as an option and not recommending it, but I really hope nobody actually would follow through and do it, unless really in an emergency. Without going through the Maths, by the commonly agreed valuations, you are losing up to 70% of the value of your Marriott or Starwood points if you transfer this way to IHG or Hilton.

  2. Tilly71 says:

    If you hit spire and get the 25k bonus, if you use the lot and drop back say to Platinum when you hit 75k again do they crdit you another 25k of points or is that bonus a one off?

  3. Today must be a VERY quiet news day in the points and miles world! :))

    • I am basically out of the office for 2.5 weeks starting today (Radisson event, a 2 day conference Tue/Wed, 10 days in Dubai from Thu, World Travel Market) so you better get used to stuff like this 🙂

  4. Lady London says:

    Have the benefits of Spire turned out to be worth it?

    Or is it just worth buying Ambassador with points or cash instead?

    • Until Spire gets some hard guaranteed benefits (eg free breakfast, guaranteed club access etc) I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it. However, it is really down to how particular hotels treat you – if you are in a particular place once a month and that hotel treats Spire members very well then it is worth doing.

  5. Tilly71 says:

    Anyone seen VA miles from latest clubcard auto convert hit accounts yet?

  6. Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    Does SPG-Marriott-SPG reset expiry?

  7. Hingeless says:

    OT – has anyone won the instant win game on accors smart traveller game? I wonder what the odds are?

    • Andrew H says:

      I just casually refreshed awardwallet and was surprised to see 20,000 points added to my Accor account. I logged in straightaway and it’s back to 0 again…

      • Andrew H says:

        I assume it was a mistake – someone uploaded the points to the wrong account and realised pretty quickly – but oh to dream for a minute or two! Oh well…

        • Genghis says:

          It’s been mentioned before and we think it’s some kind of system refresh as when it says your account has 20k points, it also says you have account number 123456789 and no status.

        • Andrew H says:

          Thhanks Genghis. An awardwallet error or an accor error?

        • Tilly71 says:

          Accor error monthly i believe.

        • Genghis says:

          Yes Tilly71. An Accor error which then pulls through to Awardwallet.

        • Indeed – Accor IT actually manage to make Hilton IT seem vaguely competent! Their website is an embarrassment (as see on the FT thread discussing it!)

  8. I currently have Spire Elite status expiring at the end of this year. I am unlike to qualify again and although I haven’t seen any benefit from it yet, I would like to keep it if possible. I have not yet used my joining gift (25,00 points or gifting status to a friend). If I gift status to my wife, does she receive the same gift options and therefore enabling me to get it back next year?

    • You are only gifting her Platinum so she doesn’t get any gift to give back to you.

    • the only benefit that I have seen is the status match to Hilton Diamond which has been very useful.