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Virgin Atlantic transfers to IHG Rewards Club DO still count towards status

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IMPORTANT:  A change in July 2018 means that transfers from IHG to Virgin NO LONGER COUNT FOR STATUS.  This article has only been left up for reference.

Not everyone knows that you can transfer Virgin Flying Club miles into Hilton Honors points (details are here on the Virgin site) and IHG Rewards Club (Holiday Inn, InterContinental, Crowne Plaza etc) points.  See this IHG page on the Virgin website.

Virgin Flying Club miles to IHG Rewards Club

Tomorrow I will review the Hilton Honors transfer option.  Today I want to look at the main reason why you may want to transfer points to IHG Rewards Club.

On paper, transferring Virgin miles to IHG is not attractive.  You only receive 1 IHG Rewards Club point for every 1 Virgin Flying Club mile you transfer.

Since I tend to value IHG Rewards Club points at 0.4p to 0.5p (based on receiving £250 of value for a 60,000 point room at the InterContinental London, Paris, Hong Kong, New York etc), that is not a great result for your Virgin miles.

However, there is one upside to consider on top.

Since IHG Rewards Club changed their rules about what points count towards status, it has become more difficult to obtain 75,000 points each year to earn or retain top tier Spire Elite status.  This article explains what IHG earning activity does and does not count for status.

(Getting mid-tier Platinum Elite status is very easy, because UK residents receive it for free with the £99 IHG Reward Club Premium MasterCard – review here.)

However …. transfers of Virgin Flying Club miles to IHG Rewards Club count towards status.

Every few weeks someone emails me to ask if this deal is still going.  As I found out this week, the answer is ‘Yes’.

With my IHG stays for the year now virtually complete, I found myself on 46,000 status points.  That meant I was 29,000 status points short of renewing Spire Elite.

Spire Elite card

I could have got the IHG credit card again and earned some points that way (credit card points count for status, except for sign-up bonuses) but at the moment I am directing my spend elsewhere.

I called up Virgin Flying Club last week and transferred 30,000 miles to IHG Rewards Club.  Six days later they arrived.  As you can see from this screenshot (click to enlarge):

IHG screenshot

…. they were ‘elite qualifying’ points.

This is why I did it.  Apart from (hopefully) getting me better upgrades and treatment on my IHG stays in 2018, you receive 25,000 bonus IHG points for achieving or renewing Spire Elite.

In effect, I transferred 30,000 Virgin Flying Club into 55,000 (30,000 + 25,000 renewal bonus) IHG Rewards Club points.

That gives me a value of roughly 0.8p per Virgin mile plus the value of whatever benefits Spire Elite brings me next year.  I consider this a good use of 30,000 Virgin miles.

The value gets better the nearer you are to Spire Elite.  If you are only 10,000 status points short by December, you would effectively get 35,000 IHG Rewards Club points for moving 10,000 Virgin miles.  That would get you over 1.5p per Virgin mile of value plus the Spire stay benefits – an excellent deal.

On the other hand, if – for some odd reason – you wanted to earn Spire Elite status from scratch, it is a poorer deal.  75,000 Virgin miles would get you 100,000 (75,000 + 25,000 Spire achievement bonus) IHG points, which values your Virgin miles at around 0.6p each.

That said, it may be worth it if you had IHG stays coming up at, say, a Crowne Plaza where you knew they gave Spire Elite members Club Lounge access.  You can also match IHG Spire Elite to 90 days of Hilton Diamond status via this deal which may work for people who want the guaranteed lounge access that Hilton Diamond brings.

Whether it works for you or not, what I found this week is that IHG Rewards Club transfers from Virgin Flying Club definitely still count towards status.

(Want to earn more Virgin Flying Club miles?  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 (111)

  • Sididdly says:

    I did a similar trick last year and retained IHG Spire status through Hilton stays. Year end was approaching and I was 10,000 short of Spire retention with no IHG stays planned but a few Hilton stays. I had 8000 Virgin miles so just needed to scrape together another couple of thousand. I switched my earning preference to ‘Points & Miles’ with Hilton for a couple of stays, got the additional Virgin miles and then converted to IHG rewards to retain Spire and trigger the bonus.

    • Alex W says:

      Nice. If there’s no Avios bonus, I find Virgin is the best option at 2 points per $ on Hilton stays. Unless you are planning to convert Virgin miles back to Hilton at any point – if so you’re better off with points and points.

  • Anna says:

    OT – currently in the T5 B lounge, both of us managed to get spa appointments, lovely and quiet compared to A, bacon rolls in plentiful supply! Thanks to HFP article earlier in the year 🙂

    • Anna says:

      Though I didn’t notice, any escorts of any nationality.

    • Alan says:

      Yep, definitely much easier to get appointments there – you can also make them from the spa in A gates, so I sometime make an appt then go for breakkie in the Flounge before heading over to B gates for spa appt 🙂

  • Frankie says:

    OT. Newsnight did a 5 minute feature last night called The Highs And Lows of British Airways. Worth a watch.

  • Concerto says:

    OT – the Iberia Groupon deal is back. Check out the thread in the Iberia forum on Flyertalk.

  • Kathy says:

    I’ve been wavering back and forth on whether it’s worth transferring for me, since I would probably end up needing 60k Virgin points to hit Spire. (I just don’t stay in hotels often enough – even a 2 week work trip I did recently was to somewhere with no IHG nearby!)

    The maths is firmly on the side of ‘not’.

    The reason why I waver is that I know how likely I am to decide I should stay in a functional Holiday Inn instead of the lovely Intercontinental if I’m looking at cash prices. It’s a psychological thing – can’t bear to spend the money on something that’s a luxury. Whereas moving points from one programme to another doesn’t feel like spending money – even though I know there’s a big opportunity cost!

    Stupidly, because I rarely stay in hotels and don’t normally pay for ICs – and my trip next year will use up most of my annual leave! -I wouldn’t get a huge benefit from Spire status other than the 25k points.

    Should by cut and dried, right? I should follow the maths. I should just treat myself to the IC on the cash rate this once.

    • John says:

      Spire gets you nothing at IC except possibly 600 welcome points
      If you get any other benefits, you probably would have also received them as a Platinum.

      Personally I’d rather have 5 nights away in a holiday inn express than 1 night in an IC, but enough people feel otherwise

      • Kathy says:

        Fairly unlike to be staying in any hotels for at least a year after the trip I’m planning, so it’s kind of moot – I just won’t have the holiday left. Most of the trip will be spent in actual hostels, so the idea of treating myself to some luxury afterwards is appealing. But maybe I should tell myself the Holiday Inn will be luxury by comparison!

        I’ve just been seduced by the very pretty pictures of the views from the Sydney IC.

        • Alex W says:

          Sydney IC is good. But there’s not much advantage to being Spire, you need to be Ambassador as well.

          If I was you I would get the IHG Black credit card. Maybe wait until the turn of the year.

          Put £10k through that and you have a free night anywhere including ICs. You’ll Laos have at least 20,000 more elite qualifying points – that’s 20,000 fewer Virgin miles you would need to convert to get spire.

          • Kathy says:

            I have the IHG black, but the trip I’m planning to Sydney (flights booked) is before the free night voucher would post at the end of the card year, so that doesn’t help. If I go for the IC the plan would be to use points to get Ambassador for the ‘free night’ voucher (which of course is charged at one night’s Best Flex rate) and add one night on points. I’d then have the choice of paying for 2 cash nights, or transferring my Virgin points and doing another night on points and 1 on points & cash.

            Or I could just stay in the Holiday inn – I’d have enough points for 2 night on points and 1 points & cash, and would then pay for the other 2 nights.

        • Kinkell says:

          Sydney IC is very nice. Was there 2 years ago. Splurged out, lovely room, high floor, view of bridge and opera house club room is on top floor. It was a lovely end to our trip. Go for it!

      • Andy says:

        At my previous couple of IC stays in China/Hong Kong I did get the usual drinks voucher as Spire, but also a food and beverage voucher worth around $10-$15 (no minimum spend), which almost covered a cocktail at the HK IC, had I wished it could have just been a free beer or glass of wine. Not a huge benefit, but it seems to be the norm over there, at least.

    • Pangolin says:

      Nothing from your description of your travel patterns would suggest that turning 60K Virgin miles into 60K IHG points would be worthwhile for getting Spire Elite. For your travel needs, it would just be a waste of 60K miles that you could put to better use elsewhere. You don’t travel a huge amount and you say you prefer the budget brands. At the likes of HIX the rooms are practically all the same anyway, so an upgrade would probably just be a higher floor, corner room or maybe a nespresso machine in the room rather than instant coffee sachets.

      IHG status recognition is worse than any other chain except Accor, so getting Spire status is never something I’d bend over backwards trying to achieve (SPG Platinum – now that’s a different story!).

      The only genuine and irrevocable benefit from having Spire is that you can hoover up points more quickly, with the 100% bonus and the 25K qualification bonus per year. For some people, that in itself would be worthwhile but they’re more likely to be frequent travellers.

      • Kathy says:

        Yes, logically this is all entirely true.

        • John says:

          I can’t stand hostels but if you can, then sure, go for the IC to have a nice end to the trip. Buy ambassador (using points or money) but no point getting spire. Try and stay in another IC before it expires.

    • Lyn says:

      Kathy, it’s your holiday and you should make sure you enjoy it. This is where logic isn’t everything. It makes sense to stay in hostels and look forward to staying somewhere special at the end of your trip.

      Does the IHG Black card give you Platinum? If so, it is likely to help almost as much as Spire at an Intercontinental, or even at a Holiday Inn. But perhaps you’d like to transfer the points to have enough points for a free night at the IC as well as to get Spire? Ambassador membership (bought with points if you would prefer) could help save money for a two night weekend stay (one night paid, one night weekend certificate) if the weekend timing works, as well as give you a room upgrade, but suggest you check the flexible rates first to make sure they seem reasonable and you really are saving money (and remember you’ll earn points as well). If you can add a points night you would have even more time to enjoy it. Perhaps you can find a Holiday Inn in Sydney that looks just as inviting?

      In any case it could be worth contacting the hotel once you have booked to let them know this is a special stay that you are really looking forward to and you have chosen their hotel because of the wonderful views. Hope you have a wonderful trip.

  • Ruth Findlay says:

    O/T any thoughts on the current Avios deal through Iberia/Groupon with the exchange rate how it is?

  • Dave R says:

    OT. I need some advice to bag a redemption if someone can help please…

    I’m hoping to get 4 CW flights to Orlando in August 2018. I realise this may be difficult but I’m happy to fly in/out of MIA, TPA or FLL if required so hopefully this will better my chances. At a push, we could fly out/back from NYC or BOS and sort out some internal flights.

    Is the current recommendation still to book the outbound flight via BA.com as soon as available (I think this is still 350 days before departure?) and then call BA to add the return if/when it becomes available?

    If so, does anyone know what time of day reward flights are released on the BA website and how to go about calling them to add the return? (time of day, UK or international call centre etc)

    Any tips/advice would be greatly appreciated

    • Rob says:

      Yes, but it is 355 days ahead.

      You need to call an open BA office at 1am (during BST, otherwise midnight) to be 100% certain. The seats will drop onto the website a few hours later if not taken.

      Only 2 CW seats and 4 Economy will be loaded at 355 days. Others may or may not be added nearer to departure, based on how the flight is selling. If you want everyone on the same plane (could you stagger it?) then book 2 CW and 2 Economy and rebook the two people in Economy if anything opens up in WTP, CW or First.

      • Dave R says:

        Thanks Rob. 😀

        • Dave R says:

          I thought it was 4 CW per flight so you have save me from some disappointment,

          • mark2 says:

            it does vary; when I booked Seattle there were 9+ in each cabin but no use to you.

          • Genghis says:

            It’s a guaranteed 2 Club World and 4 Economy on every flight. PE and First are not guaranteed, but there could some and indeed more CW and Economy.

      • pauldb says:

        I’m not sure what you mean about seats appearing online a few hours later: IME they always appear online at 1am BST so there is little reason to book the outbound by phone.
        It’s also very common to see more than 2J opened on initial release. We have 5 seats booked to MCO on the first Sunday of the Easter holidays and had our pick of the next 5 days too. On the recent release there are 9+ seats available on the later flight on 30&31 July. From having tried similar in the past, I think is a weekly pattern to the release so if Dave happens to want to go 6/7/13/14 I think he has a good chance of 4 seats.
        There are limits though: we had to accept coming home from NYC … would have preferred IAD as a fallback.

    • Genghis says:

      Reward flights become available at t-355 at midnight GMT, 1am BST. Note that only 2 CW flights are guaranteed at t-355 for any flight.
      Have a read of this: https://headforpoints.com/2017/01/03/which-british-airways-office-call-centre-is-open-now/
      On my last redemption (South Africa so competition fierce), I booked the outbound and then the inbound online when it became available. Called up the following morning to cancel and add it to the 241. If not using a 241, then just book it online as shouldn’t really make a difference to the taxes (and then have two singles).

      • Dave R says:

        Thanks, I am using 2 241’s. From different accounts just to make things more complicated.

    • Anna says:

      In my (relatively limited!) experience, you’re far more likely to find 4 x CW to New York, which would make a fantastic add on. We’re just waiting to take off to GCM on a 2 4 1, but only 2 CW seats were ever going to be released so we booked one cash fare, still saved about £3000 though.

    • Alan says:

      NYC far far more likely to have availability – I’ve done that before then tacked on AA internal flight to MCO for approx £100 – with BA Gold you get decent lounge in JFK and Economy Extra seating, which I find find for a <3h flight.

      • john says:

        Could book internal flights on AA with Avios also and pay minimal taxes although I understand since changes to AA program that Avios availability is worse.

        • Alan says:

          Indeed, I’ve found availability pretty poor apart from on short 1h flights – lots of Avios swilling about in the US with their sign-up bonuses! Also with reasonably competitive cash fares available the Avios pricing can be a bit high given the distances involved.

          • Dave R says:

            I hadn’t considered using avios for internal US flights. probably worth a look as would likely save around £400.

          • Alan says:

            Definitely worth checking, I’ve had some stonkingly good deals on short hops that were outrageously priced. In general on popular longer routes I’ve found the cash prices to be win out. Taxes/fees are gratifyingly low though on redemptions 😀

  • Diydegsy says:

    Hi we are looking to book Flights to Barbados for July 2018 for 4 people and from what I understand everyone is saying we are probably too late to do this on 241? Rob said the other day these flights are impossible to get so has anyone any ideas on the best way to get there by business class apart from digging deep into our pockets or should we look at getting there via another route any suggestions would be helpful. We just found out about this so could not take advantage of the 355 days out. Thanks

    • Rob says:

      July is not peak – Barbados peak is Nov to Easter. We have been twice in June and got seats ok.

    • Peter K says:

      Having booked a redemtion to Barbados in November and having taken a bit of time beforehand to see how the flight availability is, the flights go quickly initially but then quite a lot of availability opens up about 6-8 weeks before the flights are due to leave. Have a look at the availability calandar for this year and you should see what I mean.
      Whether you can wait that late in the day to cofirm your flights is another matter…