Virgin Atlantic has a rare feature that allows you to transfer your points into hotel loyalty schemes. I wrote about this yesterday when I showed you how this is the only easy way left to earn IHG’s new top tier Spire Elite status without staying in the hotels.
I thought it was worth having a look at all of the Virgin Flying Club hotel transfer options. This is especially worthwhile in the light of the sign-up bonuses currently offered on the Virgin credit cards. Could you use this to boost your hotel account?
The first thing to say is that it is VERY rare for an airline to allow you to transfer miles to a hotel scheme. Finnair still lets you transfer to IHG Rewards Club but at a very poor 2:1 rate, and they also have a tie-up with Accor. I think that is about it for European airlines. Qatar Airways also has a tie-up with Accor which launched this year.
You cannot transfer Avios points to ANY hotel scheme – although you can, of course, book hotel rooms with your Avios points and receive around 0.5p per point of value. Iberia Plus will also let you use your Avios for rooms with Barcelo and Iberostar.
To that 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, route or availability issues.
Virgin to Hilton Honors
Here is the Hilton page on the Virgin site. You cannot do a transfer online – it requires a quick phone call to Virgin Flying Club.
You will see that the transfer rate to Hilton Honors is 2:3. The minimum transfer is 10,000 Virgin Flying Club miles and then in increments of 10,000 miles.
I tend to value Hilton points at 0.33p. This is based on typically needing 80,000 points for a five star hotel selling for £250 cash.
This also tends to be the value you get if you use the new ‘points and cash’ redemption option. Following the changes to Hilton Honors earlier this year, you can now use as few as 5,000 Hilton points to get a discount on a cash booking.
You can get better value than this at certain hotels. The Hampton by Hilton in Sheffield is capped at 10,000 points per night, for example, despite selling for £75-£100. In general, though, I recommend sticking with a valuation of 0.33p.
Based on my 0.33p valuation, you get just 0.5p of value per Virgin mile when converting to Hilton.
This is not great. However, it is a better result than redeeming for Virgin Vouchers. 12,500 miles only gets you a £50 voucher valid with various Virgin Group companies.
It is important to note that transfers to Hilton Honors do not count towards status.
Virgin to IHG Rewards Club
As I wrote yesterday, converting to IHG Rewards Club is marginally worse on the face of it. This would let you redeem at Holiday Inn, HI Express, Crowne Plaza, InterContinental etc hotels.
I value IHG points at 0.4p – 0.5p as long as top InterContinental redemptions remain at 60,000 points. The transfer ratio from Virgin is 1:1.
0.4p – 0.5p per Virgin mile is definitely not an excellent return. However, if you are topping off your IHG balance, it is an easy way to get to the points required for a room. Transfers take 5-6 days to reach your IHG account and can only be requested by telephone.
Where IHG scores over Hilton is that point transfers count towards status.
IHG’s top tier, Spire Elite, does not come for free with any of the UK IHG credit cards (Gold and Platinum status does). You need to earn 75,000 IHG base points to achieve it. This would require around £6,000 of spend in IHG hotels in a calendar year.
Bonus points from IHG promotions such as Accelerate do not count towards status. Neither do sign-up bonuses from IHG credit cards, although normal points from card spend do.
As I wrote yesterday, a transfer from Virgin Atlantic is now the only way to earn a substantial number of ‘status counting’ points in one transaction.
Virgin to Kaligo.com
In general, Kaligo.com will get you 0.4p to 0.6p per mile of value. Bookings made through Kaligo.com are treated as ‘third party’ bookings, so you will not receive any points or status benefits if you book a branded hotel through them.
It isn’t a bad option if you are running down your Virgin Flying Club balance. Kaligo.com bookings can also be made online, which may make it easier if you are spending points belonging to a family member.
And for completeness …..
It is worth noting that there are other Virgin accommodation redemptions.
In the UK, you have self catering cottages in Devon at Gitcombe House. This would be an interesting one for my family.
There are also various luxury hotels around the world belonging to Sir Richard Branson, such as Kasbah Tamadot in Marrakech and The Lodge in Verbier.
And, if you have 1.2 million Virgin Atlantic miles, you can redeem for a week on Necker Island! As this currently costs $30,730 for a couple it is surprisingly good value.
How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (November 2020)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!
As well as the two official Virgin Atlantic credit cards (see here, one has a bonus of 15,000 Points), you can also earn from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.
(Want to earn more Virgin Points? 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.)