Should you convert Virgin miles to Hilton or other hotel partners?

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.

Virgin Atlantic

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.

Spire Elite card

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.

Kaligo 2

Virgin to Kaligo.com

Virgin has also partnered with hotel booking site Kaligo.com to let you redeem Virgin miles for many hotels in their portfolio.  You can find more details in this article.

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.

(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.)

Bits: Lloyds Avios card bonus gone, City Airport winners, Iberia / Groupon 1p Avios deal back
Fly BA First from Barbados? You can use the Private Jet Terminal!
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Comments

  1. That’s probably the best value Tesco clubcard redemption then. Equates to £4615 of CC vouchers to 1.2 million Virgin for $30k of value. 5:1

    • You could, but Necker redemptions can only be made by Virgin Silver or Gold status holders, so not quite as simple as a clubcard conversion.

      • Yes, they added this rule last year, probably after a US blogger managed to get 1.2m miles purely on the back of US credit card sign up bonuses!

        • Necker used to be 1m miles… Bank of Branson inflation. 🙂 It also doesn’t include flights…

          I seem to recall you also used to be able to combine miles from two people to redeem Necker, is that still a thing?

  2. Hi

    I have 9500 FC miles expiring next week, are there any ways I can transfer or use them (but not for flights) that are possible? I think I can transfer 1000 Amex MR points to extend their validity?

  3. The Original Nick. says:

    Do VS open up more than 2 UC redemption seats on all its flights?

    • Not sure about every flight, but certainly yes for me for a flight next February.
      Got 3 UC to Bdos …

      • And we’ve just returned from New York with the LHR – JFK leg using 4 UC redemptions.

    • Out of interest how are you guys gaining so many virgin miles? I seem to struggle to hit the 100k mark.

  4. If you will be transferring your Flying Club miles to Hilton anyway, is it better to keep your Hilton preference to Points and Points rather than Points and miles (Flying Club).

    O/T: I’ve got Amex Platinum. Once I’ve registered for hotel memberships, how do I go about requesting to upgrade my status as per the Platinum benefits?

    • Genghis says:

      Yes
      P&P = extra 5 HHs/$
      P&M = extra 2V/$ -> 3 HHs
      You upgrade statuses on the Amex Benefits part of your online account.

      • Does anyone know how to upgrade Hertz membership? Website takes me round in circles and the phone numbers I tried didn’t seem especially helpful (just said to use the CEDP number)

        • I have found that adding the (CDP in my case) number to your profile will eventually upgrade your hertz status, just received my new hertz card through the post too. I didn’t need to contact hertz during the process.

    • Go to americanexpress.co.uk/platinum where there is an online form to compete for the hotel status upgrades.

  5. When erewards points stopped being qualifying points for IHG back in Feb I switched my points transfers to Virgin so I could still transfer to IHG for qualifying points. You need a few more erewards points i.e. You need 6500 pts for 2000 Virgin miles which helps toward the minimum 10k transfer.

    • If you have hhonors as an e-rewards partner I think there is quite a good transfer rate at the top end, something like 6500 points = 5000 honors.

      • I do HH on my hubby’s erewards account but I like to keep Spire on my IHG account so now go the Virgin to IHG route. HH is 8000 for 7000 HH pts.

        • Even better than I recalled, thanks! I’m not sure if I will ever do enough surveys to get there, though!

        • Patrick says:

          How do you get invited to join HH E-Rewards? I have been rather successful with my BA account collecting 6500 e-reward points every 35 days, and want to do the same with HH (different email of course!) 🙂

        • If you apply via the Virgin site it gives you access to redeem for lots of other programs with HH and IHG included. You don’t have to be invited.

        • RussellH says:

          Patrick…

          You should consider transfering your e-Rewards points to Iberia rather than BA, at least for smaller amounts. 750 IB Avios for 2000 e-Rewards points rather than 500 BA Avios

          As to getting invited to e-Rewards for Hilton, I got an invite 10 days ago – even though I am already signed up for Hiton with e-Rewards and did an 8000 points for 7000 Hilton fairly recently.

          Currently, though, e-Rewards is not working well for me; either there are no surveys at all or I get thrown out withing a few clicks.

  6. Hilton run some interesting auctions which can prove excellent value, of course only when the price is right. Paddock club at some GPs are an example

  7. O/T (slightly): has anyone seen any Amex transfer bonuses to Virgin (or BAEC) in the last couple years? Thinking of closing my Amex account but have quite a few Amex points so wondering whether it’s worth holding out until a possible transfer bonus. I think the last time I was targeted was in 2013…

    • Not in the last couple of years. If you have enough, a Marriott travel package is probably the best value. 180,000 MRs via SPG to Marriott would get you 120,000 miles plus a week in a Marriott. There are regular hotel transfer bonuses to BA which you would get added to your 120k.

    • No, they seem to have stopped them for UK cardholders

  8. “a transfer from Virgin Atlantic is now the only way to earn a substantial number of ‘status counting’ points in one transaction”

    Not quite true – we got a substantial number in one transaction on the IHG Black credit card the other day for paying stamp duty. I will post how to do this in a few weeks time when it’s all done, as the process was not simple.

    Also regarding the value (again) of Honors points. There are definitely some outsize value redemptions to be had (more so than IHG it seems – although I’m happy to be corrected if anyone knows some great IHG redemptions).

    One day I hope to get to Conrad Rangali. If/when we do it then transferring Virgin miles will be a lot cheaper than paying cash.

  9. Kaligo can be a good deal. Last week for 20k miles i bagged a night in Le Meridien San Francisco

  10. O/T – Flying Qatar in economy class. Is it better to take Virgin Atlantic miles or British Airways. I usually transfer Flying Club to Hilton. Not a heavy Avios collector but if one is better than don’t mind going for that. If the same miles, I will go with Virgin. Thanks

  11. My wife and I both have 10,000 miles each after a trip to America with virgin last year. I’d like to redeem them for a hotel night but will virgin let you combine the miles from the two accounts to produce 1E voucher to use on caligo for example?

  12. OT. I might only come across this T&C first time on IHG Accelerate and would be good for the rest of us to be aware about this issue.

    Called to IHG just now regarding the missing accelerate bonus points and found out that the using the point and cash option (despite it has been regarded as one of the Accelerate category) it will never qualify for Globetrobbel or stay more, earn more rewards. This means that I earn only 2400 bonus points but losing out the bigger bonus from the other categories. Glad that I haven’t booked the other few stays with IHG with the aim to achieve the rest of categories by end of the month.

    • Janeyferr says:

      Points and Cash is just a reward night where you had to pay for some of the points. Reward nights only count if they are specified by the specific target.

  13. OT – I was just checking my IHG offer status and I have a one listed as 20% BPP per night – starts today – ends 30 September. No idea what this is.. base points perhaps? I haven’t signed up for any offers other than the next round of accelerate..

  14. Just had a close look at Hilton points and money for next year in Chicago. The redemption works out at 0.61p per point for 30k points but it doesn’t scale linearly so by the time I get to 60k points the value drops to 0.49p.

    So I guess since 0.6p is double Rob’s valuation I should grab it.

    • Peter K says:

      Depends on how much money you want to spend as well and how many Honor points you have to burn…

      • I always want to spend less money, and I don’t have a huge amount of points 🙂

        I could bulk up the balance by importing from other sources but that calculation shows it’s not worth doing that. The other hotels on the trip were only giving 0.45 and lower so at 0.6 it’s a good compromise and gets me about 30% off the cost for the 3 days.

  15. the real harry1 says:

    OK the Amex Stadium – home of tiddlers/ poddlers Brighton Hove Albion – now in the Premier League & right now playing Man City

    so what ways are there to secure entry on the cheap or points for Amex cardholders?

    • Last year they had a package for Platinum cardholders bookable (for cash) for every game. Oddly it doesn’t seem to be offered for this season – but they will sell you a Chelsea hospitality package!