Bits: odd “Virgin miles from Virgin Trains” rule, earn SPG points with Hertz, 80% bonus buying Hilton points

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News in brief:

Odd quirk when earning Virgin miles from Virgin Trains

When you travel with Virgin Trains West Coast, you can choose to earn either Nectar points or Virgin Flying Club miles, assuming you book directly on the Virgin Trains website.

Following changes last year, the rate is now:

  • 2 Nectar points per £1 spent, or
  • 1 Virgin Flying Club mile per £1 spent

Since you should be able to get more than 1p from your miles, I was generally keener on crediting to Virgin Flying Club.

A reader has pointed out a quirk in the system, however.

If you take Nectar points, you get points for the entire value of the ticket you book, even if some of the travel is on another train operator

If you take Virgin Flying Club miles, you earn NOTHING if any part of your journey is on another train operator

The first point is well known and publicised on the Virgin Trains website.  The second point is not.  Our reader had been trying to retroclaim points from Virgin Flying Club when they came clean about this rule.

Make sure that you choose Nectar points as your reward if you are booking Virgin Trains West Coast and using a mix of train operators.

Nectar Virgin Trains

Earn Starwood Preferred Guest points with Hertz

Starwood has added Hertz as a car rental partner.  This is not hugely surprising, since Starwood’s new owner Marriott already has a Hertz partnership.

The rate is not hugely generous at 200 SPG points per rental.  These convert into 600 Marriott Rewards points or, if you are crediting to Avios, 200 Avios points.  You will need to reach certain thresholds depending on your SPG status before you can transfer points to airlines.

Interestingly, this is more generous than crediting a Hertz rental to Marriott Rewards.  You only earn 500 points for doing that, compared with 200 SPG points (600 Marriott points) via this route.

One extra benefit is that SPG Platinum members receive free Hertz Five Star status.

As far as hotel partners go, Hertz also works with IHG Rewards Club and, for rentals outside the US, Le Club AccorHotels.

However, for most people the most generous way to earn miles and points from Hertz is with Virgin Flying Club.  You earn 1,000 Virgin miles per rental as this page of the Flying Club website explains.  That is where my occasional Hertz rentals get sent.

Details of the Starwood / Marriott partnership can be found here.

80% bonus for buying Hilton Honors points

Until 16th March, Hilton Honors is offering an 80% bonus when you purchase 10,000+ points.

The Hilton ‘buy points’ page is here.

Regular readers of Head for Points will know that I tend to value Hilton points at 0.3p each.  You are paying 0.39p ($800 / £566 for 144,000) here so the maths does not look good.  That said, the strengthening of Sterling means this is a better deal than when it last ran in December.

Five star Hilton, Conrad and Waldorf-Astoria hotels typically run to 80,000 points per night.  In this sale you would be paying $444 for 80,000 points which is often more than you would be paying for a five star in a major city.  This is not a bargain.

However, Hilton Honors IS a decent deal at cheaper point levels.   To dig out my ‘usual suspect’ examples, the Hampton by Hilton in Sheffield, for example, is 10,000 points per night on most nights.  At 0.39p per point you would be paying roughly £39 per night if you bought the points.  That is a 61% discount on the typical nightly rate of £100.  Hampton properties include free breakfast as well.

On the other hand, the Hilton Sheffield is 30,000 points per night.  You would be paying around £117 for those points which is the same as the typical £125 cash cost – and you would earn points and miles back on the cash rate.

If you just buying a handful of points to top off your account, the price per point doesn’t matter anyway.  If you a few thousand short of a redemption then this is a decent opportunity to buy them.

(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: Clubcard to Avios and Virgin transfer offers, excellent Hilton / Lufthansa Miles & More deal
Bits: Virgin Atlantic unveils former Air Berlin A330-200, Flying Blue promo awards, new Lufthansa logo
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  1. I didn’t realise the 2000/5000 Marriott points for a Hertz rental had ended on 31 Dec. It was a nightmare trying to get the points to credit though. They went missing every time and I’m still waiting for 5000 points from December.

    • Same, would never got the points to track after multple rentals. Have switched to another partner.

  2. OT but you can get 1500 Marriott points for answering 3 questions on twitter about the Superbowl before 6am EST.

    the answers are 14, 1992, and 1

    • Peter K says:

      Thanks Lumma. Would never have spotted those or got the points without your help 🙂

      • Don’t really do Twitter. Can someone explain as if talking to an idiot whose never heard of Twitter what you need to do for these Marriott points please.

        • I had never even seen Twitter before this offer but it is quite simple:
          1) go here and register You need ‘Connect to Twitter’ and ‘Follow Twitter’. You can join here and you get 750 points.
          2) go here and log in using the account that you have just created. The places to get NFL points are the three large blue rectangles. For each one send a message by clicking on the first bubble icon under the rectangle which says something like ’29K’ against it. The message is the answer suffixed with #RewardPoints, so for the first one send 1#RewardPoints

        • 1. Spend time learning English first. Particularly the difference between ‘who’s’ and ‘whose’. Fixing poor English skills is far more important in life than a high points balance.
          2. Find some way of using this new-fangled ‘internet’ thing.
          3. Join Twitter.
          4. Search for Marriott.
          5. Follow them.
          6. Answer the questions.

        • Mark. Thank you very much for your help.

          Jimmy. No thanks at all to you.

    • Thanks for the heads up

  3. Hilton points might be an ok deal for markets like dubai where cash rate doesn’t include a plethora or service charges & tax….

  4. OT – the Marriott Rewards twitter promo is back. Free points for answering Super Bowl related questions. This time you need to answer two questions to get 1000 points – this week’s answers are 1 and 14. Check out @MarriottRewards. You’ve got approx 3.5 hours to enter.

    • Peter K says:

      There’s three to gain 1500 points. See Lumma’s post above. Don’t forget to use #RewardsPoints

  5. I’m not 100% sure on this part of the article, “If you take Virgin Flying Club miles, you earn NOTHING if any part of your journey is on another train operators.” I use the VTWC line frequently and all my points post in full for the payment amount made with a connection at Haymarket from Scotrail, a connection at Preston/Wigan North Western with Northern and then a connection once in Liverpool for Merseyrail.

    I’m going to take a guess it is if you do not select a VTWC train for the majority of the journey and VTWC run along that line then you would have a reduction in points.

    • T&Cs say:

      If you’re travelling with Virgin Trains on the West Coast Mainline, you can earn miles. So, a journey from London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly will earn miles, as will a journey from Glasgow to London. Cool, right?

      If you need to start or end your journey on another train operator, you’ll need to purchase the journeys separately to earn your miles on the Virgin Trains journey.

  6. I suspect that the intention is only to give points for wholly VTWC operated services, but the UK ticketing system is so utterly ropey that it doesn’t always work like that.

    It’s like my employer has a near permanent arrangement for 20% off VTWC advance fares, and the Virgin Red App often has discounts on VTEC fares (always with T&Cs for services wholly and exclusively operated by Virgin) – but more often than not it will also give you the discount on VTWC+Connections or VTEC +Connections tickets anyway.

    • A hint for Virgin Red. The app has a near permanent 20% offer for ‘new’ customers as well as other offers (such as 30% off) for existing customers. The existing customer offers are generally better but less frequent than the new customer offers.

      If you have two phones (one could be an old phone or your partners phone) then set up one Virgin Red account which has links to all the companies you’re a customer of (so you get all the existing customer offers), but set up on the other phone an account with no links to Virgin companies.

      This way you’ll get both the new customer and existing customer offers.

      Note that if you usually travel with a railcard these offers are usually less than a railcard discount (although I have seen 50% before), these offers aren’t meant to stack with railcard discounts but sometimes on VTEC they do so it’s worth a try.

  7. David Butcher says:

    On the subject of Hilton Honors, as you know on my Amex Platinum Card one benefit should be Hilton Honors gold status. For some inexplicable reason Amex have a random Hilton number shown against my account and as a result I have not got the status I am entitled to. To me it seems a question of simply recording the correct number and taking away the wrong one. I raised this with Amex in September and it still hasn’t been done. Amex say it is a Hilton problem but Hilton have repeatedly told me they cannot amend Amex accounts. Amex then sent me a deadlock letter saying they could do no more and referred me to the Financial Services Ombudsman. Their response to him has been that I need to merge my two Hilton accounts – but I only have one!! I can’t do anything with the Hilton account they have registered against me in error because it’s not my account! And I’m paying £450 a year for this incompetence. And no-one will get hold of this and sort it. Anyone any idea who I should write to at Amex to get this resolved; I have gone through their executive complaints process whose only response was to bung me a few membership reward points as compensation for the delay but they haven’t addressed the problem – simply sent me a deadlock letter. I am at my wit’s end.

    • You can merge 2 Hilton Honors accounts online. You have the number for the 2nd account – if you do a ‘forgotten password’ against that account, you may be emailed one. You could then access the 2nd account and merge them.

      • David Butcher says:

        Yes but the second account (the one which Amex have registered against me) is not in my name and so presumably belongs to someone else. And presumably has his/her email address recorded against it. I would not have given Amex that number – I have only ever had one Honors account. So I’d have though this was something they could fix fairly easily – originally I was told that their concierge dept could fix it in two weeks – that was back in September 2017! Now they refuse to do anything. I am so angry with them; it just strikes me as sheer bloody incompetence and apathy.

      • Peter K says:

        It’s not Hilton I know but I had three different accounts once:
        1) From Shell points they opened for me and did not give me the details
        2) From Tesco where they did the same
        3) One I had actually opened myself.

        Even though I only knew about one of them I guessed from reading here about the Tesco one and the passion I rang at sorted all three into one in one phone call.

        I suggest you at least try this with Hilton. Start the conversation with something like this: “Hi, I have a Hilton account with number XXXX but I believe that American Express have opened another one for me by mistake. They don’t have the account number for it so I was hoping your might be able to check for me please.”
        Your name and address should match what Amex have for you so it shouldn’t be too much of a bind for them to find out.
        If no luck then your only other option might be to cancel the card and when you reapply later to add your real Hilton account number.

    • Peter K says:

      Just had a thought, if you go to the Amex Platinum page where your can transfer your MR points to Honor points and start to initialize a transfer it asks for your Hilton account number. Does it auto-populate with the Hilton account number that Amex has set up for you?

  8. It’s important to add that this off Virgin Trains rule only applies to the real Virgin Trains (i.e. west coast). Virgin Trains East Coast has the same rules for Flying Club as it does Nectar – you earn 2 miles per pound spent as long as your journey includes part of the trip on a Virgin Trains East Coast service.

  9. thanks so much for heads up re marriott promo. nearly missed this with 10 mins remaining!

  10. OT as bits, I have an offer on my SPG’s dashboard of stay twice and pick up two nights at a 1-5 Category hotel free. It’s the same one Marriott held in November. I’m planning on doing two nights at the Sheraton Heathrow when I’m up there next.

    • Very nice. And SPG gives you credits for up to 3 rooms per night, so if you were mattress running you could book 2 rooms for the same night.

      • Yes indeed! On this occasion though we have weekend flights out of Heathrow and they will come in handy as is. Shame the certificate’s only valid till end of June though, but being resourceful and adaptable is part and parcel of this hobby 🙂

      • Very nice offer indeed.

        Anyone know how SPG targets people for its offers? I’m Platinum off 50 nights last year but no such luck on my dashboard 🙁

        • You’ve answered your own question!! If you’re platinum because you stay a lot, you don’t need a nice offer such as a free night or two to convince you to spend more with them!

        • Well that was just luck for work! This year I’ll need some persuasion… maybe I’ll let them know…

        • Both MrCate and I signed up for the previous Marriott offer. He triggered his bonus night but I couldn’t trigger mine. Perhaps it’s picking people who didn’t receive the previous offer? I think having separate accounts helps sometimes – but it’s just an opinion. Alas he hasn’t been targeted for this SPG offer.

    • Peter K says:

      Where is the SPG dashboard? Is it only on the app?
      I only use the website and have never dated at a Starwood hotel but use the points for Marriott stays. This might sway me however.

  11. Somewhat ironic timing of this article!

    • I was just about to make the same comment! Where is Save East Coast Rewards when you need him (or her)?!

    • It is a total bailout despite that article. The structure allowed them to make a lot of money in the early years but pay more back in later years. What a surprise …. they bail out before the big premium payments turn up.

      • It’s actually not.

        DfT promised various upgrades when granting the franchise.

        When Stagecoach/Virgin won, DfT advised Network Rail of their promises.

        Network Rail advised that the upgrades weren’t possible.

        Stagecoach/Virgin remind DfT that their franchise committments were based on these upgrades, and er, we need to talk.

        Chris Grayling attempts to deflect DfTs incompetence with bluster.

        I’m no fan of privitisation but like it or not, the DfT have fked up. And VTEC, with the highest customer satisfaction scores (excluding open access) are taking the flack.

  12. OT: For those eligible for the Membership Rewards > Hilton 50% bonus, how long did the bonus element take to be awarded after the base points had been received?

  13. I definitely knew about the Virgin rule. So either they’ve hidden the T&C or people haven’t read them.

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