Because most frequent traveller currencies can be converted into 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 points, including American, but they have gradually been chipped away. Virgin Atlantic is the last major airline offering a conversion into Hilton Honors points.
The rate isn’t great to be honest. Take a look here. Virgin Flying Club miles can be converted into Hilton Honors points at the rate of 2:3 (minimum 10,000 Virgin, and in multiples of 10,000).
Virgin Atlantic 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. 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, until the Marriott and Starwood schemes merge in August, 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 Honors 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 Honors 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, or if you were pushing for IHG Rewards Club Spire Elite 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.)