Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How to convert Marriott Bonvoy points into Hilton Honors or IHG points, via Virgin Atlantic

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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.

Convert Virgin miles to Hilton or IHG

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.)

Comments (19)

  • Joe B says:

    Slightly OT. When is the deadline to transfer amex points to spg (marriott)?

    • Genghis says:

      Didn’t realise there was one?

      • Joe B says:

        Are you sure that amex will remain a partner of new programming in august?

        • Rob says:

          They haven’t said they are leaving, Amex remains a US card partner, the SPG Amex continues and Gold remains an Amex Plat benefit …. so I am assuming they are.

  • Rob says:

    Can’t be done. Remember that you can redeem Virgin miles on Delta, though, which covers everywhere in the US.

  • VK says:

    Maybe those points exchange/barter websites that exist? Dunno how legal or safe they are, but I’m sure there maybe some credible options? Or not?!

  • Alex W says:

    There is more to life than Avios. If you can’t use virgin or partner flights (not just delta, also air new Zealand etc) would transfer to IHG or Hilton and use them for hotel stays.

  • RussellH says:

    If you get 5 000 Virgin points plus some more from spending on it, and if you can get some more points via e-Rewards or Virgin West Coast, then 10 000 points may be just about do-able.

    I have never feen on VS, and never likely to, to Hilton points were far more attractive.

    • RussellH says:

      5 000 Virgin points from a Virgin Money Credit Card. plus some more from spending on it,

  • Kurt says:

    Slightly OT: As a SPG Gold (via Amex Plat) member, I obtained Marriott Gold Elite Status and booked a hotel for Mid-August in Tokyo on the understanding that there’s guaranteed lounge access with M Gold Elite.
    A new link sent:
    Now no longer mentions Lounge Access.
    But previously it did:

    So I guess with the new re-jigged status, I can no longer be sure of lounge access?

    • Alex W says:

      It’s not 100% certain but it’s looking very likely that those who have got Marriott status from Amex Plat will lose lounge access in August. If you pre booked on the basis of getting lounge access before the changes were announced, and don’t get lounge access, it’s grounds to complain I think.

  • Mike G says:

    I think the valuation on Hilton points is too low. Almost every time I have checked redemptions recently it’s been almost exactly 0.4p of value compared to the cheapest available rate. Compared to the cheapest rate with free cancellation it’s higher again.

    • Peter K says:

      I booked the hamton Gatwick yesterday and got 0.34 p/point. It would have been even less at the actual Hilton Gatwick (plus awful reviews).

      • Rob says:

        Was at Hampton last Thu, totally acceptable but unexciting.

        • Peter K says:

          Yeah, I agree. Used it last year and it did the job. The bed was hard but free upgrade (as Hilton Platinum) to a corner room meant I used the extra duvet for the sofa-bed as a mattress topper and then it was fine.

  • Mat W says:

    Looks like the elite earning power of the virgin to IHG transfer might have gone. I just transferred 25,000 AMEX MRto Virgin and then onto IHG. Credit came throug really quickly but only as non elite points.
    So far one online chat and one email to customer services have got me nowhere. Just blanket statements that only room spend/incidentals counts and virgin transfers never have! Despite me pointing out their own T&C’s to them and talking of precedent.
    Seriously annoyed to have halved the value of those points for nothing (it was a trial run to get platinum before putting more across to get Spire).

    Any suggestions for tackling their (lack of) customer services team, who I have to say are really below par!

    • Rob says:

      Someone posted this on Flyertalk (you?) – waiting for other data points. Annoying if it has gone.

      • Mat W says:

        I posted the same on xexectricksofthetrade might have linked into flyer talk. Have now tried customer support in three different ways, and absolutely no movement. Just denying they count or have counted as elite status. Gave them an easy way out just to nudge me to platinum/threatened to change to Hilton/ joy

        Very annoying 25,000 AMEX points seriously devalued! Should have just got the black card and paid the fee.