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Virgin Flying Club miles transfers to IHG Rewards Club points are no longer status qualifying

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One of the interesting miles and points ‘quirks’ is the fact the Virgin Atlantic allows you to transfer OUT of Flying Club into two hotel schemes – IHG Rewards Club and Hilton Honors.  It is rare that you can transfer from an airline scheme into something else.

You can learn how to move Virgin miles to Hilton here.  You can learn how to move Virgin miles to IHG here.

What was even quirkier was that transfers to IHG Rewards Club counted for elite status.

As of Monday, this loophole / error / freak of nature has been closed.  Virgin Atlantic transfers to IHG Rewards Club are no longer counting for status.

In itself, transferring Virgin Flying Club miles to Hilton Honors (at 2:3) or IHG Rewards Club (at 1:1) was a poor deal.  You were getting around 0.45p of value per Virgin mile, compared to my target of 1p+ when using them for a premium cabin flight redemption.

What changed the equation was having the IHG transfers count for status.  There were a couple of reasons for this:

having status would obviously bring you added value in terms of upgrades, welcome gifts and additional status bonuses on your stays

hitting or renewing IHG’s top tier Spire Elite status got you a bonus of 25,000 IHG Rewards Club points, making it worthwhile topping up your status points with a Virgin Atlantic transfer

Was this always an error?

Until a few years ago, virtually all IHG points counted for status.  Credit card sign-up bonuses, Accelerate promotional bonuses …. you name it.  It was a challenge not to earn Platinum status.

When IHG introduced Spire Elite, they stopped most routes to earning status points.  Today, the only ways of earning status points in bulk are:

base points from your IHG hotel stays (but not status or promotional bonuses)

booking a room advertising a ‘Bonus Points Package’ where for example you pay an extra £20 but receive 5,000 bonus points (these rates explicitly say that the points count for status) and

points earned for spending on IHG credit cards (but not sign-up bonuses)

There were some exceptions.  Hertz car rental credits still seem to count for status.  Points from market research survey group erewards did until earlier this year, but then they stopped.

Meanwhile points from Finnair, the other airline which allows transfer into IHG Rewards Club, have never counted for status according to HFP reader reports.

Whether or not Virgin Atlantic transfers were meant to count for status, it seems that they no longer do.  This is frustrating – both my wife and I have used this route in the past when we were short of status points at the year end.

This year my wife has re-qualified based on IHG credit card spend.  This was primarily due to payments to the Inland Revenue, however, and HMRC is no longer accepting personal credit cards.

Given that I have Hilton Diamond to early 2019 and Marriott / Starwood Platinum to early 2020, I think I will let my own IHG status drop this year.  For family stays I can book via my wife’s account anyway so the overall impact will be limited.

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (October 2023)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

You can choose from two official Virgin Atlantic credit cards (apply here, the Reward+ card has a bonus of 15,000 Virgin Points):

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 bonus points and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

A generous earning rate for a free card at 0.75 points per £1 Read our full review

You can also earn Virgin Points from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for a year and comes with 20,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 20,000 Virgin Points.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points.

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Small business owners should consider the two American Express Business cards. Points convert at 1:1 into Virgin Points.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Points

(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.)

Comments (75)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Chris L says:

    OT, my wife recently got an Amex gold. Her BAEC account is still in her maiden name because her passport is, and her Amex account is in her married name. Is there any way to transfer the MR points over without changing names?

    • Charlie says:

      Amex will change the name on her gold card to maiden name if asked so that transfers go through (had to do this too). Or open a new BA account in the maiden name and add to household (done this too) to pool the points.

    • @mkcol says:

      @Chris L – I’ve had exactly the same issue with AMEX. In the end they found a way of doing it – I don’t know what it was, but my married name points earned from the card went into my maiden name BAEC. It did take a bit of to-ing & fro-ing initially but they did it.
      I suspect they may have set up more than 1 MR account for me coz there’s always an issue when I get a new card about points posting anywhere correctly.

  • Kathy says:

    It does seem like the useful loopholes are being closed down, one by one. Not that the maths ever made sense for me personally on this one, as a leisure traveller.

  • Rob D says:

    Shame, I was also hoping to utilise that benefit to status match my Hilton Diamond in April 2019 (if Hilton are still allowing it). All is not lost as Best Western still status match, without the need for qualifying stays, and perhaps Hilton with match my Diamond status with them?

    • Brian S says:

      From it appears BW Diamond is only matched to HH Gold. You might get lucky with a challenge however.

  • Definitas says:

    I went down the IHG CARD AND VA transfer route to Spire Elite. I found it completely underwhelming. I did get an upgrade at a CP in the US but IHG benefits in the UK were almost non existent. The only thing of any value that came out of it was a Hilton status match which provided much better benefits and brought home how inferior the IHG product is

  • Marc Russell says:

    This is a shame, bit by bit it’s ever decreasing circles.
    I’m Spire mostly through IHG credit spend and coupled with Ambassador membership (great tip from Rob) I’ve had upgrades all year in HI, Indigo and ICs in Ljubljana, Porto, Rome and both ICs in Beirut. (Phoenicia’s the best).
    What does make a difference is humour, charm and politeness to the staff whether they be the check in staff, the bell hop or housekeepers. Save your tip from the taxi driver, usually you’ll never see them again and save it for the housekeeper – A euro/pound on the pillow in the morning goes a long way.
    As my grandmother used to say, always be kind to the people on your way up because you will probably meet them again on the way down…

    • Nick says:

      So, so right Marc! I can’t agree more!

      My best ever benefit, having been a Spire Ambassador since Spire inception, was near to Christmas last year at a Crowne Plaza property in the UK.

      I spoke, as you state, politely, and with some humour, to one of the front office staff the day before three of my family turned up for my birthday celebrations. I’d booked three separate standard rooms for each of them using IHG points. I’d booked a club room myself. The guy very kindly upgraded me to the best suite available and also “double” upgraded all three standard rooms to Crowne Plaza Club rooms.

      That pretty much repaid any previous doubts that I’d had about the Spire benefits, or maybe lack pof them, before.

      The other slightly amusing experience I had was at the IC in Malta, just after the Spire level was introduced. The front office staff had yet to see the very red Spire card, with the raised swirls. They passed it around when I was checking in and “double” upgraded me! LOL!

      All good fun, but it’s certainly true about how people treat the staff, especially front office.


      • Rob says:

        Last year IHG invited a bunch of London-based members to Wimbledon. No Spire’s were invited and the organisers didn’t know what Spire was. All Platinum.

  • Alex Sm says:

    I was pleasantly surprised to discover that balance transfers to IHG credit card earn IHG Rewards Club points (W usually these transactions do not count). A quick and easy way to earn 5-7k points depending on your credit limit. Offsets the balance transfer fee

  • Nelson says:

    That’s sad news. My Spire elite ends December 2018 is there any way of extending it for example paying by points?

  • Andrew Brierley says:

    Well that’s lucky as I did recently transfer points from Virgin to IHG. Shame as I could always use my virgin points to top up and get Spire.

    I rarely fly withvirgin and now I have no credit card to add to the points… I have just over 200,000 points left, and as I don’t fly with virgin does anyone have any recommendations on what to use the points for, other than flying that is!

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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