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.
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 (October 2022)
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):
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.
The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points.
EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.
Small business owners should consider the two American Express Business cards. Points convert at 1:1 into 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.)