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Important: 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.

Virgin Flying Club transfers to IHG Rewards Club

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.

HFP Virgin Atlantic Rewards credit card

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (August 2021)

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, one has a bonus of 15,000 Points):

Virgin Rewards credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

The UK’s most generous free Visa or Mastercard at 0.75 points / £1 Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending 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:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes 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)

  • Neil says:

    I may now continue with the IHG card spend which is likely to get me there by the end of the year, however it is disappointing as the virgin route has been used on a couple of occasions to bridge the last few points required.

    Thanks for letting us know.

  • Ian M says:

    Not a massive loss considering how badly IHG treat their Spire status members anyway. Although I did receive a nice upgrade at an Intercontinental recently!

    • Mike Pettican says:

      Manifestly contradictory comment that

      • Ian M says:

        Well the nice upgrade stands out as it’s so rare. IHG simply don’t treat their top tier members anywhere near as well as Hilton, Marriott/Starwood etc.

        • Alex Sm says:

          I always got upgrades in Russia with status but one HI hotel in Moscow weirdly upgraded my colleague without ANY status, but not me. And only out of pity she gave me access to his exec floor and lounge. Weird, yes

  • Brian S says:

    I used this method to hit Spire about a month ago and it worked fine. The value of using miles was not great but the 25k point Spire benefit levelled it out somewhat.

    Since then I’ve had two reasonable upgrades during stays.

    • Matt says:

      + 1 phew I did the transfer last month too and it counted as status qualifying.

    • Alex Sm says:

      I am so happy that I also got my upgrade via otherwise useless Virgin miles

  • Cal says:

    Slightly OT – When will the Q3 Accelerate details be released? I have a couple in Q2 I could get but think I might save them for Q3 instead as I will be doing a lot more travel then anyway.

    • The Original Nick says:

      Beginning of August hopefully.

    • Alan says:

      In previous years there’s often been a US-only summer promo in August with Accelerate not restarting until after that – but rubbish for us on this side of the Pond!

    • Rob says:

      Not heard anything. Getting a bit late for 1st August.

  • TripRep says:

    Never been attracted to Spire myself.

    How do folks value Spire compared to Hilton Gold?

    • Brian S says:

      For a start you don’t get free breakfast with Spire so that’s a big disadvantage in my opinion compared to HH Gold. You get 100% bonus points earnings and I’ve recieved a few nice upgrades as Spire compared to HH Gold but that’s about it.

      The problem with Spire is very little apart from the bonus points are guaranteed.

      • Genghis says:

        Agreed on the “guaranteed” element but on personal stays we’ve had some very good upgrades, free breakfasts, champagne, fancy chocolates, cakes, good amounts of points in compo due to status etc etc. Politeness and being a bit cheeky go a long way.

        (Though I’m not bothered about getting a free twix at one of my usual hotels in Paris (HI) when staying by myself for work).

      • Rob says:

        My personal view is that if Hilton does make the improvements they discussed when I was in DC then IHG is in serious trouble vs Hilton Honors and ‘new Marriott’.

        • Brian S says:

          Rob, was there any info about potential improvements to HH posted online anywhere?


        • TripRep says:

          Rob – you’re such a tease! V interested to hear, be sure to do an HFP exclusive when HH give you the go ahead. 🙂

        • Brian says:

          Isn’t IHG already in ‘serious trouble’ vs Hilton and Marriott??

        • Lady London says:

          One thing we can be sure of is that Accor will have to worry more than IHG. I personally a on the point of giving up IHG anyway after 3 rounds of ridiculous Accelerate offers. The only advantage of IHG points, as another poster pointed out, is that the price per night is fixed in points and does not fluctuate. (The opposite of Accor where every single price increase in cash for the room they want more points as well.)

          For that feature I’ve tried not to give IHG up. But it’s getting harder and harder not to switch to Hilton in particular.

        • Alex Sm says:

          Good Accelerate offers will come back eventually – after two pointless quarters I am having a perfect Q2 with a work trip to St Petersburg and two mini-breaks in London (not mattress runs, god forbid!) I should hit the target on 29 July, just in time

      • RIccatti says:

        But many CPs tighten up on free breakfast for Elites, it is no longer an option. Neither the lounge.

  • Paul says:

    Ouch, that’s gonna hurt! I have spire via credit card spend and jumped into the VS card this year as my spend on IHG has already secured spire for 2019. My plan was to use VS points to secure for 2020 but that’s just fallen apart.
    The question is what to do? I am not a fan of the IHG card as there is no app and you can’t download transaction data. I won’t pay the fee again either. The VS card was good but not having access to business class on 241 voucher means it won’t be renewed either. And then there is the question of what to do with the VS miles. I just hope the link with KLM/AF allows me to spend them

  • Boi says:

    I really wish I had IHG points…..would love to stay at IC Johannesburg

    • Genghis says:

      Happy to make a booking for you and sell them at 0.4p/point.

      • Boi says:

        Thanks. Very interesting and cheaper offer. However I found out there’s a protea in the airport albeit lower standard. Since I have loads of SPG I will go for that one.

  • John says:

    It was never announced that miles transfers would count for status in the first place. Perhaps IHG had been working on a way to stop it and finally succeeded after 3 years. It only took them 3 years to make accelerate tasks post along with the actual stay points after all….

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