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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 (July 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)

  • Zoe says:

    Rob you mentioned not using the IHG card for tax, won’t the Curve debit card still make that viable?

    • Leo says:

      It does.

    • Rob says:

      The £50k limit doesn’t go far when you have VAT, PAYE, income tax etc – plus my ATM withdrawals and overseas spend bring down the £50k limit sharply anyway.

      • R says:

        Already hit the limit, don;t know what will I do for my next VAT, PAYE, Self Assessment payment due so soon. Cant wait another 5+ months without this debit card.

        Any ideas?

  • Paul says:

    I’m spire and I’ve literally had to fight reception staff for every upgrade or perk.

    They usually give in but you have to prove them wrong.

    Reception: “We’re sorry there’s no executive rooms available”

    Me: “why are you selling them on your app and website? They appear on holidex surely the rooms exist in reality?”

    Reception: “Let me take a look, Ah I can find one now”.

    Remind me what a loyalty scheme is please?

    • Brian S says:

      Since I have been Spire I have been upgraded twice (once at HI and once at CP). I have to admit I considered myself lucky to not have to ‘battle’ for the privilege. I’m not expecting much going forward, Spire was mainly for the bonus points which can mount up significantly on some stays.

      With Hilton Diamond (and even Gold) it is almost expected.

      • East Europe Bill says:

        Spite is useful for many Crown Plazas. But not a patch on Hilton Diamond. After staying in nearly every Hilton in Europe with a lounge, I have Spire a go last year. Upside is: there are better value redemptions with IHG. But benefits are rubbish unless you focus on Crowne Plaza. Out of 20 CP stays this year, I’ve only not had access to lounge at Heathrow. Bratislava CP is a good redemption: 20k points.

    • Andy says:

      When I was Spire I always got upgraded at every hotel where it was possible, except for the CP at Manchester Airport, where they just gave me an extra drinks voucher. I’m not sure if this means that I was lucky or you were unlucky.

  • Liz says:

    NOOOOO !!!!! I was going to transfer some Virgin miles later in the year – currently sitting around 40k qualifying pts. Will really struggle to get to 75k now with just credit card spend. I like Spire Elite because we get extra value when we do our USA road trips. Kicking myself for not transferring some over earlier. So many opportunities with this hobby closing. Bummer!

    • Brian S says:

      Especially for UK residents. I’m a member on some FB groups and it’s unbelievable the amount of miles and points those in the US can rack up with little effort. It is down to the competition over there with Amex, Chase etc and with the fee cap here the opportunities are reducing all the time.

    • TripRep says:

      Liz – have you got Hilton Gold status, if not you might be able to do a challenge or fast track?

      • Liz says:

        We’ve got Gold with Plat till March 2019 but don’t stay in HH and also still have Hilton credit card though we don’t use it. I just like IHG because their pts prices are the same 365 days per year – they don’t fluctuate day to day or peak/off peak. I’ve booked a load of IHG stays for our month long road trip next year so was hoping for Spire for that. Will see how it goes by the end of the year. May end up switching non Amex spend to Hilton next year and start winding down our IHG Points.

  • Optimus Prime says:

    OT but IHG related – is 4pm checkout at IC hotels guaranted for Ambassador even for non-Spire members?

    Asking because last year in IC Palazzo at Vegas I was handed a piece of paper describing the Ambassador benefits at the property and it said 4pm checkout was only for Spire Ambassador members. Platinum Ambassador had 2pm checkout.

    Didn’t dispute it because I was Spire at that time and our flight was leaving at noon so no need for late checkout.

    • Optimus Prime says:

      Hi Genghis,

      Yes, have seen the T&Cs.

      What I mean is that IC Palazzo doesn’t give you 4pm checkout unless you are Ambassador AND Spire.

      If you don’t have IHG status and just sign up for AMB they’ll give you 1pm checkout I think. 2pm for Plantinum AND AMB.

      • Genghis says:

        I understand what you’re saying. I suggest holding them to the T&Cs.

      • Optimus Prime says:

        Yeah will do definitely.

        On the other hand they did honour everything else – room upgrade, welcome gift, etc.

    • Rob says:

      Yes – but Palazzo is not strictly an InterCon so may have its own rules.

      • Cinimo says:

        According to the T&C:
        InterContinental Alliance Resorts properties – The Venetian and The Palazzo Resorts – All Ambassador benefits apply at The Venetian and The Palazzo Resorts with the exception of the in-room gift. All Royal Ambassador benefits apply with the exception of Mini-Bar: Royal Ambassador members will receive a $100 credit from the resort towards the mini-bar per stay. Complimentary water will be provided on the day of arrival and will not be replenished daily.

        • Optimus Prime says:

          Thanks, I’ll bookmark the link with that content in case I need to argue with them.

          BTW looks like for 2019 the resort fees are $45+taxes!! I’m going to have to try the $20 tip to have them waived!

  • Kevin says:

    How disappointing. Any suggestions for what to do with a handful of Virgin Points? I started transferring clubcard vouchers to get enough to hit Spire, but now they seem a bit wasted…

  • Tilly71 says:

    I’ve never been impressed by IHG even though I’m Platinum elite. I used the route VA – IHG to gain plat to status match to HH Diamond, shame that route is closed now.

    • Alan says:

      How do you status match Platinum IHG to Diamond HH?

      • Rob says:

        Via the status match page on! Link on our Hotel Promos Page. No guarantee of Diamond of course.

      • Tilly71 says:

        IHG Plat Elite + 1 x nights stay costing me 15k IHG points, use as Rob stated HH status match page.
        Statusmatch checker confirms most of the time they will match to Diamond.

  • John says:

    On the subject of points/miles, latest stats on online thefts (90%!!! logins fraudulent, 3% successful in obtaining loot).

  • Rob says:

    The hard way …

    • Mat W says:

      Thanks… fortunately I only tried to get platinum, not spire elite. So “just” 25k AMEX MR points devalued

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