Bits: Head into space with your Virgin miles, last call for Hilton 80%-100% buy points bonus, IHG 80% buy points bonus

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News in brief:

How two million Virgin Flying Club miles can get you a trip to space

You may have heard in the news last week that Virgin Galactic finally had a successful flight to the edge of space.  On Thursday Virgin Galactic’s vehicle reached a height of 51 miles, one mile higher than NASA’s definition of boundary of space.

Virgin Galactic will continue doing test flights for some time, but will offer commercial flights in the near future.  600 people have already paid $250,000 each to be the first to go on a sightseeing trip to space.

If you consider $250,000 too much, your miles might help you get closer to a flight.  As you can see on this Virgin Atlantic page, you can use your Virgin Flying Club miles for a cash discount or potentially even win a full ticket.

200,000 Virgin Atlantic miles will get you a 10% discount on a standard fare for a sub-orbital flight – this is a surprisingly good deal (as these things go) since you are saving $25,000 for spending 200,000 miles, meaning a value of 12.5 cents per mile

2,000,000 Virgin Atlantic miles will get you a free trip with Virgin Galactic.  Only ONE Virgin Flying Club member will be allowed to redeem this deal.  You need to ring Flying Club to register your interest and, once commercial flights are bookable, Flying Club will randomly pick a winner.  This offer is only available to members who have earned two million miles from Virgin Atlantic flights, not from partner activity.

What we don’t know is how many miles you can earn when paying full price ….

Last call for 80%-100% bonus buying Hilton Honors points

18th December is the last day to take advantage of the long-running Hilton ‘buy points’ offer. Hilton Honors (the new-ish Hilton Tallinn Park, reviewed here, is pictured below) is offering an 80% or 100% bonus when you purchase 10,000+ points.

The Hilton ‘buy points’ page is here.

I have been offered a 100% bonus but I know some people are only seeing 80%.  Regular readers of Head for Points will know that I tend to value Hilton points at 0.33p each.  You are paying 0.38p ($1,600 / £1,275 for 320,000 with a 100% bonus) here if you buy the maximum so the maths in general doesn’t work.

HOWEVER ….. there ARE real bargains to be had at peak periods.  At the top end, the Conrad Maldives is usually 95,000 points per night.  Via this offer you would be paying under $500 per night which is a great deal.  We did a big review of Conrad Maldives here.  Remember that you can pool points between Hilton members for free so it is now easier for different people to buy points and merge them together.

Hilton also does ‘five for four’ if you have Hilton Honors status.  As Hilton will status match you from any other hotel scheme where you may have status, most HFP readers should qualify for this.  Taking 10th – 15th February as an example, five nights would cost you (95,000 x 4) 380,000 points which would cost $1,900 with this deal.  A non-refundable cash rate would cost $5,260.  

Similar deals are available at peak times in other major cities.  Conrad New York, for example, costs $1,945 for a five-night stay from 3rd to 8th February, and can easily top $3,000 at busier times.  Buying 320,000 points via this deal would cost just $1,600.   Conrad New York is an ‘all suite’ hotel which I recommend.

If you are just buying a handful of points to top off your account, the price per point doesn’t matter anyway.  If you a few thousand short of a redemption then this is a decent opportunity to buy them.

You can buy points via this link.  The offer ends on Tuesday.

hilton hotel tallinn park exterior press picture

…. and an 80% bonus when you buy IHG Rewards Club points

Slightly less interestingly, until 28th December you can buy IHG Rewards Club – the InterContinental, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza etc scheme – points with a bonus of up to 80%.

The page to buy points is here – log in and see what is available.

This is not the most generous offer IHG has had, with 100% bonuses occurring 2-3 times per year.  That said, if you need to top up your account in advance of a planned redemption, you might as well do it whilst the bonus is on.

(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.)

What are the best hotel promos for December?
Bits: LVMH (surprisingly) buys Belmond, Virgin Atlantic refreshes its Savings Account, Hilton launches Asia-Pacific sale
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  1. Mr(s) Entitled says:

    “600 people have already paid $250,000 each to be the first to go on a sightseeing trip to space”

    That’s a much bigger plane than it looks if they are all going together. It would be just my luck to get stuck in an aisle seat!

  2. Alastair says:

    O/T: I have an Avios reward booking on BA for eldest son & girlfriend to California in July who now can’t come and so younger son who was on a separate booking reference wants to bring a mate in their place. There’s currently no Avios availability on the outbound flight. When I cancel the eldest son & girlfriend booking, will their reward seats reappear as bookable for reward seats and how quickly, is it instant or hours or days? Is using a ba call centre worth it, as the return is from IAD anyway ie could they cancel the existing booking over the phone and be able to grab one of the two freed up seats at the same time , or should I set an alert on BA Redemption Finder or something else? Thanks

    • My understanding is that there is absolutely no guarantee that there will be more reward availability when you cancel. I don’t even think the call centre staff will know at the point of cancelling.

      • Shoestring says:

        There’s no guarantee but numerous people have reported taking the chance, cancelled their reward booking and the reward seats immediatey pop up as available again. Obvs you need a plan B.

        • @Shoestring @Anna and @Alastair

          If they have to cancel ANYWAY, why not do this and see what happens? The chance is 50-50 in any case

    • I cancelled 2 CW seats to GCM in August as my preferred date had become available. The cancelled seats reappeared in the inventory within 24 hours, but again I wouldn’t risk it unless you have an equally good back up plan.

  3. KBuffett says:

    O/T: Does anyone have any ideas for manufacturing spend at Harrods?

  4. Marriott points transfers. I understood that the 100,000 limit for transfers was waived if the person you were transferring to was using the points immediately to pay for a booking. I tried to transfer about 140,000 yesterday to help pay for a booking already made but not yet paid for. Marriott systems would not let the agent do it. After a couple of long pauses whilst she talked to her supervisor, the advice I was given is that the person receiving the points can receive up to 500,000 in a calendar year but the person transferring can only transfer 100,000. Anyone had any experience of this?

    • Can your friend not just do book now and pay later – then transfer the remaining next month. Obviously not if travelling soon.

      • I am a little concerned that Marriott will re price bookings made at the lower prices before year end but paid for after. I’ll just minimise the risk by transferring the remainder 1 or 2 January

        • There was a comment elsewhere that the new bands won’t be introduced until march 2019, not January now.
          Also that the peak/off peak will also not be done in January.

        • Correct. Will cover on Tuesday.

  5. Remember back in the summer there were a few articles about Marriott top price hotels being reduced, temporarily, to 60000 points. That will probably end in January.

    Then we all realised that they prevented you doing the whole book now pay later deal for SPG properties. Probably a sensible decision.

    Anyway that restriction looks like it has ended. I managed to book The Gritti Palace for next October for 5 nights on a book now, pay later basis. I don’t know if that is new or been the case for a little while and I just missed it. The marriott site keeps crashing so I suspect there are a lot of people using it at the moment. Annoyingly I had my eye on Mystique Santorini – which seems to be not taking reward bookings at all.

    • Be aware that book now pay later may reprice in the new year so cost you the higher points.

      • Yeah that might happen – I guess I have nowhere near enough points now to book it, so i’ll have to take a chance, and if it reprices cancel.

        But I’ll hold off booking transport etc until we see a clearer picture.

    • Hotels are moving one by one to the Marriott platform and at that point you can do book now, pay later.

  6. I wonder if they will serve bacon rolls on Virgin Galatic

  7. OT but Hilton. Has anyone used the executive lounge at the Hilton Deansgate, Manchester? I’ve booked a sensationally priced (£115) DBB rate for next week and am wondering if it’s worth paying £28 to upgrade to an executive room with lounge access. If you get free alcohol that would swing it!

    • I am there Tuesday can let you know

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      Used it a few times. Free alcohol and food. Large space. Good views. In my experience it is one of the better ones in the UK.

      A word of caution however, I have been there previously when it has been closed for a private function (think footballers Christmas party). It’s rare but might be worth a quick call in advance just in case.

      • Thanks, think we are going to do it. I’m assuming if they are offering this as a paid upgrade, we would get our money back if it then wasn’t available?!

        • Mr(s) Entitled says:

          I only mention it if it was the Lounge itself that promoted the booking vs another hotel for example there is a small chance of disappointment. Given that you are going to be there anyway I’d upgrade. In the unlikely event you couldn’t gain access I’d wager you would get more than your £28 back in a mix of cash, drink vouchers and/or points.

          Enjoy the Xmas markets!

        • Thanks – we’re actually done shopping, we’re going for a pre-Xmas chill out 😂

    • Food is disappointing, drinks are not particularly exciting, but yes alcoholic drinks are included and if you would otherwise be spending £20 at the bar, then go for it. View is nice, that is if you can actually see anything, hope it’s a clear night.

      Only thing is the lounge seems to kick everyone out at 8pm every day, so it doesn’t really work for me as I would have dinner first and then go to the lounge, but most people go to the lounge first then have dinner

  8. Hi all
    Has anyone got any experience with topping up Revolut lately with HSBC credit card,is it being treated as withdrawal?
    Many thanks

    • Last one I did was on Nov 26 and that went through as a purchase. My HSBC card was blocked (supposedly because it was one for the leaked cards) and a new one issued last week. I did a Revolut top up today and only had a meagre daily limit of £200! What a pain. Will take a few weeks before I can go back to topping up in larger chunks.

  9. Joseph Heenan says:

    O/T I’d not seen any news/announcement that the re-done KLM Crown Lounge in AMS, number 52 (non-Schengen), is now finally open. Apparently it’s not finished yet (only about half open) but is a nice surprise and a good upgrade over the old lounge. There’s no longer any obvious signs of construction.

    Better food, nice design, several different styles of seating, plenty of space – though fewer charging/power points than I might expect in a brand new lounge (the central seated area didn’t have any at all that I could see).

    A few things not working (it seems there’s meant to be some fancy new self-serve machines for booking a shower) and a sign posted warning that the wait time for a shower is over 3 hours…!

    It’s large already, split over two floors (you could easily not notice the upstairs exists). Upstairs has a large bar area and an outdoor terrace.

    The views aren’t brilliant – from downstairs all you can really see is some kind of very long very oddly routed air bridge, I presume that must surely be something that will be removed in due course. From upstairs you can see a bit more (although not with today’s fog).

    You definitely won’t miss an announcement (at least not in the part of the lounge I was sat in); think there’s some fine tuning of the volume to still be done.

    What almost completely threw me is that the entrance is now at the normal concourse floor level – a big improvement over navigating the upstairs corridors!

  10. OT Small Shop complete for 2018 – 85 individual transactions giving me back £425 + £225 on other Amex offers with 3 more BP fill ups to do and a bit more gift card shopping at Morrison’s. Stocked up on a few nice whiskies and wines (hubby’s), greetings cards for the whole year and stamps, cheese vouchers, gifts and a few nice lunches out! Been a good year – these savings will go in to the travel pot for 2019!

    • Wow, that must be a winning amount, Liz!! I’m up to £300 through Morrisons so far but only £20 on S/S!

      • I’ve only had about £40 back from Morrison’s so we are the other way round from you!

        • We used Margiotta in Edinburgh last week – great wee shop – will go back next year.

        • Yeah there’s a few of them, decent selection of stuff!

        • Shop small is rubbish where I am. Nothing worth going to really within 30 mins drive. Or indeed near where I work. I’ve gained £10 total, and that was via online chat as the place on the map didn’t take amex.

        • Nothing near us either except 2/3 restaurants I wouldn’t go to anyway!

    • Well done Liz!

    • Incredible 🙂 In the end I couldn’t even be bothered with one Shop Small transaction. Today I also passed on £25 off £170 of giftcards at MrT. Not sure if it’s depression, too cold or what. Perhaps HFP needs to run some refresher courses or morale-boosting events.

      • Shoestring says:

        Keep your pecker up, BJ! 🙂

        • :O

        • I blame Xmas Saver…been in the doldruns since my second effort failed miserably, shop small simply lacks the challenge or excitement. On the plus side it looks like I have now triggered my Lloyds voucher in just over a week courtesy of Curve without fees so that was something. My statement out today and no nasty surprises.

        • Shoestring says:

          There’s something good around the corner – always is! Next time an IB 90K turns up, don’t shrug your shoulders – as we both did first of all – only I ate humble pie and changed tack lol

          Sure to be a decent opp sometime soon.

      • Sounds like you need a holiday!

        • I haven’t gone out of my way to trigger Shop Small but I’ve managed four £5 credits just be ensuring I used an Amex at any independent shop I visited.

        • Even on holiday I read HFP first thing every morning, and I doubt I’m alone 🙂 I think it’s an element of complacency driven by sufficient miles to see me through 2021 and an abundance of cheap cash flights that ķeeps the pressure off..

      • I also got £0 and the wife got £5, mainly because we were in Asia and Australia throughout November, however I didn’t find anywhere I wanted to spend at anyway and the wife got dragged to lunch by a HFPer at a restaurant where she was forced to “overspend” by much more than the £5 saving

    • Graham Walsh says:

      0 for me. Wasn’t in need of anything. The local bakery/deli was the closest thing I got to using it but the kids didn’t want to go out on a rainy Saturday.

      • @BJ – you should have bought yourself some of that fine Colombian choc – would have reinvigorated you. I took a small risk gamble by purchasing at their outlet in Stockbridge which credited even though it was not on the map – low risk considering the Bruntsfield shop has been included for years!
        SS has been fairly good for me. Stocked up for the year ahead and just two transactions to be chased up – one where the retailer listed did not take AmEx, the other where I suspect the credit won’t post (the only missing SS email out of about 15 transactions)

    • Very impressive.
      I’ve saved more like £70 to £80. The last one today was at Hobgoblin Music buying a ukulele. I think they’ve tracked better this year.

    • Managed 110 myself for £550 saving. have 3 local restaurants I use a lot and an independent clothes shop all within walking distance of where I live on it that I got 23 cards each through.

  11. OT: I’ve an Amex Plat and requested Hilton Gold status even though I already had Gold status this year. The app states I have X number of stays to retain Gold for next year. Does this mean that the Amex Plat benefit has not worked?


  12. Visited the Cathay business class lounge Heathrow T3 this afternoon. Very nice indeed. Beats galleries hands down and spa and nap rooms aside, I don’t think that CCR is that far ahead.

    • That’s nice to hear, because everyone is complaining that it’s suffered another decline in quality as Cathay switched the lounge operator to a lower cost supplier at the start of the month!

  13. ankomonkey says:

    I wonder if any HfP readers will be on Virgin Galactic. Only someone with a Centurion card and with time on their hands, maybe a retiree…

  14. I see Curve have changed there limits for both cards for atm abroad its now £400 per month on black card anything else is 2% on top its was £15000 per year in september .

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