Can you convert Virgin Flying Club miles to Avios points?
One of the most common questions I receive via email from new readers is how can you swap your Virgin Flying Club miles into Avios points. I thought it was worth looking at this topic today.
The first thing to say is that you can transfer Virgin Flying Club miles to Avios points, but the exchange rate is poor. I will explain how later in the post.
Before that, though, you should think about WHY you want to move your Virgin miles to Avios.
Is it because you don’t have enough for a Virgin redemption?
Are you sure about that? Remember, Virgin allows one-way redemptions (as does Avios). You could book a one-way ticket to where you want to go on Virgin miles, and then come back with Avios points. A one-way in economy to New York is only 10,000 miles off-peak. This actually gives you more flexibility than just using Avios because you have more chances of finding available seats.
Virgin also offers ‘miles plus money‘ redemptions which reduces the amount of miles you need even further.
Is it because Virgin does not fly to where you want to go?
OK, fair point! Ever since Delta bought 49% of Virgin a couple of years ago, the airline has been dropping its non-North American routes in favour of more destinations which drive connecting traffic from Delta.
However, have you considered flying somewhere else in the same region and buying (or using Avios on a oneworld airline) a cheap connecting flight?
Virgin doesn’t fly to Cape Town, for example. You can fly to Johannesburg, however, and connecting flights to Cape Town are very cheap.
Do you know that you can top-up your Virgin miles via Tesco Clubcard voucher conversions, Heathrow Rewards points transfers or American Express Membership Rewards transfers?
Tesco Clubcard and Heathrow Rewards both offer you an easy way of topping up your Virgin account.
Remember that the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for the first year and comes with 20,000 Amex Membership Rewards points for signing-up. See my review of American Express Gold here. Those convert to 20,000 Virgin miles. That should be enough to turn your existing Virgin Flying Club miles collection into something useful.
Virgin also has its own credit cards, run by Virgin Money. These also come with generous sign-up bonuses, and one of the two cards is FREE.
If you really DO want to convert Virgin miles to Avios points ….
Moving Virgin Flying Club miles to Avios points is a two stage process. You will need at least 10,000 Virgin miles to do it.
Stage 1: Open an IHG Rewards Club account
Stage 3: Transfer your IHG Rewards Club points to Avios at the rate of 5 to 1
20,000 Virgin miles would get you 20,000 IHG points which gets you 4,000 Avios points. The rate is effectively 5 : 1 which is pretty terrible.
There is a second route which is no better:
Stage 1: Open a Hilton Honors account
Stage 3: Transfer your Hilton HHonors points to Avios at the rate of 10 to 1
The net conversion rate is awful, of course. 20,000 Virgin miles gets you 30,000 Hilton Honors points which gets you 3,000 Avios points. The rate is effectively 7 : 1 which is even worse than the IHG route.
You would be far better off using the IHG Rewards Club or Hilton Honors points to book yourself a free hotel room rather than converting them to Avios points.
As a total fall back offer, you should have a look at this deal which offers you a £50 Virgin Voucher in return for 12,500 Virgin Flying Club miles. You would get more value from converting to IHG or Hilton as long as you spend the points on free hotel rooms but the Virgin Voucher may be a cleaner break, if that is what you want.
(This article is part of our ‘BA Q&A’ series which explains how British Airways Executive Club works. You can see all of our ‘BA Q&A’ articles here. )
(Head for Points is the UK’s biggest frequent flyer website with 1.5 million monthly page views. Want to learn more about earning and spending Avios? Click here to read our latest news stories, click here to join our email list and click here to read our ‘Avios Redemption University’ series. Read this article to learn how you can get 10,000 FREE Avios by signing up for the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card.)