Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Is it worth converting Virgin Flying Club miles to Hilton Honors or IHG Rewards Club points?

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Virgin Atlantic has a rare feature that allows you to transfer your points into hotel loyalty schemes.

The first thing to say is that it is VERY rare for an airline to allow you to transfer to a hotel scheme.   Finnair still lets you transfer to IHG Rewards Club but at a very poor 2:1 rate, and they also have a tie-up with Accor.

I think that is about it for European airlines, although Qatar Airways (read about it here) and Club Eurostar (read about it here) also have two-way exchange rates with Le Club AccorHotels.

You cannot transfer Avios points to any hotel scheme – although you can, of course, book hotel rooms with your Avios points and receive around 0.5p per point of value.

To some extent, we should be grateful that Virgin allows you to do any sort of transfer out.  It is a valuable option for people who earn a lot of Virgin miles through their work but do not want to redeem them for further flights, possible due to family issues, availability or frustration with the Virgin route network.

Transferring to hotel schemes is also a good exit for anyone who picks up some Virgin Atlantic miles through business travel but feels that they will never earn enough for a decent long-haul redemption in a premium cabin.

Transferring Virgin Atlantic miles to Hilton Honors

Here is the Hilton page on the Virgin site.

You will see that the transfer rate to Hilton Honors is 2:3.  The minimum transfer is 10,000 Virgin Flying Club miles and then in increments of 10,000 miles.

I tend to value Hilton points at 0.33p.  This is based on needing 80,000 points for a five star hotel selling for £250 cash.

These valuations are based on redeeming at the higher end luxury hotels.  Historically Hilton has offered better value at the lower end of the scale, but there have been some substantial increases over the last couple of years – all of the London hotels at 30,000 points were recently lifted to 40,000 points for example.

Based on my 0.33p valuation, you get 0.5p of value per Virgin mile when converting to Hilton.  This is not great.

I would only recommend a Hilton Honors transfer if you are topping off an account to reach the amount you need for a reward.

Spire Elite card

Transferring Virgin Atlantic miles to IHG Rewards Club

Converting to IHG Rewards Club is no better.  This would let you redeem at Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza, InterContinental etc hotels.

I value IHG points at 0.4p, based on using 70,000 points for a top five-star hotel.  The transfer ratio from Virgin is 1:1.

0.4p per Virgin mile is an even worse return than transferring to Hilton Honors.  However, if you are topping off your IHG balance, it is an easy way to get to the points required for a room.

Note that, whilst IHG Rewards Club transfers from Virgin Atlantic used to count towards status, this is no longer the case.  This is a shame, as a top up from Virgin Atlantic was an easy way of ensuring that you requalified each year.  This is my story of how I got my Spire Elite card using Virgin miles (but you can’t do it any longer).

Kaligo 2

Using Virgin Atlantic miles via Kaligo.com

There is another way of using your Virgin Atlantic miles for hotel booking.  Virgin Atlantic has partnered with hotel booking site Kaligo.com to let you redeem Virgin miles for many hotels in their portfolio.  You can find more details in this article.

In general, based on tests we have run in the past, Kaligo.com will get you 0.4p to 0.6p per mile of value.  The value varies because hotels are placed into pricing bands – those near the top of their band are better value than those at the bottom.

The Kaligo.com route may get you better value than going via Hilton Honors or IHG Rewards Club.  The downside is that bookings made via Kaligo.com are treated as ‘third party bookings’ so you won’t receive any status benefits from the chain you use.

(PS.  For completeness, it is worth noting that there are some other Virgin Flying Club accommodation redemptions.  These include Ulusaba, Richard Branson’s private game reserve, Mahali Mzuru in Kenya, Kasbah Tamadot in Morocco, The Lodge in Verbier and Mont Rochelle in South Africa.  And, whilst it is no longer on the website, I believe that if you have 1.4 million Virgin Atlantic miles and Virgin Atlantic elite status, you can still redeem for a week on Richard Branson’s Necker Island!)

How to earn Virgin Atlantic miles from UK credit cards

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Flying Club miles from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Flying Club miles.  That page is regularly updated with the latest special offers and will still be accurate even if you are reading this article months after publication.

(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.)

Comments (34)

  • Tilly71 says:

    Is the VA credit card app not working today?

  • Roberto says:

    I pretty much stopped using my Hilton card when it ticked over 10k and started using my Virgin Black instead as it earns more Hilton points per pound than my Hilton card does..

    The Hilton card earns 2 points per pound and the Virgin one effectivly earns 2.25. This assumes I transfer 10k virgin to 15k hilton (which I do).. Orphaned points can roll backwards and I can fiddle the odd to make it work perfectly.

    The only exceptions are spending with Virgin or Hilton of course and I would choose the appropriate card.

    • Harry T says:

      By Virgin Black, do you mean the Rewards +? (160£ fee)

      • Roy says:

        I was puzzled, too, and it required a bit of Googling to track it down. Seems to relate to the predecessors to the current Virgin Money-issued cards. Seems to have come as an Amex card with a companion Visa card (with lower earnings rate) to use in those places that didn’t accept Amex.

        HfP article from 2017 here: https://headforpoints.com/2017/10/08/virgin-flying-club-credit-cards-sign-up-bonus/

        • Roy says:

          Specifically, AFAICT, the Virgin Black card was the MBNA-issued forerunner to the current Virgin Money-issued Virgin Reward+ card.

      • Roberto says:

        I do sorry , force of habit and a few pints of local Norwegian IPA impairing my though process.

        My first year is up next week and I will be cancelling after getting the sign up bonus on the free card recently.

        • Harry T says:

          Sounds like a good way to spend an evening. So you’ve got the Rewards+ and the free Virgin? Impressive work

  • Paul Manson says:

    Is there any articles relating to the IHG rewards catalogue. Looking at value of points vs purchasing gift cards Thomas Cook/John Lewis/Car Hire.
    Thomas Cook opens up a whole host of other hotels but pretty sure value per point is poor.

    Currently looks like 52,500 points for a £100 voucher. Would not usually consider this but with the ever increasing points for rooms rate might be another option to spend the points on somewhere we want to go.

    Appreciate any advice/experiences in this one

  • Charlotte says:

    Hello,

    I transferred 40,000 Virgin flying club miles to my Hilton honours account a week and a half ago now, does anyone know how long it has taken them in experience as their websites says it can take up to 30 days but i need them quicker than that.

    Cheers