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)

  • Kieran says:

    I used BA avios for a hotel stay back in June, for a hotel in HK. 3 days at a five star hotel were priced at £560 on the hotel comparison sites but 5000 Avios plus £250 on ba.com.
    Thought this was a good deal.

  • Oliver says:

    Am I right in thinking that if you earn your Virgin miles through the premium + credit card at a rate of 1.5 per £1 spent, and then transfer to IHG at 1:1, then this is close to the value you’re achieving by spending on the IHG premium Mastercard (at 2 points or c.0.8p per £ spent)? And thus better to spend on this card once the 10k spending target has been met on the IHG card?

    • Henry says:

      The sweet spot is earning diamond status with Hilton
      Then the points transfers from Virgin start to really benifit.
      We’ve had some fab upgrades a full top floor junior suite in the Waldorf Rak was a recent highlight priced costing 42000 miles a night (we booked the cheapest room) and with the 5th night free if you pay with points
      Also no pesky resort and tourist taxes get added on at the end of the stay on points booking.
      With all the upgrades and benifits of breakfast etc I worked out we nearly got 1.5p per point in value.

    • Simon says:

      Wouldn’t that mean you’re getting 0.6p of points per £ spent?

      • Olly says:

        Yep, that’s what I work out to be as well. Which is worse than spending on the IHG card but you get the flexibility of being able to use it for both options whereas transferring it the other way, there is zero benefit because the rate is so poor.

    • Peter K says:

      If you are not planning on using the Virgin Miles on Virgin flights then paying a £160 yearly card fee to earn a lower rate, 1.5 IHG per £ rather than 2 per £, is not the way forward.

      Remember that IHG card spend counts towards status. £37.5k spend in calendar year = Spire.

  • Adam says:

    Sorry, not related to this post, but any tips on earning avios/flying points from currency exchange?

    We’re currently using Revolut topped up by a Virgin MasterCard to earn flying points for day to day spending, but are also looking for an option when we exchange GBP to USD cash.

    • Harry T says:

      Withdraw cash with your Curve and Revolut cards abroad. That’s 400£ total cash that earns points (for free). The exchange rate is pretty good too, providing you don’t withdraw at weekends. I just did this whilst on holiday in Central/Eastern Europe for two weeks. May be worth getting Curve Black or Metal if you want to withdraw more cash than this abroad (you’ll have to do the maths).

  • Andy says:

    I’ve only got around 10000 virgin miles. I don’t fly virgin and so probably not going to increase the balance by much. Surely it’s better to transfer them as hotel points? Or will there maybe be cheap European redemptions with KLM coming?

    • RussellH says:

      That was my logic a few years ago.
      I had earned about 2 500 Virgin points from Virgin trains over several years. Never been on a Virgin plane.
      I learned about the MBNA Virgin card from this site, took out the card, spent a few quid on it. Transfered some e-Rewrds points to Virgin and ended up with 10 002 virgin miles, which I changed into Hilton points.
      I wonder every-so-often about getting 5 000 miles from the new Virgin Credit card, topping up to
      10 000 with 2 500 MR points, but I read here about a lot of people being turned down for the Virgin Card. I do not want to break my record of never having been turned down (at least in the UK), or arguing the toss with Virgin when I do not actually want to use the card any more than absolutely necessary.

    • Rob says:

      Transfer.

  • The Streets says:

    Good way of stopping my IHG points from expiring now I no longer have the credit card

  • Roger* says:

    Semi-OT: ‘ROGER, Planning a summer trip? Use your Avios and enjoy an exclusive 15% off on hotels and car hire bookings’

    E-mail from BA. ‘ Whether you want to pay in full using Avios or one of the Avios part cash options, you can find more than 100,000 hotels worldwide from boutique hotels to major chains and also quality car hire around the world that you can redeem Avios on.
    As a British Airways American Express® Premium Plus Cardmember you can enjoy an exclusive 15% off your hotel or car hire booking.
    Book and pay between 26 July – 19 August for travel until 30 June 2020. ‘

    I haven’t yet checked whether 15% off adds real value. Has anybody benefited from this offer? (Needs log in to get to prices.)

    • PaulC says:

      I’m trying to get a price for a hotel to see if it is a good deal or not. How do you pay part with Avios, part cash? Is there a link for this offer too?

  • Mark says:

    What’s the latest on the virgin/Air France/KLM tie up for booking European short haul with virgin miles? Don’t expect to earn enough to do an UC redemption so a short haul on a partner probably best if this is available

  • Jason says:

    Virgin > Hilton = Conrad Maldives… easily over 1.6p per virgin mile in high season. Works for me anyway.

    • Genghis says:

      Depends what you would otherwise use the Virgin miles for. Ie. You could be even better off just buying the Hilton points.

      • Jason says:

        Loads of variable I guess but Hilton award bookings are easily available in high season. Booking for Virgin flights or their partners in high season is not so easy. Also I have to allow for 2 adults, a teenager (sometimes) and a 2 year old so using points for flights becomes very tricky.

        As I said, it works for me and if Hilton have a 100% bonus offer I have made use of that too.