Virgin Flying Club has a partnership with hotel booking site Kaligo.com to offer an alternative way of redeeming your Virgin points. You can use them to pay for hundreds of thousands of hotels globally via Kaligo.com.
This is a companion article to the one we published last week on how to redeem Virgin Flying Club points for a discount on Virgin Atlantic Holidays.
For clarity, you will almost always get the best value from airline miles by redeeming them for flights and not other products. Any redemption which involves the airline writing a cheque to someone else to provide you with your reward is never going to end well.
British Airways allows you to redeem Avios for hotel rooms via this special ba.com page. You get around 0.57p per Avios if you do this. Today I want to see what sort of value Virgin Atlantic offers.
How do you book hotel rooms with your Virgin points?
If you have ever tried to book a hotel using Avios, you will know that the booking site is very clunky and has little information on the featured hotels.
Virgin’s booking site is much more user friendly as you would expect from a Kaligo.com partnership. British Airways uses a different hotel provider (Expedia) to Virgin Atlantic (Kaligo.com) so you should compare both sites if you are thinking of using your miles for a bed.
How does it work?
Kaligo.com has placed its 550,000 hotels into three categories:
‘Standard’ – 20,000 Virgin points per night (3-4 star hotels)
‘Premium’ – 30,000 Virgin points per night (4-5 star hotels)
‘Luxury’ – 40,000 Virgin points per night (higher end 5-star hotels)
Booking is a little fiddly:
Step 1 is to check availability and pricing via the Kaligo.com / Virgin booking page
Step 2 is to telephone Flying Club and redeem your points for a voucher code
Step 3 is to repeat the booking process, this time continuing to the end by inputting the code given to you by the call centre
Because Kaligo.com has grouped its hotels into just three pricing bands, it is difficult to put a firm value on the value you are getting. It seems to average around 0.55p per mile.
This is a better deal than the standard Virgin Atlantic ‘non-flight’ redemptions which work out at 0.4p (eg 12,500 points for a £50 Virgin Voucher or Theatre Token).
It is the same value (0.55p) that you get if you redeem your points for a Virgin Atlantic Holidays discount.
Here are some random four-star hotels I picked in London for Saturday 17th October. The price comparison comes from Expedia and so ignores any ‘member only’ rates the hotels may offer on their own site.
St Martins Lane – 40,000 points – £230 – 0.57p per mile
The Trafalgar – 40,000 points – £229 – 0.57p per mile
Holiday Inn Bloomsbury – 30,000 points – £121 – 0.40p per mile
The Mandeville – 30,000 points – £150 – 0.50p per mile
Rydges Kensington (Melia) – 20,000 points – £125 – 0.62p per mile
Hilton London Metropole – 20,000 points – £98 – 0.49p per mile
As you can see, the results average around 0.55p per Virgin Atlantic point. The range is quite wide, however – far wider than I have seen it in the past when I have run this experiment. I would put that down to coronavirus and hotels being more fluid with their pricing via the different channels.
Remember that you can convert Virgin points directly into IHG and Hilton points
In general, you are getting better value than converting your Virgin Atlantic points to IHG Rewards Club points (at a 1:1 ratio) or to Hilton Honors (at a 2:3 ratio). Click through to see the details of those deals.
You get around 0.45p – 0.5p per point via that route. I value an IHG point at 0.4p and a Hilton point at 0.33p (so 0.5p per point at 2:3). You are restricted by what availability is offered for reward nights but both chains are generally good. Note that these points transfers do NOT count towards elite status with IHG or Hilton.
One factor to consider is that you will NOT receive any status benefits on hotel stays booked via the Kaligo.com / Virgin portal. You would receive status benefits on IHG Rewards Club and Hilton Honors redemptions.
Whether using your Virgin points for a hotel room via Kaligo.com is a good deal is a personal decision. You should get better value – as always – by using your miles for a flight.
It is certainly not worth converting Tesco Clubcard vouchers to Virgin Flying Club points purely to redeem them this way. 1p of Tesco Clubcard points gets you 2.5 Virgin points which would only get you 1p – 1.5p of hotel room. It is far better to use your Clubcard points for Hotels.com credit at a 1:3 ratio, so every 1p of Clubcard points gets you 3p of Hotels.com voucher.
Similarly, you should not transfer American Express Membership Rewards point to Virgin Atlantic to use them for a hotel. You get better converting converting directly into hotel programmes, eg 2:3 into Marriott Bonvoy, 1:3 into Radisson Rewards and 1:2 into Hilton Honors.
On the other hand, if you got your miles via a credit card sign-up bonus or from taking Virgin Atlantic flights, you may be happy to settle for a lower return. Kaligo.com seems to offer better value than the other ‘non flight’ redemptions offered by Virgin Flying Club.
How to earn Virgin Atlantic miles from UK credit cards
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Flying Club points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!