Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Is it worth converting Virgin Points to Hilton Honors or IHG Rewards Club hotel 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.

Accor has done deals with a lot of airlines, and Eurostar, over the last couple of years.  We are going to cover this in a separate article next week. Accor is very much the exception to the rule however.

Virgin Atlantic 747 Pretty Woman G-VROY

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.

When Virgin Atlantic was in financial difficulties this Summer, many people decided to hedge their risk by transferring their Virgin Points into Hilton or IHG points. They lost some value but it removed the risk of losing everything.

Hilton Honors

Transferring Virgin Points 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 Points and then in increments of 10,000 points.

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.

My 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 and this is not necessarily the case any longer.

It is worth noting that Hilton will regularly sell points for 0.5 cents (0.39p) each by offering a 100% bonus. You can buy them for this now via this link until 31st December.  This puts a cap on what you can value them at – if you can buy points for cash for 0.39p for much of the year, you shouldn’t value them more highly.

(The only exception would be if you needed more points than you can purchase in one year. However the current offer lets you buy a chunky 320,000 points. Your partner could buy a further 320,000 and use ‘points pooling’ to transfer them to you, so this will rarely be an issue.)

Based on my 0.33p valuation, you get 0.5p of value per Virgin Point when converting to Hilton.  This is not great. Even at the highest valuation you can place on a Hilton point – 0.4p – you are only getting 0.6p of value per Virgin Point.

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

Transfers can take 2-4 weeks to go through so this is NOT a good idea if you need Hilton points quickly to lock in a redemption room you spotted.

IHG Rewards Club

Transferring Virgin Points 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, Kimpton, 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 Point (based on the 1:1 transfer rate) 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.

IHG points can also be bought for 0.5 cents (0.39p) when they are sold with a 100% bonus – which is quite often at the moment. The IHG ‘buy points’ page is here but there is no offer this week. This makes it very hard to justify a higher valuation.

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).

As with Hilton transfers, it can take a couple of weeks for your points to arrvive.  This isn’t a solution if you need to book a room quickly.

Kaligo Hfp offer

Using Virgin Points 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 Flying Club 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 around 0.55p per point 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. 

If you have 1.5 million Virgin Points and Virgin Atlantic elite status, you can also redeem for a week on Richard Branson’s Necker Islandsee here.)


HFP Virgin Atlantic Rewards credit card

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (July 2021)

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

You can choose from two official Virgin Atlantic credit cards (apply here, one has a bonus of 15,000 Points):

Virgin Rewards credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

The UK’s most generous free Visa or Mastercard at 0.75 points / £1 Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending Read our full review

You can also earn Virgin Points from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for a year and comes with 20,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 20,000 Virgin Points:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Points

(Want to earn more Virgin Points?  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 (40)

  • BJ says:

    Yes, absolutely, especially if you lived outside the LHR/LGW catchment area as there was for the most part no domestic connections and options from MAN and GLA were few. Going forward, it seems doubtful to me that the Delta/AF/KLM links, the network diversification we see now, or the increased opportunities from MAN will survive. For these reasons transfer to Hilton has always been and will remain my default use for Virgin miles.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      I don’t know what makes you think the Delta/KLM/AF link won’t survive. The rest who knows.

      • Rob says:

        Air France and KLM must survive because the transatlantic JV they spent 3 years getting past the regulators will otherwise fall apart. You can’t have the JV without reciprocal earn and burn across partners.

      • BJ says:

        Just a hunch that airlines, alliance and loyalty will look quite a bit different in the next 3-5 years.

  • Nick_C says:

    I’m still not confident that Virgin Atlantic has a long term future. Its route network is very limited, and I don’t want to connect in CDG or AMS, so Virgin Points no longer hold any attraction for me.

    However, I do collect Hilton points, and as I don’t have the legacy Hilton Visa, the VAMC is a good way to collect Hilton points where Amex is not accepted. Using Rob’s valuation of a third of a penny, this gives you a return of 0.375p per £ spent.

  • TechnoT says:

    I need to do some research on Virgin’s available cash and the airline’s quarterly cash burn at present. The availability of highly effective vaccines will surely be a positive for VS as the UK and the US are the two countries globally with the largest supply or purchased vaccines per capita. Only a positive if VS makes it to next spring, though…

  • The Savage Squirrel says:

    I cracked in the end and transferred my pool to Hilton. Covid was really just the final straw. Best value is irrelevant without ability to use for something you actually want. On the routes I fly, reward availability was nonexistent – I hadn’t been able to spend a point in years, while there’s a Doiubletree I use regularly with or without rewards and irrespective of the cash rate (it’s by far the best and the only convenient hotel for visiting some relatives) so HH points are as good as cash to me. Others will have a different set of circumstances so their choice should be different.

    • Chrisasaurus says:

      Coming around to that way of thinking too – my work travel when it existed was on AA or BA if necessary so the Vs stash is growing only slowly and I won’t be getting status again for the foreseeable – but you shouldn’t have said that about the DT, absolutely Sod’s law it’s a Marriott by the end of next year now!

  • Alex W says:

    “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.”

    For someone with a modest pot of miles, a one way upgrade from Premium to Upper, to East Coast US, can be done for as little as 23,700 miles. This is arguably one of the best value Virgin redemptions regardless of how many miles you have in your account.

  • Lol says:

    My non AmEx spending goes on my IHG free card. How does transferring Virgin points to Hilton or IHG compare with collecting points directly through the IHG free card? The latter has flexibility too for earning points as the underlying card for making payments via Curve such as for council tax and to Ernie. (I’m not an HfP ‘big league ms’ poster so the latter for me is a modest 3 figure savings amount each month!). Does the Virgin free card have the same underlying flexibility?

  • Doug M says:

    The free IHG card gets you one IHG point per £. The Free Virgin card gets you 0.75 Virgin miles per £, which would convert to 0.75 IHG points, so at face value the IHG card is better. The same 0.75 Virgin miles would convert to 1.125 Hilton points.
    In purely financial terms the 0.75 Virgin miles is likely to result in the most value for your £ of spend. But that assumes you want to fly Virgin, they’re in business, and they go where you want to. Questions like this really have too many variables, and you need to do what you think is best based on what you hope to use the points for. If you want hotels rooms then the IHG card is probably the best non-Amex card currently available.

  • Alex Sm says:

    I blinked earlier this year and converted to IHG and now slightly regret about that decision…

    It’s a pity that these transfers don’t count towards status anymore – I remember how we did a multi-move combination to get me my first IHG Platinum through Tesco, Virgin and IHG

    • Peter K says:

      I converted to Hilton and don’t regret it. I have great confidence I’ll get to use my Hilton points, but even now I wouldn’t be sure about Virgin. Add to this that a booking made with Virgin Atlantic means not just points but also money tied up in a business that may go bust and I’m satisfied with my choice.
      The money saved on hotels can be used on any airline, any time without blackout dates so my conversion still feels like a strong win to me.

      • Lady London says:

        +1 I cracked and moved my tiny amount to Hilton and wont regret it. Even though I am unhappy with how the points price of lower-brand Hiltons got hiked to become very poor value in the past 18 monthds or so. As Rob days higher end hotels still have value for points bookings in Hilton.

        I just got sick of the points cost from PE to Upper moving continually out of my reach. I only wanted it for West Coast. NYC cash fare is so cheap everywhere there’s no way I’d waste points on it – and not much interest in East Coast anyway.

        Whatever nice deals come up on the future Virgin Red program – whether flying or not – I won’t regret moving those points to Hilton. If I need to I’ll just earn some more.

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