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)

  • RussellH says:

    I thought that it had been stated here earlier that there were other, low value, redemptions coming up, now that they are Virgin Points and no longer Virgin miles, so not dedicated to flying?
    Greggs seems to have been mentioned more than once. A couple of cups of Greggs coffee during a road trip for free might even encourgae me to use my Virgin CC again.
    🙂

  • Justin says:

    I transferred my 40k Virgin Points into Hilton rewards a few months back – only did this I was not confident Virgin Atlantic would survive.

    I’d much prefer the airline points, but I am still uncertain as to their future so thought I’d be better safe than sorry.

  • Nadeshka says:

    I also caved and moved ~80K to Hilton and don’t regret it. I had been sitting on those points for 5+ years without feeling inspired to make any plans with the limited route network and the poor voucher vs the BA 241.
    The last redemption I did was a solo trip to NYC, PE out to & UC back but it would have taken too long to build back up to that for 3 people.
    Instead they went towards some nights in the Conrad Tokyo which works out at 1.1p per virgin point so just got to hope that trip goes ahead!

    • Alex W says:

      The Virgin credit card voucher is now substantially more useful than it used to be.

      • PJJ says:

        And for the solo flyer beats BAPP

        • David says:

          Indeed, just a shame about the route network

        • Nadeshka says:

          True, but still not as good as the BAPP voucher and would require substantially more miles than I can easily earn to get 3 of us anywhere. We don’t spend enough or holiday enough to justify two sets of points & vouchers so when I had to pick one I went for BA. The Virgin lot was mainly a remnant of work travel and some card offers. I was keen to see some return on them nevertheless!

          I would love to take a solo trip somewhere but I think my other half and toddler would be a lot less keen 😉 so I’m stuck pricing up flights for 3. Almost all our holidaya are to Asia so yes the Virgin route network is considerably less appealing.

  • Johnny Tabasco says:

    At the time it was quite interesting to stand from afar and watch people panic and run to the Hilton hills. It was almost lemming like, one domino fell and then so did many more. An interesting observation on the human psyche.

    Seems a long time ago now and I’m sure there will be many people who will regret it moving forward.
    Obviously there are some sensible reasons why some people made the conversion (as outlined today) and do I understand why people would be concerned but it was clear to see there was a lot of panic (and a lot of wine ordered!) and there’s still a lot of people pretending they are pleased with what they did.

    A shame really.

  • Paul says:

    I have no confidence in Virgin surviving and it’s an airline I have never flown. I took the credit card as it provided an opportunity to rack up a large pot of points from paying school fees. Had they been a little more enlightened about their 241 I might have flown and who knows, might have been a convert. Alas no chance of upper class so over 300,000 miles converted to Hilton.
    Can’t tell how long Virgin will be around or indeed allow this transfer to continue

    • Alex W says:

      The Virgin credit card voucher is now substantially more useful than it used to be.

    • Johnny Tabasco says:

      Fair dos. But out of interest what do you mean by ‘no chance of upper class’?

  • Leo says:

    I moved 200K miles to Hilton. Did I blink? Yes but due to family reasons I’m unlikely to be travelling long haul for a good long while. So I figured best to transfer. When I did VFC messed up, didn’t transfer the miles and when I queried this they said they had never existed! There was no proof of them having existed in the account details on the website either, no sign of a transfer out, just the residual number of points. Fortunately I did have a record of their existence by way of the emails I had been sent by Award Wallet. So after a bit of pushing and mention of legal proceedings I did “get them back”, but only because I could prove they had been there. VFC had only just stopped short of calling me a liar. I’m more worried about the 75K that I supposedly still have in my Virgin account than the stuff I moved to Hilton.

  • Colin says:

    I have collected Virgin miles/points for many years, collecting and redeeming several million. Yet (due to the scandalous taxes/charges/fees) I have only ever redeemed on ONE Virgin metal flight – a o/w HKG/LHR in Upper!! I find (being based in Northern Ireland) the BHD/DUB options with AF/KLM since the introduction of redemption opportunities through Virgin, are pretty poor. In my opinion the screaming value is booking Delta metal with Virgin miles/points – US to the likes of Tokyo/Shanghai/Beijing etc in Delta One for around 60.000 points and a mere $5.60. Likewise, similar rates for US/Europe (excluding UK) and some fantastically cheap intra US options. Stunning value on a cost per point basis if booked with Virgin miles/points compared to Delta`s own Skymiles award redemptions too. Admittedly not for everyone who doesn`t travel globally to any great extent but ……..

  • Wally1976 says:

    Wife and I have clocked up quite a few Virgin points over the years but for us the biggest problem is that we’re limited to school holidays and there’s no guaranteed availability on each flight like there is with BA. Also, we haven’t flown long haul (at all) in 12 years since having kids.

    Anyway, we transferred almost all of wife’s points to HH a few months back now and very comfortable with that decision. Still got my pool of points in case an opportunity comes up to use them.

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