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How to redeem your Virgin Points for hotel rooms via Kaligo

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Virgin Flying Club has a partnership with hotel booking site Kaligo.com / Ascenda to offer an alternative way of redeeming Virgin Points.  You can use them to pay for rooms at hundreds of thousands of hotels globally.

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.

How to redeem Virgin Points for hotels

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, which means it is pointless.  You’d be 40% better off turning your Avios into Nectar points and getting 0.8p per Avios.

Today I want to see what sort of value Virgin Atlantic offers if you use Virgin Points for hotel rooms.

How do you book hotel rooms with 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 / Ascenda) so you should compare both sites if you are thinking of using your miles for a bed.

The Virgin Atlantic website has more details on this scheme here.

The Kaligo.com home page to redeem your Virgin Points is here.

How does it work?

Kaligo.com has placed its 550,000 hotels into three categories:

‘Standard’ – 20,000 Virgin Points per night

‘Premium’ – 30,000 Virgin Points per night

‘Luxury’ – 40,000 Virgin Points per night

As we will see, the recent sharp rises in hotel cash pricing – which impacts the number of Virgin Points needed – mean that these labels probably need to change.  Plenty of hotels in the ‘Luxury’ bracket are nothing of the sort.

Virgin Atlantic miles redemptions for hotels

Booking is a little fiddly:

Step 1 is to check availability and pricing via the Kaligo.com / Virgin Atlantic 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 0.6p per Virgin Point.

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) or anything you redeem via the Virgin Red app, which tends to get you 0.5p.

0.6p is theoretically better than 0.55p you get if you redeem your points for a Virgin Atlantic Holidays discount as we saw in our article last week, but I explain later why this may not be true.

Here are some random hotels I picked in London for Saturday 14th May.  The price comparison comes from Expedia.

Hilton London Olympia – 20,000 points – £167 – 0.83p per point

Hotel Indigo London Paddington – 40,000 points – £260 – 0.65p per point

Holiday Inn Express Stratford – 30,000 points – £180 – 0.60p per point

Ibis London Blackfriars – 30,000 points – £171 – 0.57p per point

OYO Boston Court Hotel – 20,000 points – £122 – 0.61p per point

Hilton London Metropole – 40,000 points – £188 – 0.47p per point

As you can see, the results average around 0.62p per Virgin 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.

There is a big problem now with this booking site.  Because Virgin is determined to keep its costs at around 0.6p per point, hotels costing more than around £240 per night have been pulled.  This means that you will struggle to find much of quality in Central London or other expensive cities, and you end up in the weird position of the Hampton by Hilton London Waterloo being categorised as ‘Luxury’.

Two caveats …..

You may want to treat the numbers above with a small pinch of salt.

The first caveat is that my tests exclude any ‘member only’ rates that the hotels may offer on their own sites, so my ‘pence per point’ figure may be inflated.

The second caveat is that, for a branded hotel, you won’t earn any points from your stay.  At the very worst you could book via Hotels.com and get 10% of your ex-VAT cost back in Hotels.com Rewards credit.

Given these two factors, it is NOT fair to say that getting 0.6p per Virgin Point for a hotel booking is ‘better’ than getting 0.55p from a Virgin Holidays booking.  In reality the results are closer than they look.

You can convert Virgin Points directly into IHG and Hilton points

In general, you are getting better value than converting your Virgin Points to IHG Rewards 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 Rewards 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 Atlantic portal.  You would receive status benefits on IHG Rewards and Hilton Honors redemptions.

Conclusion

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 although premium cabin availability with Virgin Atlantic is currently poor.

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 around 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 points to Virgin Points 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 Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (August 2022)

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, the Reward+ card has a bonus of 15,000 Virgin Points):

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Virgin Rewards credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

A generous earning rate for a free card at 0.75 points per £1 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.

American Express Amex Gold

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

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Small business owners should consider the two American Express Business cards. Points convert at 1:1 into Virgin Points.

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year 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 (31)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Toddy says:

    It would need to be a hell of a deal for me to wait on the phone for an hour to get a code before returning to the website to make my booking…

    • The Savage Squirrel says:

      Exactly this. I’ve done it pre-Covid (worked out alright but not amazing – was a little over 0.7p/point in the end; but that was at least a genuine saving on hard cash for the room I would have booked anyway) and it was very annoying and clunky even then. Now ….. no chance.

  • Howard says:

    Thanks for another useful article.
    Can you use Virgin Points to upgrade on one of their flights if it’s been booked as part of a Virgin Holiday package?
    Thanks.

  • Alan says:

    Having to phone them makes it seem a non-starter as a route given current wait times. Any word on this increased UC availability you mentioned in a recent chat with them?

    • Fraser says:

      I had a LONG call with them last night (long even after the long wait time!) looking at various permutations of UC availability, whether booked via points or upgrade voucher. The bad news is the credit given for cancelled cash bookings (remember the £995 fares), even with the boost, is barely going to cover taxes and fees now.

      I asked about the limited / zero availbility on some routes and they said redemption seats are typically loaded 1-2 months AFTER the flight is loaded, so whereas BA might let you book 355 days in advance and redemption seats are immediately available (for early March next year), Virgin will be loading seat availability now for January. So plan accordingly.

      The good news, as far as (very limited) availability is concerned, is that Austin is wide open if you want to fly there and then connect. So if you’re heading to the west coast, why not fly to / from Austin and then connect with either Delta or American using Virgin/;Avios respectively, since the domestic taxes are next to nothing?

      Interestingly, the credit card voucher CAN be used to upgrade Delta redemptions too, but if it involves a connection, you would need either a second voucher, or to only upgrade certain segments of the flight.

      • Jeff77 says:

        “ So if you’re heading to the west coast, why not fly to / from Austin and then connect with either Delta or American using Virgin/;Avios respectively, since the domestic taxes are next to nothing?”

        Because connecting in American airports is horrendous and most people have limited holidays and don’t want to waste half a day due to a connecting flight

      • Alan says:

        Agree re Austin. Also apparently an excellent place to visit! I managed to rebook my Black Friday redemption today – they would only honour the original route but at least at zero additional cost and with only cash availability despite it being a points booking. Took a while to sort but done via text (I filled out the rebooking form then they texted me to say no availability and I replied).

    • Rob says:

      My guess is that we’re months away from that even if it is approved internally.

  • Melonfarmer says:

    Step 2a: wait 3 hours for Virgin to answer the phone, if at all.

  • Anuj says:

    My virgin flight tomorrow in upper class seems to have randomly changed my seat from the window seat to the middle aisle. The previous seat is greyed out as unavailable (no one is sat in it). Anyone know what’s happened ? The other two passengers are still in the same seats

    • Lady London says:

      Apparently there’s been an outbreak of entertainment system not working on window seats.

      What class are you booked in? Are you on an avios ticket or a 241?

  • Andy says:

    What’s a good use of a handful of virgin points? I’ve got around 6000 at the moment and not likely to increase it by much. Any good value redemptions?

  • Harrier25 says:

    Looks like you can redeem for Marriott Bovey points too. Is that correct?

  • Jeff77 says:

    Do kaligo give VAT receipts?

    It’s not been an issue with previous employers but my current one are very specific about this

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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