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 One Rewards 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 – and with Qatar Airways adopting Avios there is now a route to go Avios to Accor. Accor is very much the exception to the rule however, and as a revenue-based scheme (1 Accor point = 2 Eurocents of hotel room) it rarely makes sense to convert.
You can, of course, book hotel rooms with your Avios points via Nectar Hotels and receive around 0.8p per Avios of value. Do not, under any scenario, use Avios to book hotels via ba.com because this only gets you 0.55p per Avios.
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 Points through their work but do not want to redeem them for further flights, possible due to family issues, availability or frustration with the Virgin Atlantic / Delta / KLM and Air France route network.
Transferring to hotel schemes is also a good exit for anyone who picks up some Virgin Points 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 in 2020, many HfP readers 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.
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 (0.40p) each by offering a 100% bonus. You can buy them with a targetted 80% or 100% bonus via this link until 19th July. This puts a cap on what you can value them at – if you can buy points for cash for 0.4p 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 Honors. This is not great. Even at the highest valuation you can place on a Hilton point – 0.4p, the price you can buy them for – 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.
Points transfers do not count towards Hilton Honors status.
Transferring Virgin Points to IHG One Rewards
Converting to IHG One Rewards 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 around 70,000 points for a top five-star hotel. The transfer ratio from Virgin Points 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 (0.40p) 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.
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.
Points transfers do not count towards IHG One Rewards status.
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 Points 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 0.6p 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 One Rewards. 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. Necker Island is not currently available as the property focuses on clearing a backlog of cancelled bookings from the pandemic.)