I often get questions from readers – especially those new to miles and points – about the possibility of converting one type of miles or points currency to another. A particularly popular query is: “can you convert Virgin miles to Avios”?
It seems people are more likely to find themselves with a relatively small pile of Virgin miles than they would Avios. They may have taken the odd Virgin flight here and there, leaving them with a seemingly insubstantial balance and they figure they might as well trade them in for some points in a program that they will use, such as Avios.
Here’s how to convert Virgin miles to Avios – as well as why you are probably better off not doing so.
How to convert Virgin Flying Club miles to Avios
In my guide to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles, I mentioned a unique feature, namely the ability to transfer frequent flyer airline miles at a respectable rate to a hotel loyalty program.
Virgin Flying Club miles can be converted to:
- Hilton Honors points – at a 2:3 ratio
- IHG Rewards Club points – at a 1:1 ratio
With the exception of Marriott Bonvoy points, transferring hotel points to airline miles generally represents poor value. You’d be far better off leaving them where they are and trying to redeem them for free hotel nights.
However, if you are certain you cannot make use of them as hotel points you convert:
Hilton Honors points to Avios at a 10:1 ratio.
IHG Rewards Club points to Avios at a 5:1 ratio.
In practice this would look as follows:
- Convert 10,000 Flying Club miles to IHG Rewards Club = 10,000 IHG points
- Convert 10,000 IHG points to Avios = 2,000 Avios
So all in all, a pretty poor return, but if Avios is your main loyalty program and you’re desperate to extract some value from your Virgin miles – I suppose it’s better than letting them expire!
NOTE: You must convert an initial minimum of 10,000 Virgin Flying Club miles to IHG points and then in increments of 5,000 miles.
Why you shouldn’t convert your Virgin miles to Avios
Now that you know how to convert your Virgin miles to Avios, here’s why I don’t recommend doing so.
Cheap redemptions are available
Given Virgin’s lack of European route network, the options for redeeming those miles, particularly if you aren’t planning much long-haul travel, may seem limited.
However, following changes to the Virgin Flying Club program at the back end of 2016, many destinations now require fewer miles for a reward flight. This was largely down to the introduction of peak/off-peak pricing.
What’s more, is that the forthcoming launch of Virgin’s new Tel Aviv route has opened up an even cheaper redemption option in terms of the number of miles required.
(Prices are one-way)
Economy – 9,000/11,000 (standard v peak dates) miles
Premium – 16,500/20,000 (standard v peak dates) miles
Upper Class – 28,000/33,000 (standard v peak dates) miles
The following places require just 20,000 miles one-way in Economy:
- Montego Bay, Jamaica
- St Lucia
- Washington D.C
There are also multiple, non-flying redemptions that don’t require large amounts of miles:
- Redeem them for an eVoucher to book hotel rooms via Kaligo.
- £50 Virgin Wines voucher = 12,500 miles (+delivery)
- £50 Eurostar voucher = 12,500 miles
Numerous easy ways to add to your balance
Another reason not to abandon token amounts of Flying Club miles is the ease with which you can boost that balance to a more substantial level.
A comprehensive list of options for collecting Flying Club miles can be found in this article here, but they include:
- Converting Tesco Clubcard points/Amex Membership Rewards points) – 1 Tesco Clubcard point is worth 2.5 Flying Club miles.
- Applying for an American Express Gold or Platinum card – then converting those Membership Rewards points to Virgin miles.The sign-up bonus from the Gold card is worth 10,000 Virgin miles and the Platinum offers 30,000 miles.
- Transferring Heathrow Rewards points – Heathrow Rewards points transfer at a 1:1 ratio to Virgin miles
- Taking out one or both of the Virgin Money Virgin Atlantic credit cards
Use them for hotel stays
The fact that Flying Club miles can be transferred to Hilton/IHG can be useful in itself rather than just acting as the ‘middle man’ between Virgin and Avios.
10,000 IHG points are worth two free hotel nights using the PointBreaks deal that I’ve covered before. That surely offers better value than 2,000 Avios!
So that’s the theory. However, given the number of available methods for topping up your Virgin miles balance – I don’t recommend converting them to Avios.