Disclosure: We get a commission for links on the blog. You don’t have to use our links, but we’re very grateful when you do. American Express and Citi are Million Mile Secrets advertising partners. Here’s our Advertiser Disclosure.
Virgin Atlantic Credit Card
Update: Virgin Atlantic has changed their transfer ratio. See this post for details.
Top Line: You can convert 50,000 Virgin Atlantic miles from the Virgin Atlantic Credit Card into 100,000 Hilton hotel points!
Emily applied for the Bank of America Virgin Atlantic American Express Credit Card in her last mini app-o-rama because we’re always short hotel points since we rarely pay cash to stay in hotels. We regularly apply for credit cards to have Big Travel with Small Money because it is the easiest way to accumulate lots of miles and points!
Yes, but what use are Virgin Atlantic miles?
How To Use Virgin Atlantic Miles:
1. Inter-Island Hawaii Flights (Up to $1,200 value)
Online Travel Review pointed out that it takes only 6,000 Virgin Atlantic miles for a round-trip inter-island flight (flying from 1 island in Hawaii to another) on Hawaiian Airlines when you book it using Virgin Atlantic miles! But you have to book 7 days in advance.
It usually costs $150 for an inter-island Hawaii flight, so you could get
6 8 round-trip inter-island flights in Hawaii (a $1,200 value). Even better, you pay only $5 in taxes and fees per flight!
You can transfer Starwood hotel or American Express Membership Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic, but since Starwood points are better used for hotel stays, you could apply for the Virgin Atlantic credit card instead.
2. Transfer to Hilton Honors ($300 to $600 value)
Million Mile Secrets reader Wes wrote in to say that he was able to transfer Virgin Atlantic miles to Hilton points at a 1:2 ratio.
The Virgin Atlantic (US) website says that the transfer ratio to Hilton is 1:1, but the Hilton website says that the transfer ratio is 1:2 (5,000 miles transfer to 10,000 Hilton points).
However, the Virgin Atlantic (UK) website says that the transfer ratio to Hilton is 1:2, so perhaps the correct transfer ratio is 1:2, and the US website has not been updated.
Emily transferred 10,000 Virgin Atlantic miles to Hilton and received 20,000 Hilton points in her account. We’ll end up with 100,000 Hilton HHonors points for the cost of the $90 annual fee!
So you may be able to get 100,000 Hilton points from the Virgin Atlantic credit card. At worse, you’ll end up with 50,000 Hilton points at a 1:1 transfer ratio.
100,000 Hilton Honors points is much more than the regular sign-up bonuses on the official Hilton HHonors cards issued by American Express (no fee + 60,000 points after $750 minimum spending within 3 months), American Express Surpass ($75 annual fee not waived +60,000 points ) or Citi (no fee + 50,000 points after $1,500 minimum spending within 6 months)!
However, the Citi Hilton Honors comes with Silver elite status which gets you access to VIP awards, and the AMEX Hilton Honors card comes with Gold elite status for a year which gets you access to discounted VIP and AXON award nights.
So you could load up on Hilton points through the Virgin Atlantic credit card and then get the Citi or American Express “official” Hilton credit cards to get access to the discounted award nights (VIP & AXON) and elite status benefits.
I value 1 Hilton point at about 0.6 cents per point, so you could get a $300 value if you only get 50,000 Hilton points or a $600 value if you manage to get 100,000 Hilton points after transferring points.
However, Hilton has announced changes which restrict award availability in their best hotels and resorts. They do this by classifying a room as a premium room, and increasing the amount of points needed to redeem for that room.
I did a brief check of Hilton availability and found that the best hotels in Bora Bora and the Maldives had almost no availability for regular rooms. However, there were rooms available at the regular rate in most other Hiltons. But we don’t know if other Hilton hotels will follow the unfriendly policy of designating rooms as “premium rooms” and increasing the number of points needed to redeem for an award night.
3. Use for Virgin Atlantic travel.
You could use Virgin Atlantic miles for travel on Virgin Atlantic, but the high fuel and taxes (~$500 – $800 for a transatlantic flight) makes this a poor choice for economy redemption (45-50,000 miles for a transatlantic flight) and a very expensive proposition for business class awards (90-100,000 miles for a transatlantic flight).
Virgin Atlantic Credit Card
1. 50,000 Miles. You earn 20,000 miles after your 1st purchase and an additional 25,000 miles after spending $2,500 within 90 days. You also get 5,000 miles by adding 2 authorized users to your account for a total of 50,000 Flying Club miles.
You can convert 50,000 Flying Club miles to 100,00 Hilton Points by calling Virgin Atlantic and asking them to transfer the miles to your Hilton account.
2. Foreign Transaction Fee. There is a 1% foreign transaction fee for using the card outside the US so you’re better off using a fee free card overseas.
3. Anniversary Bonuses. You earn an extra 7,500 miles when you spend $15,000 a year and another 7,500 miles when you spend $25,000 a year.
This is misleadingly described as “Earn up to 15,000 additional bonus miles upon anniversary” in the marketing materials, which neglects to mention that you have to spend $25,000 to get those extra “anniversary” 15,000 miles.
Umm, no thanks!
4. $90 annual fee. There is a $90 annual fee for the Virgin Atlantic American Express credit card.
5. Tier (Elite) Points. You earn 1 tier point for every $2,500 spent on the card, and you can earn up to 2 tier points per month. 15 tier points gives you silver (earn 50% bonus miles on flights) status and 40 tier points gives you gold status with Virgin Atlantic (earn 100% bonus miles on flights, access to the cool Virgin Atlantic airport lounges, and a free silver elite status to gift to someone staying at the same address).
There are rumors of Virgin Atlantic joining an airline alliance, so spending $37,500 on the Virgin Atlantic credit card would get you entry-level elite status (if that is important to you).
6. Earn 3 miles per $1 on Virgin and 1.5 miles per $1 on everything else. You earn 3 miles per $1 spent on Virgin Atlantic and 1.5 miles per $1 spent everywhere else.
7. Companion Pass. You get an economy companion pass which lets you use half the amount of miles for a companion ticket. However, you have to spend at least $25,000 within a year (not a calendar year) to qualify for the companion pass and have to pay the high taxes and fees ($500 for a coach ticket)!
This is a terrible value compared to the Chase British Airways companion pass which lets you take a companion for free, in any class, on any paid or award reservation after spending $30,000 within a calendar year. You only have to pay for the high taxes and fees.
If you are initially denied online, call the Bank of America reconsideration backdoor number (866-458-8805) and explain to the rep why you want the card.
Emily applied for the Virgin Atlantic credit card online. Her application was approved immediately online so we did not need to call the reconsideration telephone number.
After the bonus miles posted, we called the Virgin Atlantic customer service number and after a 15 minute wait requested a transfer of 10,000 Virgin miles to Hilton points. The rep said that we would get 10,000 Hilton points and said that the transfer ratio was 1:1.
However, Emily ended up with 20,000 Hilton points or a transfer ratio of 1:2.
The Bank of America Virgin Atlantic credit card is worth considering if you like Virgin Atlantic miles. Or if you’d like to earn elite status miles on Virgin Atlantic.
This is a great way to earn an extra 50,000 to 100,000 Hilton hotel points.
Has anyone else transferred Virgin Atlantic points to Hilton at a 1:2 ratio? Please let us know in the comments!
If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 2,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in a RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another credit card analysis.