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Last month, Virgin Atlantic quietly altered the terms of its partnership with Hilton and put a little notice on its Flying Club mileage program website that starting February 6, 2014, the transfer ratio of Virgin Atlantic miles to Hilton HHonors points would drop from 1:2 by a factor of 25% so that 1 Virgin mile will then transfer to just 1.5 Hilton points.
Transfers made through February 5, 2014 (and that means transfers initiated, not completed since it can take a couple days or weeks even to see your transfer go through) will still be at the 1:2 ratio, but on Thursday, the drop occurs.
You’ll still have to transfer a minimum of 10,000 miles and then in increments of 5,000 miles, and you will still have to call Flying Club to make the transfer.
In addition to Flying Club members who might want to put some of their miles towards hotel stays, it’s also bad news for Amex cardholders since instead of being able to transfer Amex Membership Rewards points (which you accrue on cards like the Premier Rewards Gold and Platinum cards) to Virgin Atlantic at 1:1 and then to Hilton at 1:2 – thus getting 2 HHonors points per Amex point, you’re stuck with the same ratio that you have now if you transfer Amex points directly to Hilton.
Chase Ultimate Rewards cardholders of the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus and Ink Bold who can also transfer their points to Virgin instantly and then from there to Hilton are losing value on that backdoor partner-of-a-partner transfer as well.
Though I wouldn’t normally suggest converting airline miles to hotel points since the ratios are usually terrible and you get a lot less value from your miles and points this way, being able to transfer Virgin miles to Hilton was a viable way to top up your account for specific awards, but it’s going to be a lot less attractive option now.
I can’t say I’m terribly surprised by the move since that Amex-Virgin-Hilton transfer trick was a popular option and Hilton probably got sick of having to give up another half point for Amex transfers that way, but it’s yet another devaluation to the HHonors program after the massive disappointments of 2013. This is just another reason I won’t be considering Hilton as one of my main hotel programs, either – I’m just going to use my annual free night certificate from spending on my Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card and leave it at that.
However, if you were planning on transferring your Virgin miles to Hilton, better do it by tomorrow while you can still transfer at the higher 1:2 ratio.