Virgin America offering a 100% bonus on purchased Elevate points: is it a good deal?

Short answer: No, unless you’re just topping off an account.

I’ve received a few emails on this, so figured I’d mention it. Through December 20, 2011, Virgin America is offering a 100% bonus on purchased Elevate points. Through this promotion you can purchase Elevate points at 2.6 cents each. While the annual cap on purchased points is usually 20,000 per year, because they’re offering a 100% bonus with this promotion, that cap is really being lifted to 40,000 points.

This means that purchasing 40,000 points will cost you $1,040. So does taking advantage of this ever make sense?

Well, if you wanted to redeem your points from Los Angeles to San Francisco, for example, you have two options:

You could either pay 2,279 Elevate points:

Or spend $49:

So if you were redeeming points you would be doing so at 2.15 cents per point, about 0.45 cents per point lower than what you paid (not factoring in the points you’re missing out on by booking an award as opposed to a revenue ticket).

Now most would say it doesn’t make sense to redeem points for such a cheap ticket, though keep in mind that Virgin America’s award pricing is based on the revenue cost of the ticket, so it doesn’t matter how expensive it is, you’ll pay a proportional number of points.

For example, say you want to book a Main Cabin Select fare from Los Angeles to Boston:

You could either redeem points 41,210 Elevate points:

Or spend $886:

In this instance you would be redeeming points at… you guessed it, about 2.15 cents per point. So if you were buying those points at 2.6 cents each, that’s not much of a deal.

So unless you’re just short of the number of points required for an award, give this one a pass…

Comments

  1. Lucky thanks for sharing. Note that if you redeem points for Friday/Sunday flights, you get lower value, around 1.6 cents per point. Then you also need to pay $2.50 per segment if redeeming points = the value is even a little lower.

  2. I think that’s the whole point of these revenue based “frequent buyer” programs, they prevent you buying low and redeeming high. I prefer to stick with Airlines with frequent flier programs.

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