Bonus On Purchased Elevate Points Worth It?

Through July 1, 2014, Virgin America is offering tiered bonuses on the purchase of Elevate points.

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Through this promotion they’re offering:

  • 10% bonus points if purchasing 1,500-3,000 points
  • 20% bonus points if purchasing 3,500-5,500 points
  • 30% bonus points if purchasing 6,000+ points

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Virgin America Elevate points ordinarily cost 5.2 cents per point to purchase, with an annual cap of 20,000 points per account. So through this promotion, factoring in the 30% bonus, the best you’ll be able to do is 4.0 cents per point. Even with the bonus at four cents per point, I think that’s still among the highest costs for purchased points from any program. In fairness, though, an Elevate point is worth more than the average mile.

You can redeem each Elevate point for roughly 2.2 cents towards the cost of a Virgin America ticket. They also have some interesting fixed price redemption options on partner airlines, including on Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia, etc.

But there are very few circumstances under which I could picture it being worthwhile to outright purchase points, unless you’re topping off an account for a premium cabin redemption on a partner airline. Virgin America does have low redemption rates on many of their partner airlines, though they impose massive fuel surcharges. For example, a roundtrip from New York to London in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class costs just 35,000 Elevate points, though there are also $1,130 in taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges.

I’ve seen bigger bonuses on purchased points in the past. We’ve seen 80-100% bonuses on the purchase of Elevate points, so this isn’t all that great of a bonus by comparison. And even with an 80-100% bonus it’s still not worth it under most circumstances.

It’s worth noting that Virgin America points purchases are processed by points.com, so aren’t eligible for the credit card category bonuses usually associated with purchasing airline tickets. Purchased Elevate points can take up to 72 hours to post to accounts.

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