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Virgin America’s Elevate program is offering up to a 60% bonus on the purchase of points through June 25, 2015.
The bonus is tiered, meaning the more points you purchase, the bigger the bonus:
- Buy 1,500-4,500 points, get a 30% bonus
- Buy 5,000 points, get a 60% bonus
As far as Virgin America Elevate points purchase promotions go, I’d say this is a pretty average bonus. In the past we’ve seen two 80% bonuses on the purchase of points — once for just eight hours in October 2014, and once for several weeks in March 2015.
Virgin America Elevate points ordinarily cost 5.2 cents each to purchase, so through this promotion Virgin America Elevate points can be purchased for as little as 3.25 cents each. You can purchase up to 20,000 points per account per calendar year, before factoring in the 60% bonus (meaning you can purchase a maximum of ~32,000 points through this promotion).
Should you buy Elevate points?
Like many low cost carriers, Virgin America has a revenue based frequent flyer program, whereby the number of points you earn is based directly on how much your ticket costs.
They’re also revenue based on the redemption side, whereby you can redeem each point for ~2.1-2.3 cents towards the cost of a revenue ticket on Virgin America.
For example, here’s a comparison of revenue fares and award fares between Chicago and Los Angeles:
So obviously it doesn’t make sense to purchase points for 3.25 cents each when you can only redeem them for ~2.2 cents each.
That being said, what makes Virgin America unique among low cost carriers is that they have award charts for redeeming points on their partner airlines.
Virgin America partners with Emirates, Virgin Australia, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore, and some other carriers. The downside is that in many cases they impose fuel surcharges for travel on partner airlines, which wouldn’t apply if strategically booking them through another airline.
Redeem Elevate points for travel in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
The redemption rates on many of these airlines are quite good, at least before factoring in the fuel surcharges. For example:
- A roundtrip between New York and Milan in Emirates business class will run you 55,000 Elevate points, though there are $1,090 in taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges on the ticket
- A roundtrip between New York and London in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class will run you 35,000 Elevate points, though there are $910 in taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges on the ticket
Redeem Elevate points for travel in Emirates A380 business class
So the values aren’t bad in terms of the number of points required, but the fuel surcharges sting.
One awesome thing is that Virgin America Elevate recently eliminated fuel surcharges for award redemptions on Virgin Australia, greatly improving the value proposition of such awards. I’d say that is now one of the best uses of Elevate points.
Personally I won’t be purchasing Virgin America Elevate points through this promotion, though if you’re looking to top off your account for an aspirational redemption in the near future then this isn’t a half bad offer. If you can hold off for a while I wouldn’t be surprised if we see an 80% bonus return at some point, though.
Do you plan on purchasing Virgin America Elevate points with a 60% bonus?