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Virgin America’s Elevate program is offering up to a 70% bonus on the purchase of points through September 23, 2015.
Virgin America 70% points bonus details
The 70% bonus is available as long as you purchase at least 5,000 Elevate points pre-bonus. Virgin America ordinarily charges 5.2 cents per purchased Elevate point, so through this promotion the price is lowered to ~3.06 cents per point.
Virgin America lets you purchase at most 60,000 Elevate points (pre-bonus) per account per calendar year. However, you can purchase at most 20,000 Elevate points per transaction.
If you purchase 20,000 points you’d receive a bonus of 14,000 points. That means you’d be purchasing 34,000 Elevate points at a cost of $1,040.
Virgin America points purchases are processed by points.com, so don’t count as airfare spend for the purposes of your credit card. Therefore if you purchase points, you’ll want to use a credit card which maximizes your return on everyday spend.
As far as Virgin America Elevate points purchase promotions go, I’d say this is a pretty average bonus:
- In June 2015 we saw a 60% bonus on purchased points
- In March 2015 we saw an 80% bonus on purchased points
- In October 2014 we saw an 80% bonus on purchased points
The full terms of the promotion are as follows:
The bonus point offer is available when you buy Elevate points until September 23, 2015. Price includes all applicable charges. GST/HST will be charged to Canadian Residents. Members can purchase a maximum of 60,000 Elevate points before any bonus in their individual account per calendar year. Please allow 72 hours for points to appear in the Elevate account. Purchases (Buy, Gift or Transfer of Elevate points) are not eligible to earn status points. All purchases (Buy, Gift or Transfer of Elevate points) are nonrefundable. Points required to redeem an Elevate travel reward on Virgin America will be publicly available on a seat and flight specific basis and are subject to change. Domestic reward bookings are subject to a security fee of $2.50 per segment, payable by credit card or Virgin America credit file. The Passenger Facility Charge and Segment Fees are waived for domestic reward bookings. For international reward bookings, Virgin America guests are responsible for the taxes and fees incurred from international travel. These taxes and fees are subject to change at the discretion of each country’s government and also vary from country to country depending on the origin and destination. All Elevate Terms and Conditions apply.
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 ~3.06 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 does have some interesting partners, including Emirates, Virgin Australia, Virgin Atlantic, and Singapore, and there are some tempting redemptions there under specific circumstances. The problem is that I don’t find any of their premium cabin redemptions on those airlines to be the best options out there.
Redeem Elevate points for travel in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
Here are some examples of the redemption costs:
- 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 $1,150 in taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges on the ticket
- A roundtrip between Los Angeles and Sydney in Virgin Australia business class will run you 80,000 Elevate points, though there are $130 in taxes and fees on the ticket
The values aren’t bad in terms of the number of points required, but the fuel surcharges on Emirates and Virgin Atlantic sting. That being said, redemptions on Virgin Australia without fuel surcharges are sort of a sweet spot.
Redeem Elevate points for travel in Virgin Australia’s new business class
A one-way redemption from Los Angeles to Sydney on Virgin Australia would cost you 45,000 Elevate points plus ~$40. At a rate of ~3.06 cents per point, that’s like paying ~$1,400 for a one-way business class ticket between the US and Australia. That’s a pretty good value!
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. And for business class redemptions on Virgin Australia, I actually think there’s value in outright purchasing points for the purposes of booking such a ticket.
Do keep in mind that Virgin America Elevate is also an Amex Membership Rewards transfer partner, and there’s presently a 25% transfer bonus. Furthermore, if you transfer at least 80,000 Membership Rewards points to Virgin America, you receive Elevate Gold status.
So if you’re looking for Virgin America points, that’s one alternative to outright buying them.
Do you plan on purchasing Virgin America Elevate points with a 70% bonus?