In April, Starwood Preferred Guest added Virgin America Elevate as a partner to their excellent mileage transfer program. This means SPG points can be transferred to Virgin America Elevate points at a 1:1 ratio, with a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred. That means you can essentially convert Starpoints into Virgin America Elevate points at a 1:1.25 ratio.
On the surface that might not seem noteworthy, given that Starwood has over two dozen airline mileage transfer partners. However, Virgin America Elevate points are almost unarguably worth more than the average airline mile.
For example, each Starpoint can be redeemed for ~2.1-2.3 cents towards the cost of a ticket on Virgin America. That basically means you’re getting ~2.6-2.9 cents towards airfare per Starpoint, which is incredible.
However, what tempts me most about Virgin America Elevate points is the ability to redeem them on select partner airlines. For example, you can redeem Virgin America Elevate points for travel in Virgin Australia business class between the US and Australia without fuel surcharges at the following costs:
- 45,000 Elevate points for a one-way ticket
- 80,000 Elevate points for a roundtrip ticket
Virgin Australia has a brand new business class product, which I’m really excited to try. So I decided to transfer enough Starpoints to Virgin America Elevate for a one-way ticket. I was originally going to book a roundtrip, but I have other, more fun plans from Sydney.
Yesterday at 5PM PT I initiated the transfer of Starpoints.
I previously had 3,000 Virgin America Elevate points and only needed a total of 45,000 Elevate points for the one-way ticket. So technically I could have just transferred 37,000 Starpoints, which would have converted into 42,000 Virgin America Elevate points, with the 5,000 point bonus.
However, I figured I might as well transfer 40,000 Starpoints, so I’d receive 50,000 Elevate points (that allowed me to get an extra 5,000 point bonus). While I have no immediate plan for those points, I figured if nothing else these points will eventually be converted into Alaska Mileage Plan miles.
I’m happy to report that at 9AM PT this morning, the Virgin America Elevate points were in my account. So the entire process of transferring Starpoints to Virgin America Elevate took 17 hours.
While that’s only one data point, I’ve heard from several people who have made similar transfers, and the transfers have always occurred within a day or so. That’s fantastic, since many Starwood mileage transfer partners take several days, if not a week or more, to complete. Transfer times are my only real complaint about the Starwood mileage transfer program.
Virgin America Elevate is possibly the most compelling transfer partner Starwood has, and it’s great to see that the points transfer so quickly, typically in less than a day. I’ll report back once I make a booking on Virgin Australia using Elevate points, to share what that experience was like.