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Yesterday I wrote about the insane promotion JetBlue just launched, where they’re offering to match your Virgin America Elevate points balance if you take one flight with them by August 31, 2016.
In some cases they’ll even match your account at a better than 1:1 ratio. For example, if you have 50,001 Elevate points, they’ll give you 75,000 TrueBlue points.
I lucked out because I happened to have just over 50,000 Elevate points in my account, after making a points transfer from Starwood Preferred Guest earlier in the week.
So I submitted my request as soon as it launched, and was approved for the promotion within hours. I’ve been getting a ton of questions about this promotion, especially since you can transfer Starpoints to Virgin America Elevate points at a 1:1 ratio, with a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred. In other words, 41,000 Starpoints will get you 51,000 Elevate points.
With that in mind, I figured I’d answer the questions I’m getting most often in an FAQ format. If you have any other questions, let me know in the comments section.
How long does it take to transfer Starpoints to Elevate?
Consistently less than a day, and sometimes even less than 12 hours. You can only submit your points match request after you have the points in your account.
Can I transfer my Starpoints to someone else’s Elevate account?
Nope, the names have to match. In theory you can do a Starwood household transfer of points as a way of getting around that limitation, but that takes several days to do, so probably isn’t ideal if you want to register soon.
Is the best strategy to transfer 40,001 Starpoints to Virgin America?
Yes, in theory, if you don’t have any points in your Elevate account at the moment. At some point I think it’s going to look very suspicious when a bunch of people are submitting accounts with 50,001 JetBlue points, but hey, they made the promotion…
How much are JetBlue points worth?
JetBlue points can typically be redeemed for ~1.3-1.6 cents each towards the paid cost of a ticket. For example, take the below flight between New York and Los Angeles for a comparison of paid costs vs. points costs:
I’d note that redemptions in Mint Class typically get you a lower per cent value than economy redemptions.
Also keep in mind that JetBlue sometimes offers discounted redemptions (they recently offered 15% off), which can get you even more value. Furthermore, if you have the JetBlue Plus Card you get a 10% refund on points redemptions, which can help you maximize your points even further.
Lastly, I’d note that JetBlue lets you form family accounts, where you can pool the points of up to two adults, plus up to five children.
Can JetBlue points be redeemed on partner airlines?
While JetBlue has several partner airlines, the only one on which you can redeem points is Hawaiian, and the value offered there isn’t very good.
How much are Virgin America points worth?
Virgin America Elevate points can typically be redeemed for ~2.2-2.4 cents towards the cost of a paid ticket on Virgin America.
Also keep in mind that Alaska Airlines is taking over Virgin America, and at some point their points programs will combine. It’ll likely be a couple of years before that happens, though we don’t really know what the combined program will look like.
Can Virgin America points be redeemed on partner airlines?
Yes, and in some cases the values are excellent. Virgin America partners with airlines like Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia, etc. I’d note that for the most part, Virgin America doesn’t have access to premium cabin awards on Singapore Airlines, so I don’t see much value in that partnership.
You can find Virgin America’s partner redemption calculator here.
To give a couple of examples of some of the roundtrip redemption rates:
- Los Angeles to Sydney in Virgin Australia business class costs 80,000 points plus $130 in taxes (though there’s typically only availability within a week or so of departure)
- New York to London in Virgin Atlantic business class costs 35,000 points plus $1,150 in taxes and carrier imposed surcharges
Am I eligible if I just joined JetBlue’s TrueBlue program?
Yes, per the terms, all that matters is that you submit the request by July 4, 2016.
Is a previously booked roundtrip flight on JetBlue eligible?
In order to complete the offer you need to take a roundtrip flight on JetBlue by August 31, 2016. Only tickets booked after registering qualify, and not previously booked travel. I’d also note that we don’t know whether two separate one-ways would qualify. The terms don’t clarify, so I’d assume it actually has to be one roundtrip, rather than two one-ways.
Could JetBlue cancel the promotion?
Technically, yes. The terms state the following:
Offer can be cancelled or modified at any time.
At the same time, it would generate a lot of ill will and show some really high level incompetence on their part if they did. So they can change the terms at any time, and there’s no way for us to know if they will. But if they do, it would make them look very bad, especially since they should have seen this coming.
Should you transfer Starpoints now?
As I explained in my post yesterday, I value Starpoints at 2.2 cents each. So does it make sense to transfer Starpoints? 41,000 Starpoints are worth ~$900 to me. For that you’d receive the following, after completing a flight on JetBlue:
- 51,000 Elevate points (enough for ~$1,100 worth of travel on Virgin America, or you can redeem them on partners)
- 75,000 TrueBlue points (enough for ~$1,000 worth of travel on JetBlue)
Assuming you can get value out of travel on Virgin America and JetBlue, I’d say this is an incredible value. Personally I think Starpoints are worth transferring to Virgin America Elevate even without a further bonus. Even if the promotion weren’t honored, I don’t think there’s a massive loss here.
So yes, I would consider doing so.
Can I transfer any points except Starpoints?
Yes, Virgin America Elevate is also transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou, and points transfer at a 2:1 ratio. I value those points at ~1.7 cents each, meaning you’re “paying” ~3.4 cents per Elevate point.
I’d much rather transfer one Starpoints than two Membership Rewards or Citi ThankYou points, but everyone values their points differently.
Is there any other way to get Starpoints?
Keep in mind that at the moment Starwood is selling Starpoints for 30% off, which can represent a great value, especially in conjunction with this promotion.
This is a crazy generous promotion. Hopefully it’s honored as is, and a lot of you can take advantage of it. If you have any other questions or experiences to report, please post below!