Amex Offering 25% Bonus & Gold Status For Virgin America Points Transfers

Virgin America is back with a promotion that’s almost identical to the one they offered last year around the same time.

Through October 10, 2016, the US American Express Membership Rewards program is offering a 25% bonus on points transfers to Virgin America Elevate.

Virgin-America-Amex-Bonus

The usual transfer ratio is 200:100 (Membership Rewards:Elevate), so through this promotion the transfer ratio will be 200:125. The bonus is hard coded into the transfer ratio, meaning the bonus points should post instantly and you can take advantage of the promotion as often as you’d like.

Elevate Gold status when you transfer points

In terms of a further offer to sweeten the deal, Virgin America is also offering Virgin America Elevate Gold status when you transfer 80,000 Membership Rewards points to Elevate by October 31, 2016.

Virgin America Gold status comes with some decent perks, including the following:

Virgin-America-Status Virgin-America-Status-1

As you can see, there is a decent amount of value to be had with the status, assuming you fly Virgin America with any regularity.

Do keep in mind there’s potentially an alternative for Virgin America status, as they do offer a pretty lucrative status match & challenge opportunity, depending on whether you have status with another program or not.

Virgin-America-Gold

Redeeming Virgin America Elevate points for travel on Virgin America

Virgin America Elevate is a revenue based frequent flyer program for redemptions on their own flights.

That means the number of points required for a flight on Virgin America is entirely dependent on the cost of a revenue ticket. Each Elevate point typically gets you ~2.2-2.3 cents towards the cost of a Virgin America ticket.

Virgin-America-Bonus

Virgin-America-Bonus-1

So even with the transfer bonus you’re looking at a maximum of ~1.4 cents of value per Membership Rewards point. That’s not half bad if the alternative is using the “Pay With Points” option (which in my opinion isn’t how you should redeem Membership Rewards points, but I know that doesn’t stop lots of people), though also not exactly an aspirational redemption.

Redeeming Virgin America Elevate points for travel on other 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.

The redemption rates on many of these airlines are quite good, though the issue is that in many cases they also impose 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 $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, especially now that they have a new business class product. Unfortunately they typically only make business class award space available within a week of departure.

Virgin-Australia-New-Business-Class-2

Bottom line

I won’t be taking advantage of this offer because I’ve only flown Virgin America once, and I don’t see myself flying them much in the future. But if you fly them more frequently than I do and could get value out of Gold status and/or revenue based redemptions on them, then this promotion could make sense for you.

Do keep in mind that Virgin America is being taken over by Alaska, so at some point there may be some reciprocal elite benefits between the two programs.

In general the best value for transferring points to Virgin America Elevate is through Starwood Preferred Guest, as they’re a 1:1 transfer partner, and even offer a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred.

Virgin-America-Elevate

Do you plan on taking advantage of this promotion?

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

Comments

  1. I have transfered spg points to get a 50,001 elevate points balance. Does it mean I only need 30K more to get Gold status?

  2. Reciprocal elite benefits are all well and good but the killer app here would be getting MVP Gold in the bargain. Any idea how long the Elevate status is good for? If until end of 2017 it might be enough time.

  3. Have you actually tried to book partner travel using Virgin America points? This is my only experience with Virgin America since I haven’t actually flown with them yet, and based on that, they are the most incompetent airline ever.

    I’ve tried to book two separate trips. I have to call back again and again. Literally every single agent AND supervisor tell me different things regarding how the program works. The only thing that stays constant is their inability to actually book an award. They take my info down with the promise to email another department internally or chat to them internally and have them call me back. They never call back. Ever. Sometimes they will transfer me to that department and the call drops. I call back and they transfer me to a supervisor and the call drops. Sometimes they tell me that they can’t even transfer me to a supervisor – they need to, guess what? – yup, that’s right – email or chat them to get a hold of them. Sometimes, miraculously, supervisor actually picks up the phone when I call in, but then claims that he can’t do anything, he’s only supervising the agents and one of them will have to call me back once they are off the phone.

    I’m not kidding – dealing with Virgin America has been worse than dealing with scum at metabank…

    So sure, go ahead and transfer your points, but then good luck.

  4. To add icing to this sh*t cake, I tweeted at Virgin America and they asked me to direct message them. When I did, their response was priceless:

    “Did you mean to contact Virgin America as we are a separate company.”

    Seriously, do any CSRs there get any training on their partners?

  5. So, for someone who would like to take advantage of Alaska partner awards, do you see a risk to transferring mega SPG points to Virgin America to get this bonus, and wait out the merger of programs in order to have these miles credited to Alaska? (I was able to do this with my Amex MR points years ago, transferring them to TWA prior to their merger with AA.) Thanks.

  6. I did the transfer from AMEX tp Virgin last year and got the 50% bonus that was offered last year. I then booked two round trip tickets to Puerto Vallarta this year, with points left over. Went smooth as silk. I just signed up for a second card with AMEX last week, and if I can get the 50,000 miles on that card verified before this promotion is done, I’ll do it again. I’ve flown Virgin several times and have never had a complaint.

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