Here’s The Rate At Which Virgin America Points Will Convert Into Alaska Miles

With Alaska’s takeover of Virgin America now complete, frequent flyers with both airlines have a lot of questions. While we don’t yet know at what point the Alaska and Virgin America frequent flyer programs will be merged, I think a lot of us are wondering at what rate Virgin America points will convert into Alaska miles.

Alaska-Virgin-America

A few days ago I wrote a post about this, and suggested that one Virgin America point should convert into somewhere between one and two Alaska miles. I suggested a 1:1.5 ratio, simply because that seemed well rounded. Well, the transfer ratio has now been confirmed.

Virgin America Elevate points will convert into Alaska Mileage Plan miles at a 1:1.3 ratio. Per Alaska’s website:

On January 9, 2017, we will invite you to enroll in Alaska’s award-winning Mileage Plan, enabling access to book award travel on Alaska Airlines and Alaska Global Partners network to over 900 worldwide destinations. Plus, you’ll receive more detail on how you can convert your Elevate points to Alaska Mileage Plan miles at a rate of 1.3 Mileage Plan miles per Elevate point. And for elite-level Elevate members, Alaska Mileage Plan will automatically match your elite status!

This actually seems like a very fair and thoughtful transfer ratio to me, so kudos to Alaska on that.

This also presents an interesting short term opportunity to convert Starpoints into Alaska miles at a very nice ratio.

Starpoints convert into Virgin America Elevate points at a 1:1 ratio, with a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred. So when you take into account the above transfer ratio, this means that 20,000 Starpoints will convert into 32,500 Alaska miles, which is the equivalent of a 1:1.625 ratio. That’s great, and at that rate I’m tempted to convert Starpoints into Alaska miles (indirectly), given the incredible partner redemption opportunities available through Alaska.

Japan-Airlines-First-Class-01
Redeem Alaska miles for travel in Japan Airlines first class

What do you make of the 1:1.3 Virgin America to Alaska ratio?

(Tip of the hat to Evan)

Comments

  1. I’m impressed by the thought that appears to have gone into this decision! Nice to see a FFP playing fair. Delta, are you paying attention?

  2. Hmm..I think I will be holding onto my Virgin America miles as long as possible at that rate, even as an MVP Gold. I do have a decent cache of Alaska miles as well so makes more sense to hold onto VX miles.

  3. With the new redemption rates from 5000, I think 1.3 is very reasonable. Well done, Alaska, raising the value of mileage plan points somewhat while recognizing the value of VX miles.

  4. I think 1.5 was the bare minimum for a fair price. Given their absolute value AND flexibility VX points were worth a bit more than Alaska points. There will be certain redemptions were they were on par or better value wise (such as using Alaska for Cathay First) but everyday redemptions like Hawaii and US not so much. I might hold onto mine for a bit and see if I can use them for some Hawaii tickets. If not I’ll covert them. Are we expecting an award change for Alaska anytime soon?

  5. Nice conversion rate. Please correct me if I am wrong but at this point Starwood hasn’t indicated an end date to convert to Virgin Elevate and Alaska hasn’t indicated a deadline to convert Virgin to Alaska miles.

    So at this point there is no urgency to convert now?

  6. @ Johnson — That’s correct, no end date has been announced. Hopefully they’ll give notice if anything changes, though I guess it’s also possible that the opportunity could be pulled without notice.

  7. Ben, your thoughts on the following scenario? Buy 30k Mileage Plan miles before 12/31. With the 40% discount, picking up 42k miles for $887. Transfer 22k VX points to Mileage Plan at 1.3 for a total of 28,600 miles. With the 70,600 Mileage Plan miles, book CX first from LAX to Asia. Effectively picked up a $10k or more ticket for $887 there, correct?

  8. @Rick — you forgot to include the value of the 22K VX points you plan to transfer to Mileage Plan. They have an opportunity cost (and possibly even a “spend” cost) that should be included.

    Todd

  9. I’ll get 32,500 Alaska miles for under 1.1 cents buying SPG points at 50% off & converting SPG to VA then to Alaska. Great deal!!!

  10. Lucky,

    I have an idea to get me over the top on an aspirational award and I want to confirm this is possible and I’m not missing something. I can convert Chase UR to Ritz Carlton points to Starpoints then to Virgin miles then to Alaska Miles=Mjolnir22 on a plane to NRT first class on JAL???

    Thanks.

  11. hmm…transfer all SPG to VA to Alaska , only for the CX/JL award chart to Asia to get devalued !!!. Too risky but I guess its worth the risk. I’m pulling the trigger

  12. Looks like I’m holding onto my VX Elevate points for as long as I can.

    Six months ago, a conversion rate of 1:2 was considered by some bloggers to be too low based on VX’s value compared to AS. Now we have an even stingier conversion, and commenters seem “ok” with that?

    I doubt most have even flown VX, much less accrued a large amount of Elevate miles. This is a sad conclusion to what was once a great airline.

  13. @ lucky So am i right in saying that the 1,750 VX points I earnt through those Virgin newsletter offers (thanks for the tipoff about those btw :-D) will turn into 5,250 AS miles ? Enough for the new cheapest 1 way redemption for say OAK to SEA ? If so then I’m so pulling the trigger on the transfer.

  14. I was hoping for 1.5x as well. Lucky, in your original post back on Dec 15th asking your readers at what rate it should be, you wrote “perhaps one Virgin America point should convert into 1.5 Alaska miles. To me that’s the closest to being a fair value” yet now you write that 1 VX point equating to 1.3 AS miles is “very fair and thoughtful” transfer ratio. May I ask how VX points depreciated in the past week against AS miles (or, in turn, how AS miles appreciated against VX points in the past week?)

  15. Hi Lucky,

    First, thanks for everything that you do on your site. Your information and responses to questions is invaluable.

    I have a question about re-qualifying for Virgin Elevate status in 2018 (that’s not a typo, I meant 2018, not 2017).

    I know that 2016 Virgin Elevate status will continue through 2017 and Alaska will match it. My question is, do you think that Elevate members will be able to re-qualify for Elevate status in 2018 under the current Elevate rules? If the programs remains intact through 2017, I would think that would be the case.

    I ask because I know that I will be able to make Elevate status again in 2018 under Elevate’s rules, but likely not under Alaska’s Mileage Plan criteria. I say this because I spend $30K on the Virgin credit card, and that puts me 75% of the way to Silver status with 15,000 credits (20,000 needed for Silver). Thus, just a flight or two gets me status. However, if I have to qualify under Alaska’s program and don’t have the advantage of earning credits via the Virgin card, I won’t have enough points to qualify for status.

    What’s your best guess as to (1) how long the current Virgin credit card deal will last and (2) whether Elevate members will be able to re-qualify for status in 2018 based on current Elevate program rules or whether (and when) Alaska Mileage Plan rules will apply. Thanks!

  16. Lucky,

    I disagree that a transfer ratio of 1:1.3 is fair.
    You mentioned it yourself a couple of days ago that the transfer rate should be at least 1:1.5.
    This is a very unfair and disappointing transfer rate.

  17. Tom, Bob, VX Flier–as another frequent VA flier (gold) I agree, would have hoped for more and always thought of elevate as more miles.

    Also, another big issue here. Recent Amex deal gave elevate gold until Jan 2018 if you transferred requisite amount of rewards points into elevate. I did so.

    Now we learn that via email from Virgin that “2016 Elevate elite status will automatically be extended through 2017”.

    Why did I exchange all those AE rewards? For a month of status?

  18. Also, does anybody know whether Alaska will allow transfers of Alaska miles into Virgin points? This seems unlikely if Alaska plans to wind down the Elevate program, but at least with Marriott and Starwood, you could transfer between both, not just unilaterally.

  19. This page is helpful. differentworks.com/#faq All they say is yes but details on that are TBD. Redemptions are expensive if flying domestic VA; I would assume Alaska flights and their partners are best redemptions for a bucket of VA points. Someone should break it down…@Lucky?

  20. what about getting the marriott rewards card, signup bonus for 80k + 7500 for additional user after 3k spend, and then transferring to Virgin at 1:1, then transfer those to AS, for effectively 113750 miles.

  21. @Steve, the Marriott points would have to first be transferred to SPG at a 1:3 ratio, so those 87500 points would convert to 29,166 Starpoints. Transfer to Virgin at 1:1 but with the 5k SPG bonus, so you then have 34,166 Elevate points. At 1.3 you’d end up with 44,415 AS miles, not 113750. Unless I’ve totally misunderstood the conversion rates!

  22. Thanks–I was mistaken and thought the Marriott to Virgin was a 1:1 transfer. My mistake! Thanks for clarifying.

  23. It’s confusing stuff! I guess the way you’d really blow this one out is to try and up the Starpoints to 40,000 somehow. Then you’d get 10k bonus from SPG when you transfer to Virgin, for a total of 50,000 Elevate points, which would transfer to 65,000 AS miles. Not bad at all.

  24. Since SPG has a limit of 79,999 for the transfer to Virgin, the best I could do was to transfer 60k in order to get the 15k bonus Virgin miles. Do you know if this is daily limit? Thanks.

  25. @SJ:

    SPG->VX is dead. I just checked, VX is no longer listed as a transfer partner. Bye-bye arbitrage…

  26. I was able to transfer SPG to Virgin America yesterday…. Now my question is: Does anyone know how to transfer Virgin-Alaska?

  27. Beginning Monday, January 9: for Elevate members
    Elevate members will be invited to activate a new account in Alaska’s award-winning Mileage Plan, gaining access to redeem award travel on Alaska Airlines and Alaska Global Partners to over 900 worldwide destinations.
    Upon activating their new Mileage Plan account, Elevate members will be able to convert Elevate points into Mileage Plan miles at a rate of 1.3 Mileage Plan miles per Elevate point, which can be used to access award travel on Alaska and Alaska Global Partners.
    Elevate Silver and Gold members will be status matched into Alaska’s Mileage Plan, unlocking generous benefits like complimentary upgrades on Alaska flights.

  28. I am at the point that I need to cancel most of SPG cards so as not to get hit with fees. I just did the SPG to VA, and waiting until 9th to get the Alaska points. I wish there were a similar way for Thankyou points right now. I need to drop those cards.

  29. What at the pros and cons of transferring miles from VA to Alaska. Will I be able to book award travel on VA using Alaska miles? What about my VA Signature Credit card? What happens to the points it will continue to earn?

  30. This is a bait and switch scam if you are Virgin Elevate Member. I converted my points today thinking I was getting a 30% bump for it, which I did when the points were converted to miles. However the devil is in the details. When I later checked out a flight I was looking at, I noticed this is where the scam is.

    Flight booked with Virgin Elevate Point… 3322 Points.
    Flight booked with Alaska Mileage Points… 15000 Miles.

    Both are the exact same flights/Airline. Alaska is really screwing people on this, cause if this was even an even 1 for 1, the flight should be 4319 miles.

    So in other words, Alaska is stealing the value of your points.

  31. Kevin Lindgren: I understand your frustration, but there are advantages to this as well.

    For example, today I booked a one way first class ticket on a Virgin flight through Alaska. The flight booked on Virgin’s site would have cost 68,978 Virgin points. Instead, I converted 19,230 Virgin points into 25,000 Alaska miles. I then used those 25,000 to book the exact same first class ticket with Alaska. This amounts to a savings of 49,478 points just by being able to transfer points to Alaska.

  32. In the flights I’m looking at, I see the same problem as Kevin.

    Flight round trip with Virgin points: 6,644
    Same exact flight with Alaska miles: 25,000

    Those 6,644 Virgin points only get me 8,637 Alaska miles. That means it costs me nearly triple the amount of points to book the exact same flight using Alaska miles.

    So my question is: how long can I hold on to and use my much more valuable Virgin Elevate points before I’m forced to transfer them over to our new cheapskate overlords?

    God I miss Virgin already.

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