Starwood Axes Virgin America As A Points Transfer Partner Without Notice

Update: Starwood is claiming this was a glitch, and that it should be updated soon. I guess we’ll see — clearly something is up, though.

This has been a big week for Alaska Mileage Plan. On Monday we learned that their partnership with Delta is ending, that they’re making some great changes to the program, and at what rate Virgin America points will convert into Alaska miles.

That last part has opened up a pretty cool opportunity, as I wrote about yesterday:

  • Starpoints convert into Alaska Mileage Plan and Virgin America points at a 1:1 ratio, with a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred
  • Virgin America points will convert into Alaska miles at a 1:1.3 ratio
  • This means you can convert 20,000 Starpoints into 25,000 Virgin America Elevate points, and then convert those into 32,500 Alaska miles, which is a 62.5% bonus when converting Starpoints into Alaska miles

That’s a fantastic transfer ratio that could be worth it under many circumstances. Unfortunately it looks like it didn’t last long, as Virgin America Elevate has been removed as a Starwood Preferred Guest transfer partner. When you now go to the SPG points transfer page you’ll see that Virgin America is no longer listed as a partner.

starwood-virgin-america

I think we all knew that Virgin America would be removed as a Starwood Preferred Guest transfer partner sooner rather than later, given how generous this opportunity was. My guess is that they’re justifying this on the basis that Starpoints can still be converted into Alaska miles, so it’s not like the opportunity as such is gone. Rather they’re just eliminating the opportunity to get an even more favorable ratio.

Virgin America Elevate is also partners with Amex Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou, though Citi has announced that ThankYou points will no longer transfer to Virgin America Elevate as of January 22, 2017. However, that ratio wasn’t as favorable, given that points transfer 2:1 rather than 1:1.

virgin-america-a320

Bottom line

Being able to convert Starpoints into Alaska miles with a 62.5% bonus by way of transferring to Virgin America represented a great deal for the brief period it was possible. Unfortunately I’m not surprised to see Virgin America cut as a transfer partner, though I am disappointed by the lack of notice of this change.

Did you manage to transfer Starpoints to Virgin America before they shut down transfers?

Comments

  1. I did it… as much as I love free hotel stays, I value airline miles more. I’d stay at a Airbnb and get an extra ticket for a friend over a nice room.

  2. @ Ben — FCQ and I have about 1 million AS miles, but only about 330k SPG points. I value the portfolio diversity that SPG offers too highly to be interested in the SPG to AS transfer, even with a 62.5% bonus.

    If the cost to Starwood for Virgin America point transfers hasn’t changed, I don’t see why Starwood would really care about these transfers. That said, perhaps the cost to Starwood is not static, and they do not want such massive number of points being transferred out of the program in such a short period of time.

  3. Can you only convert them starting Jan 9? Or can you convert VX:AS today? Don’t want to transfer SPG to VX only to have them stranded there.

  4. If you had 120k you could have got a much better deal by doing Marriott travel package. And you wouldn’t Have to rush now. Even better just wait until there is a Alaska transfer bonus promo. With a 20% transfer bonus you could convert 270k (90k Starpiints) Marriott points into 144k Alaska miles plus 7 nights category 5. On the other hand, 162% ratio means 90k star points can at most yield 146k – without hotel nights.

  5. Lucky, this afternoon I made two attempts to transfer 20,000 points (just before Elevate was removed from the SPG menu), and both times the transfer box simply disappeared, so I called SPG’s Customer Service #. An agent kindly made the transfer for me, and I’ve already received email confirmation from SPG of the transfer with 5000 bonus points. So, at least for now, it may just be a glitch.

  6. @AI
    Would it not be better still to transfer 90k Starpoints to Marriott and get a travel package for 7 nights and 120k Virgin America miles and in a few weeks time convert this at 1:1.3 to Alaska miles?

  7. @TPJ I suggest you got back and look at the rate Marriott transfers to VX. You are quoting the Tier 1 rate of transfer which applies to a subset of airlines. Transfers to VX are at Tier 4 and you won’t get anything like 120k VX miles for 270 Marriott miles. If you take the Marriott route direct transfer to AS is better no doubt.

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