SPG & Virgin America Are Cutting Ties As Of January 6, 2017

This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. A couple of weeks ago Alaska’s takeover of Virgin America closed, which has quite a few implications for frequent flyers on both airlines.

Alaska-Virgin-America

Last week we learned that Virgin America Elevate points will convert into Alaska Mileage Plan miles at a 1:1.3 ratio, which seems pretty fair to me. This has opened up a pretty cool opportunity for those with Starwood Preferred Guest points:

  • 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

Last week it looked like Virgin America Elevate was removed as a Starwood Preferred Guest transfer partner, though apparently it was a glitch. I suspected it was only a matter of time until Starwood and Virgin America cut ties, given the arbitrage opportunity this presented.

Well, it’s now official. As of January 6, 2017, Starpoints will no longer convert into Virgin America Elevate points. Per a statement from Starwood:

SPG has a long-standing partnership with both Alaska Airlines and Virgin America, and was excited to hear the news about the official close of their merger. This presents a great opportunity for Elevate members to join and enjoy all the benefits of Alaska’s award-winning Mileage Plan starting January 9th.  Instead, SPG has decided to focus its partnership on Alaska Mileage Plan and end its partnership with Virgin America’s Elevate program. This means SPG members will no longer be able to earn Elevate points on hotel stays, or directly transfer Starpoints into Elevate accounts after January 6, 2017.

SPG members will be able to use Starpoints to travel on Virgin America by transferring Starpoints to Alaska Mileage Plan miles and redeeming them for Virgin America flights on alaskaair.com starting January 9, 2017.  Furthermore, SPG members can continue to transfer Starpoints to Alaska Mileage Plan at a 1:1 ratio – and earn a 5,000 bonus miles when they transfer 20,000 Starpoints to Alaska Mileage Plan.

virgin-america-a320

This doesn’t come as a surprise, though in the meantime a lot of people might find value in converting Starpoints into Virgin America Elevate points, either for the purpose of redemptions directly through Elevate, or for the purpose of converting those points into Alaska Mileage Plan miles.

Keep in mind that Starwood limits you to transferring 79,999 Starpoints to an airline partner per 24 hour period. Starwood offers a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred, so in practice this means you’ll only want to transfer at most 60,000 points per day (for a total of 75,000 Virgin America Elevate points). That’s because if you transfer 79,999 Starpoints you’ll be one point short of receiving that last 5,000 point bonus.

Do you plan on transferring Starpoints to Virgin America prior to the partnership ending?

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. Hi Ben,

    Does it mean that it would be still better off to transfer SPG points to Marriott first, and then redeem for the travel package? If you spent SPG 90k points on that, you get 120k Alaska miles, and some free nights. If you transfer 80k SPG points to Virgin America, and then transfer to Alaska, you get 130k miles only.

  2. Why not wait until there is an Alaska transfer bonus promo. With a 20% transfer bonus you could convert 270k (90k Starpoints) Marriott points into 144k Alaska miles plus 7 nights category 5. On the other hand, this ratio means 90k star points can at most yield 146k – without hotel nights

  3. I would like to know what’s better as well. The Marriott hotel & airmiles package or transferring to Alaska via Virgin America.

  4. I think SPG has more value used as hotel points than Alaska, especially since low end redemptions can be satisfied by getting an Alaska Airlines credit card. I did the math, with my current SPG point sale bonus of 2.45 cents (30% off), basically 1.51 cents a mile for Alaska which is a big meh. I can easily find Marriotts that beat 0.8 cents per point value. For intra-west coast travel Southwest points are much more flexible.

  5. Is the conversion from Virgin American Elevate to Alaska Mileage Plan automatic come 6 January 2017?

    Do I have to sign up for Alaska Mileage Plan before that?

  6. To add to my previous comment:

    I am not currently a member of Virgin America Elevate. But I want to take advantage of this miles sale.
    Can I sign up now?

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