Transfer Amex Points To Virgin Atlantic With A 30% Bonus

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American Express Membership Rewards is offering a 30% bonus on points transfers to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club through May 22, 2017. This is the points currency accrued on cards like The Platinum Card® from American ExpressThe Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPENThe Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American ExpressPremier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, etc.

Virgin-Bonus

Ordinarily points transfer at a 1:1 ratio (in 1,000 point increments), while through this promotion you’d get 1,300 Flying Club miles for every 1,000 Membership Rewards points transferred.

For context, Amex offered a 30% transfer bonus around the same time last year, and earlier this year Citi ThankYou offered a 25% transfer bonus to Citi ThankYou.

Should you transfer Amex points to Virgin Atlantic with a 30% bonus?

This January Virgin Atlantic devalued their program. It wasn’t a great program to begin with, and became even less lucrative with the recent changes.

virgin-flying-club

For a bit of context, here’s a comparison of some of their new and old award rates:

Roundtrip to/from London andEconomyPremium EconomyUpper Class
US - Northeast: Boston, Newark, New York JFK, Washington DCCurrent: 35,000 miles

New Standard: 20,000
New Peak: 40,000

Fuel Surcharges of $645.10 to $774.12
Current: 55,000 miles

New Standard: 35,000
New Peak: 55,000

Fuel Surcharges of $750.00 to $900.00
Current: 80,000 miles

New Standard: 95,000
New Peak: 115,000


Fuel Surcharges of $1120 to $1344
US - Midwest: Atlanta, Chicago, DetroitCurrent: 35,000 miles

New Standard: 25,000
New Peak: 45,000

Fuel Surcharges of $645.10 to $774.12
Current: 55,000 miles

New Standard: 45,000
New Peak: 65,000

Fuel Surcharges of $750.00 to $900.00
Current: 80,000 miles

New Standard: 95,000
New Peak: 115,000


Fuel Surcharges of $1120 to $1344
US - South: Miami and OrlandoCurrent: 42,500 miles

New Standard: 25,000
New Peak: 45,000

Fuel Surcharges of $645.10 to $774.12
Current: 70,000 miles

New Standard: 45,000
New Peak: 65,000

Fuel Surcharges of $750.00 to $900.00
Current: 100,000 miles

New Standard: 95,000
New Peak: 115,000

Fuel Surcharges of $1120 to $1344
US - West: Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, SeattleCurrent: 42,500 miles

New Standard: 30,000
New Peak: 50,000

Fuel Surcharges of $603.00 to $723.60
Current: 70,000 miles

New Standard: 55,000
New Peak: 75,000

Fuel Surcharges of $707.90 to $849.80
Current: 100,000 miles

New Standard: 135,000
New Peak: 155,000


Fuel Surcharges of $1153.93 to $1384.68

As you can see, Virgin Atlantic has introduced standard and peak award pricing, which covers the following dates:

  • Standard dates include: January 16, 2017 – March 30, 2017; April 19 – June 21, 2017; September 7 – December 12, 2017
  • Peak dates include: March 31 – April 18, 2017; June 22 – September 6, 2017; December 13 – January 3, 2018

Virgin-Atlantic-Upper-Class
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class

So generally Virgin Atlantic’s redemption rates were already on the high side given their carrier imposed surcharges, and now they’re even higher, at least for Upper Class redemptions. You can expect that a roundtrip Upper Class redemption between the US and UK will cost you ~$1,000 in cash, in addition to all the miles.

Virgin Atlantic also has several airline partners that you can redeem miles on, and some of those redemptions can represent a good deal. However, these can only be booked online, and only roundtrip redemptions are permitted on partners. To give a couple of examples:

  • You can redeem 75,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles to fly Air China first class roundtrip between London and Beijing
  • You can redeem 120,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles to fly ANA first class roundtrip for a distance of 11,001-14,000 miles

Both of these are great deals, but the Air China redemption is very specific, while the ANA redemption is great, but can also be changed at any time.

Air-China-First-Class
Air China first class

While there are potentially some good values to be had, this isn’t how I’d use my Amex points. I value Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles right at around a penny each, which is my lowest valuation of any mileage currency. I’d add that this could be a great deal with a specific ANA first class redemption in mind — I’d just recommend calling to inquire about availability, transferring points (they usually take 1-2 days to transfer), and then booking as soon as possible.

ana-first-class-777-2
ANA first class

Bottom line

I wouldn’t speculatively transfer points to Virgin Atlantic in order to take advantage of this promotion, but there are instances where people will find value in this promotion.

Virgin-Atlantic-Clubhouse-London - 16
The awesome Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse London Heathrow

Virgin Atlantic is good about releasing business class transatlantic award availability, so if you value the convenience of a nonstop and don’t mind paying the carrier imposed surcharges, there’s value to be had. There’s value on some partners, though just be aware of the requirement to book by phone, redeem only for roundtrip awards, etc. Everyone has to crunch the numbers for themselves.

Are you considering taking advantage of the Amex Membership Rewards transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club?

(Tip of the hat to @IadisGr8)

Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. There is a mistake on miles you quoted for ANA, 11k-14k miles flown = 120k miles

    is it possible to attach Japan Air to VA partner ANA redemption? thanks

  2. @ choi lu — Fixed, thanks! Nope, unfortunately you can’t mix partners on a Virgin Atlantic award.

  3. So 93k Amex points gets you ANA F roundtrip from the US to Asia? That has to be hands down the best redemption out there.

  4. Also, will virgin Atlantic let you redeem a mixed class award. Like ord – nrt in F then an intra-asia connection in C?

  5. Several years back there was a deal where you could transfer to VA with a bonus and then convert those points to another airline, don’t remember which one, for another bonus. Made for a pretty good transfer in the end but I can not remember the specifics. Can VA point be transferred advantageously somewhere else?

  6. There’s some value if you do a 1 way ticket from the US-London, which I’ve done a few times to position myself for RT biz flights from Europe (nesting in the US). Personally, I find the premium economy to be pretty solid and sufficient enough and the prices got cheaper for a non-peak one-way award. Pretty bad use of miles for upper class though, especially with the fuel charges thrown in there as well.

    One way *TO* LHR where you avoid the brutal UK taxes — SFO-LHR for 27,500 miles + $2xx is a very good deal.

  7. @Lucky and the hive mind:

    What’s the best way to search/book ANA F award space if you plan to use Virgin Atlantic miles? Thanks to the CC offer a while ago, my partner and I are sitting on about 250,000 but have zero desire to use them on Virgin thanks to the devaluation.

  8. @ AdamR @ David O — You can search availability through ANA’s website, and Virgin Atlantic’s availability *should* match. However, it won’t always, so you’ll want to call first to double check.

  9. @AC @David O – I recently booked ORD->NRT, HND->ORD on ANA in F through Virgin Atlantic (VS). The best thing to do is search United for availability. Virgin Atlantic uses the same search engine so if you see availability on UA (look for ANA direct flights) then VS will be able to pull it up. There is a FlyerTalk thread about booking partner airlines through VS and that is a good place to search for tips. You need to call in and choose option #4 when prompted. Some of the CSR aren’t familiar with partner awards so you might need to HUCA. For fuel charges, they unfortunately went up starting in April. I paid $170/RT ticket. I checked multiple dates and flying into and out of NRT and/or HND, and all fees were $170/RT ticket. Still an amazing deal for ANA F!

  10. A data point and big warning for anyone thinking about booking the Air China award. 2 weeks ago I booked two tickets for my family in Air China F using 150,000 VS miles + ~$1,200 in fees. At check-in, the agent told us she couldn’t verify the correct booking class, and unfortunately the only confirmation email I had received from Virgin also didn’t show a fare class, just dates and flight numbers. Long story short, Air China seated my family in economy instead, and told us to ‘get a refund from Virgin’. This was even after we showed them the email, and pointed out that the cost in miles + fees was too high to be economy. To add insult to injury, I sent written complaints to both airlines, and each is just palming me off to the other.

  11. Agree with Kory: My best use is one-way TO London from DC for 17,000 miles and very low fees. Sometimes this is on sale for even less. I usually go and come from different cities anyway.

  12. Virgin now has an official policy to no longer book Air China awards. With that said, most agents don’t seem to know the policy and the system will allow booking. After being told a reservation I had on 48 hours hold was invalid, I hung up and called back and was successful at ticketed a r/t LHR/PEK.

    Based on everything I read, I have emailed air china to confirm the booking is valid and requested seat assignments. I now have an email from them showing that they have indeed confirmed the ticket in First Class and have the seats assigned. I also have printed a pdf of the receipt which shows the booking class (O) since as John above indicates the email from Virginl does not show anywhere the booking class.

    My hope is with these printed documents at check-in… there will be no disputing a valid first class reservation. We will see.

    Curious on anyone else’s experience with Air China and Virgin. There seems to be a mix of horror stories and no issues.

  13. Lucky, I have around 250K AMEX points which I need to transfer soon. Virgin Atlantic points transfer to Hilton. Are there limitations on transfering points which originated from a credit card from VA to Hilton? Other potential transfer partners include British Airways, Starwoods, and Delta. Any prefereces in that group over VA to Hilton?Thanks.

  14. @JamesYVR

    Hi James. I just called last night for an ANA reservation specifically. they DO NOT allow a stop over or connection within the same booking. BUT they DO allow you to book a seperate connection/ stopover. just make two requests in one call/

    “Data point”: I requested ORD-NRT-CAN but he told me connections are not allowed. so I continued with ORD-NRT and then asked to create a seperate request for NRT-CAN (both of these are on ANA metal and must be to be allowed to be booked via virgin as far as I know)

    :I was able to make both requests and hold them for the same amount of miles as shown in their award charts* and very reasonable fees…they dont publish their award chart anymore but I think OMAT and TPG have them. to help yourself with these bookings just ask mr g oogle about “ANA virgin atlantic” and all the blogs will come up with full tutorials. hope this helps.

  15. It’s May 22nd and I’m in the AMEX rewards section of the site, but it still says 1 point = 1 mile. Did the 30% bonus get cancelled?

    I’m in the UK so I assume it’s valid for us too and not just the US?

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