Great Deal: Amex Is Offering A 30% Bonus For Virgin Atlantic Points Transfers

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American Express Membership Rewards is offering a 30% bonus on points transfers to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club through November 30, 2017. This is the points currency accrued on cards like The Platinum Card® from American ExpressThe Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPENPremier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, etc.

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 this April, and a similar transfer bonus last year. On top of that, Citi offered a 25% transfer bonus early this year.

Redeeming Flying Club miles on Virgin Atlantic

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

Here’s what you can expect in terms of the redemption rates on Virgin Atlantic:

Roundtrip to/from London andEconomyPremium EconomyUpper Class
US - Northeast: Boston, Newark, New York JFK, Washington DCStandard: 20,000
Peak: 40,000

Fuel Surcharges of $645.10 to $774.12
Standard: 35,000
Peak: 55,000

Fuel Surcharges of $750.00 to $900.00
Standard: 95,000
Peak: 115,000

Fuel Surcharges of $1120 to $1344
US - Midwest: Atlant and DetroitStandard: 25,000
Peak: 45,000

Fuel Surcharges of $645.10 to $774.12
Standard: 45,000
Peak: 65,000

Fuel Surcharges of $750.00 to $900.00
Standard: 95,000
Peak: 115,000

Fuel Surcharges of $1120 to $1344
US - South: Miami and OrlandoStandard: 25,000
Peak: 45,000

Fuel Surcharges of $645.10 to $774.12
Standard: 45,000
Peak: 65,000

Fuel Surcharges of $750.00 to $900.00
Standard: 95,000
Peak: 115,000

Fuel Surcharges of $1120 to $1344
US - West: Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, SeattleStandard: 30,000
Peak: 50,000

Fuel Surcharges of $603.00 to $723.60
Standard: 55,000
Peak: 75,000

Fuel Surcharges of $707.90 to $849.80
Standard: 135,000
Peak: 155,000

Fuel Surcharges of $1153.93 to $1384.68

Virgin Atlantic’s standard and peak pricing includes 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

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.

The real sweet spot of redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles

Virgin Atlantic has several airline partners, and there’s one partner redemption in particular that’s a real sweet spot. As I explained in a previous post, the value of redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles for travel in ANA first & business class is unbeatable. Here are the redemption rates:

Distance Of Return JourneyEconomy ClassBusiness ClassFirst Class
0-600 miles15,00030,00040,000
601-1,600 miles18,00035,00050,000
1,601-2,000 miles21,00040,00055,000
2,001-4,000 miles23,00045,00060,000
4,001-7,000 miles40,00065,00080,000
7,001-9,000 miles45,00070,00090,000
9,001-11,000 miles60,00090,000110,000
11,001-14,000 miles65,00095,000120,000
14,001-18,000 miles70,000110,000140,000
18,001-20,000 miles80,000120,000160,000
20,001-22,000 miles90,000130,000180,000

A roundtrip ticket between several points in the US and Tokyo will cost you 95,000 miles in business class or 120,000 miles in first class, plus minimal taxes and fees. That’s without even factoring in the 30% transfer bonus, meaning that these awards really only cost 74,000 Membership Rewards points or 93,000 Membership Rewards points, respectively. While there are carrier imposed surcharges, they’re very mild — think under $200 roundtrip including all taxes and fees. That’s an insanely good deal.


ANA first class

However, be sure you do read the previous post for more details on how the booking process works, as it’s not totally straightforward, you have to book by phone, etc. However, if you know what you’re getting yourself into, this represents an exceptional deal, in my opinion.

So if you’ve been considering a trip to Japan and have Amex points, this is an unbeatable deal.

Bottom line

Some might find value in redemptions directly for travel on Virgin Atlantic, especially when you factor in the 30% bonus. 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.

However, the real sweet spot here is being able to redeem for ANA first & business class class. Redeeming 120,000 Virgin Atlantic miles for roundtrip first class between the US and Japan is unbeatable. With the transfer bonus, that’s the equivalent of just 93,000 Amex Membership Rewards points.

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

(Tip of the hat to @IadisGr8)

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Comments

  1. If only there were more transparency using Flying Club miles on Delta flights. Transparency is not Delta’s thing.

  2. @Rufuss That’s an even better chart. Anywhere from the eastern US will cost 12,000 as opposed to the other one which would have put me in the over 14k miles category for leaving from South Florida

  3. @Mjolnir22 Availability is somewhat limited. Do your due diligence, whether it’s using something like expert flyer or crosscheck what ANA has available against United and Aeroplan. ANA only releases a fraction to Virgin Atlantic. Good luck getting more than 2 tickets. Be business/first class flexible, if you call Virgin they will be able to give you a mixed class. Then if you have enough MR or UR you can top off your account.

  4. @Steve You can’t use this chart from South Florida as ANA doesn’t fly from there, so you would need to get to JFK or ORD or IAH separately….

    There is no change between the new chart and the distance based chart from the USA regardless of location…. But the new chart is more expensive for places like BKK, SIN, DPS by about 20-30k miles

    Since the distance chart was by segment and not overall, it really didn’t make a difference for USA travel.

  5. @Mjolnir22

    I did this roundtrip LAX-HND-LAX back in early July and I saw plenty of availability on the United website. I phoned in and they saw the space with no problems.

    Keep in mind your Virgin Atlantic Account has to be opened for at least 24 hours before they can ticket you, though they did put my award on hold until the next day.

  6. @Rufuss I was under the impression I would be able to get a united flight from MIA/FLL to IAD/IAH/ORD as part of the award. Does virgin allow more than one partner per award? I know that leg would most likely be in economy but oh well

  7. Two questions:
    1. Is it possible to do a routing with this deal as follows: NYC>NRT>SIN for the outbound with an open-jar return of BKK>NRT>NYC?
    2. Do all flights in the itinerary need to be ANA, or is Virgin able to book a combination of ANA and another partner, like Singapore?
    Thanks!

  8. I just transferred 38K Amex points (I had 1,100 balance from previous transfer) and booked SEA-CDG Delta One.

    Not bad for a one-way West Coast to Europe for 38K Amex Points +$5.60.

  9. @Ever
    Do you mind to share more details? Like where to find the ANA chart for this US-EU award?

    Also isn’t ANA is R/T only? But you seem to only book a one-way award and pay a one-way cost?

  10. @FLL

    I booked a one-way US to EU on Delta One, not on ANA. You can book it directly on the Virgin Atlantic website. It’s 50K Miles non-stop or 65K Miles with a connection.

    You can book roundtrip US-EU but you have to pay some decent fuel surcharges for flights originating in Europe.

    I flew ANA First Class roundtrip in July LAX-HND-LAX. It’s 110K miles from the West Coast.

  11. @Ever,

    Thanks for the additional info.

    I was able to see some DL One availability for random dates April 2018 at 42K (coach) but when I clicked it the next screen showed the 65K (with a connection at JFK).

    However when I tried for closer departures, there were also 42K on many dates but none would bring up the business/first class. I could not find anywhere a filter for searching the business/first class only option.

    Yes, I found out if it is a round trip, the YQ from the EU to US portion, or for that matter any flight originated in EU, the YQ would kill the deal.

    I am trying to figure out if I should take the 30% bonus transfer offer or not.

  12. PS

    I did not realize non-stop is 50K. Because it is easy to bridge the South Florida airports and JFK – can use Avios at 10K, or cheap pay tickets – that would even give a stopover at NYC by default.

    Also I notice VS only offers DL flights on VS destination – i.e. some airports DL flies to, do not show up in the drop down menu on VS site as options to choose from.

  13. Is it possible to book something like JFK-NRT-MNL-NRT-JFK as one award? I’ve read that it takes 2 separates awards between US & Japan and then Japan & intra-Asia.

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