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Amex recently announced that Virgin America would be joining the Membership Rewards program, but they didn’t release what the transfer ratio would be (most airline partners transfer at 1:1). The partnership was supposed to go live on October 5, 2011, but it seems like it’s already up, because I logged into and noticed they are now listed at the very end of their airline transfer partners.

A new, albeit not very valuable, transfer partner

And unfortunately the ratio is 100 Elevate = 200 Amex, so a disappointing 2:1 ratio. This is not a great deal because Elevate is a fixed value loyalty program, which mean you can redeem points for any flight and they are worth between 1.6 and 2.1 cents each towards airfare. So if you transfer Amex to Virgin America, you are valuing your Amex points at .8 and 1.05 cents a piece, which is very low. I conservatively value mine at 2 cents a piece and you can purchase points directly from Amex for 2.5 cents.

2:1 (2 Amex= 1 Elevate)

In fact, you can use Pay With Points and redeem them for 1 cent a piece (1.25 if you have the Platinum card) – and the kicker is that those tickets accrue Elevate points as if you purchased them with cash (5 points per dollar).

So in essence, I would never recommend transferring to Elevate at the 2:1 ratio unless you need to top up your Elevate account to get an award. I suspect they will run a transfer bonus to create excitement around the new partnership (and make people forget that Continental left the program on September 30th), but it would need to be 100% or more for me to get excited about it and I doubt that’s going to happen.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

While this premium card has one of the highest annual fees on the market, it has several valuable perks that could make it worthwhile, depending on your travel patterns. These include a $200 annual airline rebate, lounge access, free Hilton Gold status and free Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 40,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • 5X points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 a year for baggage fees and more at one airline. Terms Apply.
  • As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations worldwide. Terms Apply.
  • Enroll to enjoy the benefits of complimentary Hilton HHonors™ Gold Status with your Platinum Card.®
  • No interest charges because you pay your balance in full each month.
  • Terms and Conditions apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
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Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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