Virgin America Now an Amex Membership Rewards Transfer Partner

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

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

Apply Now
  • Get 40,000 points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit. Up to $200 a year in baggage fees and more at one airline.
  • There are no foreign transaction fees with your Platinum Card.
  • Enroll to enjoy the benefits of complimentary Hilton HHonors™ Gold Status.
  • Get reservations with Platinum Card® Concierge to enjoy an exquisite dining experience with the #AmexPlatinum Dining Program. Learn more.
  • No interest charges because you pay your balance in full each month.
  • Terms and limitations apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR Regular APR Annual Fee Balance Transfer Credit Rating
N/A N/A $450 See Terms Excellent Credit