Virgin America Now an Amex Membership Rewards Transfer Partner

by on October 1, 2011 · 30 comments

in American Express, Virgin America

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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.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Phil

    I can’t even imagine getting excited at 100%

    Worse than Pay with Points takes quite some effort but well done Amex/VA you managed it!

  • infamousdx

    Wow, big time downer

  • splat’s mom

    Thanks I’ve been waiting to see whether I should pull the trigger on my AMEX offer of 75 points or my Chase Preferred offer of 100k bonus points. Looks like 100k.

  • Itsjaypeg

    always on top with the news. thanks tpg.

  • Anonymous

    Pretty disappointing; I like DL on the LAX-JFK route as a medallion member, but have been wanting to try VX first class and was hoping AMEX MR points would help out with that. Guess not …

  • Eric

    Who would transfer at that rate?

  • Anonymous

    Wow, what a terrible exchange rate. Virgin America has been a constant disappointment over my last 4 flights (all within the last 2 months). Broken WiFi. Broken TV Screens. First class isn’t that great on the red-eye, especially at their prices. The United PS service SFO –> JFK is far better and cheaper.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed, this is really surprising. It makes no sense at all. Then again, it is VX’s first foray into any kind of points exchange program. And let’s be honest, the Elevate program is pretty weak to begin with.

  • DrB

    As others have said this doesn’t make much sense considering it’s worse than pay with points, especially if you have a Platinum card where you get a 20% bonus.

  • Anonymous

    To be fair they are an option at — one with a surprisingly good exchange rate with a number of different airlines. You can transfer Elevate points at 1:0.9 to US Airways via

  • David

    If you have targeted offers at 75k & 100k considering neither of those companies match offers anymore, you would be silly to not get both. Get both if you can!

  • Anonymous

    AmEx PRG question:
    I received 50K bonus points for $1K spend within 3 months offer via mail.
    I successfully applied & while reaching the requirement, I received a second
    “better” offer by mail: 75K bonus points for $1K spend within 3 months…
    Now I want to call AmEx & hopefully get “better” offer bonus or (!!?) both.
    Any advice as to what I should say? Anyone been through this? regards.
    (since 2nd offer is for exact same PRG card, am assuming one person can’t have 2 accounts?)

  • Hpoush

    Love your love of Amex, who’s been pulling bonus codes, fidelity funding bonuses, centurion benefits, loss of airline partners, yet you never address the tough questions being a paid advertiser and biased
    Fan boy. Grow up and realize you are going to circle the drain and need to go back to a real job unless you start to be more objective in your statements and posts. I can say I never received a single mile from your posts, but simply am not fooled by your continual lies and decent on behalf of your advertising handlers.

  • PJ

    r u saying Amex is still offerring 75K and Saphire 100K to targetted applicants ? wow

  • PJ

    tough and harsh guy !! OF COURSE YOU CAN SAY WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY. Many readers would not deny this is a very helpful site . IN all honesty I would not know to call in Chase to bump up the 50K to 100K on Sapphire Preferred ETC ETC ETC

  • PJ

    Amex decision is certainly irrelvant to Chase decision. BAG THEM ALL i would if I were you.

  • PJ

    i dont think you can be approved for 2rd card; you can simply call them up and i would be surprised you dont get your better bonus ie 75K

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  • Anonymous

    Hpoush extreme dictatorial response implies PERSONAL PROBLEMS having nothing to do with this blog, IMO.
    This blog has helped me, a newbie, greatly in understanding credit card bonus potentials.
    But its like a complex chess game which some of us can take only so far…

  • Anonymous

    “i would be surprised you dont get your better bonus ie 75K”

    Hope so!

  • Anonymous

    I covered Continental leaving MR for weeks, the pending devaluation of BA as a transfer option and was the first blogger to post about this bad exchange ratio with Virgin America. Sorry if the tone isn’t negative enough for you, but thats just not my style.

  • Anonymous

    FYI Platinum card is actually a 25% bonus (they market it as a 20% rebate, which is the same as a 25% bonus when all is said and done)

  • Anonymous

    Not I!

  • Hpoush

    Please accept my apology. I’m so pissy with Amex right now, that it overtook my best judgement and I needed to lash out. I perceived your posts as being overtly biased positions in favor of Amex for financial reasons when many of the ‘deals’ have recently fallen apart and the posts have no been updated to reflect that many of these deals are no longer valid. I apologize again for my immaturity and short temper.

  • Anonymous

    1st call to Phone Apply Dept. & transfers back & forth to CustServDept yielded two possibilities:

    a.”demote” current PRG to lesser AmEx card, points preserved;
    then apply for new 75K bonus point card, acceptance not guaranteed;
    no one knew effect on credit rating;

    b. cancel current PRG (already achieved 50K bonus points via spending);
    (forgot to ask what happens to points during a “no card” limbo)
    then apply for new 75K bonus point card, acceptance not guaranteed;
    no one knew effect on credit rating;

    Any reason NOT to go for 125K total bonus points for (2) $1K spends-within-3-mos. via (a) above?

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