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I got an email from Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club program yesterday offering members a 1,000-mile bonus for shopping through the airline’s “Shops Away” online shopping portal when you spend between $35 and $1000 on your first purchase between March 30-April 30, 2012 at the following merchants: Apple Store, Barnes & Noble, Sears.com, Shoebuy and Macy’s.
Before you just go buying gift cards or vouchers, the Terms & Conditions are very strict about that. Here are the highlights from the T&C:
-This offer is only valid with the following selected retailers Apple Store, Barnes & Noble, Sears.com, Shoebuy and Macy’s. Bonus miles are only offered once.
-Flying Club miles will not be awarded on the purchase of gift vouchers or on taxes and/or delivery charges.
-Flying Club miles are only awarded on purchases made online with third party retailers featured on the Flying Club Online Shopping site accessed through the Shops Away Mile Finder or the “Shop Now” button shown when you are logged into your account.
– Tier points will not be awarded for any purchase.
-Your standard mile earning will be credited to your Flying Club account within 40 days from purchase. Please allow up to 50 days from the date of purchase for any promotional miles to be credited to your account. If miles have not been credited within 40 days (or 50 days for promotional miles), please fill out the missing miles claim form which can be accessed by clicking on “My Shopping History” on the Online Shopping page.
-You have up to 90 days to make a claim for missing miles. All claims are resolved by us at our sole discretion.
-We reserve the right to cancel any Flying Club miles awarded to you in respect of a purchase which you subsequently cancel.
There’s actually a second promotion running concurrently with the first that will earn you 250 bonus miles when you download the airline’s Shops Away Mile Finder app, which notifies you if you can earn miles while you’re shopping online, and an additional 250 bonus miles when you actually buy something using it. You get the app by logging on through the shopping page and clicking on the Mile Finder banner at the top to download it earning the first bonus, then to earn the second bonus, you have to make a purchase through it during the promotion period. This is for first-time downloaders/users, and Virgin Atlantic says they’ll take back your bonus points if you uninstall the toolbar (wow, they’re tough!), so be sure to leave it up on your browser for a while.
So in the best-case scenario, let’s say you download Mile Finder and use it to purchase something for $35 at one of the four merchants in the main promotion and get a total of 1,250 Flying Club miles. That’s essentially paying 2.8 cents per mile. However, if you’re making some purchases anyway, such as a couple of books from Barnes & Noble or a few albums on iTunes, you might as well get the extra miles from it!
If you don’t have any use for Flying Club miles (most awards have ridiculously high fuel surcharges and fees), they can be converted to Hilton points at 2:1 ratio, meaning these 1,250 Flying Club points would equal 2,500 Hilton points. The minimum transfer amount is 10,000 miles, so you can top up Amex points to Virgin Flying Club at 1:1 ratio.