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30% Amex to Virgin America Transfer Bonus: A Good Deal?

by on March 19, 2012 · 9 comments

in American Express, Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic

From March 19 – March 26 you can get a 30% bonus on American Express Membership Rewards to Virgin America Elevate transfers.

Not all transfer bonuses are great deals

Elevate just became a transfer partner in October 2011 and I wasn’t pleased with the 2:1 transfer ratio, when I wrote about it then:

“Unfortunately the tranfer ratio is 200 Amex = 100 Elevate points, 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.”

So with this 30% bonus, you are valuing your Amex points at 1.04 and 1.4 cents each – not really spectacular. If you have the Amex Platinum card, you can use points towards buying any airfare at 1.25 cents per point and you earn miles/points on those redemptions as if you bought the tickets with cash. Even if you have a Premier Rewards Gold/Gold/Green card the Pay With Points program will give you a 1 cent per point valuation and you earn points on those tickets.

Virgin America and Virgin Atlantic just announced a partnership to allow Elevate points to be used for international travel and Flying Club points to be used for Virgin America travel. I’m in the process of crunching all of those details, so stay tuned tomorrow to see my thoughts on how to take advantage of these new options. However, don’t hold you breath because there are staggering fuel surcharges being added onto some of these awards so I doubt you’ll be very impressed with the final details!

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  • Maury

    Couldn’t you transfer these to Hilton at a 1:2 ratio?

  • Tony

    I think you’re thinking of Virgin Atlantic miles. These are Virgin America miles, which I don’t believe transfer to Hilton.

  • Mac

    Todays announcement regarding using Elevate pts on the partner airlines Atlantic and Australia.

    LAX/SFO/SEA-SYD/MEL in J for 80k Elevate Pts +$850 surcharge. This is a heck of a value considering the same flight using DL Skypesos would be 150k +$600

    Probably still not a great redemption for MR transfers, but wow great deal to Australia considering how great VA’s award availability is!

  • PJ

    wonder why people would trasnfer airmiles into Hilton Hhonors..at those low ball ratios

    My worst sign on bonus was on Citi Hilton card for 40K with 1000 spend . there is not too much to do with 40K hilton points cpmararing to Chase Hyatt cards

  • PJ

    if you are ok with travelling as a frugal person and can take advantage of Virgin American non stop Domestic flghts, Virgin Atlantic is a true darling .

  • milevalue

    I would value Elevate points at less than 2.1 cents each because while you can redeem them for that much airfare, you are missing out on earning Elevate points by redeeming Elevate points. And I would value Avios at least at 1.48 cpm assuming I can use 25k Avios and $5 to book a $450 r/t from LAX-HNL (also factor in 5112 foregone miles.) So I would much rather transfer to Avios, especially given that bonus which you posted about.

  • whendoublewidesfly

    Not a great deal, but if looking for a way to save to get to Australia, it might be ok…

    Flt: LAX – SYD
    Class Points Taxes & Fuel Surcharge*
    Economy 40,000 $749 taxes and fuel surcharge
    Premium Economy 60,000 $790 taxes and fuel surcharge
    Business 80,000 $849 taxes and fuel surcharges

    SO really 124,000 MR points would get you 80,600 points, enough to get down under :) really not a bad. More details here: http://www.whendoublewidesfly.com/2012/03/virgins-unite.html. But you’ve already discussed the new partnership above

  • Pingback: New Virgin America Redemption Options on Virgin Atlantic and Australia: Worth It? | The Points Guy

  • Simek

    TPG, I’m not sure you’re being entirely fair here. Sure, the Amex transfer ratio is poor, and a revenue-based program is clearly inferior to most of us here, but if you can use Elevate points readily on any VX flight, doesn’t that count for something?

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