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

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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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