30% Bonus on Amex to Virgin America Elevate Transfers Until September 2, 2012

by on August 27, 2012 · 11 comments

in American Express, Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic

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American Express Membership Rewards added the Virgin America Elevate program as transfer partner in October of 2011, but as I wrote about when it first launched, the transfer ratio is a dismal 2 Amex points per 1 Elevate point. Virgin America Elevate is a fixed value rewards program, which means you can use points to purchase pretty much any flight and based on my past research you’ll get between 1.6 and 2.3 cents per point, depending on the day you travel.

The 2:1 transfer ratio is a bummer, because it essentially means you are getting between .8 and 1.15 cents per American Express Membership Rewards points, which isn’t a good deal because you can purchase Virgin America flights with Pay With Points at 1 cent per point (1.25 for Platinum cardholders) and you earn Elevate points on those flights (you don’t earn points when redeeming for flights using Elevate points). So, it would really never make sense to transfer Amex points into Elevate- unless there was a lucrative transfer bonus (in my opinion, at a 1:1 ratio, or 100% bonus would be great).

However, today through September 2, 2012 Amex is offering a 30% bonus on transfers to Elevate, so the ratio is now 200 Amex = 130 Elevate. This makes each Amex point worth between 1.04 and 1.5 cents a piece, which isn’t amazing, but also isn’t terrible, especially since there are few ways to get Virgin America flights with points. One option is to transfer Amex points to Virgin Atlantic and use their zone based redemption chart, which might make sense for expensive flights since they would require more points through Elevate, so do the math before you transfer to select the option that gets the most bang for your points.

Transfer to Elevate or Book with Pay With Points?
Say you wanted to try out their new Philadelphia to Los Angeles route and purchase a ticket departing September 13th and returning September 15th. The flight would cost $297.60 to purchase or you could redeem 12,838 Elevate points and $2.50- you’d be getting a value of 2.3 cents per Elevate point.

If you wanted to transfer from Amex, you have to do so in 130 point increments, so it would be 19,800 Membership Rewards points, which would equal 12,870, plus a fee of $11.88. 19,800 Amex points is equal to $198 in airfare booked with Pay With Point, or $247.50 if you are Platinum cardholder.
This exact flight came to $304.59 through Amex travel, so would cost 30,459 points (24,367 for Platinum cardholders). However, something to keep in mind is that you accrue Elevate points with flights booked with Pay With Points, so you’d net 1,285 points, which at 2.3 cents a piece, is $29.56 in value.

So in this example, booking the flight via Elevate with the 30% bonus at 19,800 Amex points makes a lot more sense than using Pay With Points (30,459) or through Virgin Atlantic (25,000 points).

While I’m not overly excited about this promotion because the value per point is capped, it can be a decent deal for Virgin America flyers. I’d be much more excited about lucrative Delta and British Airways bonuses- I really hope Amex brings them back since it’s been a pretty quiet year so far!

Also, the 20,000 point limited time offer on the Barclay’s Virgin America Visa ends on August 31!

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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  • PJ

    a reminder: VA is offering its credit card with 20K sign on bonus ; it is from Barclays decisions there are very much independent of your card activities with Chase Amex and Citi..

    many VA Non stop flights have well less than 12.5 K redemption and often match UA convenience.

  • Zz

    When can we expect Amex transfer bonus to Delta or BA? Is there some predictability?

  • Karl Mitchell

    Bear in mind that Virgin America points are effectively worth double Virgin Atlantic miles for transatlantic redemptions, so e.g. 50,000 from LAX/SFO-LHR Upper Class return. With this 30% bonus, that will give you a significantly greater redemption value of about 3.9 c/MRpoint in many instances. The fees are harsh, but many think it’s worth it for VS UC.

  • PJ

    Where have you been? when 1 MR =1.5 Avios promotions took place twice this year so far ; around this time last year there was a transfer 50K MR to Delta and get back 20K rebate.. wonder if it is going to happen again

  • Zz

    Can’t participate in past bonuses. …
    Fortunately 40% Avios bonus is back today!

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  • Womanofaction

    Does anyone know if I can transfer Virgin America points to Virgin Atlantic? Hoping to pick up some Hilton points at the 2:1 ratio…

  • ThunderStorm

    Virgin America Elevate is NOT, I repeat, NOT a fixed value rewards program for domestic flights.
    Domestic award flights are dynamically priced, meaning the number of points required for a flight is based on the fare price and increases in direct proportion to the cost of a flight, which mirrors the way in which members earn points. As a flight fills up and availability becomes scarce, the dollar amount and point requirement increases. However, when the airline publishes sale fares, the points required for an award flight can become more attractive. Since the Elevate program does not have blackout dates and capacity controls, if there is a seat available, you can have it for points.

    However, Elevate members CAN redeem their points at a FIXED rate for international award flights on Virgin Australia and Virgin Atlantic. And these awards DO have fixed points amounts, but like all international awards, the taxes and fees can vary. A search for a roundtrip flight from New York or San Francisco to London Heathrow on Virgin Atlantic was quoted at 25,000 points in economy, plus $650 in taxes and fees. As with other legacy programs, here the benefits might be seen when flying from the West Coast as opposed to the East Coast. Or as in other programs, one may find more value in award trips in Premium Cabins.

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  • VAforsure

    Did you find out the answer to this?

  • Pingback: 40% Virgin America Transfer Bonus From Amex Through September 30 | The Points Guy()

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