While 20,000 points might not seem like a huge amount, usually the first-use bonus on this card is just 10,000 points, so this promo is worth double, and equates to spending $4,000 on the airline, or as much as $460 in Virgin America flights since Elevate points are worth about 1.6-2.3 cents a piece when redeemed for flights- in addition to other valuable perks.
When you complete a balance transfer within the first 30 days, you get another 5,000 bonus points, bringing the combined possible bonus to 25,000 Elevate points.
Here are the other details of the card:
-20,000 bonus points with first purchase
-3 points per $1 spent on Virgin America
-1 point per $1 on everything else
-10,000 status points when you spend $25,000 annually
-300 bonus points for every $5,000 in net purchases each year up to an annual maximum of 1,200 points
-$150 off a companion ticket each year
-$49 annual fee
I’ve never flown Virgin America, but a lot of people really love it, including many TPG readers, and they have great features on their planes like internet access, on-demand video and snacks that beat out many of their competitors’ offerings. TPG managing editor Eric wrote about his experience flying their Main Cabin Select here.
There aren’t tons of ways to score bonus Elevate points – and certainly not in the thousands, like with this sign-up bonus. Silver and Gold members of their new elite program will earn 25% and 100% bonuses on points respectively, but again, that’s based on spending on the airline. At the moment, you could also take advantage of the 30% transfer bonus from Amex to Virgin America, the ratio is now 200 Amex = 130 Elevate points until September 2. The transfer bonus is usually a paltry 2 Amex points to 1 Elevate point. That means for now you are getting between .8 and 1.15 cents per American Express Membership Rewards points, which isn’t a good deal for redemptions on Virgin America flights because you can purchase tickets with American Express’s Pay With Points at 1 cent per point (1.25 for Platinum cardholders) and you earn Elevate points on those flights. However, if you’re looking to top up your account for a particular award, you could consider this option.
Remember, you can redeem Virgin America Elevate points on the airline’s partners including Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia. For example, a Virgin Atlantic ticket in Upper Class from New York JFK to London require just 25,000 Elevate points + $550 in taxes and fees each way, so with the sign-up and balance transfer bonus, you’ve at least got the mileage requirement covered for one leg. On Virgin Australia, you’d need just 25,000 Elevate points $375 in taxes and fees to fly each way from LAX to Sydney in coach, so you’d be halfway to a roundtrip redemption with this credit card offer (roundtrip premium economy would be 70,000 points plus $790, and business would be 90,000 + $950).
If you’re a Virgin flyer and have been thinking about this card, now would be the time to get it since this bonus is historically higher than the airline has offered before, and combined with elite and Amex transfer bonuses, you could really raise your points balance quickly.