Coming: 35% Transfer Bonus Amex to Virgin Atlantic= 80% Transfer Bonus to Hilton!

by on November 26, 2012 · 32 comments

in American Express, Hilton, Virgin Atlantic

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Starting tomorrow, November 27, 2012 through December 29, 2012, American Express cardmembers who transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club will receive a 35% bonus.

The normal transfer ratio is 1:1, so with this bonus, instead of transferring 1,000 Membership Rewards points to 1,000 Flying Club miles, you’ll get 1,350 Flying Club miles instead, and points transfer instantly. The bonus will be hard-coded into the transfer page, so you won’t have to register or do anything special, just transfer miles as you normally would. Past bonuses have been in the 15-25% range, so 35% is pretty good in my opinion- especially if you know how to leverage your Flying Club miles.

While not on the scale of the 50% bonus on Amex transfers to British Airways in May and a 40% bonus in September, it is slightly higher than the 30% Avios transfer bonus Amex is going to launch on December 3. However, bigger isn’t always better and I’d still probably go with transferring to Avios, unless you a) absolutely love flying Virgin Atlantic b) Want to upgrade Virgin Atlantic Flights c) Can take advantage of their airline partners d) need Hilton points.

Worth It?
Flying roundtrip from New York to London on an award ticket requires 35,000 miles plus $700 for Economy (probably a horrible redemption), 55,000 miles and $810 in Premium Economy (still probably worth it to just buy the ticket) and 80,000 miles plus $1,300 in Upper Class. To get those 80,000 miles, you’d only need 59,260 Amex points. You’d still have to cover those $1,300 in taxes and fees, but that’s still a pretty significant discount on tickets that can go for $4,000+ miles. That economy ticket will still cost you $700 in taxes and fees, but only 25,926 miles. That’s almost like flying a domestic roundtrip. Have a look at the rest of Virgin Atlantic’s redemption requirements here.

Virgin’s redemption chart – with this promo, you’d need less than 60,000 miles for an Upper Class ticket.

The second is, remember that Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles transfer to Hilton at a 2:1 ratio. This is a great way to make even more of those Amex points, which  transfer to Hilton HHonors directly at a ratio of 1 Amex point to 1.5 HHonors points. With this promo, however, 1 Amex point = 1.35 Virgin miles = 2.7 HHonors points, 80% more than transferring directly from Amex. 100,000 Amex points will turn into 270,000 Hilton Honors points, which if you are a Hilton elite, is more than enough for a 8 night stay at a Category 6 property like the Hilton Los Cabos, which is only 240,000 points with the GLON rate. Check out this post for more information on maximizing Hilton awards.

With this promo, a night at a top-tier Waldorf Astoria will only require 29,000 points!

So if you wanted to stay at a top-tier Hilton resort like the Grand Wailea, which an require up to 80,000 points for a free night (depending on season), instead of using 54,000 Amex points per free night at the usual 1.5 ratio, you could instead transfer 30,000 points to Virgin Atlantic for 40,500 miles, then transfer those miles into 81,000 Hilton HHonors points for a free night. 30,000 Amex points for a free night at a top-tier Waldorf Astoria is a pretty good deal, especially considering the normally dismal transfer ratios. The one consideration is that transferring Virgin miles to Hilton can take several weeks, so you’ll have to take your chances on award night availability.

Still, I’m glad to see Amex upping their game as the year comes to an end by offering more transfer bonuses. I’m about to hit Hilton Diamond status thanks to my Citi Hilton Reserve card (which also gave me two free weekend nights at any Hilton in the world), so I’m looking forward to redeeming at some of Hilton’s top properties in 2013.

Other Airline Partners
Virgin Atlantic also allows redemptions on a number of other partner airlines, like Virgin America, Virgin Australia and Jet Airways. Most of those awards need to be booked over the phone, so call to get a sense of availability and taxes and fees before you transfer any points- it may make sense to book it through another program to avoid fees.
 Virgin Also has a decent upgrade program- only 10,000 miles to upgrade from Premium Economy (W,S fares) to Upper Class from the East Coast to London and you can even search for upgrade availability online.
 This transfer bonus is good until December 29, 2012, so you have plenty of time to rack up more points. Today is the last day to take advantage of the 50,000 point Business Gold Rewards card and if you hit the $5,000 spend requirement quick enough, you may be able to have the points post to your account in time to take advantage of this promo (if not you can still take advantage of the 30% Avios bonus which ends January 14, 2013).

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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  • Matt Karolian

    yeah but… when can you ever redeem HHonors points? I have never been able to use them.

  • Preacher

    Are there surcharges charged for the transfer, like there are for US-based airlines? And can I transfer my points to my son’s VATL account?

  • thepointsguy

    No surcharges and yes, you can transfer to anyone else’s account as long as you add their program to your linked programs

  • thepointsguy

    What do you mean? is actually pretty good at showing free nights.. Not perfect. Just avoid the crazy premium room redemptions

  • Adam Grizzle

    Typographical error: “Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles transfer to Hilton at a 2:1 ratio” – simply seems the ratio expression is backwards. Just an FYI to ya!

  • PJ

    agreed ; complete waste of time in light of my experience to get rid of 40K HHonors points coming off Citi Hitlon card for spending $1000

    1MR=2.7Hhonors ? I am not seller of MRs :)

  • Lively

    I booked a room in London today for 40,000 points to stay in April.

  • Shawn Neugebauer

    I redeem HHonors points often, both domestically and internationally, at lower- and upper-class properties. I can’t think of a time when I couldn’t use them when I wanted. I’m Diamond but I don’t think this provides special redemption privileges. Just curious, what problems have you had?

  • John777

    I know the transfers from Amex to Virgin are instant, but what about Virgin to Hilton?

  • thepointsguy

    Usually takes a couple weeks

  • Fanfoot

    So Gary makes the case here that converting MR points to HH points, even at 2.7:1 isn’t a very good deal. His calculus is that HH points are worth only 0.3 cents each so this is only 0.81 cents per MR point. And you can do better than that by either transferring them to Airline Miles instead (one in each alliance at least) at > 1 cent per point, even without the bonus. And there are often bonuses for transferring MR points to Avios for example. So that is the better deal.

    You got an opinion on this? I do value HH points, and may well book a vacation in the future at the Grand Wailea or elsewhere at 80k points per night, so the more points I have the better, so I may well do this, but I find the math convincing. And yes I’m aware others value HH points higher than Gary does…

  • thepointsguy

    I think a .3 cent valuation of Hilton points is extremely low. $150 for a free night at a top hotel in London? Anyone who can maximize the AXON/GLON awards can get much more than .3 cents a piece without trying hard, in my humble opinion

  • Gavinmac11

    What are best Hiltons to use HH miles at to get the most bang for the buck?

  • Adam

    I have 200K in Amex points and want to spread myself out a little. My understanding is that to get the most HH points is to transfer through this to Virgin instead of the avios I was planning on transferring to Dec 3rd?

    The only other thing I should consider is how much more I value Avios to Virgin if I decide not to transfer all to HH

  • Mohsin

    According to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club – the maximum you can transfer out is 120,000 miles per calendar year – true?

  • T Nick Usalis Knight

    Has Chase ever given a bonus for transfer to BA’s program.

  • thepointsguy

    I don’t think chase has ever had a transfer bonus. Amex frequently has BA bonuses of up to 50%, however

  • mk

    I have Hilton honors diamond status that is expiring if I don’t stay there by March 2013. As of now, I have no plans do stay – is that really my only option to maintain status? Or will transferring points in somehow help me? (I have tons of points elsewhere)

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  • T Nick Usalis Knight

    Strange, since BA’s card is handled by Chase.

  • Scuzzynutty

    Does it cost anything to transfer from Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic, like it does to other airlines (besides British Airways)? I think it cost $0.006 per point transferred like to Delta…

  • thepointsguy

    No fee

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  • Jel

    Wish I knew ahead of time that the minimum transfer from Virgin Atlantic was 10,000 miles. Just transferred 5,000 MR to VA, which gave me 6,750 VA miles. Oh, well. Will just have to wait a couple more months for the MR points to add back up.

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  • Tyuio

    There is a charge for transfer ($13.50 per 1000 miles) and only folks who have miles from VA or partners can transfer miles.

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