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Now through September 30th, American Express Membership Rewards is offering a 40% bonus when transferring points to Virgin America’s Elevate program.
Normally points transfer at a ratio of 2 Amex points to 1 Elevate point, which is a lackluster normal ratio. With this promo, however, you can transfer 200 Amex points to get 140 Elevate points instead. This bonus is hard-coded so there is no need to register for it.
Last year American Express offered a 30% transfer bonuses from Amex to Virgin America, and they have gone as high as 50% in past, but if you’ve been considering moving some points into Elevate but were waiting for a bonus to do so, now is probably the time.
When redeming for Virgin America flights Elevate is a fixed-value rewards program where you can use points to purchase any flight at a value of between 1.6-2.3 cents per point depending on the fare and itinerary. The reason the normal 2:1 transfer ratio is pretty dismal is because it means you are getting between .8 and 1.15 cents per American Express Membership Rewards point – a low value which stands out even more since you can purchase Virgin America flights with Pay With Points at 1 cent per point (1.25 cents per point for Business 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, a 100% transfer bonus where you could get points at a 1:1 ratio would be great. However, with the 40% bonus, however, at least you’re getting between 1.12-1.6 cents per Amex point in value.
All in all, while I’m not amazed by this transfer bonus because the value of Elevate points are essentially capped at about 2.3 cents each, it’s still nice to squeeze 40% more value out of each Amex point, and you can get some pretty good values on flights by redeeming on Virgin America’s partners that beat the other point redemption options.