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Now through October 15, 2013, Virgin America is offering Elevate members the opportunity to earn up to a 50% bonus on purchased or gifted Elevate points. The bonus is tiered bonus, meaning the more points you buy, the higher bonus percentage you’ll receive.
Here’s how the bonus is set up:
- Buy 2,500 – 5,000 points to get a 30% bonus
- Buy 5,500 – 10,000 points to get a 40% bonus
- Buy 10,500+ points to get a 50% bonus
You can buy or receive up to 20,000 Elevate points per calendar year, in increments of 500 points.The thing to keep in mind is, Elevate points cost an astounding 5.2 cents each, and you can usually only get a value of about 2.3 cents out of them at most when redeeming, so I wouldn’t suggest doing this unless you’re very close to an award redemption. The Elevate program is a hybrid fixed value/ traditional frequent flyer programs – when you redeem on Virgin America you can use points for any flight, but when redeeming on partners there is an award chart and availability is limited.
Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia are both partners and you can use the calculator on this page to figure out how many points you’ll need. A sample Los Angeles to Sydney itinerary in business class costs 80,000 points and $849 in taxes and fees. If you are buying points at 5.2 cents apiece, you are essentially purchasing that flight for $4,160 + $849 = $5,009.
Not great considering those flights are generally around the $5,000. Plus, you are subject to award availability and you don’t earn miles on award redemptions, not to mention the fact that Virgin America only lets you buy up to 20,000 points per calendar year (30,000 with this 50% bonus), so you’re not getting anywhere even close to the award threshold.
I’m not that excited about this offer, but there could be value for those who are looking for a few extra Elevate points on a specific upcoming award itinerary. However, remember that Virgin America is also an American Express transfer partner at a (less-than-stellar) 2:1 ratio, but they have run a couple transfer bonuses, which can make the value proposition a little bit more enticing, and certainly much better than purchasing the miles outright.