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In what might be a new annual tradition, Virgin America is partnering with American Express to offer Virgin American Gold status for transferring Membership Reward points. Now through October 31, 2016, transfer 80,000 Membership Reward points to Virgin America’s Elevate program for Virgin America Gold status and 50,000 Elevate points.
Status will be awarded within 14 days of the transfer and will be good through January 1, 2018 — meaning over 15 months of status if you transfer today. Note that there’s a $48 federal excise tax for making this transfer. Also, you must be a current Elevate member or enroll in the Elevate program by September 30, 2016 to utilize this promotion.
In case you’re unfamiliar with Virgin America’s elite status program, Gold is Virgin America’s top-tier status. Earning Gold status typically requires 50,000 “status credits” or 30 status segments on Virgin America within a calendar year. Status credits are typically earned at a rate of 5 per dollar spent, meaning you’ll need to spend $10,000 with Virgin America to earn Gold status through flying alone. Thankfully, you can also earn status credits through spending on the Virgin America Premium Visa Signature Card.
No matter which method you try to earn status organically, it’s a tough process. So, being able to earn it instantaneously by transferring Amex Membership Reward points is appealing. That said…
Is It Worth It?
Based on TPG’s latest valuation, the 80,000 Membership Reward points you’re giving up are worth $1,520. Meanwhile, the 50,000 Elevate points you’re getting are only worth between $750-$1,150 — depending on how you redeem them. So, you’re going to need to get solid value from Virgin America Gold status to make this worth it.
While Elevate Gold isn’t going to get you as many benefits as top-tier status on carriers like Delta and United, these benefits are still valuable if you’re a frequent flyer. Elevate Gold status benefits include:
- Access to the Virgin America Loft at LAX
- Priority check-in, security, boarding and baggage
- Three free checked bags
- Complimentary preferred main cabin seat selection (at booking)
- Complimentary upgrades to Main Cabin Select (24 hours before the flight)
- Advanced purchase window for first-class upgrades (24 hours before the flight)
- 140% bonus on points on all money spent on Virgin America flights (Elevate members usually get 5 points per dollar)
- Dedicated Elevate Gold reservation line
- 25% off non-refundable main cabin tickets (two tickets per year)
- Free points redeposit upon cancellation of award flights
- Benefits on Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia
If you’re going to fly Virgin America often over the next 15 months, this promotion could be a good opportunity. However, this promotion isn’t a no-brainer — like JetBlue’s recent promo targeting Virgin America — for the casual Virgin America traveler.
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards