Program Score Card: Virgin America Elevate

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Virgin America celebrated its three year birthday this week and it has garnered a huge, loyal fan-base in that short amount of time. It’s even been featured in a reality show, Fly Girls, that followed the lives of it’s perky flight attendants.

What Virgin America is really known for, is its low-fare structure, technology, in-flight amenities- including mood lighting, in-flight entertainment and WiFi. Not only do they sell snacks on-board, but you can purchase them through the in-flight entertainment system (RED).

Virgin’s fleet of 30 Airbus A319/320 aircraft service 9 destinations in the US and Canada.

Currency= Elevate Points (Sign up link here)


Flights: 5 points per dollar spent on base airfare on Virgin America. Points awarded for mileage flown and fare class on partners:
Virgin Atlantic:

Promotional Economy N, V, X, O
Discounted Economy L, M, Q
Full Economy Class Y, B
Premium Economy W, S, K, H
Business Class Z, R, J, D

V Australia: Fare classes V,Q earn 10% of miles flown. K,G,E,L,N,T earn 20% of miles flown. Y,B,H earn 40% of miles flown. W,S,R,O earn 50% of miles flown. I,D earn 60% of miles flown. J,C earn 80% of miles flown.

For Virgin Blue: Fare classes R,V,X earn 10% of miles flown. A,B,C,E,G,H,J,K,M,P,Q,S,T,U earn 20% of miles flown. N,Y earn 40% of miles flown. W,O earn 50% of miles flown.

Credit Cards: Official Elevate Visa- 2,500 point sign-up bonus, 1 point per dollar on regular purchases, 3 points/dollar on purchases. No annual fee. Apply here.

Parners:1 point per dollar spent on car partners, 1 point per $2 for Hilton stays and 1,000 points/stay for Morgans Hotel stays .

Redeeming: Points can be cashed in to  purchase flights. If you book a flight on a Friday/Sunday- each point is worth about 1.6 cents and 2.1 for all other days. Once a ticket is “purchased” using points, it looks and acts like a purchased fare.

Expiration: Points expire after 18 months of no activity.

+No blackout dates
+ Relatively valuable points (most airlines give about 1 cent value each)
+ Cheap upgrades to first class $70-$270 each way (no points required)

– No international awards (except for Toronto and soon Mexico)
– Relatively few partners (only Hilton and Morgans hotels)
–  Limited route network

Elite Status: None

Overall Summary:
Virgin Elevate is basically a 10% rebate on travel. For every $1,000 you spend, you get about $100 for future flights- with no black-out dates or capacity controls. My only real problem with the program is that there aren’t enough partners. I’d like to see them become an American Express Membership Rewards partner (like Virgin Atlantic) and also join for dining.

Also, they don’t recognize their best customers with any benefits. I think first class boarding and increased point earning opportunities would be nice for frequent flyers. They compete on a lot of longer haul domestic/transcontinental flights, so as a top-tier business travel, any of the legacies are going to treat me a lot better: guaranteed exit row/premium seat, potential upgrade and 100% or more bonus on points. Even JetBlue offers a more spacious coach cabin. That’s a lot to give up for mood lighting and a 10% future credit on travel.

I do like the direction Virgin America is going. Once they start building up their flight network and expanding upon their agreements with other airlines, I think they will become a force to be reckoned with in the loyalty program arena.

Overall scores:

Points: B+
Elite Program: N/A
Overall Grade: B

First steps for Virgin America to get the overall score moving towards an A:
1) Establish an elite status program for frequent flyers
2) Get more partners (especially hotel and transfer partners like Amex and Starwood)
3) Strengthen relationships with international airlines in order to allow for more redemption opportunities

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), up to a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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.