25% Bonus on American Express to Virgin Atlantic Transfers

Jun 3, 2011

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While this certainly isn’t as exciting as the 50% British Airways transfer bonus, it beats nothing at all. While transfer bonuses are generally a good thing, I see two big catches: 1) Virgin charges enormous fees on award tickets and 2) the T&C state that “bonus miles will be posted to your Flying Club account within 14 days after the transfer.” While I bet they post quicker than that in reality, not having an immediate bonus can put a major damper on your travel plans as award seats can easily disappear within a moments notice.

As mentioned, Virgin Atlantic has really high fees, so I could only ever see redeeming for Upper Class (business class) redemptions, which are 90,000 miles roundtrip from the East coast (full award chart here). I suppose if a coach ticket is expense enough to purchase, it may make sense to pay the monster fees/surcharges, but I just have a personal thing against paying$500+ for an economy award.

Virgin is running an economy and premium economy sale, so check that out here. Economy awards start at 29,500 roundtrip, which would only be 23,600 Amex points. I priced out a dummy award for travel this weekend in it came to 29,500 miles and $531 in taxes and fees. I priced that ticket out as a purchase and it was over $1,800. So basically those 23,600 Amex points would save you $1,800-$531= $1,269/23,600= 5.4 cents per point. That’s pretty darn good for a coach award! Of course this is all based on paying $1,800+ for a coach ticket to Europe, which you can usually avoid if you book in advance. That being said, fares this summer are pretty high, so you should do the math to see if transferring to Virgin makes more financial sense for you. I’m generally impressed with Virgin’s award availability and your best bet to check it is to sign up for a Flying Club account– you don’t need any miles in your account to price out awards.

However, if you want to do east coast to London in Upper Class on Virgin, you can transfer as few as 63,000 points to ANA, which is a Membership Rewards transfer partner. While ANA is in the Star Alliance, they have a partnership with Virgin Atlantic and their award chart is distance based. JFK/BOS-LHR comes in just under the threshold for 63,000 miles for business class – an excellent deal. Not only that, but ANA charges less than Virgin Atlantic, so you make out on both fronts.

Check out this dummy Upper Class award JFK-LHR; 90,000 miles and $800 in taxes and fees! Yikes – that’s even more than British Airways!

The only real reason why I’d transfer Amex points to Virgin is for upgrades or last minute awards that are heinously expensive and I couldn’t wait the 2 days for the points to transfer to ANA.  While Virgin makes it expensive, there are deals to be had, but check out your other options before making a transfer.

I won’t be taking advantage of this promotion, but I’m sure others will. Do you have thoughts on their frequent flyer program, Flying Club? Am I being too harsh?

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

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.