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Now through January 31, 2014, American Express Membership Rewards is offering a 40% transfer bonus to Virgin America. Points usually transfer at a ratio of 2oo Amex points to 100 Virgin America Elevate. With this bonus, though, you’ll get a rate of 200 Amex to 140 Virgin – the minimum transfer amount is 200 Amex points. Remember, when transferring Amex points to US frequent flyer programs, there is a fee of .06 cents (six hundredths) per point transferred up to a maximum fee of $99.

Amex Virgin 40Amex has been pretty aggressive lately with short-term transfer bonuses including some to Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, El Al and new partner, Emirates, and we actually saw another 40% transfer bonus to Virgin America for two weeks in September.

When redeeming 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 – and an even higher cents per point for Business Platinum cardholders and you still earn Elevate points on those flights, so you’re getting a better value for your Amex points (even with this promo) and earning Elevate points and status on your ticket.

I have never flown Virgin America!

So, it wouldn’t really make sense to transfer Amex points into Elevate unless there was a truly 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.

One partner to consider using your Elevate points on is Virgin Atlantic. Roundtrip, you’d need the following amount of miles and taxes and fees:

Screen shot 2014-01-17 at 1.26.53 PMSo for Economy, you’d need 15,000 Elevate points – so 30,000 Amex points normally, but just 22,000 with this transfer bonus. For Premium Economy, it’s 25,000 Elevate points, so 50,000 Amex points normally but 36,000 with this bonus, and for Upper Class it’s 35,000 Elevate points, which you’d normally need to transfer 70,000 Amex points for, but only 50,000 with this transfer bonus. Granted, you’re still paying over $1,100 in taxes and fees, but on a $5,000 ticket, that could still be worth it to you.

Virgin America and Emirates also recently announced a new partnership where you can earn and redeem Elevate points on Emirates, and Emirates Skywards miles on Virgin. You can calculate the Elevate points you’ll need for Emirates redemptions here, but to take a quick example, to fly roundtrip New York JFK to Dubai would require 45,000 Elevate points (65,000 Amex points during the transfer bonus) and $720 in taxes and fees, while Business Class would be 95,000 Elevate points (136,000 Amex points during this promo) plus $1,410 in taxes and fees.

You can redeem Elevate points on Emirates.
You can redeem Elevate points on Emirates.

So though those numbers are much better than with the normal 2:1 transfer ratio, they’re still not that attractive – especially given the large taxes and fees you’d still have to pay on award tickets.

All in all, I’m not that thrilled by this transfer bonus because the value of Elevate points are essentially capped at about 2.3 cents each. But 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 for cheap flights on Virgin America at a fixed rate as well as the airline’s other partners that might beat the other point redemption options out there.

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

Aside from the 75,000 points welcome bonus, Amex recently made huge improvements to the Business Platinum Card, including the fact that you will now earn 50% more points on purchases of $5,000 or more, earn 5x on flights and eligible hotels at and cardholders will receive a $200 airline fee credit each year.

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More Things to Know
  • Welcome Offer: Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards® points.
  • Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.†
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
  • 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year.
  • You can also receive 35% points back on all First and Business class flights, with all airlines available through American Express Travel.
  • You can enjoy access to The American Express Global Lounge Collection℠ offering access to the most lounges across the globe, when compared with other U.S. credit card offerings. As of 11/2017
  • Terms Apply
  • See Rates & Fees
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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.

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