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Update – Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express , The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN, The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express, The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express
American Express Membership Rewards, the points program of cards like the Platinum Card and the Premier Rewards Gold as well as The Amex EveryDay Credit Card and The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card is currently offering a 35% transfer bonus to Virgin America through February 15, 2015.
Normally points transfer at the lackluster ratio of 2 Amex points to 1 Elevate point, but with this promo, you can transfer 200 Amex points to get 135 Elevate points instead. This bonus is hard-coded so there is no need to register for it.
When it comes to Virgin America transfer bonuses, we saw both a 30% one last year and a 40% bonus last year, though in previous years, they have even been as high as 50%, so I might hold off on this one, unless you have a specific redemption in mind and are short a few thousand points.
Virgin America Elevate is a fixed-value rewards program where you can use points to purchase any open seat on a flight at a value of between 1.5-2.3 cents per point depending on the fare and itinerary. With the normal transfer ratio, that means you are getting between 0.8 and 1.15 cents per American Express Membership Rewards point – a low value which doesn’t make much sense at all considering you can use Amex’s Pay With Points feature to purchase Virgin America flights at 1 cent per point, and you earn Elevate points on those flights – you don’t earn points when redeeming for flights using Elevate points.
So, it would really never make sense to transfer Amex points into Elevate unless there was a 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 35% bonus, at least you’re getting between 1.08-1.55 cents per Amex point in value.
While redeeming on Virgin America may not make sense, the airline has 28 partner airlines, and you can use the calculator on this page to figure out how many points you’ll need.
For instance, roundtrip from JFK to London on Virgin Atlantic would cost you 15,000 points + $475 in taxes and fees in economy, 25,000 points + $790 in Premium Economy, and 35,000 points + $910 in Upper class.
One of the better options is to redeem for Hawaii on Hawaiian Airlines as it’s only 20,000 points plus $11.20 in coach for a round-trip flight between Los Angels and Maui, compared to 25,000 miles which most of the other carriers charge.
If you wanted to fly on Emirates from New York (JFK) to Dubai, you could redeem on Emirates for 45,000 in coach plus $740, or in Business Class for 100,000 plus $1,410. Neither of these options are good uses of Elevate points.
Another one of their partners is Virgin Australia, but they have taxes/fees as well. It would cost 40,000 points plus $826 in coach, 60,000 points plus $826 in premium economy or 80,000 plus $926 in taxes/fees.
I’m not really tempted 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 an extra 35% out of each Amex point, so if you were considering an immediate transfer to top up your account, then it may be worthwhile.
Do you plan on taking advantage of this transfer bonus from American Express to Virgin America Elevate?