Transferring Ultimate Rewards Points to Virgin Atlantic
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All award travelers should earn transferable points, as they give you great flexibility in your redemptions. They also shield you from any potential devaluations, since the ability to transfer to other programs means you’re not locked into one currency. Chase Ultimate Rewards are some of the best transferable points out there, and TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Nick Ewen explains how you can transfer them to Virgin Atlantic.
In order to even think about redeeming these points for maximum value, you first need to know the actual process for transferring them to partners. Today, I’ll continue our series that looks closely at the process for transferring points to each Ultimate Rewards partner. Previous subjects included Hyatt Gold Passport, United MileagePlus, Southwest Rapid Rewards, Marriott Rewards, British Airways, Singapore Airlines and Korean Air, and now I’ll take a look at another one of the program’s airline partners: Virgin Atlantic's Flying Club.
Before you even think about transferring Ultimate Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic, you’ll need to complete a few basic steps. For starters, you need to set up online access for your Ultimate Rewards-accruing credit card (like the Ink Plus Business Card or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card). To do this, simply go to chase.com and look for the Not enrolled? Sign-up now link at the right-hand side:
Then, simply enter the required information to complete your online enrollment.
If you already have an online credit card account with Chase, you can add a new card to it by clicking Manage Accounts in the Customer Center and then selecting Add Accounts at the top.
The other important thing to do is to sign up for Virgin Atlantic's Flying Club (though if you’ve read my points and miles mistakes post, hopefully you’ve already done this). To do this, just visit the page to join the program and enter your information.
Once these two things are complete, you’re ready to start transferring!
Transferring to Virgin Atlantic
The actual process for transferring Ultimate Rewards points to all partners starts the exact same way:
1. Log in to your Chase account and click on the Go to Ultimate Rewards link at the top right.
(1a. If you have more than one card account, choose your desired one from the next page.)
2. Hover over the Use Points drop-down menu and select Transfer to Travel Partners.
3. Scroll down the list of airline partners and click Transfer Points next to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
4. Select you (or an authorized user), enter your membership number and click Add Member ID to add a new account.
5. Enter the number of points you want to transfer (must be in increments of 1,000) and click Continue.
6. Review your details on the next page and then click Confirm & Submit.
The next screen should confirm that the transfer was successful.
Last year we tested how long Ultimate Rewards transfers take for each of the program’s partners, and fortunately Virgin Atlantic is one of six partners that show up immediately.
|Singapore Airlines||Same Day|
There are a few important things to keep in mind with these transfers:
- The transfers are nonrefundable, so be certain you want to make the transfer before you click Submit.
- You can only transfer to yourself or an authorized user.
- You can combine points from your different cards or transfer points between your account and that of your spouse/domestic partner. For complete details, check out my post on combining Ultimate Rewards points.
Booking with Virgin Atlantic
Now that you’ve made the transfer, it’s time to actually book with Virgin Atlantic. The carrier is not a part of an alliance but does partner with airlines in all three, including Delta (SkyTeam), ANA (Star Alliance) and Malaysia (Oneworld). However, the website only displays flights operated by Virgin Atlantic, so if you plan on using your miles for partner airlines, you'll need to call the airline's Flying Club helpline (1-800-365-9500 from the US).
Fortunately, you're likely best off using your Flying Club miles for Virgin Atlantic flights, as the airline has reasonable redemption rates (though it does tack on significant fuel surcharges). I've also found that award inventory tends to be quite good, which is different than other carriers flying across the Atlantic. Some redemption options include:
- Round-trip economy flights from East Coast and Midwestern cities to London for 35,000 miles
- Round-trip premium economy flights from Florida and West Coast cities to London for 70,000 miles
- One-way Upper Class flight from East Coast and Midwest to London for 40,000 miles
Here’s a step-by-step process of how to actually book these award flights with Virgin Atlantic:
1. Start by visiting Virgin Atlantic’s homepage, enter your search criteria, select Spend your miles and then click Find my flight:
The next page shows the available dates for your desired month, and the color coding underneath each shows you which classes are available. You can also hover over a specific date to see this:
2. Choose your dates and click Select flights at the bottom right:
3. Select the flights you want and your desired class of service:
You'll notice that you can mix and match classes, and when you select flights, you can view a detailed breakdown of the substantial taxes and fees by clicking View Fare Breakdown at the right-hand side:
The bulk of this amount is made up of carrier-imposed (fuel) surcharges, which will vary depending on your class(es) of service:
Remember, though, that any flights departing from London are also subject to the UK Passenger Service Charge and UK Air Passenger Duty:
Note that the UK Air Passenger Duty is cut in half if you travel in economy.
4. Click Next Step at the right-hand side:
5. Enter your username and password to log in to your Flying Club account:
6. Complete the rest of the booking process!
Despite the high fuel surcharges, I've found that award flights on Virgin Atlantic are quite pleasant (especially when you factor in the carrier's impressive clubhouses). The carrier also occasionally offers sales on award tickets (like this May 2015 discount). You can actually extend your miles even further by opening the Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard from Bank of America. The card is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 20,000 bonus miles after your first retail purchase and gives you 3 miles per dollar spent on Virgin Atlantic purchases. If you spend $25,000 in a membership year, you'll not only earn 15,000 bonus miles, but you'll also earn a companion reward ticket redeemable for an economy award flight for half the usual miles.
Ultimate Rewards points regularly appear near the top of TPG’s monthly valuations (and for good reason). With a number of valuable transfer partners, you can get a ton of value and flexibility by collecting these points and then putting them toward a variety of different redemptions. I transferred Ultimate Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic last year, and I found it to be a great use of my points.
For additional information about Ultimate Rewards and redeeming Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles, check out the following posts:
- Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Experience LHR-JFK
- How to Use Virgin Atlantic Miles Without Fuel Surcharges
- Maximizing Ultimate Rewards with Chase Freedom, Sapphire and Ink Plus
What are your experiences transferring Ultimate Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic?