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Transfer American Express Membership Rewards Points to Virgin Atlantic With a 30% Bonus

April 17, 2017
5 min read
Transfer American Express Membership Rewards Points to Virgin Atlantic With a 30% Bonus
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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.

Update 10/10 3:05pm: This 30% bonus on transfers to Virgin Atlantic has returned. Through November 30, 2017, you'll get 1,300 Flying Club miles for every 1,000 Membership Rewards points you transfer.

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Part of what makes transferable currencies so valuable is their flexibility; your points aren't trapped in just one program. Even better, sometimes airlines and hotels will partner up with these transferable point programs to allow members to transfer points with a bonus. Today, we learned about a new transfer bonus: Now through May 22, get a 30% bonus when transferring American Express Membership Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic's Flying Club.

Membership Rewards-earning cards include:

  • The Platinum Card from American Express
  • Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
  • The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express
  • The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN
Amex transfer bonus Virgin Atlantic

If you're not familiar with Virgin Atlantic's Flying Club, you're not alone. The program just went through an award devaluation effective January 16, 2017. So, everyone is having to learn the new program.

The new Flying Club program's biggest benefit is the low cost of standard (read: off-peak) awards — which start at just 20,000 miles round-trip from the US to the United Kingdom. However, if you want to travel during "peak season," you're going to generally have to pay double. Current peak season is defined as March 31-April 18, June 22-September 6 and December 13-31.

The huge caveat is that Virgin Atlantic charges substantial "taxes, fees, charges, and carrier-imposed surcharges." These start at $418 round-trip in economy, $511 round-trip in premium economy and $1,217 in Upper Class. With economy flight deals to Europe routinely in the $300s and $400s recently — sometimes even during peak times — you're not getting much value out of your Flying Club miles for economy flights.

Here are the redemption cost and taxes/fees for round-trip flights from the US to the UK — before factoring in the 30% bonus from American Express Membership Rewards:

To/from UKEconomyCo-PayPremium EconomyCo-PayUpper ClassCo-Pay
Atlanta (to/from Manchester)25,000$421
Boston (to/from Manchester)20,000$45135,000$54495,000$1,250
New York (JFK/Newark)20,000$45035,000$54295,000$1,248
JFK (to/from Manchester)20,000$45035,000$54295,000$1,248
Washington DC20,000$45035,000$54295,000$1,248
Orlando (to/from Glasgow)25,000$41845,000$51195,000$1,217
Orlando (to/from Belfast)25,000$44045,000$511
Las Vegas30,000$41855,000$511
Las Vegas (to/from Manchester)30,000$424
Los Angeles30,000$453
San Francisco30,000$452135,000$1,250
San Francisco (to/from Manchester)30,000$470135,000$1,250

That means you can score round-trip economy flights from Boston (BOS), New York (JFK/EWR) or Washington DC (IAD) to the UK for just 16,000 Membership Rewards points — or 27,000 MR points in premium economy. Upper Class redemptions are going to set you back at least 74,000 MR points before the transfer bonus.

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Just 924,000 Amex MR points can get you a week on Sir Richard Branson's private island.
Just 924,000 Amex MR points can get you a week on Sir Richard Branson's private island.

If you’re looking for a once-in-a-lifetime redemption, one of the most incredible uses of Virgin Atlantic miles is redeeming 1,200,000 miles for a seven-night stay on Richard Branson’s Necker Island. With this 30% transfer bonus, eligible Flying Club members only need to transfer 924,000 American Express Membership Rewards points to have enough for this luxurious redemption. This is the same vacation spot that President Obama visited just after leaving the White House in January.

Bottom Line

This transfer bonus isn’t a great deal. However, transferring points from Amex to Virgin Atlantic could make sense if you're looking to travel during off-peak periods and can't find a cheap paid flight. Due to the relatively low cost of premium economy awards and fewer premium economy deals, premium economy awards could provide especially good value.

Featured image by JT Genter