How I Booked a Holiday Transcon Delta Flight for Under 10,000 Amex Points

Nov 9, 2017

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Back in October, we told you about options for getting great value out of Amex Membership Rewards points through Virgin Atlantic Flying Club on Delta flights. It may sound convoluted, but the process really isn’t hard. In fact, I just went through the process myself to book a holiday-time Delta transcontinental flight for under 10,000 Membership Rewards points using Flying Club. Here’s a guide about how you can do the same.

Remember that there’s only three weeks left to take advantage of the Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club 30% transfer bonus that makes these Delta awards so cheap. (Also, don’t forget about the 70,000 point ANA first class round-trip awards to Japan enabled by this transfer bonus.)

Link Your Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Account

Linking your American Express Membership Rewards account to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club account should be your first step, as the terms and conditions warn that this process can take up to two weeks. In my experience, it took just two minutes. To get started, click here and log into your Amex account. In order to initiate the link, you’re going to need to verify one of your Membership Rewards-earning American Express cards by entering the “4-digit Card ID and 3-digit security code” from that card.

Finding Award Availability

If you can, it always makes sense to find award availability — and place an award on hold — before transferring points. You want to avoid speculatively transferring points, as you’re not able to reverse the transfer.

Searching on Virgin Atlantic’s website can be frustrating until you learn a couple of tricks. First, start here by entering your origin airport. Then, search for your destination. If you’re searching for a Delta award, your destination is probably not going to show up. But, there’s a workaround — simply click the pin on the right side of the “To” box and select your state and airport that way to be able to search domestic routes:

Sometimes you’ll get an error where you can’t select “Pay with miles”:

The work-around here is to select a previous mileage award search, as this will select the grayed-out option:

Alternatively, you can clear cookies or open a private browser window to search:

So, that’s the tricky part. Once you get that part figured out, you can search exact dates or see a calendar view by selecting “Within 1 week” or “Within 5 weeks” to see a range of options. Once you find award availability, it’s time to lock in the availability before transferring points.

Putting Awards on Hold

Unfortunately, you can’t put an award on hold online. But, I found the phone process to be easy enough. I called Flying Club at 1-800-365-9500 and told the agent about what flights I found online. She confirmed that it would cost 25,000 Flying Club miles and $11.20 for the two passengers. I explained that I was transferring in miles and asked to put the award on hold. She was able to lock in a 72-hour hold for these award flights. The call took less than seven minutes.

Transferring Points

As points must be transferred in 1,000-point increments, I had to transfer 20,000 Membership Rewards points to get 26,000 Flying Club miles:

Unfortunately, transfers are only one-way. So, I’ll have another 1,000 Flying Club miles left in the my account for a future redemption. Flying Club miles expire if you don’t have activity within 36 months — so you don’t have to worry as much about losing your leftover miles quickly.

The transfer process can take “up to 48 hours for the transfer to be completed.” In December 2015 testing, TPG found that Membership Rewards to Flying Club is an instant transfer. I checked 14 minutes after initiating the transfer and the miles were already in my Flying Club account.

Ticketing the Held Award

In order to ticket the award you have on hold, you’re going to have to call Flying Club (again 1-800-365-9500). This time when I called it took a while longer to connect with an agent. After a 15+ minute hold, working with an agent to ticket the hold took only a few minutes.

Slightly Riskier, But Easier Alternative

Instead of going through the process of calling to hold and then calling back to ticket, there’s a slightly riskier alternative. When finding award availability online, you can transfer the points at that time and hope that the points hit your Flying Club account while the award availability is still there. Considering how fast the points transfer, this should be rather low-risk. But there is a chance you’ll end up with Flying Club miles you don’t have an immediate use for.

Bottom Line

Don’t forget about foreign mileage accounts. You can often get great value out of your hard-earned points by transferring them to take advantage of sweet spots — especially when there’s a transfer bonus.

In this case, we scored award flights that were running $341 each one-way for just 10,000 transferred Amex points plus $5.60 of taxes and fees each. Even if we write-off the leftover Flying Club miles from the transfer, we got 3.4 cents of value from these Membership Rewards points. Hopefully you can do even better!

The Platinum Card® from American Express

WELCOME OFFER: 100,000 Points Terms Apply.


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, up to $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber Cash annually (only for use in the U.S.)  (Enrollment required for select benefits)

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

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. And if you fly, you can receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year after you select a qualifying airline and incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at select airports and stadiums.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
See Pay Over Time APR
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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.