Starting tomorrow and through December 29, the U.S. American Express Membership Rewards program is offering a 35% bonus on transfers to Virgin Atlantic.
The bonus offer should show up at membershiprewards.com/virginatlantic by sometime mid-morning on November 27th.
While it’s a good opportunity to top off an existing Virgin Atlantic account that already has a decent mileage stash (I have a bunch of points from signing up for Bank of America’s Virgin Atlantic American Express about six months ago, and I usually credit my one-day Avis rentals to Virgin for the 1000 miles per rental), it’s not necessarily a great deal otherwise.
Not only does Virgin Atlantic add fuel surcharges onto its award tickets, e.g. a San Francisco – London business class roundtrip will currently add $896 in fuel surcharges in addition to already hefty taxes for departing the U.K. in a premium class of service, but their award chart isn’t always the least expensive way to access awards on their flights. Which means you may be able to get awards on Virgin for a similar number of Amex points even without a bonus.
For instance, New York JFK – London in Virgin’s Upper Class is only 63,000 miles roundtrip when booked through American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner ANA. Using the transfer bonus to Virgin right now is a better deal — because the 80,000 Virgin miles the award will cost will only take 60,000 Amex points with this bonus.
But it’s an example of how you can get deals similar to what’s offered with the bonus, even when one isn’t running.
Meanwhile, a 30% bonus on Membership Rewards transfers to British Airways comes December 3rd. So the two major U.K. airlines will be head-to-head in the American transfer game for a short while.
Update: Lucky reminds that Virgin Atlantic points currently transfer to Hilton HHonors at 1:2, meaning with this bonus you can move Amex points to Virgin to Hilton and effectively get 2.7 Hilton points per Membership Rewards point. I wouldn’t do this. Since I value a Hilton point at half a cent apiece, I’d be getting only 1.35 cents per Amex point. Not good.
Ben and I had a long debate on the value of HHonors points, he values them at 0.8 cents, meaning he things he gets 2.16 cents per point out of the deal. Not really what I’m looking for out of my Membership Rewards redemptions, but marginally acceptable.
Since Ben is wrong about the value of HHonors points, don’t do it unless you specificaily need to top off a Hilton HHonors account at the margin for an award you’re going to be redeeming in the near-term.