Virgin America is offering a bonus on purchase of miles that gets progressively larger the more miles you buy, up to a 50% bonus.

This applies to purchases through January 31. The maximum points you can purchase in a year is 20,000.

Buying 20,000 miles nets a 10,000 mile bonus. That means you get 30,000 miles for $1040, or about 3.5 cents a mile.

The thing to remember is that Virgin America’s award chart is a bit different from legacy carriers, so in some ways that equates to buying miles from such other carriers for a bit over two pennies. I’m not a buyer at that price, but for topping off towards an award it’s a non-crazy price.

For instance, buying 30,000 miles is enough for a one-way San Francisco – London award in Upper Class on Virgin Atlantic, but that $1040 mileage purchase will need to be paired with $600 in taxes and fees.

It’s also two-thirds of the miles needed for a one-way business class award from Los Angeles to Australia on Virgin Australia.

Point purchases are processed by, so to answer a common question about such transactions they do not post as travel or airfare to the credit card used for the purchase (and thus won’t earn applicable category bonuses).

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  3. stacey said,

    Thanks for this analysis Gary! Even with the ridiculous surcharges $1600 and change from the west coast to London in Upper Class is still a good deal-(ish).

    Even better is the Virgin Australia option of course – would you book these through Virgin America over the phone and where would you check for award availability? (on the Virgin Australia site?)


  4. Gary said,

    @stacey – book over the phone, check availability either on virgin australia’s site (you need to use a regional address to create an account, and look only for low availability) or the delta site

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