I got an email over the weekend about the Virgin American co-branded American Express products from Bank of America. They’re tempting, to a certain degree.
I blogged the cards when they were introduced in June. 1.5 miles per dollar on all spend is intriguing, but not all that desirable for me. (There are also some nice perks towards elite status as well, so this card may be indispensable for the regular Virgin flyer.)
Their award charts are expensive, for awards beyond Heathrow in particular, and their fuel surcharges are noxious.
Personally I prefer redeeming ANA miles for Virgin flights (transferred into ANA from American Express Membership Rewards):
- Washington-Dulles-Heathrow in Upper Class is 90,000 Virgin miles or 68,000 ANA miles, and ANA charges about half the taxes that Virgin does on the same ticket (so a couple hundred dollar savings).
- New York-JFK-Heathrow is only 63,000 ANA miles…
Now, Virgin’s program is still where I credit all of my Avis rentals unless there’s a special promo like Delta’s 9,999 bonus miles per rental offered back in July. I get my 1000 Virgin miles per rental even on one-day rentals and even on the lowest discounted rates. Of course Hertz rentals I credit to bmi.
Bank of America also offers an Asiana co-branded American Express that I desperately want to like, since it earns 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases and Asiana is a Star Alliance carrier. But it suffers from the defect of Asiana’s redemption chart — awards are just incredibly pricey, 2 miles in many cases really are like 1 in other programs.
So, alas, I don’t make use of either the Virgin Atlantic or the Asiana card, although either could be just the thing for certain folks.