American Express is offering a 50% bonus on transfers from Membership Rewards to Virgin America Elevate through March 10.
American Express Membership Rewards transfer bonuses to Virgin America are somewhat frequent. For instance,
- September 2015: 25% transfer bonus plus elite status
- Winter 2015: 35% transfer bonus
- April 2014: 30% transfer bonus
- January 2014: 40% transfer bonus
- Fall 2013: 40% transfer bonus
American Express hasn’t offered a 50% transfer bonus since November 2012 though.
Normally American Express points transfer 2:1 into Virgin America.
My rule of thumb is that Virgin America’s points are deflated, that one Virgin America point is worth about 2 points in a European airline frequent flyer program.
You can use the points for about 2.2 cents apiece towards travel on Virgin America, or for fixed-point redemptions on their partners. Their points are reasonably good for redeeming on partners (with fuel surcharges). Transferring to Virgin America to redeem on Virgin America doesn’t get great value.
Where this does get a little bit interesting is partner redemptions. They do have partners, none of which offer out of this world value but some of which can be strategically useful, for instance:
- Emirates. New York – Dubai roundtrip on Emirates is 95,000 points plus ~ $1400 in taxes/fees. New York-Milan roundtrip on Emirates is 59,000 points and ~ $670 in taxes/fees. One-way awards are permitted.
- Virgin Atlantic. JFK-London in Virgin Upper Class is 35,000 points roundtrip plus ~ $1000 in taxes/fees.
- Virgin Australia. Los Angeles – Sydney is 80,000 points roundtrip in business class (compare to 160,000 Delta miles). Short-haul business class within Australia is quite reasonable.
- Singapore Airlines. Short-haul regional business class on Singapore can be quite attractive, eg. Singapore – Bangkok roundtrip is 13,000 points and ~ $45 in taxes/fees
- Hawaiian. Hawaiian Airlines West Coast – Hawaii is 20,000 points roundtrip in coach. First class is 50,000 points. And no fuel surcharges apply.
Whether you should take advantage of this offer hinges on the extent to which these and similar redemptions are appealing and match your plans, in my view. But for most folks I’d advise against.
Terms and conditions:
Minimum transfer is 200 Membership Rewards points. Redeem for this exclusive offer from 12:00 a.m. CT on February 10, 2016 to 11:59 p.m. CT on March 10, 2016, to receive 50% additional Elevate points. Additional Elevate points will be awarded at the time of transfer. For each conversion of points into the Frequent Flyer program of a U.S. airline, a fee of $0.0006 per point, with a maximum fee of $99, will be charged to your Card account. We charge this fee to offset the federal excise tax we must pay on such conversions. The fee may be more or less than the actual amount of the excise tax we pay on any individual conversion. We may offer you the option to redeem points to cover this fee.