30% Bonus on Transfers From American Express to Virgin Atlantic Through July 1

American Express is running a 30% bonus on transfers to Virgin Atlantic through July 1.

Notably going to the program’s transfer page shows the standard 1:1 conversion rate:

It’s only once I log into my American Express account that I see the transfer bonus (so 1:1.3).

American Express seems to offer transfer bonuses to Virgin Atlantic semi-regularly, even more than once a year. Back in September there was even an American Express and a Citibank bonus on Virgin Atlantic transfers going on at the same time. (Chase points transfer to Virgin Atlantic as well.)

Virgin Atlantic miles aren’t worth as much as other miles. However they do have strategic uses and I believe the single best one is ANA first class roundtrip from the Central U.S. and East Coast for just 120,000 miles per person. (San Francisco and Los Angeles is just 110,000 miles roundtrip, while business class runs 90,000 or 95,000 miles depending on the city.)

Here’s the Virgin Atlantic award chart for travel on ANA:

  • While Virgin Atlantic does hit you with fuel surcharges when redeeming miles where paid tickets would incur fuel surcharges, Japan awards have fairly modest fuel surcharges.

  • Awards are round trip only. And travel beyond Japan would be a separate round trip award.

  • You cannot book these awards online.

  • Virgin Atlantic awards have a $50 per passenger change fee, and a cancel/redeposit fee of $50 as well. That’s low by US program standards, but there are no changes at all within 24 hours of departure (you can cancel for $50 but you won’t get your miles back, just the taxes paid).

  • You can put an award on hold for 24 hours.

I believe that the ANA first class awards with Virgin Atlantic miles are too good to last over time, since the best deals — those orders of magnitude better than what most programs deliver — always go away eventually.

Another strong use of Virgin Atlantic miles is Delta business class between the US and Europe for 50,000 points each way, and Asia for 60,000 points each way, which becomes an amazing deal with the 30% transfer bonus. When flying from the US, avoid the UK, and you can avoid surcharges as well.

There are other award chart sweet spots, like Australia and New Zealand, but availability for those is fairly non-existent.

Ultimately I don’t value Virgin Atlantic miles as much as most other currencies, though they have their sweet spots. It’s nice to be able to move points there strategically, from a variety of different programs, especially with a bonus. I’d only make the transfer to redeem a specific award, rather than doing to preemptively or viewing the program as a store of value.

(HT: One Mile at a Time)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Gary, maybe it’s just operator error(me), but a simple US–>LHR round trip in Upper Class is showing over $1500 in taxes and fees.
    I know Virgin “enhanced” their FF program recently but this seems odd given that this itinerary is RT originating in the US.
    This same fare is usually about $300-400, most of which is that lame UK tax.
    Might this be better to call Virgin(and hold for 15 minutes) to get one of their agents to price this “correctly” or is this the new normal at Virgin?

  2. @Geoff Virdin charges fuel surchares on tickets to LHR regardless if the trip start in the US.. For Upper Class with UK taxes it gets pricey. You say the same fare is $300-400. Dont know what you mean by that. Economy tickets have lower fuel surcharges due to the UK taxes are less. If you could book the fare from the US to LHR on Delta then no surcharges to teh UK. You still pay the UK tax but no fuel surcharge. THe issue will be does Delta show the space and how many miles. Delta owns 49% of Virgin. You can book Virgin metal searching on Delta.com.

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