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.)
- 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)