4

Here’s a great deal to Europe with miles: you can fly from the Eastern United States to London for 13,000 Membership Rewards, Ultimate Rewards, or ThankYou Points plus $135. From other parts of the country, you’ll pay only a few more miles.

On some routes, award space is WIDE OPEN year round, including the heart of summer 2016. Here is the award space for July 2016 from New York to London. Days with a red, white, and purple line have award space in economy, Premium Economy, and Upper Class.

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 3.26.05 PMVirgin Atlantic Awards

Virgin Atlantic flies to the UK from 12 US cities and offers great prices for award tickets in economy, Premium Economy, and Upper Class.

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 3.34.52 PM

The normal prices are only:

  • 17,500+ miles in economy to London, depending on starting city
  • 27,500+ miles in Premium Economy to London, depending on starting city
  • 40,000+ miles in flat bed Upper Class to London, depending on starting city

Two Week Sale on Economy and Premium Economy Awards

Until May 11, 2016, Virgin Atlantic is discounting the miles price of economy awards between North America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, India, Africa, and Asia and the UK by 30%. Neither Premium Economy nor Upper Class awards are discounted during this sale. Discounted award prices (one ways bookable for half the miles price) originating in the US:

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 2.44.51 PM

Book now to lock in the rate; you can book travel through March 27, 2017 at the discounted prices.

Transfer Bonuses

This is not the first time we’ve seen Virgin Atlantic run a very similar sale. In just February of this year, they were offering the same 30% discount on Economy and Premium Economy awards between the same cities and London.

ThankYou Points and Membership Rewards (1:1 transfer parters of Virgin Atlantic) have both offered transfer bonuses of 25% to 35% to Virgin Atlantic miles in the past.

You can stack a transfer bonus and an award sale though they haven’t overlapped in the past.

For example, if last summer’s 25% transfer bonus of ThankYou Points happens again, you could transfer 10,000 ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic miles, and those 12,500 Virgin Atlantic miles (10,000 x 1.25) would be enough to book a one way award to London today! Although this kind of speculative transferring always comes with the risk that either the 30% off sale doesn’t happen again (which wouldn’t be so bad considering the normal rate would run you just 5,000 more miles), or you can’t find award space.

Out-of-Pocket Price

Virgin Atlantic awards have fuel surcharges. You cannot avoid them.

Virgin Atlantic roundtrip awards will feature a departure from Great Britain, which will incur exorbitant taxes. You can easily avoid them by using this sale to book one way awards to London only. Then use a different type of miles to return from a low tax city in Europe. You see more of Europe for very few miles and very low out of pocket expense.

For instance, a one way award from New York, Newark, Boston, DC, or Chicago to London will cost 12,250 miles + $135 in economy, even over the heart of summer.

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 5.29.16 PM

That is a manageable out-of-pocket price that is very much worth paying to save a ton of miles over awards using other miles.

But let’s look at a return from London to the United States. Now a one way in economy is 12,250 miles + a ridiculous $257.Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 3.22.36 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-26 at 5.31.37 PM

Strategy to Lower or Eliminate Out-of-Pocket Price

To reiterate, just book the eastbound to London during this sale. Book the westbound return from somewhere cheaper in Europe with a different type of miles, perhaps United or American. (Get between London and Europe on a train or a low cost carrier.)

You can even eliminate the out-of-pocket cash needed by paying for the Virgin Atlantic Award with your Citi Prestige® Card.

The Citi Prestige® Card offer a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year that offsets your first $250 in spending on airlines with the card. Taxes and fuel surcharges on an award ticket definitely count. If your taxes and fuel surcharges are less than $250, the entire amount will be credited back on your statement. If they are more than $250, $250 will be credited back.

The card also comes with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months, which can be transferred to Flying Blue miles.

Application LinkCiti Prestige® Card

Is This The Best Deal to Europe?

Other than WOW Air’s $99 fares from Baltimore, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco to Iceland, yes.

Here are some almost-as-good deals (copied from my list of the best awards between all regions):

Upper Class?

Luxury lovers will want to know about the prices in Upper Class to Europe on Virgin Atlantic, since Upper Class is a fantastic business class product.

Unfortunately the current 30% discount does not apply to Upper Class, so the fuel surcharges and miles required to fly Upper Class are about triple economy. At those prices, I don’t think Upper Class is a great deal unless you are miles poor and cash rich at the moment. For instance, New York to London is 40k miles + $420, and Los Angeles to London one way is 50k miles + $458 in Upper Class.

Getting the Miles

Virgin Atlantic is a 1:1 transfer partner of ThankYou Points, Ultimate Rewards, and Membership Rewards plus Virgin Atlantic issues an American credit card with a “90,000 mile” sign up bonus.

The Citi Prestige® Card is offering 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.

The Sapphire Preferred Card offers 50,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.  While I can not directly link to the current Sapphire Preferred offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

Searching for and Booking the Award

You can search award space one month at a time right on the Virgin Atlantic home page. You don’t even need to be a member of the Flying Club to search. Just fill in the search form and select “Spend your miles.”

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 7.56.12 PM

Whatever space you find this way is bookable with Flying Club miles, there are no blackout dates for this sale. You can also book right on virginatlantic.com.

Results look like this. At the bottom of each date are colors that signify award space.

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 7.57.51 PM

Red is economy, white is Premium Economy, and purple is Upper Class.

Screen-Shot-2015-06-09-at-3.52.00-PM

Bottom Line

Europe is within reach for as little as 12,250 miles one way if you book in the next week for trips for the next 11 months. Where will you go this summer?

Hat Tip PointsCentric

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

31

The Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard® is offering up to 90,000 bonus miles through January 10, 2016, but there are quite a few strings attached.

Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 11.33.06 AM

The bottom line is that you earn 127,500 Virgin Atlantic miles after spending $25,000 in the first year on the card and paying $180 in annual fees. The offer breaks down like this:

25,000 Immediate Miles after First Purchase, Adding Authorized Users, and Paying Annual Fee

  • 20,000 Flying Club bonus miles after your first retail purchase
  • Earn 2,500 Flying Club miles for each authorized user you add to the card up to 5,000 Flying Club bonus miles
  • The card has a $90 annual fee that is NOT waived the first year.

This is 25,000 total miles just for opening the card, adding two authorized users, making one purchase, and paying the $90 annual fee.

Miles as Soon as You Spend $12,000 within 6 Months

  • 50,000 additional Flying Club bonus miles after you spend at least $12,000 in qualifying purchases within 6 months of your account open date

We’re up to 75,000 bonus miles. Plus the card earns 1.5 miles per dollar on all purchases, so you’d have 93,000 Virgin Atlantic miles after spending $12,000 on the card.

Miles Next Year

  • Earn 7,500 bonus miles upon anniversary if you spend $15,000 in a year on the card
  • Earn 15,000 bonus miles upon anniversary if you spend $25,000 in a year on the card
  • The card has a $90 annual fee that you’d have to pay again to get these anniversary miles.

The first anniversary bonus threshold is only $3,000 beyond the minimum spending requirement, so that seems like a no-brainer if you’ve gotten this far. You’d get 12,000 miles for that $3,000 in spending (4,500 for the normal spending and 7,500 bonus) or 4 miles per dollar.

The last 7,500 bonus miles would cost another $10,000 in spending, so the return isn’t nearly as good.

If you spent $25,000 on the card in the first year (and $12,000 was in the first six months, and you added two authorized users), your total haul would be 127,500 Virgin Atlantic miles.

  • 90,000 for the various bonuses
  • 37,500 for $25,000 * 1.5 miles per dollar on all spending

You would also have paid $180 in annual fees.

Three Reasons Why You Want Virgin Atlantic Miles

For details on the current award space picture of three sweet spots on the Virgin Atlantic chart, see Please Do Be Tempted by Virgin Atlantic Transfer Bonus.

1. AMONG THE CHEAPEST ECONOMY AND PREMIUM ECONOMY AWARDS TO EUROPE (IN MILES)

The first reason to get Virgin Atlantic miles is that economy class awards to Europe require far fewer miles than competitors’ charge. From Boston, New York, Washington, and Chicago, you only need 17,500 Virgin Atlantic miles (14k ThankYou Points) for a one way flight to London.

And taxes and fees on the one way from the United States to Europe are only $135!

Combine a one way from the eastern United States to Europe for 14k ThankYou Points plus $135 and return from a low tax country–like Spain or Switzerland–to the United States on a one way award with United or American miles for a very cheap European vacation.

I wrote more about searching Virgin Atlantic award space, the fuel surcharges you’ll see, and booking the space in Limited Time to Europe: 14k Points.

Or you can fly one way from parts of the United States to the United Kingdom in Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy for only 27,500 miles (22k ThankYou Points) and $231.

Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic is more akin to United First Class on domestic flights than United Economy Plus. It’s not just a big seat; Premium Economy comes with all the amenities in this promotional video.

Virgin Atlantic has frequent 30% off sales on awards between the United States and Europe. One just ended February 24. If you transfer now speculatively with a 25% transfer bonus and another 30% off sale comes up in the future, you” pay only 10,000 ThankYou Points one way to London or 16,000 ThankYou Points one way in Premium Economy. That’s un-freakin-beatable!

Here are the sweet spots on the Virgin Atlantic award chart.

2. INCREDIBLE VALUE PARTNER AWARDS

Virgin Atlantic has several airline partners.

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 3.20.02 AM

Each has its own award chart, and the values can be good, especially with this transfer bonus. Best of all, on many partners, Virgin Atlantic doesn’t collect any fuel surcharges!

 

Award prices including unavoidable government taxes (none include fuel surcharges):

  • Atlanta to Buenos Aires roundtrip in Economy Class on Delta: 45,000 miles (36k TY Points) + $99
  • Los Angeles to Auckland roundtrip in Business Class on Air New Zealand: 125,000 miles (100k TY Points) + $69
  • London to New York roundtrip in Economy Class on Delta: 40,000 miles (32k TY Points) + $186

Here are the sweet spots on the partner award charts.

3. VIRGIN ATLANTIC UPPER CLASS

Virgin Atlantic’s Business Class–called Upper Class–is world class.

Virgin Atlantic offers its Flying Club members the best award availability, but the catch is the fuel surcharges (plus departing London taxes) of around $1,000 per roundtrip award in Upper Class.

While the out-of-pocket cost is a big drawback, the miles prices are very low. New York and Chicago to London are only 40k miles (32k ThankYou Points) one way in Upper Class and Los Angeles and San Francisco to London in Upper Class are only 50k miles (40k ThankYou Points) one way.

Roundtrip Miles Prices to UK with Flying Club Miles listed Economy, Premium Economy, Upper Class from left to righ

Right now award space is excellent in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class for two people who want to fly May and June 2016. For instance, here is Atlanta to London’s calendar. Dates with a purple line underneath have two Upper Class award seats. That’s every day except May 5.

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 2.02.07 PM

If you want to avoid fuel surcharges, Delta miles can be used to book Virgin Atlantic Upper Class for 62.5k miles one way plus taxes and no fuel surcharges.

Should You Get the Virgin Atlantic Credit Card?

Probably not. I know the headline bonus miles number is humungous, but the miles are not as valuable as American, United, or Alaska miles, and the spending requirement is huge.

Only get the card if you have gotten other, better cards already, you can easily meet the big spending requirement on this card, and you can get good value from one of the few truly good uses of the card’s miles.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

Transfers of Citi ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic miles will have a 25% bonus through 11:59 PM ET today (April 6, 2016.)

Screen Shot 2016-03-07 at 3.14.37 PM

This is a fantastic deal that sets up a chance to book one way awards to Europe for 10,000 ThankYou Points + $135.

You must transfer ThankYou Points in 1,000 point increments, so until April 6:

  • 1,000 ThankYou Points = 1,250 Virgin Atlantic miles

Getting ThankYou Points

Three Reasons Why You Want Virgin Atlantic Miles

For details on the current award space picture of three sweet spots on the Virgin Atlantic chart, see Please Do Be Tempted by Virgin Atlantic Transfer Bonus.

1. AMONG THE CHEAPEST ECONOMY AND PREMIUM ECONOMY AWARDS TO EUROPE (IN MILES)

The first reason to get Virgin Atlantic miles is that economy class awards to Europe require far fewer miles than competitors’ charge. From Boston, New York, Washington, and Chicago, you only need 17,500 Virgin Atlantic miles (14k ThankYou Points) for a one way flight to London.

And taxes and fees on the one way from the United States to Europe are only $135!

Combine a one way from the eastern United States to Europe for 14k ThankYou Points plus $135 and return from a low tax country–like Spain or Switzerland–to the United States on a one way award with United or American miles for a very cheap European vacation.

I wrote more about searching Virgin Atlantic award space, the fuel surcharges you’ll see, and booking the space in Limited Time to Europe: 14k Points.

Or you can fly one way from parts of the United States to the United Kingdom in Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy for only 27,500 miles (22k ThankYou Points) and $231.

Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic is more akin to United First Class on domestic flights than United Economy Plus. It’s not just a big seat; Premium Economy comes with all the amenities in this promotional video.

Virgin Atlantic has frequent 30% off sales on awards between the United States and Europe. One just ended February 24. If you transfer now speculatively with a 25% transfer bonus and another 30% off sale comes up in the future, you” pay only 10,000 ThankYou Points one way to London or 16,000 ThankYou Points one way in Premium Economy. That’s un-freakin-beatable!

Here are the sweet spots on the Virgin Atlantic award chart.

2. INCREDIBLE VALUE PARTNER AWARDS

Virgin Atlantic has several airline partners.

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 3.20.02 AM

Each has its own award chart, and the values can be good, especially with this transfer bonus. Best of all, on many partners, Virgin Atlantic doesn’t collect any fuel surcharges!

 

Award prices including unavoidable government taxes (none include fuel surcharges):

  • Atlanta to Buenos Aires roundtrip in Economy Class on Delta: 45,000 miles (36k TY Points) + $99
  • Los Angeles to Auckland roundtrip in Business Class on Air New Zealand: 125,000 miles (100k TY Points) + $69
  • London to New York roundtrip in Economy Class on Delta: 40,000 miles (32k TY Points) + $186

Here are the sweet spots on the partner award charts.

3. VIRGIN ATLANTIC UPPER CLASS

Virgin Atlantic’s Business Class–called Upper Class–is world class.

Virgin Atlantic offers its Flying Club members the best award availability, but the catch is the fuel surcharges (plus departing London taxes) of around $1,000 per roundtrip award in Upper Class.

While the out-of-pocket cost is a big drawback, the miles prices are very low. New York and Chicago to London are only 40k miles (32k ThankYou Points) one way in Upper Class and Los Angeles and San Francisco to London in Upper Class are only 50k miles (40k ThankYou Points) one way.

Roundtrip Miles Prices to UK with Flying Club Miles listed Economy, Premium Economy, Upper Class from left to righ

Right now award space is excellent in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class for two people who want to fly May and June 2016. For instance, here is Atlanta to London’s calendar. Dates with a purple line underneath have two Upper Class award seats. That’s every day except May 5.

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 2.02.07 PM

If you want to avoid fuel surcharges, Delta miles can be used to book Virgin Atlantic Upper Class for 62.5k miles one way plus taxes and no fuel surcharges.

Bottom Line

There’s a 25% transfer bonus from Citi ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic miles through 11:59 PM ET today (April 6, 2016.)

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

Waikiki Sunset

You can get both the Citi Prestige with 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first three months and the Citi ThankYou Premier with 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months, as long as you apply at least eight days apart.

Meet both minimum spending requirements, and you’ll have at least 96,000 ThankYou Points, in one account if you follow the simple steps to combine your accounts.

Here are the top eight ways I would use the 96,000 point sign up bonus for flights in Economy and First Class to Hawaii, Europe, South America, or anywhere else in the world.

1. ~$2,136 in American Airlines Flights

Each of the 96,000 points can be used like cash toward any American Airlines flight at a rate of 1.6 cents per point. That’s $1,536 worth of American Airlines flights.

And on every one of those flights, you’ll earn American Airlines miles because the airline sees your ticket as a cash ticket. The exact number of miles is determined by where you actually fly, but 25,000 American Airlines miles is a reasonable estimate. That’s enough miles to redeem for one way cross-country in American Airline’s new flat bed Business Class or one way in economy to Europe, Asia, or South America at off peak prices. Redeeming these 25,000 miles well should be worth around $600.

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 2.22.23 PM
American’s Flat Bed Cross-Country Business Class

That’s about $2,136 in American Airlines flights from the 96,000 original ThankYou Points. I covered this topic more thoroughly in Get $2,600 in American Airlines Flights in Five Steps from Only Two Cards. (The extra $500 in that title comes from the $250 Air Travel Credits on the Citi Prestige.)

2. Four Roundtrips to Europe, Israel, or North Africa

You can transfer 100,000 ThankYou Points to AirFrance Flying Blue miles and book four roundtrip Promo Awards to Europe.

IMG_20131004_140450
Head to Munich for Oktoberfest for 25,000 miles

Every month, Air France releases a list of American cities. You can fly from the listed cities to anywhere in Europe, Israel, Morocco, or Tunisia for as little as 12,500 Flying Blue miles + taxes + a $55 fuel surcharge each way. Usually you have one month to book awards that must be flown 1-4 months in the future.

Right now, Promo Awards are bookable for summer travel, so the list isn’t as good as usual. But in June and July when Fall travel becomes bookable as Promo Awards, I’d expect to see more cities offered like New York, Dallas, Houston, Washington, Miami, and other places where Air France and KLM fly.

Award space is usually widely available during the Promo Awards dates, and because Flying Blue groups Israel with Europe, you can also fly to Israel for as little as 25,000 miles + taxes + $110 roundtrip.

If your city isn’t on the Promo Awards list, you still have great options to Europe with ThankYou Points. You can transfer 110,000 ThankYou Points to Singapore KrisFlyer miles and book two roundtrips to Europe in United economy with NO fuel surcharges. Singapore has access to the United Saver award space on united.com, so I was easily able to book myself Washington DC to Madrid for 27,500 Singapore miles + $20 last month.

3. Two Roundtrips to Buenos Aires or Rio

You can transfer 90,000 ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic miles and book two roundtrips in Delta economy to Southern South America including Brazil, Argentina, and Chile. Delta would charge 120,000 miles for the same award space.

Virgin Atlantic will have access to any Delta award space to Southern South America that you can find for 30,000 miles one way on delta.com. Search from your home airport to South America or your home airport to Atlanta and Atlanta to South America separately if necessary.

I don’t want to over-sell or under-sell this award space. It isn’t available every day, but there is plenty even at great times to travel if you are flexible. For instance, here is the available space in orange to Rio de Janeiro in September and October.

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 1.51.34 PM Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 1.51.39 PM

Here is the space in orange to Buenos Aires in November and December.Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 1.51.55 PM Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 1.52.21 PM

To book the space you find on delta.com with Virgin Atlantic miles, call Virgin Atlantic. Expect to pay 45,000 Virgin Atlantic miles and about $80 in taxes per person for a roundtrip.

4. Four Roundtrips to Hawaii (90k)

You can transfer 900,000 ThankYou Points to Air France Flying Blue miles and book four roundtrip awards to Hawaii with Delta award space. Delta would charge 135,000 miles for the same award space.

Waikiki Sunset
Waikiki Sunset

You can initially search on delta.com or airfrance.us; the latter is where you’ll eventually book.

Award space is more available than you might think, especially if you search in winter. Even though I think winter is the best time to visit Hawaii for a contrast between 40 degrees at home and 80 degrees at the beach in Hawaii, it is the low season.

Here is award space from Los Angeles to Honolulu for four people in March. All the orange days that say 22,500 will have space that is bookable for 15,000 miles one way on airfrance.us. Search from your home airport to all four major Hawaiian islands to find your dream award space.

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.03.22 PM Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.03.45 PM

5. One and a Half Roundtrips in First Class (flat bed) to Hawaii (900k)

You can transfer 90,000 ThankYou Points to Singapore miles and book one-and-a-half roundtrips in United First Class to Hawaii. You would need 120,000 United miles to book the same award space.

All United First Class seats from Newark and Washington DC to Hawaii are flat beds and some flights from Houston and San Francisco also feature beds. I’ve flown all four routes on flat beds, and it’s very nice to be able to get some great sleep on flights that are often longer than flights from the East Coast to Europe.

To book United flat beds to Hawaii with Singapore miles, search united.com for Saver award space then call Singapore. In addition to the miles, you’ll just pay about $11 in taxes roundtrip per person.

If you’re not sure whether your flight will have seats or beds, click View Seats on united.com. These squares mean regular recliner seats.

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.18.24 PM

These icons mean beds.

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.22.09 PM

Right now the flat bed award space isn’t fantastic to Hawaii, though there is some via San Francisco on the daily 767-400ER flight with flat beds in First Class. United tends to open up more award space in the last few weeks before departure, though, and Singapore doesn’t charge a fee for booking within three weeks of departure like some airlines. Waiting may be your best bet.

6. Six One Ways to London (105k)

7. Four One Ways to London in Premium Economy (110k)

Transfer 105,000 ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic miles for six one ways to London in Virgin Atlantic economy or 110,000 ThankYou Points for four one ways in Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy, which looks a lot like domestic First Class in the United States.

Award space is fairly good in both cabins and is searchable and bookable on virginatlantic.com.

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.26.04 PM

Here is the award space for three people in October from Washington DC to London.Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.26.43 PM

So why did I phrase this as six and four one ways instead of three and two roundtrips?

Not only do these awards have fuel surcharges, but there is a gigantic tax for departing London.

For economy, one way to London costs 17,500 miles + $134.60. That’s $129 in fuel surcharges, and $5.60 in taxes.Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.27.25 PM

The return costs the same miles + $323. That represents a fuel surcharge plus almost $200 in taxes for departing London.Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.27.29 PM

Three roundtrips would cost 105,000 miles + $1,373.

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.27.42 PM

Six one ways to London would cost the same miles but only $808 in taxes and fuel surcharges. Then move onto somewhere else in Europe with the $570 in savings and return with a different type of miles to save on taxes and fuel surcharges.

We see the same story for Premium Economy redemptions. You pay 27,500 miles + $235 going east…
Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.28.51 PM …but more than $300 extra heading west.Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 2.28.55 PM

I can make a strong case for paying 27,500 miles + $235 one way in Premium Economy. Most airlines charge 27,500 miles or more in regular economy, and Premium Economy is a much bigger seat with more legroom, and more freebies. It’s worth paying an extra $200, I think.

But the return is too much. Fly back from the continent with miles that don’t collect a fuel surcharge.

8. Three Roundtrips to Peru (105k)

You can transfer 105,000 ThankYou Points to Flying Blue miles to fly three roundtrips to Peru or anywhere else in Northern South America on Delta flights. Delta would charge 135,000 miles for the same award space.

Search on airfrance.us and book there with no fees or fuel surcharges.

Bottom Line

You can get both the Citi Prestige and Citi ThankYou Premier, each with a huge sign up bonus ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months, as long as you apply at least eight days apart. Meet both minimum spending requirements, and you’ll have at least 96,000 ThankYou Points, and probably more since both offer 3x and 2x category bonuses.

You have a ton of options with 96,000+ ThankYou Points. You can use them like cash toward American Airlines flights or transfer the points to Singapore, Flying Blue, or Virgin Atlantic miles. Great awards are available to Hawaii, Europe, and South America; or when using the points like cash you can fly any flight to anywhere.

  • Application Link: Citi Prestige
  • Application Link: Citi ThankYou Premier
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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

A recent post by View from the Wing said not “to be tempted” by the current 25% transfer bonus from Citi ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic miles. His argument was that there are so few good uses of Virgin Atlantic miles that he had to dig “deep in the barrel” to come up with any.

Well I dug for 15 seconds to find two great uses to South America and Europe. My message: do be tempted by the transfer bonus.

Top of the Barrel Use #1: South America for 40% Off

Go to delta.com and search for economy award space from your home airport to Southern South America, places like Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. On the search results, check the box “Delta Only” and update the results.

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 3.30.33 PM

Now any roundtrip you find for 60,000 Delta miles plus taxes can be booked for 45,000 Virgin Atlantic miles and the same taxes.

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 3.12.11 PM

During the 25% transfer bonus, that’s 36,000 ThankYou points, basically a 40% discount on Delta’s already fair price.

Top of the Barrel Use #2: Europe for 10k Points

If you live in one of the dozen cities served by Virgin Atlantic, go search for award space in economy over the heart of summer.

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 3.12.55 PM You’ll find that most Eastern cities to London are 17,500 miles + $135 one way.Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 3.13.19 PM Western cities are a little more, 21,250 miles + $135.Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 3.14.42 PM

During the 25% transfer bonus that’s 14,000 or 17,000 ThankYou Points + $135 for one way to Europe. (The return is a worse deal, so return with a different type of miles.) And you can do even better!

There are frequent 30% off award sales, like the one that ended a few weeks ago, that bring the one way price from the Eastern United States down to 12,250 miles one way. If you transfer 10,000 ThankYou Points to 12,500 Virgin Atlantic miles now and wait, it is very likely–though by no means guaranteed–that another such sale will come along, and you can book a one way award to Europe for those 10,000 points + $135 in taxes and fuel surcharges.

Is This Transfer Bonus for Everyone?

Of course not! Virgin Atlantic runs what I think of as a niche frequent flyer program. It has some great uses like the two listed here and a few more here and here, but for most awards it represents poor value. That must be why View from the Wing is urging you not to be tempted by the transfer bonus. But I think that completely misunderstands transfer bonuses.

There hasn’t been a transfer bonus for at least several years that was a good deal without a specific high value use in mind. (The last one I did just because it was such a good deal was one between Delta and Membership Rewards in 2011 or so. You transferred 50k MR to 50k Delta and got 15k MR back as I recall.)

Transfer bonuses are only ever a good deal if you have a high value use in mind, usually an immediate high value use. There are immediate high value uses for this transfer bonus. If one works for you, be tempted to transfer. If not, don’t transfer.

Getting ThankYou Points

The Citi Prestige® Card comes with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.

My review of the Citi Prestige Card which explains its many benefits like $250 in airfare or airline fee credits per calendar year, access to the American Airlines Admirals Clubs and Priority Pass lounges, and 3x points per dollar on air travel and hotels.

Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

This post is part of a series about how to maximize value when transferring your Citi ThankYou Points to airline partners.

Virgin Atlantic has many award charts when redeeming its Flying Club miles. There is one award chart to fly Virgin Atlantic and separate award charts for each of its partners (scoll to page 2). This is a post about sweetspots with Virgin Atlantic miles when redeeming awards on partner airlines. 

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles are easy to accrue. Virgin Atlantic is a 1:1 transfer partner of ThankYou Points, Ultimate Rewards, and Membership Rewards plus Virgin Atlantic issues an American credit card with a “90,000 mile” sign up bonus. Using your Virgin Atlantic miles to book with one of these partners can yield high value awards:

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 4.09.16 PM

Routing Rules

One Way Pricing

According to the Flying Club’s terms and conditions page of Virginatlantic.com: “Partner Rewards flights, except for Virgin Australia, are only valid for round trip travel between the destinations specified by the Reward provider using the routes stipulated by the relevant Reward provider. Members can redeem one-way Reward flights with partner airlines, however the full redemption levels as listed on our website will apply, unless specified on the Participating Company page.”

In other words, one way partner awards can be booked but not for half the price of a roundtrip. It will cost the same as it does to take the roundtrip.

Stopovers and Open Jaws

The information is incomplete on the Virgin Atlantic website, and I didn’t test them out. Share your experiences in the comments. I don’t believe stopovers or open jaws are possible.

Two other rules you’ll want to pay attention to when booking awards with their partners:

  1. Partner airline bookings are not accepted within 72 hours of departure
  2. You cannot mix and match partner airlines on a single itinerary.

While these rules are inhibiting, there are some highly valuable sweetspots on their partner award charts. Each partner airline has it’s own award chart, which can be accessed from the links on the second page of this Flying Club Spending details PDF. Best of all, many of the partners don’t collect fuel surcharges on their flights, so Virgin Atlantic doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on award tickets on those airlines! This is a refreshing difference from redeeming awards with Virgin Atlantic miles on the airline’s own planes, which I covered in part 1 of this Virgin Atlantic post.

Sweetspots on Partner Redemption Charts

  • Atlanta to Buenos Aires roundtrip in Economy Class on Delta: 45,000 miles + $99
  • Los Angeles to Auckland roundtrip in Business Class on Air New Zealand: 125,000 miles + $69
  • London to New York roundtrip in Economy Class on Delta: 40,000 miles + $186

Atlanta to Buenos Aires in roundtrip Economy Class on Delta: 45,000 miles + $99.06 in taxes

60,000 miles is United, American, and Delta charge to travel in Economy roundtrip between the US and Southern South America. (The current off peak season rate for an American Airlines flight is 40,000 miles roundtrip in Economy, however the devaluaation of American Airlines’ miles on March 22 will end that deal.) That makes this a pretty sweet deal.

Los Angeles to Auckland in roundtrip Business Class on Air New Zealand: 125,000 miles + $69.16 in taxes

United charges 160,000 miles roundtrip for the same award space. It currently costs 125,000 American Airlines miles to fly roundtrip between the US and New Zealand in Business Class, but that price will jump up to 160,000 on March 22. The lack of fuel surcharges on the redemption is great news as well considering Air New Zealand flights have high fuel surcharges.

Air New Zealand was notorious for never releasing any Business Class award space between the US and New Zealand, but that has changed, but now they are releasing the space within 90 days of departure.

Screen-Shot-2016-02-09-at-10.47.23-AM
12 to 15 hours on a Boeing 777’s world-class flat bed? More than fine by me

London to New York in roundtrip Economy on Delta: 40,000 miles + $185.96 in taxes

The key here is that the flight originates in London. You can fly the same round trip route originating in New York but it will cost 60,000 miles instead of 40,000, which debunks the sweetspot status. Flights originating in London flying to all of the following cities are also 40,000 miles in Economy: Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Salt Lake City (the Salt Lake City route doesn’t start until May 2016).

Theoretical Sweetspots

  • London to Beijing in roundtrip First Class on Air China: 75,000 miles + estimated $285 in taxes + estimated $400 in fuel surcharges
  • San Francisco to Hong Kong roundtrip in Business Class on Singapore Airlines: 110,000 miles + estimated $77.56 in fuel surcharges

What do I mean by theoretical? I do not have tangible proof that you can book these awards at the moment. But they are theoretically bookable.

London to Beijing in roundtrip First Class on Air China: 75,000 miles + an estimated $285 in taxes + an estimated $400 in fuel surcharges 

Nearly $700 is a lot of out of pocket expense to pay for an award. But 75,000 miles for First Class is incredibly cheap. When I called in and spoke to a Flying Club representative, however, he told me that his computer was giving him an error message that until further notice, Virgin Atlantic miles cannot be used to redeem awards on Air China. This FlyerTalk thread showed evidence to the contrary, that perhaps the problem between the two airlines had been solved. But I spoke to multiple different Flying Club representatives and they all delivered the same message that it was not possible, until further notice. If anyone has had a successful experience booking an Air China award with their Virgin Atlantic miles, please let us know in the comments. That “until further notice” the agents kept tacking on gives me hope.

San Francisco to Hong Kong roundtrip in Business Class on Singapore Airlines: 110,000 miles + an estimated $78 in taxes

There are also amazing prices listed for Singapore Airlines First (Suites) Class. Unfortunately Singapore doesn’t release longhaul Business or First Class award space to Virgin Atlantic, so you can’t book these sweet spots.

Screen-Shot-2013-07-02-at-3.50.15-AM
Singapore Airlines Business Class

Transfer Bonuses

ThankYou Points and Membership Rewards have both offered transfer bonuses of 25% to 35% to Virgin Atlantic miles, so there is a potential for more of these types of promotions in the future. If you had transferred 100,000 ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic miles during last summer’s 25% transfer bonus, your resulting 125,000 Virgin Atlantic miles would be enough to book that roundtrip Business class trip between Los Angeles and Auckland!

Other Useful Tips I Learned From a Prior Call with Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club:

  • Delta awards have no fuel surcharges, just the same government taxes as booking with Delta miles
  • There are no fuel surcharges on Hawaiian Airlines award flights.
  • The Hawaiian award chart says a First Class roundtrip is “from 80,000 miles.” That price only refers to roundtrips from the western US. The actual roundtrip price between New York and Hawaii is 130,000 miles in First Class.
  • There are no fuel surcharges on Virgin America award flights.

Where to Search Award Space for Each Virgin Atlantic Partner

In regards to Virgin America, not all of their flights have award space that Virgin Atlantic has access to. There’s no way to check without calling Virgin Atlantic that I know of. Before calling, I didn’t know what to expect with respect to Virgin America space since Virgin America’s program is revenue-based and doesn’t include a concept of “award space.”

Transferring ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic Miles

Sign into thankyou.com and go to the page listing the 12 airline transfer partners.

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 3.48.11 PM

How to Book Awards with Virgin Atlantic’s Partners

Once your miles post, call the Flying Club at 1 (800) 365-9500. This is the US’s office’s contact number, but if it’s after hours you will be automatically transferred to the UK office which is open 24/7.

Pay your award taxes and fuel surcharges with the Citi Prestige® Card. The first $250 in award taxes, fuel surcharges, airfare, or airline fees per calendar year are refunded to you as a statement credit. If you’ve already maxed out the statement credit, you will still earn 3x ThankYou Points on the award taxes and fuel surcharges.

Getting Citi ThankYou Points to transfer to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

The best card to rack up Virgin Atlantic miles is the:

Bottom Line

Virgin Atlantic miles are easy to collect and can be valuable for booking awards with their 12 partners. There are some great deals on Delta’s, Air New Zealand’s, Air China’s, and Singapore Airlines’ charts, and transfer bonuses make those deals even sweeter. You can get away without paying fuel surcharges on many partner airlines, and ones that do charge them have very low mileage price tags that make up for it.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

This post is part of a series about how to maximize value when transferring your Citi ThankYou Points to airline partners.

Virgin Atlantic has many award charts when redeeming its Flying Club miles. There is one award chart to fly Virgin Atlantic and separate award charts for each of its partners (scroll to page 2). This is a post about sweetspots with Virgin Atlantic miles when flying Virgin Atlantic planes. There will be another post to follow that covers sweetspots on its partner award charts.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles are easy to accrue. Virgin Atlantic is a 1:1 transfer partner of ThankYou Points, Ultimate Rewards, and Membership Rewards plus Virgin Atlantic issues an American credit card with a “90,000 mile” sign up bonus. There are a few valuable sweetspots on its award chart flying Virgin Atlantic metal. Virgin Atlantic also frequently runs great sales and promotions. Another nice perk– their miles don’t expire until three years of inactivity. That’s a longer time period than most programs.

Routing Rules

One Way Pricing & Open Jaws

One way Virgin Atlantic awards that fly Virgin Atlantic cost half the price of roundtrip awards. Since you can book one way awards, a roundtrip can have two open jaws.

Stopovers

The Virgin Atlantic award chart prices awards to and from London. If you want to connect in London, but start and end somewhere else, say Los Angeles to Lagos, you basically pay for two awards: Los Angeles to London + London to Lagos.

That means that technically the answer is that yes you can get a free stopover flying Virgin Atlantic awards on Virgin Atlantic flights, but you won’t get a good deal on awards with a connection or stopover.

Fuel Surcharges

Virgin Atlantic awards unfortunately always include fuel surcharges on their own flights. I am never happy to pay them, but I am not foolish enough to never pay them. Even after the fuel surcharges, some of their awards have significant value thanks to low mileage prices.

Sweetspots

Here are some Virgin Atlantic deals I particularly like:

  • Economy from Atlanta, Boston, New York, Washington DC, Chicago, or Detroit to London: 17,500 miles + $134.60
  • Premium Economy from Atlanta, Boston, New York, Washington DC, Chicago, or Detroit to London:  27,500 miles + $234.60
  • Economy Class from Hong Kong to London: 25,000 miles + $22
  • Upper Class from Shanghai to London: 50,000 miles + $277

Economy from Atlanta, Boston, New York, Washington DC, Chicago, or Detroit to London: 17,500 miles + $134.60

Using American Airlines miles, United miles, or Delta miles, the same flight would cost you 30,000 miles. I think it is worth saving 12,500 miles for $129 in fuel surcharges. That’s like buying miles for 1 cent each.

Premium Economy from Atlanta, Boston, New York, Washington DC, Chicago, or Detroit to London: 27,500 miles + $234.60

Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic is more akin to United First Class on domestic flights than United Economy Plus. It’s not just a big seat; Premium Economy comes with all the amenities in this promotional video. For fewer miles than competitors charge for an economy award ticket, I think of the $229 fuel surcharge like an upgrade fee for economy to Premium Economy. I’d pay that.

Economy Class from Hong Kong to London: 25,000 miles + $22

That’s a lot of flying (12+ hours) for the price tag. Using American Airlines miles, United miles, or Delta miles, the same flight would cost you anywhere from 35,000 to 55,000 miles.

Upper Class from London to Shanghai: 50,000 miles + $277

Virgin Atlantic’s Business Class–called Upper Class–is the best cabin on the plane. It offers offers a flat bed, Clubhouse access, and access to an onboard bar. American, United, and Delta will charge 75,000 to 80,000 miles one way on the route after American’s devaluation next month.

Did You Notice Something?

You’ll notice that all four of those listed sweetspots fly to London, instead of from London. That’s because there are massive taxes on flights leaving Great Britain that you have to pay on awards. Avoid them by booking one way to London with Virgin Atlantic miles, taking a train or low cost carrier flight to the continent, and continuing your journey from a low tax country.

Sales and Promotions

Virgin Atlantic will occasionally run sales like the 30% off of Economy and Premium Economy awards between North America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, India, Africa, and Asia and the UK that is happening right now that lasts until February 24, 2016 (good for travel dates through January 25, 2017). If you book your award in the next week, you can fly the first sweetspot mentioned (east coast US to London in Economy) for only 12,250 Virgin Atlantic miles. The Premium Economy award on the same routes would only be 19,250 miles.

ThankYou Points and Membership Rewards have both offered transfer bonuses of 25% to 35% to Virgin Atlantic miles.

You can stack a transfer bonus and an award sale though they haven’t overlapped in the past.

If you had transferred 10,000 ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic miles during last summer’s 25% transfer bonus, your 12,500 Virgin Atlantic miles would be enough to book a one way award to London today!

Searching Award Space

You can search award space one month at a time right on the Virgin Atlantic home page. Fill in the search form and select “Spend your miles.”

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 7.56.12 PM

Results look like this. At the bottom of each date are colors that signify award space.

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 7.57.51 PM

Red is economy, white is Premium Economy, and purple is Upper Class.

Screen-Shot-2015-06-09-at-3.52.00-PM

Find a date that has the award space you want and click Continue.

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 7.59.30 PM

You’ll see the miles needed and the total in taxes and fuel surcharges (note these mile prices in the photo are calculated with the current 30% off sale previously mentioned). If you click Flight Info, you can see the aircraft.

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 8.00.13 PM

You can find seat maps on Seat Guru. Most of the planes, including the 787-9 Dreamliner, have Upper Class in a 1-1-1 configuration. I’d pick an A seat since G and K share an aisle. I’d also pick a seat up front to avoid the noise from the bar behind 10G.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 4.30.45 PM
Source: http://www.seatguru.com/airlines/Virgin_Atlantic_Airways/Virgin_Atlantic_Airways_B787-900.php

Transferring ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic Miles

Sign into thankyou.com and go to the page listing the 12 airline transfer partners.

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 3.48.11 PM

Booking the Awards

When your miles post, head back to Virgin-Atlantic.com, rerun your search, and book there. Use a card with no foreign transaction fees, since purchases from foreign airlines often code as a foreign transaction even when denominated in dollars.

Pay your award taxes and fuel surcharges with the Citi Prestige® Card. The first $250 in award taxes, fuel surcharges, airfare, or airline fees per calendar year are refunded to you as a statement credit. If you’ve already maxed out the statement credit, you will still earn 3x ThankYou Points on the award taxes and fuel surcharges.

Getting Citi ThankYou Points to transfer to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

The best cards to rack up Virgin Atlantic miles are the:

Bottom Line

Virgin Atlantic miles are valuable for booking Virgin Atlantic flights. There are some great deals on the normal chart, and regular award sales and transfer bonuses make those deals even sweeter. There are fuel surcharges on Virgin Atlantic awards that fly Virgin Atlantic flights, including occasionally large ones on Upper Class awards, but sometimes the miles price is so low that the surcharges are worth paying.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

7

I’ve been posting about award space to Europe for this summer because that’s what my Award Booking Service clients want.

Here’s another great deal to Europe with miles: you can fly from the Eastern United States to London for 13,000 Membership Rewards, Ultimate Rewards, or ThankYou Points plus $135. From other parts of the country, you’ll pay only a few more miles.

On some routes, award space is WIDE OPEN year round, including the heart of summer. Here is the award space for July 2016 from New York to London. Days with a red, white, and purple line have award space in economy, Premium Economy, and Upper Class.

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 3.21.03 PM

Virgin Atlantic Awards

Virgin Atlantic flies to the UK from 12 US cities and offers great prices for award tickets in economy, Premium Economy, and Upper Class.

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 3.34.52 PM

The normal prices are only:

  • 17,500+ miles in economy to London, depending on starting city
  • 27,500+ miles in Premium Economy to London, depending on starting city
  • 40,000+ miles in flat bed Upper Class to London, depending on starting city

Two Week Sale on Economy and Premium Economy Awards

Until February 24, 2016, Virgin Atlantic is discounting the miles price of economy and Premium Economy awards between North America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, India, Africa, and Asia and the UK by 30%. Upper Class awards are not discounted during this sale. Discounted award prices (one ways bookable for half the miles price):

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 3.36.51 PM

Book now to lock in the rate; you can book travel through January 25, 2017 at the discounted prices.

Out-of-Pocket Price

Virgin Atlantic awards have fuel surcharges. You cannot avoid them.

Virgin Atlantic roundtrip awards will feature a departure from Great Britain, which will incur exorbitant taxes. You can easily avoid them by using this sale to book one way awards to London only. Then use a different type of miles to return from a low tax city in Europe. You see more of Europe for very few miles and very low out of pocket expense.

For instance, a one way award from New York, Newark, Boston, DC, or Chicago to London will cost 12,250 miles + $135 in economy or 19,250 miles + $235 in Premium Economy, even over the heart of summer.

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 3.21.40 PMThose are manageable out-of-pocket prices that are very much worth paying to save a ton of miles over awards using other miles.

But let’s look at a return from London to the United States. Now a one way in economy is 12,250 miles + a ridiculous $255 and a one way in Premium Economy is 19,250 miles + an insane $391.Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 3.22.36 PMScreen Shot 2016-02-10 at 3.22.46 PM

By the way, here is Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy. Think “Domestic First Class,” and you won’t be too far off.

Strategy to Lower or Eliminate Out-of-Pocket Price

To reiterate, just book the eastbound to London during this sale. Book the westbound return from somewhere cheaper in Europe with a different type of miles, perhaps United or American. (Get between London and Europe on a train or a low cost carrier.)

You can even eliminate the out-of-pocket cash needed by paying for the Virgin Atlantic Award with your Citi Prestige® Card.

The Citi Prestige® Card offer a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year that offsets your first $250 in spending on airlines with the card. Taxes and fuel surcharges on an award ticket definitely count. If your taxes and fuel surcharges are less than $250, the entire amount will be credited back on your statement. If they are more than $250, $250 will be credited back.

The card also comes with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months, which can be transferred to Flying Blue miles.

Application LinkCiti Prestige® Card

Is This The Best Deal to Europe?

Other than WOW Air’s $99 fares from Baltimore, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco to Iceland, yes.

Here are some almost-as-good deals (copied from my list of the best awards between all regions):

Upper Class?

Luxury lovers will want to know about the prices in Upper Class to Europe on Virgin Atlantic, since Upper Class is a fantastic business class product.

Unfortunately the current 30% discount does not apply to Upper Class, so the fuel surcharges and miles required to fly Upper Class are about triple economy. At those prices, I don’t think Upper Class is a great deal. For instance, New York to London is 40k miles + $420, and Los Angeles to London one way is 50k miles + $458 in Upper Class.

Getting the Miles

Virgin Atlantic is a 1:1 transfer partner of ThankYou Points, Ultimate Rewards, and Membership Rewards plus Virgin Atlantic issues an American credit card with a “90,000 mile” sign up bonus.

The Citi Prestige® Card is offering 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.

Recap

Europe is within reach for as little as 12,250 miles one way if you book in the next week for trips for the next 11 months. Where will you go this summer?

Hat Tip View from the Wing

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

Transfers of Citi ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic miles will have a 25% bonus through Sunday August 23, 2015.

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 1.56.37 PM

You must transfer ThankYou Points in 1,000 point increments, so until August 23:

  • 1,000 ThankYou Points = 1,250 Virgin Atlantic miles

This is huge news as it is the first transfer bonus of Citi ThankYou Points to an airline partner. American Express Membership Rewards has historically run transfer bonuses, including to Virgin Atlantic, though Chase Ultimate Rewards never has.

Getting ThankYou Points

If you can’t decide between the Premier and the Prestige, check out Comparison Table of Citi Preferred vs. Premier vs. Prestige. Or you can get both for 100,000 bonus points.

Three Reasons Why You Want Virgin Atlantic Miles

1. AMONG THE CHEAPEST ECONOMY AND PREMIUM ECONOMY AWARDS TO EUROPE (IN MILES)

The first reason to get Virgin Atlantic miles is that economy class awards to Europe require far fewer miles than competitors’ charge. From Boston, New York, Washington, and Chicago, you only need 17,500 Virgin Atlantic miles (14k ThankYou Points) for a one way flight to London.

And taxes and fees on the one way from the United States to Europe are only $131!

Combine a one way from the eastern United States to Europe for 14k ThankYou Points plus $131 and return from a low tax country–like Spain or Switzerland–to the United States on a one way award with United or American miles for a very cheap European vacation.

I wrote more about searching Virgin Atlantic award space, the fuel surcharges you’ll see, and booking the space in Limited Time to Europe: 14k Points.

Or you can fly one way from parts of the United States to the United Kingdom in Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy for only 27,500 miles (22k ThankYou Points) and $231.

Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic is more akin to United First Class on domestic flights than United Economy Plus. It’s not just a big seat; Premium Economy comes with all the amenities in this promotional video.

2. INCREDIBLE VALUE PARTNER AWARDS

Virgin Atlantic has several airline partners.

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 3.20.02 AM

Each has its own award chart, and the values can be good, especially with this transfer bonus. Best of all, on many partners, Virgin Atlantic doesn’t collect any fuel surcharges!

Last year I called Flying Club at (800) 365-9500 and priced out several awards.

The call was fairly smooth although the agent told me that Atlanta to Buenos Aires on Delta wasn’t bookable with Virgin Atlantic miles. When I pressed him to double check, he came back with the news that it indeed is bookable. As always, you may know more than the phone agents, so be polite but firm.

Award prices including unavoidable government taxes (none include fuel surcharges):

  • Atlanta to Buenos Aires in roundtrip economy on Delta: 45k miles (36k TY Points) + $77.32
  • New York to London in roundtrip economy on Delta: 40k miles (32k TY Points) + $190.60
  • Atlanta to Los Angeles in roundtrip economy on Delta: 25k miles (20k TY Points) + $11.20
  • New York to Paris in roundtrip economy on Delta: 60k miles (48k TY Points) + $90.66

I learned a few key things about partner awards from the call:

  • Delta awards have no fuel surcharges, just the same government taxes as booking with Delta miles.
  • The Delta award chart is way underpriced to Southern South America. Buenos Aires for 36k ThankYou Points roundtrip is a steal. The same award would cost 60,000 Delta miles.
3. VIRGIN ATLANTIC UPPER CLASS

Virgin Atlantic’s Business Class–called Upper Class–is one of the best in the world with many folks comparing it to First Class. I am anxious to fly it.

Virgin Atlantic offers its Flying Club members the best award availability, but the catch is the fuel surcharges (plus departing London taxes) of around $1,000 per roundtrip award in Upper Class.

While the out-of-pocket cost is a big drawback, the miles prices are very low. New York and Chicago to London are only 40k miles (32k ThankYou Points) one way in Upper Class and Los Angeles and San Francisco to London in Upper Class are only 50k miles (40k ThankYou Points) one way.

Roundtrip Miles Prices to UK with Flying Club Miles listed Economy, Premium Economy, Upper Class from left to righ

Right now award space is excellent in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class for two people who want to fly May and June 2016. For instance, here is Atlanta to London’s calendar. Dates with a purple line underneath have two Upper Class award seats. That’s every day except May 5.

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 2.02.07 PM

If you want to avoid fuel surcharges, Delta miles can be used to book Virgin Atlantic Upper Class for 62.5k miles one way plus taxes and no fuel surcharges.

Bottom Line

There’s a 25% transfer bonus from Citi ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic miles through August 23, 2015.

You can quickly get 106,000 ThankYou Points, which would transfer to 133,500 Virgin Atlantic miles, by getting two cards:

 

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Award Space is widely available for two passengers on several routes to London in May and June 2016.

This is an excellent use of Delta SkyMiles because these awards cost 62,500 SkyMiles each way per person, despite Delta’s big devaluation last week. The award space is also an excellent use of ThankYou Points transferred to Virgin Atlantic miles during the current 25% transfer bonus. Some of the Upper Class award space goes for as little as 32,000 ThankYou Points each way per person.

About Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic flies from 12 American cities to London.

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It also flies from the United States to Manchester, Glasgow, and Belfast.

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Booking Virgin Atlantic Awards

You can book Virgin Atlantic flights with Virgin Atlantic miles or Delta SkyMiles. The advantage of booking with Virgin Atlantic miles is that you need way fewer miles. Here is the roundtrip award chart to the United Kingdom with Virgin Atlantic miles. One way awards cost half the number of miles.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 3.02.18 PMScreen Shot 2015-06-09 at 3.02.35 PM

The drawbacks are that Virgin Atlantic awards booked with Virgin Atlantic miles have fuel surcharges and the prices are valid only to London, not the rest of Europe.

When booked with Delta, there are no fuel surcharges, and you can connect in London to other cities in Europe. All Delta awards that fly Virgin Atlantic cost 62,500 miles one way in Upper Class between the United States and Europe.

Fuel Surcharges

Just how big are the fuel surcharges?

Virgin Atlantic awards booked with Delta miles have no fuel surcharges. Virgin Atlantic awards booked with Virgin Atlantic miles have big fuel surcharges.

  • One way awards in economy to London have fuel surcharges of $129.
  • One way awards in Premium Economy to London have fuel surcharges of $229.
  • One way awards in Upper Class to London have fuel surcharges of $414 or $452, depending on flight length.

 

 

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Product

 

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class offers a flat bed, Clubhouse access, and access to an onboard bar.

 

Award Space Picture

I searched on delta.com for award space for two passengers in Business Class (Upper Class) on direct routes served by Virgin Atlantic. Here’s what you want the search box to look like to get a five-week calendar view of award space for two passengers on the direct flight only.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.13.25 PM

On many routes from the eastern United States, I found award space nearly every day.

Atlanta

All days that say “62,500” have award space for two passengers in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class that you can book with Delta or Virgin Atlantic miles.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.11.28 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.13.34 PM

New YorkScreen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.13.57 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.14.02 PM
MiamiScreen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.15.15 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.15.20 PM
ChicagoScreen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.15.38 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.15.44 PM
BostonScreen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.16.35 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.16.39 PM
DetroitScreen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.16.55 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.17.00 PM
Washington DCScreen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.18.19 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.18.25 PM

But the award space really falls apart on western routes. It is very sparse from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Las Vegas to London.

Booking the Awards

First decide which miles to book with. If you want to burn Delta miles, or you hate fuel surcharges, book with Delta miles. If you have a cache of Virgin Atlantic miles or ThankYou Points, book with Virgin Atlantic miles. If you have both, figure out the cents-per-miles that each redemption offers, and choose the better one.

Book with Delta miles on delta.com and Virgin Atlantic miles on virgin-atlantic.com.

Pay your award taxes (and fuel surcharges if you use Virgin Atlantic miles) with the Citi Prestige® Card. The first $250 in award taxes, fuel surcharges, airfare, or airline fees per calendar year are refunded to you as a statement credit. If you’ve already maxed out the statement credit, you will still earn 3x ThankYou Points on the award taxes and fuel surcharges.

Bottom Line

There is great award space for two passengers in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class for two passengers in May and June 2016 on many routes from the eastern United States to London.

You can book the award space with 62,500 Delta miles plus taxes or 40,000 Virgin Atlantic miles plus taxes plus fuel surcharges. Right now there is a 25% transfer bonus from ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic miles.

This a great way to burn Delta miles in the face of the newest devaluation or to get great value from Citi ThankYou Points.

 

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

Cash is great because it can buy everything from travel to your basic necessities. But sometimes miles are better. There are a lot of things I can easily do with miles that I would never do with cash (at least until my bank account had a few more zeroes.)

Dream big with your miles. Better yet, dream big before your miles. Then get the right miles to turn that dream into a reality. Here are five dreams, five things I can do with miles that I wouldn’t do with cash.

  1. Fly Singapore Suites, a double bed in the sky
  2. Fly Lufthansa First Class and access the First Class Terminal
  3. Fly Etihad First Class for its shower, couch, and bed
  4. Fly Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy to London for a big upgrade from economy
  5. Hop around South America to 11 cities on one award with Asia Miles

1. Singapore Suites Los Angeles to Singapore: $8,700 or 92,000 miles + $276

Singapore Suites is famous for its double bed. The two middle seats in the 1-2-1 configuration can have their divider lowered to form an enclosed double bed that no other First Class cabin matches.

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 1.46.33 PM

Singapore is also famous for its food and wine selections and service from the Singapore girls. I flew Singapore First Class and would love to fly Suites Class, but I wouldn’t pay $8,700 for the one way flight from Los Angeles to Singapore.

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 6.13.23 PM Instead I’d pay 91,375 Singapore miles + $276 (or less to fly Los Angeles to Tokyo or New York to Frankfurt.)Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 6.14.22 PM

Singapore miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of Citi, Chase, AMEX, and SPG, so getting just two cards like the Citi Prestige and Citi ThankYou Premier with 50,000 and 40,000 ThankYou Points respectively after spending $3,000 in the first three months is enough to fly one way anywhere that Singapore Suites flies.

2. Lufthansa First Frankfurt to Washington: $8,700 or 40,000 points + $300

Lufthansa First Class is the most widely available excellent product between the United States and Europe.

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 5.44.36 PM

Within two weeks of departure, Lufthansa releases a lot of First Class award space to partners. If you can only fly Lufthansa First Class one way, fly it home from Europe via Frankfurt, where Lufthansa has an entire First Class Terminal. Spend a few hours at the buffet, a la carte restaurant, cigar room, and in the bathtubs with your own Lufthansa rubber ducky.

I flew Lufthansa First Class from Frankfurt to Washington DC once. I never would have done that if my only option were to pay $8,730 one way.

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 6.22.19 PM

Luckily you can book the same flight for 50,000 Asiana miles (40,000 SPG points transfer to 50,000 Asiana miles) + ~$300 in taxes and fuel surcharges.

3. Etihad A380 First Class New York to Abu Dhabi: $16,700 or 90,000 miles + $6

Etihad begins flying its A380 from New York to Abu Dhabi on December 1, 2015. Award space has been intermittently very good and completely non-existent on the route. (Right now, it is non-existent.)

When space was very good last month, I booked myself an award from India to Los Angeles with the longest part in First Class on the Etihad A380. I am eager to fly in am enclosed suite with a couch/bed and seat. The amount of space is unreal. Plus the cabin features a shower, only the second airline that offers that.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 12.27.11 PM

I’m not an oil sheik, so I can’t pay the $16,653 one way fare from New York to Abu Dhabi.

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 6.27.45 PM

But the same flight can be had for 90,000 American Airlines miles + $5.60, what you can get from two credit cards. Or you can connect anywhere in the Middle East or Indian Subcontinent for zero extra miles.

4. Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy Washington DC to London: $2,800 or 22,000 points + $235

Flying Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy from the United States to London is like flying domestic First Class within the United States. You get the bigger seat with more leg room and more recline, better food, free drinks, and better service.

Virgin Atlantic charges quite a premium, though, at $2,764 one way.

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 6.34.47 PM

Why pay that when the seat can be booked with 27,500 Virgin Atlantic miles + $234.60? Especially right now when Citi ThankYou Points have a 25% transfer bonus that makes the award cost 22,000 ThankYou Points + $234.60.

You can get enough points for two people by opening either the Citi Prestige or Citi ThankYou Premier with 50,000 and 40,000 ThankYou Points respecively after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

5. 11 City Tour of South America: thousands of dollars or 85,000 miles + a few hundred dollars

Yesterday I broke down the Asia Miles award chart and rules. Asia Miles allows you to book 11 city awards. I recommend going to South America to avoid the fuel surcharges you’d normally pay on Asia Miles awards.

Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 6.56.24 PMWhile booking a trip like this with cash would cost thousands of dollars–I’d estimate around $5,000–the same trip would cost 85,000 Asia Miles + taxes–I’d estimate around $300.

Asia Miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of Citi, AMEX, and SPG, so getting just two cards like the Citi Prestige and Citi ThankYou Premier with 50,000 and 40,000 ThankYou Points respectively after spending $3,000 in the first three months is enough to fly an Asia Miles award with up to 20,000 miles of flying!

Bottom Line

Everything is bookable with cash, but sometimes the price is so outrageous that only multi-millionaires would consider the ticket a good value.

With miles, the premium cabins and the mega-awards are democratized. Open one or two credit cards and enjoy the nicest cabins in the world like Singapore Suites, Etihad First Class, and Lufthansa First Class; the biggest adventures in the world like an 11 city trip in South America; or the simple pleasure of a little more space and comfort in Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy.

What’s an amazing thing you’ve done with miles that you wouldn’t have done with cash?

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

With the 25% transfer bonus from Citi ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic miles, one way awards to London start at 14,000 ThankYou Points. Flat bed Upper Class awards start at 32,000 ThankYou Points.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 4.41.22 PM

Virgin Atlantic flies from 12 American cities to London.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 4.27.50 PM

It also flies from the United States to Manchester, Glasgow, and Belfast.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 4.28.34 PM

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 4.29.29 PM

You can book Virgin Atlantic flights with Virgin Atlantic miles or Delta SkyMiles. The advantage of booking with Virgin Atlantic miles is that you need way fewer miles. Here is the roundtrip award chart to the United Kingdom with Virgin Atlantic miles. One way awards cost half the number of miles.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 3.02.18 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 3.02.35 PM

The drawback is that Virgin Atlantic awards booked with Virgin Atlantic miles have fuel surcharges. When booked with Delta, there are no fuel surcharges, and I compare using the two types of miles below.

Questions answered in this post:

  • What are the award prices with Virgin Atlantic Miles?
  • How are the Premium Economy and Upper Class Products?
  • What are the fuel surcharges on the awards? What route has almost none?
  • How do you search Virgin Atlantic Award Space?
  • How do you transfer ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic miles? Is the transfer instant?
  • How do you book the Virgin Atlantic awards?
  • Should you use Delta or Virgin Atlantic miles to book Virgin Atlantic flights?

Award Prices in Miles

Virgin Atlantic charges unusually few miles from the United States to the United Kingdom–and that’s the only place in Europe that you can fly Virgin Atlantic, which is a longhaul carrier.

There are two award bands–one for nearer cities and one for farther cities.

From the following cities, you can fly a one way award to the United Kingdom for 17.5k/27.5k/40k Virgin Atlantic miles in economy/Premium Economy/Upper Class:

  • Atlanta
  • Boston
  • Newark
  • New York-JFK
  • Washington-Dulles
  • Chicago

That’s 14k/22k/32k Citi ThankYou Points. From most of those cities, the next cheapest economy option to Europe in miles is spending 20,000 American Airlines during its off peak award window. But this 14,000 ThankYou Point price is available for travel any time of year as long as you transfer your ThankYou Points before the transfer bonus ends on August 23, 2015.

Similarly spending only 22,000 ThankYou Points for Premium Economy is incredible compared to paying 30,000 United/Delta/American miles to Europe in regular economy. Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic is like flying domestic First Class.

Finally paying 32,000 ThankYou Points for a one way in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class to Europe is outrageously good. That’s basically what most airlines charge for economy, and you’re getting a flat bed, Clubhouse access, and access to an onboard bar.

From the rest of the United States, you can fly a one way award to the United Kingdom for 21.25k/35k/50k Virgin Atlantic miles in economy/Premium Economy/Upper Class:

  • Miami
  • Orlando
  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco

That’s 17,000 ThankYou Points one way in economy, 28,000 ThankYou Points one way in Premium Economy, and 40,000 ThankYou Points one way in Upper Class.

Oddly, Detroit to London is not on the award chart at all, and the booking form explicitly says you cannot use miles to book the flight. This is particularly strange since Detroit to London was just part of an award sale on Virgin Atlantic.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 4.23.06 PM

Fuel Surcharges

The miles prices are the good news. The fuel surcharges are the bad news.

  • One way awards in economy to London have fuel surcharges of $129.
  • One way awards in Premium Economy to London have fuel surcharges of $229.
  • One way awards in Upper Class to London have fuel surcharges of $414 or $452, depending on flight length.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 4.04.11 PM

I consider fuel surcharges on awards a junk fee and a cash grab. I am never happy to pay them, but I am not foolish enough never to pay them.

Even after the fuel surcharges, Virgin Atlantic awards have significant value, especially during the 25% transfer bonus from ThankYou Points.

I’d rather fly Chicago to London for 22,000 ThankYou Points (transferred to Virgin Atlantic) and $234 in Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy than 28,000 ThankYou Points (transferred to Singapore Airlines) and $5 in United economy. The $229 extra is a small price to pay for more space, better food, and saving 6,000 ThankYou Points (which I value at $108.)

As always, use your ThankYou Points only if you are getting enough value for them. I’d only use ThankYou Points if I were getting at least 1.6 cents of value since you can always use ThankYou Points like cash to buy American Airlines tickets at a rate of 1.6 cents per point.

How do you figure what value the award is giving you for your ThankYou Points?

Use this simple expression:

(A – B) / (C + D)

  • A: Value of the award. Important: this is the lesser of the cash price and your subjective value.
  • B: Taxes and fuel surcharges on the award
  • C: ThankYou Points used on the award
  • D: Miles you would earn if you purchased the award ticket with cash

This will spit out the dollar value you are getting for your miles. If that number is greater than 0.016, and you can book the dream award now, transfer ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic miles and book.

Hong Kong

Awards to Hong Kong have very low fuel surcharges, which is useful if Hong Kong to London can be part of a round-the-world trip for you. The awards cost just 25k/40k/60k miles in economy/Premium Economy/Upper Class with taxes plus fuel surcharges of $49.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 4.17.09 PM

That’s 20,000, 32,000, and 48,000 ThankYou Points + $49 during the 25% transfer bonus.

Why are all the prices mentioned one way to the United Kingdom?

Flying out of the United Kingdom incurs humungous taxes, about $300 one way in Premium Economy or Business Class, as I covered today in List of Award Taxes from Major Cities in Europe, So You Return from Low Tax Countries. I would only ever book Virgin Atlantic flights to London with Virgin Atlantic miles. Then I’d return from a low tax country in Europe on a separate award with a different type of miles.

Searching Award Space

Award space is not great, but it is present on all routes I checked in all cabins. The best award space is in economy and Premium Economy.

To search award space one month at a time, fill in the search form on the Virgin Atlantic home page and select “Spend your miles.”
Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 3.03.27 PM

Results look like this. At the bottom of each date are colors that signify award space.
Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 3.03.50 PM

Red is economy, white is Premium Economy, and purple is Upper Class.Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 3.52.00 PM

Find a date that has the award space you want and click Continue.Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 3.53.58 PM You’ll see the miles needed and the total in taxes and fuel surcharges. If you click Flight Info, you can see the aircraft.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 3.55.40 PM

You can find seat maps on Seat Guru. Most of the planes, including the 787-9 Dreamliner, have Upper Class in a 1-1-1 configuration. I’d pick and A seat since G and K share an aisle. I’d pick a seat up front to avoid the noise from the bar behind 10G.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 4.30.45 PM
Source: http://www.seatguru.com/airlines/Virgin_Atlantic_Airways/Virgin_Atlantic_Airways_B787-900.php

Transferring ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic Miles

Sign into thankyou.com and go to the page listing the 11 airline transfer partners.
Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 3.48.11 PM

You can transfer in increments of 1,000 points and receive 1,250 miles.

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 3.48.29 PM

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Two (1, 2) FlyerTalkers report their Virgin Atlantic miles posting in less than 24 hours. It’s unlikely, but award space could disappear in that time. Have a back up plan to use the miles if that happens.

Booking the Awards

When your miles post, head back to Virgin-Atlantic.com, rerun your search, and book there. Use a card with no foreign transaction fees, since purchases from foreign airlines often code as a foreign transaction even when denominated in dollars.

Pay your award taxes and fuel surcharges with the Citi Prestige® Card. The first $250 in award taxes, fuel surcharges, airfare, or airline fees per calendar year are refunded to you as a statement credit. If you’ve already maxed out the statement credit, you will still earn 3x ThankYou Points on the award taxes and fuel surcharges.

Use Delta Miles Instead?

Delta miles can book Virgin Atlantic award space in economy and Upper Class, but not Premium Economy. Awards cost 30,000 Delta miles one way in economy and 62,500 Delta miles in Upper Class.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 4.37.01 PM

There are two advantages to using Delta miles.

  1. No fuel surcharges on the awards
  2. You can connect to Delta/Alaska flights in the United States and SkyTeam partners in London.

Do the math–add the out of pocket costs to the number of miles or points used times your value of those miles or points–to see whether you get a better deal with Delta miles or ThankYou Points transferred to Virgin Atlantic miles.

  • You’ll almost certainly get a better deal in economy with ThankYou Points transferred to Virgin Atlantic miles because you save 16,000 or 13,000 miles for only a $129 fuel surcharge.
  • You’ll definitely get a better deal in Premium Economy with ThankYou Points transferred to Virgin Atlantic miles, since Delta miles can’t book that cabin.
  • In Upper Class, it will come down to which route you want and how much you value ThankYou Points vs. Delta miles.

Getting Thank You Points to Transfer to Virgin Atlantic Miles

These two cards offer over 106,000 ThankYou points total for meeting their minimum spending requirements. You can get both as long as you apply at least eight days apart.

Bottom Line

Yes, Virgin Atlantic awards have fuel surcharges, but they also have incredibly low miles prices. During the 25% Citi ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic mile transfer bonus, you can book these awards for even cheaper.

Use these deals to fly one way to Europe, then return home on a separate award with a different type of miles from a low tax country.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

American Express Membership Rewards transfers to Virgin Atlantic miles will come with an automatic 25% transfer bonus from now through April 30, 2015. We last saw a 35% bonus in November 2014.

This transfer bonus allows you to fly:

  • One way from the US to London for only 14k Membership Rewards and $131.
  • One way from the US to London in Premium Economy for 22k Membership Rewards + $231.
  • Roundtrip from the US to Buenos Aires (or anywhere else in South America) for 36k Membership Rewards and $77.
  • Tons of other great routes for low mileage, taxes, and fees.

Virgin Atlantic is a London-based longhaul carrier best known for its Upper Class cabins and Clubhouse lounges. (Do not confuse it with Virgin America or Virgin Australia, which are all independent airlines.) It is not part of any alliance, so its dozen airline partners span the globe and all the alliances.

  • Should you transfer Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic?
  • What are the key features of Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club?
  • How can you get to Europe for 14k Membership Rewards and to South America roundtrip for 36k Membership Rewards?
  • How can you get Membership Rewards?

Until April 30, 2015, you can transfer increments of 1,000 American Express points to 1,250 Virgin Atlantic miles automatically at membershiprewards.com.

 

There are three main reasons you would want Virgin Atlantic miles.

1. Among the Cheapest Economy and Premium Economy Awards to Europe (in Miles)

The first reason to get Virgin Atlantic miles is that economy class awards to Europe require far fewer miles than competitors’ charge. From Boston, New York, Washington, and Chicago, you only need 17,500 Virgin Atlantic miles (14k Membership Rewards) for a one way flight to the United Kingdom.

And taxes and fees on the one way from the United States to Europe are only $131!

Combine a one way from the eastern United States to Europe for 14k Membership Rewards plus $131 and return from a low tax country–like Spain or Switzerland–to the United States on a one way award with United or American miles for a very cheap European vacation.

I wrote more about searching Virgin Atlantic award space, the fuel surcharges you’ll see, and booking the space in Huge Deal: 13k Miles to Europe This Summer.

Or you can fly one way from parts of the United States to the United Kingdom in Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy for only 27,500 miles (22k Membership Rewards) and $231.

Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic is more akin to United First Class on domestic flights than United Economy Plus. It’s not just a big seat; Premium Economy comes with all the amenities in this promotional video.

2. Incredible Value Partner Awards

Virgin Atlantic has several airline partners.

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 3.20.02 AM

Each has its own award chart, and the values can be good, especially with this transfer bonus. Best of all, on many partners, Virgin Atlantic doesn’t collect any fuel surcharges!

Last year I called Flying Club at (800) 365-9500 and priced out several awards.

The call was fairly smooth although the agent told me that Atlanta to Buenos Aires on Delta wasn’t bookable with Virgin Atlantic miles. When I pressed him to double check, he came back with the news that it indeed is bookable. As always, you may know more than the phone agents, so be polite but firm.

Award prices including unavoidable government taxes (none include fuel surcharges):

  • Atlanta to Buenos Aires in roundtrip economy on Delta: 45k miles (36k MR) + $77.32
  • New York to London in roundtrip economy on Delta: 40k miles (32k MR) + $190.60
  • Atlanta to Los Angeles in roundtrip economy on Delta: 25k miles (20k MR) + $11.20
  • New York to Paris in roundtrip economy on Delta: 60k miles (48k MR) + $90.66
  • New York to Honolulu in roundtrip First on Hawaiian: 130k miles (104k MR) + $11.20
  • New York to LAX in roundtrip Main Cabin Select on Virgin America: 50k miles (40k MR) + $11.20 from Tuesday to Sunday over Thanksgiving

I learned a few key things about partner awards from the call:

  • Delta awards have no fuel surcharges, just the same government taxes as booking with Delta miles.
  • The Delta award chart is way underpriced to Southern South America. Buenos Aires for 36k Membership Rewards roundtrip is a steal. If you transferred Membership Rewards to Delta miles to book the exact same seats, you’d need 60k Membership Rewards.
  • There are no fuel surcharges on Hawaiian Airlines award flights.
  • The Hawaiian award chart says economy roundtrips are “from 40,000 miles” and first is “from 80,000 miles.” Those prices only refer to roundtrips from the western US. The roundtrip price to/from JFK is quite a bit higher.
  • There are no fuel surcharges on Virgin America award flights.
  • Not all Virgin America flights have award space that Virgin Atlantic has access to. There’s no way to check without calling Virgin Atlantic that I know of. Before calling, I didn’t know what to expect with respect to Virgin America space since Virgin America’s program is revenue-based and doesn’t include a concept of “award space.”

3. Virgin Atlantic Upper Class

Virgin Atlantic’s Business Class–called Upper Class–is one of the best in the world with many folks comparing it to First Class. I am anxious to fly it.

Virgin Atlantic offers its Flying Club members the best award availability, but the catch is the fuel surcharges (plus departing London taxes) of around $1,000 per roundtrip award in Upper Class.

While the out-of-pocket cost is a big drawback, the miles prices are very low. New York and Chicago to London are only 80k miles (64k Membership Rewards) roundtrip in Upper Class and Los Angeles and San Francisco to London roundtrip in Upper Class are only 100k miles (80k Membership Rewards).

Roundtrip Miles Prices to UK with Flying Club Miles listed Economy, Premium Economy, Upper Class from left to right

If you want to avoid fuel surcharges, Delta miles can be used to book Virgin Atlantic Upper Class for 125k miles plus taxes and no fuel surcharges. But Delta SkyMiles members don’t have access to the same award availability as Virgin Atlantic Flying Club members.

4. Other uses?

Did I miss any great uses of Virgin Atlantic miles? These small foreign programs get so few expert eyeballs on them, so I know that many have hidden gems. Hopefully I’ve exposed some with the partner flights in this post. If you know of others, share them in the comments please.

Getting the Miles

Membership Rewards and Ultimate Rewards both transfer 1:1 to Virgin Atlantic miles. Ultimate Rewards have never had a transfer bonus, and I like to use my Ultimate Rewards with United miles, so I strongly favor transferring Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic miles if you want Virgin Atlantic miles.

Membership Rewards are earned by all Platinum and Gold cards.

CKANbanner_300x250_v6b

Right now, there is also a “90,000 mile sign up bonus” (not really, for reasons explained here) on the Virgin Atlantic credit card.

Recap

The 25% transfer bonus from Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic has some highly valuable uses including cheap one ways to Europe on Virgin Atlantic, access to better award space in Upper Class with low mileage outlays, and partner awards at very low mileage prices with no fuel surcharges.

Have any of the award possibilities piqued your interest?

 

------------------------------------------------------------

Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

Citi ThankYou Points now transfer to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles at a 1:1 rate.

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 2.09.20 AMThat makes one hotel and 12 airline partners for Citi ThankYou Points earned on the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card and Citi Prestige® Card.

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card comes with 40,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. It offers 3x on travel and gas purchases and 2x on dining and entertainment purchases.

The Citi Prestige® Card has a healthy 50,000 point bonus after spending $3,000 in the first three months and offers 3x points on air travel and hotels plus 2x points on dining and entertainment. But this card is really about the perks: American Airlines and Priority Pass lounge access including guests, $250 in airfare credits each calendar year, and free hotel nights.

Virgin Atlantic instantly becomes one of the top three transfer options for ThankYou points, along with Singapore miles for Singapore Suites or travel in the Western Hemisphere and Flying Blue miles for Promo awards to Europe and some awards on Delta.

There are three main uses for Virgin Atlantic miles:

1. Among the Cheapest Economy and Premium Economy Awards to Europe

Economy

Virgin Atlantic economy class awards to Europe require far fewer miles than competitors’ charge. From Boston, New York, Washington, and Chicago, you only need 17,500 Virgin Atlantic miles for a one way flight to the United Kingdom. (Actually only 13,125 miles until January 22, 2015.)

There are modest fuel surcharges on the award, so taxes and fees on the one way from the United States to Europe are $135.

Combine a one way from the eastern United States to Europe for 18,000 ThankYou Points plus $131 and return from a low tax country to the United States on a one way award with United, American, or Delta miles for a very cheap European vacation.

I wrote more about searching Virgin Atlantic award space, the fuel surcharges you’ll see, and booking the space in Transatlantic Award: 13,125 Miles One Way All Summer Long.

Premium Economy

You can fly one way from parts of the United States to the United Kingdom in Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy for only 27,500 miles and $231.

Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic is more akin to United First Class on domestic flights than United Economy Plus. It’s not just a big seat; Premium Economy comes with all the amenities in this promotional video.

Considering most programs charge 30,000 miles one way in economy, this is a steal in my opinion even with the fuel surcharges.

2. Incredible Value Partner Awards

Virgin Atlantic has several airline partners.

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 3.20.02 AM

Virgin Atlantic has a separate award chart for each, and the values can be good, especially with this transfer bonus. Best of all, on many partners, Virgin Atlantic doesn’t collect any fuel surcharges!

Last year I called Flying Club at (800) 365-9500 and priced out several awards.

The call was fairly smooth although the agent told me that Atlanta to Buenos Aires on Delta wasn’t bookable with Virgin Atlantic miles. When I pressed him to double check, he came back with the news that it indeed is bookable. As always, you may know more than the phone agents, so be polite but firm.

Award prices including unavoidable government taxes (none include fuel surcharges):

  • Atlanta to Buenos Aires in roundtrip economy on Delta: 45k miles + $77.32
  • New York to London in roundtrip economy on Delta: 40k miles + $190.60
  • Atlanta to Los Angeles in roundtrip economy on Delta: 25k miles + $11.20
  • New York to Paris in roundtrip economy on Delta: 60k miles + $90.66
  • New York to Honolulu in roundtrip First on Hawaiian: 130k miles + $11.20

I learned a few key things about partner awards from the call:

  • Delta awards have no fuel surcharges, just the same government taxes as booking with Delta miles.
  • The Delta award chart is way underpriced to Southern South America. Buenos Aires for 45,000 ThankYou Points roundtrip is a steal. You’d need 60,000 Delta miles for the same award.
  • There are no fuel surcharges on Hawaiian Airlines award flights.
  • The Hawaiian award chart says economy roundtrips are “from 40,000 miles” and first is “from 80,000 miles.” Those prices only refer to roundtrips from the western US. The roundtrip price to/from JFK is quite a bit higher.
  • There are no fuel surcharges on Virgin America award flights.
  • Not all Virgin America flights have award space that Virgin Atlantic has access to. There’s no way to check without calling Virgin Atlantic that I know of.

3. Virgin Atlantic Upper Class

Virgin Atlantic’s Business Class–called Upper Class–features fully flat beds with direct aisle access.

Virgin Atlantic offers its Flying Club members the best award availability in Upper Class, but the catch is the fuel surcharges (plus departing London taxes) of around $1,000 per roundtrip award in Upper Class.

While the out-of-pocket cost is a big drawback, the miles prices are very low. New York and Chicago to London are only 80k miles roundtrip in Upper Class and Los Angeles and San Francisco to London roundtrip in Upper Class are only 100k miles.

Roundtrip Miles Prices to UK with Flying Club Miles listed Economy, Premium Economy, Upper Class from left to right

If you want to avoid fuel surcharges, Delta miles can be used to book Virgin Atlantic Upper Class for 125k miles plus taxes and no fuel surcharges. But Delta SkyMiles members don’t have access to the same award availability as Virgin Atlantic Flying Club members.

4. Other Uses?

Did I miss any great uses of Virgin Atlantic miles? These small foreign programs get so few expert eyeballs on them, so I know that many have hidden gems. Hopefully I’ve exposed some with the partner flights in this post. If you know of others, share them in the comments please.

Getting the Miles

Citi ThankYou Points earned on the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card and Citi Prestige® Card now transfer 1:1 to Virgin Atlantic miles.

Membership Rewards and Ultimate Rewards both transfer 1:1 to Virgin Atlantic miles. American Express ran transfer bonuses of 30% and 35% to Virgin Atlantic last year. Ultimate Rewards have never had a transfer bonus, and I like to use my Ultimate Rewards with United miles, so I strongly favor transferring Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou Points to Virgin Atlantic miles if you want Virgin Atlantic miles.

The Virgin Atlantic credit card offers “90,000 bonus miles” if you jump through a lot of hoops.

Bottom Line

Citi has added major value to its ThankYou program three times since I got my Citi ThankYou® Premier Card. First by adding airline transfer partners including Singapore, then by adding Air France Flying Blue as a partner, and now by adding Virgin Atlantic Flyinc Club. These continuous additions of value are one reason I plan to get the Citi Prestige® Card very soon.

Virgin Atlantic miles offer super cheap economy awards to Europe (13,125 miles until tomorrow and 17,500 miles normally), Premium Economy awards to Europe (27,500 miles), and Upper Class awards to Europe (40,000 miles.) Unfortunately all of these awards have fuel surcharges, but the miles prices may be low enough to justify the out-of-pocket cost.

Virgin Atlantic miles can also be used to book awards on several partners. Delta, Hawaiian, and Virgin America flights booked with Virgin Atlantic miles have no fuel surcharges, and some of the Delta awards are steals, like 45,000 miles roundtrip to Buenos Aires.

My big wish is that Citi ThankYou Points will eventually add another transfer partner, one with which Citi has a very close relationship already, American Airlines miles.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

1

Virgin Atlantic is offering a 25% discount on economy awards to the United Kingdom booked by January 22. You can book awards even in the peak of summer for as low as 13,125 Virgin Atlantic miles each way.

You probably have Virgin Atlantic miles because Virgin Atlantic is a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and SPG Starpoints. Twenty-thousand Starpoints always transfer to 25,000 Virgin Atlantic miles. Membership Rewards offers occasional transfer bonuses like the 35% bonus in October 2014.

Prices

Virgin Atlantic awards do have fuel surcharges, so a one way to the United Kingdom costs $135 out of pocket. A roundtrip costs $454 plus the miles because of the fuel surcharges and punitive aviation taxes when departing the UK.

After the 25% discount, one way awards between these cities and the United Kingdom cost:

  • Boston: 13,125 miles
  • New York (JFK/Newark): 13,125 miles
  • Chicago: 13,125 miles
  • Washington: 13,125 miles
  • Atlanta: 13,125 miles

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  • Miami: 15,938 miles
  • Orlando: 15,938 miles
  • Las Vegas: 15,938 miles
  • Los Angeles: 15,938 miles
  • San Francisco: 15,938 miles

Booking

The discounts are hard-coded into search results, so to book your discounted award, start on the search screen, and select “Spend Your Miles.”

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 11.57.07 PM

Search results are color-coded. A red line underneath the date means there is Economy award space. A white line means Premium Economy award space. A purple line means Upper Class award space.

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 11.16.47 PM

On the calendar above, the 7th has award space in all three cabins, while the 8th only has award space in Premium Economy and Upper Class.

The current 25% off sale only applies to Economy.

If you book one way awards, you will pay half the price of a roundtrip award in miles each direction, but taxes and fees are way higher westbound.

Eastbound has $134.60 in taxes and fuel surcharges.

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 11.16.33 PMWestbound has $318.90 in taxes and fuel surcharges because of the UK’s Air Passenger Duty.

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 11.34.21 PM

That puts the total on a roundtrip at $453.50.Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 11.34.29 PM

Because of the departure tax leaving the United Kingdom, I would use these awards only for one way flights to the United Kingdom, similar to how I recommend using Flying Blue Promo Awards.

Hat Tip View from the Wing

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 8.29.19 PM

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

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