30% Transfer Bonus: Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic

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Transfers of American Express Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic miles will have a 30% bonus through May 22, 2017.

This is a fantastic deal that sets up a chance to book one way awards to Europe for 8,000 Membership Rewards+ $150.

You must transfer Membership Rewards in 1,000 point increments, so until May 22:

  • 1,000 Membership Rewards = 1,300 Virgin Atlantic miles

Three Reasons Why You Want Virgin Atlantic Miles

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

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

The first reason to get Virgin Atlantic miles is that economy class awards to Europe requires far fewer miles than competitors’ charge. As long you avoid Peak travel* dates:

  • from Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C. you only need 10,000 Virgin Atlantic miles (8k Membership Rewards with current transfer bonus) for a one way economy flight to London
  • from Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Miami, Seattle, and Orlando, you only need 12,500 Virgin Atlantic miles (10k Membership Rewards) for a one way economy flight to London
  • from Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco, you only need 15,000 Virgin Atlantic miles (12k Membership Rewards) for a one way economy flight to London

*Peak travel dates are: March 31 to April 18, 2017; June 22 to September 06, 2017; December 13 to January 3, 2018. They apply to economy, Premium Economy, and Upper Class redemptions.

During those peak travel times, prices are:

  • 20,000 Virgin Atlantic miles (16k Membership Rewards with current transfer bonus) for a one way economy flight to London from Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C.
  • 22,500 Virgin Atlantic miles (18k Membership Rewards) for a one way economy flight to London from Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Miami, Seattle, and Orlando, you only need
  • 25,000 Virgin Atlantic miles (20k Membership Rewards) for a one way economy flight to London from Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco

Fuel surcharges are collected on every Virgin Atlantic award flying their own planes, but one way from the United States to Europe in economy the out of pocket expense totals just under $150.


Combine a one way from the eastern United States to Europe for 8k Membership Rewards plus $148.60 and return from a low tax country–like Spain or Switzerland–to the United States on a one way award with Singapore miles (on a United flight) for a very cheap European vacation. Returning from London will incur expensive departure taxes.

Virgin Atlantic has since changed its award prices to fly their own flights, but Scott 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 17,500 miles (14k Membership Rewards) and $148.60.

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.

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy
Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy

Virgin Atlantic has relatively frequent 30% off sales on awards between the United States and Europe, like this one last year. Another 30% off sale stacked with the current 30% transfer bonus would mean a one way to London from Boston, New York, and Washington would cost only 6k Membership Rewards in economy or 10k Membership Rewards in Premium Economy! That’s crazy cheap, even considering the out of pocket cost!

Is This The Best Deal to Europe?

Other than WOW Air’s occasional sales from the US to Iceland, yes.

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

2. INCREDIBLE VALUE PARTNER AWARDS

Virgin Atlantic has several airline partners.

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 (35k Membership Rewards) + $99
  • Los Angeles or San Francisco to Auckland roundtrip in Business Class on Air New Zealand: 125,000 miles (97k Membership Rewards) + $69
  • London to New York roundtrip in Economy Class on Delta: 40,000 miles (31k Membership Rewards) + $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 well over $1,000 per roundtrip award in Upper Class. Same as the advice I gave above about flying only to London with Virgin Atlantic miles in economy/Premium economy applies here as well. Flying to London from the majority of the east coast as well as Chicago or Detroit will cost 47,500 Virgin Atlantic miles (37k Membership Rewards) and $500 or more out of pocket.

While the out-of-pocket cost is a big drawback, it could make sense to take advantage of booking Upper Class with the transfer bonus. Crunch your own numbers to find out.

You Can Expect This Transfer About This Time Every Year

If you read When Was the Last Transfer Bonus? Part 1: Membership Rewards, you’d have been expecting this transfer bonus any day now. Transfer bonuses in the spring of every year (and sometimes fall as well) have been customary between Membership Rewards and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. Want to take advantage of this transfer bonus in the future? Here are some of the top Membership Reward earning cards right now…

Credit card links have been removed from posts and added to the menu bar at the top of every page of MileValue under the heading Top Travel Credit Cards.

Bottom Line

Through May 22, you will receive a 30% transfer bonus for transferring your Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.

If you’re planning a trip to Europe, you should consider your options with Virgin Atlantic. This transfer bonus makes for incredibly cheap economy and Premium economy awards to Europe during non-Peak travel dates, as well as a few other sweetspots redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles on partner airlines.


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.

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6 COMMENTS

    • Sign into your Membership Rewards account online (or access your Membership Rewards account via your Amex card’s online account)

  1. Is there some way to soften this blow with the fuel charges. I can find the flights from US to LHR for 17.5k but for both of us, the fuel charge and taxes are $500 one way. I guess I could pay with the Barclay card and get rebated.

    I will still need to get to Copenhagen from LHR.

    Any suggestions

  2. Hey Sarah–Speaking about using Singapore to fly United home from Europe–Can I use Singapore to fly other Star Alliance partners like Lot, Austrian, or Air Canada home from the EU? How do I search for those?

    • Hi Ralph. Yes, you can, and you can find their award availability on united.com. The issue with redeeming Singapore miles on other Star Alliance carriers are fuel surcharges. You can estimate how much the fuel surcharges will be on ITA Matrix–here’s how.

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