Virgin America

Through September 30th, 2016, sign up to receive emails from Virgin Hotels and Virgin Sport and earn 500 Virgin America points for each.

These aren’t huge miles, but they are easy to get, since signing up will take no time and is free.

screen-shot-2016-09-20-at-6-55-32-pm

Considering I value Virgin America Elevate miles more than any other mile at 2.3 cents each, signing up for both of these emails is a no brainer. Even if you don’t use them they will eventually turn into Alaska miles because Alaska Airlines bought Virgin America. Need another reason? It will keep any old miles that have been sitting in your Elevate account from expiring.

Terms & Conditions

Virgin Hotels Email Promotion 

* Offer valid until September 30th, 2016. Only one email address is allowed and only one set of 500 points will be awarded per Elevate account number. Bonus reward points earned in this offer do not qualify towards Elevate Gold or Elevate Silver status. Please allow 10 days for your points to post from the promotion end date.

By subscribing you agree to our terms and conditions. Virgin Hotels has the right to email news, promotions, event information. Click here for Virgin Hotels Terms and Conditions.

Virgin Sport Email Promotion

* Offer valid until September 30th, 2016. Only one email address is allowed and only one set of 500 points will be awarded per Elevate account number. Bonus reward points earned in this offer do not qualify towards Elevate Gold or Elevate Silver status. Please allow 10 days for your points to post from the promotion end date.

By subscribing you agree to our terms and conditions. Virgin Sport has the right to email news, promotions, event information. 

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.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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9

Update July 7, 2016: You can fly two one ways (or an open jaw) on JetBlue to qualify for the points match, you do not have to fly a classic roundtrip.

The qualifying date to register in this points match promotion has already passed. If you registered, congratulations on all the free JetBlue points coming your way! To clarify the second half of what is necessary to earn the TrueBlue points: You are not restricted to having to fly an actual roundtrip on JetBlue by August 31, 2016. You can, and that will still qualify, but you can also fly two one ways (or an open jaw itinerary) by August 31, 2016. This was confirmed with me by two TrueBlue agents over the phone. It may be best to call and check yourself before counting on your desired itinerary as qualifying, but know that you should not be restricted to a traditional roundtrip.

JetBlue and Virgin America have been caught in a competitive flurry ever since Alaska Airlines won the bidding war over JetBlue and announced the planned purchase of Virgin America. The latest play by JetBlue could be very lucrative for you, so read carefully.

JetBlue TrueBlue will (at least) match whatever points you have in your Virgin America Elevate account if you fly a qualifying roundtrip (or two one way) flight(s) on JetBlue by August 31, 2016.

This is one of (if not the best) deal I’ve seen all year. Status matching is relatively common, but never have I seen competition get so stiff that point matches are brought to the table.

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 8.02.32 PM

The Deal

As long as you have a balance of points in your Virgin America Elevate account, no matter where they came from, JetBlue will give you at least that many TrueBlue points and probably more. Check out the chart to see how many TrueBlue points you could qualify for depending on how many Elevate points you have:

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 6.32.39 PM

You just have to show them proof of your Elevate account balance and then fly a roundtrip (or two one way) JetBlue flight(s).

Perhaps the most amazing part of this promotion that makes it actually accessible to many of us is that TrueBlue isn’t discriminating between whether the points in your Elevate account were earned from flying, from the Virgin America co-branded credit cards, or even if they’re transferred in from a program like Starwood Preferred Guest, Ultimate Rewards, or Membership Rewards.

What it’s Worth

This promotion is obviously worth more the more Virgin America points you have. I value JetBlue points at about 1.3 cents each, so to me it’s worth:

  • $65 if you have between 500 and 5,000 Elevate points
  • $130 if you have between 5,001 and 10,000 Elevate points
  • $390 if you have between 10,001 and 30,000 Elevate points
  • $650 if you have between 30,001 and 50,000 Elevate points
  • $975 if you have more than 50,000 Elevate points

TrueBlue uses a revenue-based redemption system, so the award prices depend on the cash price of the ticket. Elevate also uses a revenue-based redemption system, at least on their own flights. You can redeem Elevate points on some partners for outsized value though, since partner redemptions have fixed values (check out the award calculator tool).

Transferring Points to Elevate

Unless you just happen to have a bunch of Elevate points lying around from flying or their co-branded credit cards (that will not apply to the majority of us), you have to ask yourself if the opportunity cost of moving some or all of your transferrable points (i.e. Membership Rewards, ThankYou Points or SPG points) to Virgin America is worth it. It depends on how much you value Elevate points, and how much you value the miles of the other transfer partners you have the option to move your points to.

First of all, I would not transfer Membership Rewards or ThankYou Points to Virgin America. Those programs have a 2:1 transfer rate to Virgin America that essentially destroys the value (unless they happen to whip out a transfer bonus before this promotion is over).

But we were hit with huge news in April that Virgin America Elevate was added a transfer partner to Starwood Preferred guest, at a ratio of 1:1. Personally, I value Virgin America points VERY highly (2.3 cents each) so I would have no qualms moving my points over, especially since the transfer ratio is effectively 1:1.25 if you transfer 20,000 SPG points at a time (you’ll get a 5k Elevate point bonus). Unfortunately my travel schedule at the moment doesn’t allow time to take the qualifying JetBlue flights in time. Sad face.

The Qualifying “Roundtrip” Flight

And taking a little mileage run on a JetBlue flight would certainly be worth the nearly $1,000 that 75,000 TrueBlue points are worth to me, even if you weren’t previously planning a trip to any of the 97 destinations that JetBlue flies to. Depending on how cheap you could find a the flights for for, it could be worth it for the 50k or 30k point match tiers as well. Here’s a roundtrip between Boston and New York for $100, and I’m sure you can find cheaper:

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 9.27.23 PM

 

So what exactly qualifies as a “roundtrip flight” on JetBlue for this promotion?

You can either fly:

  • a traditional roundtrip
  • two one ways (this should also mean open jaw itineraries)

The other conditions are:

  • Must be a newly booked flight(s), purchased after you are registered for the promotion
  • Travel must be finished by August 31, 2016

I originally thought (and wrote in the original version of this post) that a standard roundtrip flight was necessary to qualify for the points match, but after speaking to multiple JetBlue representatives over the phone,  I was told that two one ways would also suffice.

How to Register

The process is overly simple:

1. Send a screenshot of your Elevate account dashboard (including first name, last name, and points balance) to pointsmatch@jetblue.com by July 4, 2016**. Example of an acceptable screenshot:

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 6.34.08 PM

2. Wait for the email that says you’re officially registered in the promotion.

3. Book a roundtrip (or two one way) flight(s) on JetBlue and complete travel by August 31, 2016.

4. Watch the free money roll in.

Like I said, the process is really, really simple.

There is already a FlyerTalk thread forming about this promotion, and it looks like JetBlue is ready to rumble. This FlyerTalker heard back from TrueBlue just three hours after completing the steps above to register.

**You have to show JetBlue your Elevate Account dashboard (with points balance) by July 4, 2016. But don’t worry, you still have time to transfer SPG points to Virgin America Elevate. One Mile at a Time just did a few days ago and it only took 17 hours to complete.

Bottom Line

If you have a lot of Virgin America points (or can get them by transferring SPG points), then I would seriously consider a mileage run to qualify for this promotion. You could get up to a thousand dollars worth of JetBlue points for doing it. I would do it if I could.

Show TrueBlue your Virgin America Elevate points balance by July 4, and fly a roundtrip (or two one ways) on JetBlue by August 31, and get a ton of JetBlue points. Awesome.

Terms & Conditions

*This offer is available to new or existing TrueBlue members. To qualify, members must send an email including their TrueBlue number and a picture of their Elevate® account dashboard showing first name, last name, and points balance to pointsmatch@jetblue.com by 7/4/2016, await receipt of an email to confirm registration for the promotion and then book new roundtrip flights operated by JetBlue and completed all travel by 08/31/2016. Number of points awarded will be based on Elevate® points balance evidenced by submitted proof. Proof is are subject to verification. TrueBlue number must be provided at the time of booking. Offer can only be redeemed one (1) time by any individual. Points awarded in conjunction with this promotion are considered bonus points and do not count towards earning Mosaic status. Offer does not apply to non-revenue travel; is not valid on flights operated by airline partners; is not valid in connection with any Getaways vacation packages, cruises, or any other product or service and may not be combined with other special offers. In the event you cancel your reservation or change your reservation so that it no longer complies with the terms of this offer, you will not receive any of the promotion bonus points. TrueBlue points will be awarded within 4-6 weeks after round-trip flight. Offer can be cancelled or modified at any time. TrueBlue Terms and Conditions apply.

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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.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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4

If you haven’t heard yet, JetBlue’s frequent flyer program TrueBlue is running an incredible promotion right now– read this learn how to enter. They will match your Virgin America Elevate points balance for simply sending them a screenshot of the dashboard of your Elevate account, and then purchasing and flying a roundtrip flight on JetBlue before August 31, 2015.

Screen-Shot-2016-06-24-at-6.34.08-PM-e1466803572716-1
The screenshot you send to JetBlue should look like this.

The fact that you can easily pad your TrueBlue account balance (with up to 75,000 more TrueBlue points) if you have any Virgin America or SPG points (you can transfer SPG points to Virgin America Elevate at 1:1) makes the JetBlue Plus by Barclaycard a lot more interesting.

Why You Should Apply for the JetBlue Plus Card if You’re Doing the TrueBlue Points Match

On March 10 Barclaycard announced the issuance of four new JetBlue credit cards:

  • one that will replace the American Express JetBlue card that will now be called the JetBlue Rewards Card
  • The JetBlue Card
  • The JetBlue Plus Card
  • The JetBlue Business Card

Here is the summary of their benefits:

Screen-Shot-2016-03-10-at-2.55.49-PM
(click to enlarge)

Read my post comparing these cards here.

JetBlue uses a revenue-based redemption system, so the award prices depend on the cash price of the ticket. One TrueBlue point is generally worth about 1.3 cents, sometimes more and sometimes less. That makes the sign-up bonus on the JetBlue Card worth about $130 (womp, womp), and the sign-up bonus on the JetBlue Plus card worth about $390 (not totally captivating, but somewhat more interesting).

As One Mile at at Time aptly pointed out, if you look at the rest of the benefits that come with the JetBlue Plus, you’ll see what makes having a large balance of TrueBlue points from the current points match promotion worth a lot more: a 10% redemption bonus. This means you get 10% of your TrueBlue points rebated after every redemption.

Let’s assume for a second that you sign up for the JetBlue Plus card. If you…

  1. rake in the maximum amount of TrueBlue points from the JetBlue/Virgin America points match promotion (75,000),
  2. meet the JetBlue Plus card’s minimum spending requirement of $1,000 in 90 days, and you get 30,000 TrueBlue points for that,
  3. redeem all 105,000 TrueBlue points over time, and get the 10% rebate for being a JetBlue Plus card holder (an additional 10,500 TrueBlue points)
  4. redeem those 10,500 TrueBlue points over time, and get the 10% rebate for being a JetBlue Plus card holder (an additional 1,050 TrueBlue points)
  5. etc, etc, until the end of time

…that means all in all, you would earn 116,550+ TrueBlue points worth $1,515+ in travel, of which 41,550 TrueBlue points ($540) would be thanks to the JetBlue Plus card.

I haven’t factored in the $99 annual fee that is not waived the first year, but the free checked bag and 50% discount on inflight purchase benefits should make up for it. If you want to keep the card past the first year, you get a 5,000 point bonus (worth about $65) on every account anniversary that helps balance out the annual fee that much more.
Screen-Shot-2016-03-10-at-3.20.02-PMIt may or may not be worth it you to sign up for the JetBlue Plus card, depending on how many points you’ll be earning from the JetBlue/Virgin America points match and how often you fly JetBlue, but I certainly think the card is worth more investigation now. Run your own evaluation with your own numbers to see for yourself.

Bottom Line

When I wrote about my opinion of JetBlue’s new credit cards back in March, I said the only card worth consideration is the JetBlue Plus– and pretty much only if you are a regular JetBlue flyer (three to four roundtrips per year). But with the current promotion JetBlue is running that can easily boost your TrueBlue account balance quickly, the value of the 10% rebate on redemptions you receive with the JetBlue Plus card would be magnified.

While I can not directly link to the JetBlue Plus offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

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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.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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2

For a 90 trial period, Virgin America will match the status you have with either JetBlue, United, Delta, Southwest, or American Airlines to either Elevate Gold or Silver. The offer is valid until 11.59 PM PT September 30, 2016. The 90 day trial period begins after you register.

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You also have the opportunity to maintain that status through the end of 2017 by earning a set amount of Elevate points.

How to Get Your Status Matched

You just have to complete the following steps:

  1. If you’re not already a member of Virgin America’s frequent flyer program Elevate, join here.
  2. Email statusmatch@virginamerica.com your Elevate member account details as well as proof of your elite status with the other airline. A screenshot of your most recent mileage summary or a copy of your membership card showing your name and current elite level will suffice. Luggage tags, boarding passes, travel itineraries, and co-brand credit cards are not considered proof of elite status.

After sending in proof of your status, you should get a confirmation from Virgin America seven to 14 days later letting you know your status is matched and you can start enjoying the extra benefits.

Click here to read more about the benefits offered with Elevate Silver and Elevate Gold status.

How Your Current Status Will be Matched with Virgin America

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Retaining Elevate Status Past 90 Day Trial Period

Below are the amounts of Elevate points you’ll need to earn within the 90 day trial period– what Virgin America calls the Challenge Period–in order to keep that matched status.

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 8.56.41 PM

Those amounts are heavily reduced if you have one of the Virgin America Visa Cards.

If you are an avid Virgin America flyer and were already thinking about signing up for the Virgin America Visa Signature® Card or the Virgin America Premium Visa Signature® Card, right now would be the time to do it. You have to be approved before the end of the 90 day Challenge Period to qualify for the reduced amount of status points necessary to retain your matched status.

Bottom Line

If you have status with one of three US legacy carriers, Southwest or JetBlue, it’s very easy to get Virgin American to match that status in their Elevate program. It takes just a few minutes to register and you can enjoy the perks of either Elevate Silver or Gold status for no extra effort on your part.

If you want to retain that status, you have the opportunity to do so by earning 12,000 Elevate points for Gold or 5,000 for Silver–or even less if you have one of Virgin America’s credit cards.

Virgin America ran this same promotion in 2015. If you applied and had your status matched in that promotion last year, you are not eligible to do it again this year.

Status Match Terms & Conditions

¹ Click here for the full terms and conditions of the Elevate Status Match offer. Please allow between 7 to 14 days from application to update your Elevate status, and please note that incomplete applications may not be considered. The following restrictions will apply to Elevate Status benefits available during the 90-day Challenge period: a) Matched members will not receive 25% off personal discount codes. b) Matched members will receive one complimentary day pass to the Virgin America airport lounge at LAX. c) Matched members may not have access to all reciprocal benefits on Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia that require the member to present their physical membership card. Matched members will receive unrestricted access to published Elevate Status Benefits through the end of the 2017 membership benefit year provided they meet or exceed the published challenge requirements during the 90-day Challenge period.

* Points required to redeem an Elevate travel reward on Virgin America will be publicly available on a seat and flight-specific basis and are subject to change. Domestic reward bookings are subject to a security fee of $5.60 per one-way trip payable by credit card or Virgin America credit file, where each one-way trip may include a connection or stopover between two domestic flights not exceeding 4 hours. There may be multiple one-way trips on the same reward booking. The Passenger Facility Charge and Segment Fees are waived for domestic reward bookings. For international reward bookings, Virgin America guests are responsible for any taxes and fees incurred from international travel. These taxes and fees are subject to change at the discretion of each country’s government and also vary from country to country depending on the origin and destination.

** Reduced Status points required if matched member applies for, and is approved for the Virgin America Visa Signature Card with $49 annual fee, or the Virgin America Premium Visa Signature Card with $149 annual fee prior to the end of matched member’s 90-day Challenge period. Terms and conditions apply. Subject to credit approval. The Virgin America Visa Signature Credit Cards are issued by Comenity Capital Bank, pursuant to a license from Visa USA.

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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.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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Last week I wrote about SPG’s newest airline transfer partner. You can now transfer Starpoints 1:1 to Virgin America Elevate points and get 5,000 bonus Virgin America points for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred. That’s particularly amazing because Virgin America is a 2:1 transfer partner of American Express and Citi (eg 20k Membership Rewards = 10k Virgin America points.)

One of the best deals with Virgin America points is flying Virgin Australia from Los Angeles to Sydney or Brisbane. One way awards in Business Class are only 45,000 Virgin America points (40k SPG points.)

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 9.39.10 PM

Roundtrips are an even better deal:

  • 40k Virgin America points in economy (35k SPG)
  • 60k in Premium Economy (50k SPG)
  • 80k in Business (65k SPG)

The Product

Virgin Australia’s old Business Class is not the nicest in the world, but you’ll hardly be slumming it.

You get a fully flat bed that is 6’2″ long with a duvet and pillow. You’ll have a personal entertainment screen and access to an onboard bar.Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 3.15.07 PM

Not all seats have direct aisle access, and reports of the food and service are less glowing than with Asian airlines, but this a solid Business Class product where you will be able to sleep and entertain yourself on the 14+ hour flights.

Plus Virgin Australia has already started rolling out a new, better Business Class that gives all seats direct aisle access.

But this bed and those sweet spots are only theoretical if there isn’t award space on the routes. How much Business Class award space is Virgin Australia releasing right now?

Virgin Australia Business Class Award Space

It is a truism of miles that airlines release Saver award space equally to all partners. (This is only very occasionally not true though phone agents say it isn’t true all the time when they are too incompetent to find the award space you know exists.) A corollary is that anywhere we can search Virgin Australia award space will show us the award space that is available with Virgin America points.

We can search Virgin Australia award space on delta.com five weeks at a time.

I did that for one passenger for the next 11 months on all four flights (LAX to Sydney and Brisbane in both directions), and the only award space that is available is within one week of departure.

Days that say “80,000” have Virgin Australia award space that is bookable for 45,000 Virgin America points one way or 80,000 roundtrip.

Los Angeles to Sydney

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 2.49.06 PMLos Angeles to BrisbaneScreen Shot 2016-04-20 at 2.49.52 PM

Sydney to Los Angeles

LAX > SYD bizSydney to Brisbane
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Good News, Bad News

The good news is that if you can wait until the last minute to book your award, you should be able to find award space. That bad news is that if you can’t, you are not going to be able to book Virgin Australia Business Class at the moment.

This pattern could change at any moment. Virgin Australia used to release 4+ award seats in Business Class basically every day, even over Christmas and New Year.

Other Business Class Options to Australia

Award space to Australia in Business Class is always tough. If you must book more than a week out to Australia, right now United offers a smattering (green and blue days) on its Los Angeles to Sydney…

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 3.07.54 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-20 at 3.08.12 PM…and Los Angeles to Melbourne routes.Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 3.08.59 PM

American, Qantas, and Delta offer less Business Class award space than Virgin Australia.

Virgin Australia Economy Award Space

If you can survive 15 hours in economy, there is plenty of Virgin Australia economy award space. This calendar shows space from Los Angeles to Sydney. All days that say “45,000” can be booked for 25,000 Virgin America points one way or 40,000 roundtrip.

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 2.56.13 PM

You Don’t Live in Los Angeles

If you don’t live in Los Angeles, that is a bit of a problem as these Virgin America awards to Australia are priced only from Los Angeles. You will need a separate award on Virgin America (that will be priced based on the cash ticket’s price) to Los Angeles, or you can get yourself there with cash or any other type of miles.

Hopping Around Australia/NZ/Oceania

Your best bets if you want to see more of the area than just Sydney and Brisbane are to use Avios to fly Qantas or Virgin America points to fly Virgin Australia, including flights to remote Pacific Islands for only 9,500 Virgin America points one way.

How to get SPG Points

The Starwood Preferred Guest personal and business credit cards from American Express now come with 25,000 bonus Starpoints for spending $3,000 and $5,000 respectively in the first three months of cardmembership.

Searching For Award Space, Transferring SPG points and Booking

While you can price out a partner redemption on Virgin America’s website using their award calculator (it also conveniently shows out of pocket taxes and fees), you can neither find award space nor book there.

If Virgin Australia space shows up on delta.com, it is bookable with Virgin America points, so search delta.com. Note the date, cabin, and flight number and call 877-359-8474 to speak to a Virgin America representative. Unfortunately there is an unavoidable $20 phone booking fee.

Bottom Line

Virgin America offers an incredible deal on flat bed award space to Australia: 45,000 points one way in Business Class or 80,000 points roundtrip. The problem is that Virgin Australia releases very little award space, and all of it is in the week before departure at the moment.

Either wait until the last minute to book Virgin Australia award space with Virgin America points, book United Business Class to Australia, or book wide open Virgin Australia economy award space to Australia with Virgin America 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.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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17

Effective immediately, you can transfer SPG Starpoints to Virgin Elevate points at a 1:1 rate. Like all 1:1 partners of SPG, you get 5,000 bonus miles for every 20,000 points transferred, so 20,000 Starpoints equals 25,000 Virgin America points.Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 12.17.34 PM Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 12.17.47 PMThis is 2-and-a-half times the Virgin America points that you get from competing transferable points. Virgin America is a 2:1 transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points and American Express Membership Rewards, so 20,000 of those transferable points equals only 10,000 Virgin America points. 

I have always thought that SPG Starpoints (2.5 cents each) were more valuable than Membership Rewards (2 cents each) and ThankYou Points (1.9 cents each), but not two-and-a-half times more valuable!

The reason that Membership Rewards and ThankYou Points offered 2:1 transfers to Elevate Points, and the reason today’s news that Starpoints transfer 1:1 (4:5 in increments of 20,000 Starpoints) is because Virgin America has a very deflated award chart.

Virgin America’s points are very valuable. I value them at 2.3 cents each, which means that Starpoints are worth 2.875 cents each when transferring to Virgin America points. Why are they so valuable?

Yes, you’re reading this right that it costs only 80,000 Virgin America points roundtrip in flat bed Business Class from the United States to Australia!
Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 12.22.07 PM

Check out my full recent posts on Sweet Spots with Virgin America Points that also details the routing rules. Let’s look at the sweet spots in light of the news that SPG Starpoints transfer 20,000 SPG points to 25,000 Elevate points:

  • Virgin America offers revenue-based redemptions on its own flights. Elevate points are worth about 2 cents each toward any Virgin America flight with no blackouts. That means SPG points are worth about 2.5 cents toward any Virgin America flight.
  • 80,000 Virgin America points (65,000 SPG points) is a roundtrip in Business Class between Los Angeles and Brisbane or Sydney with Virgin Australia
  • 45,000 Virgin America points (35,000 SPG points) is a one way in Business Class between Los Angeles and Brisbane or Sydney with Virgin Australia
  • 20,000 Virgin America Elevate Points (20,000 SPG Points) is a roundtrip in Economy between the western United States and Hawaii on Hawaiian Airlines
  • 3,000 Virgin America Elevate Points (3,000 SPG Points) is a one way Economy interisland flight on Hawaiian Airlines
  • 3,600 Virgin America Elevate Points (3,600 SPG Points) is a one way in Economy on Singapore Airlines within Southeast Asia (like Bangkok to Singapore for example, or Singapore to Bali)

Warning: using Elevate points for Emirates or Virgin Atlantic awards will incur high fuel surcharges. However there are some premium awards flying Virgin Atlantic Upper Class that could be worth it if you’re cash rich and points poor, like:

  • New York, Newark, Washington DC, Atlanta or Chicago to London: 35,000 Elevate Points (30,000 SPG Points) + $1,100
  • Roundtrip from Boston or Detroit to London: 35,000 Elevate Points (30,000 SPG Points) + $910

Upper Class is Virgin Atlantic’s Business Class and is the best cabin on the plane. It offers offers a flat bed, Clubhouse access, and access to an onboard bar.

Bottom Line

Starting today, SPG points transfer 1:1 to Virgin America points, and 20,000 SPG points are worth 25,000 Virgin America points. That’s amazing because 20,000 Membership Rewards or ThankYou Points are worth 10,000 Virgin America points.

Virgin America’s points are very valuable. I value them at 2.3 cents each.

You can get 2.5 cents of value from your SPG points on Virgin America flights, book a roundtrip to Europe in flat beds for 30,000 SPG points plus fuel surcharges, or book a roundtrip in flat beds to Australia for 65,000 SPG points and no fuel surcharges.

Most programs charge 100k+ miles to Europe and 150k+ to Australia.

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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.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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4

Today Alaska Airlines announced it will buy Virgin America, after weeks of speculation. Alaska beat out JetBlue in the bidding.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 11.33.31 AM

Alaska is predicting that it will take nine months to close the deal and another year beyond that for the carriers to combine onto a single operating certificate.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 11.33.49 AM

To give you an idea of the relative sizes of these airlines, look at the 2015 passenger numbers for North American airlines, according to Wikipedia.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 11.23.53 AM

Virgin America is a minnow. Combining with Alaska will only move Alaska up one spot into the fifth largest American airline, passing JetBlue, but even the combined airline will be less than a fifth the size of American Airlines. (Even if a future tie up with JetBlue happens as some have speculated, the combined JetBlue-Alaska-Virgin America would be only about half the size of United or Southwest and 40% as big as American.)

Alaska and Virgin America are both primarily West Coast airlines. The combined route map shows that.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 11.20.37 AM Both airlines have a hub in Los Angeles right now. Additionally Alaska has hubs in Portland, Seattle, and Anchorage, with a focus city in San Jose. Virgin has a hub in San Francisco and a focus city in Dallas.

What Will Happen to Alaska Miles & Virgin America Points

I mainly care about this merger as it affects my points.

Basics of Each Program

Alaska Airlines runs a traditional mileage program in which miles are earned by distance flown and redeemed according to region-based award charts.

I have Alaska miles as the fourth most valuable miles, worth 1.75 cents each. Alaska miles are fantastic to fly Cathay Pacific First or Business Class, Iceland Air, Hainan Air Business Class, American Airlines at pre-devaluation prices, Fiji Airlines, and several other interesting partners. Unfortunately they are no longer useful to book Emirates First or Business Class.

Virgin America runs a new-school points program with earning and redemption revenue based on Virgin America flights, though points are redeemed according to award charts for Virgin America partner flights.

Virgin America points are actually the most valuable points on my list, worth 2.3 cents each. Virgin America points can be redeemed on Virgin America flights with no blackouts, at a rate of 2-2.3 cents per point. Partner awards include 80,000 points roundtrip to Australia in a flat bed with no fuel surcharges.

Both programs are great, and they are very different from one another. I hate to see them merge because diversity in mileage programs is per se a good thing for us. It lets us use each program for its unique strengths, raising the value of all of our miles and points.

Unfortunately the two programs will merge, although not until after the transaction closes, which is predicted for January 1, 2017.
Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 11.21.16 AM Alaska miles should be the surviving miles. I expect Virgin America points to become Alaska miles at a 1:1 rate, which is a slight devaluation of Virgin America points.

Hopefully there is a period before the forced conversion of Virgin America points during which you can transfer points freely back and forth between your Alaska and Virgin America accounts. We saw that option during the United/Continental merger, though there was no such option during the American/US Airways merger.

Credit Cards

Similarly, it looks like the Alaska credit card will survive and the Virgin America credit card will disappear.Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 11.21.36 AM

This is a little different than the American/US Airways merger which left Citi as the only issuer of new American Airlines credit cards, but let Barclaycard convert US Airways cards to American Airlines cards and continue to service its old accounts.

Transfer Partners

Virgin America is a transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points and American Express Membership Rewards. Both have a transfer ratio of two credit card points to one Virgin America Elevate point, although both have offered 25% transfer bonuses (8:5 ratio during bonus).

Alaska is a transfer partner of SPG Starpoints. Twenty thousand Starpoints equals 25,000 Alaska miles.

It would be amazing if the new Alaska retained all three transfer partners! Imagine being able to transfer ThankYou Points 1:1 to Alaska miles and booking Cathay Pacific for 70,000 miles one way to Asia or Africa!

Bottom Line

Alaska Airlines is buying Virgin America and expects the deal to close at the start of 2017. Alaska will fold Virgin America’s brand and frequent flyer program into its own.

I will keep a close eye on the combination of Alaska Mileage Plan and Virgin America Elevate, so we can maximize the value of the programs before, during, and after the merger.

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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.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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

Virgin America is 2:1 transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points, meaning 1,000 ThankYou Points transfer to 500 Virgin America Elevate points. Virgin America is also a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards at the same transfer ratio.

Virgin America has five partners you can redeem Elevate Points with:

  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Virgin Australia
  • Emirates Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines

Virgin America Flights vs. Partner Redemptions

Elevate Points are redeemed differently depending on whether you use them to book a flight on Virgin America Flights or one of its five partners.

  • If redeeming on a Virgin America flight, the required amount of points is tied to the revenue cost of the ticket. This means that you don’t have to search for specific award space, as any flight that is available on virginamerica.com can also be booked with Elevate points (ie no blackout dates.) Elevate points are on average worth about two cents a piece.
  • For flying partners, the award pricing is fixed. There is no traditional chart like other loyalty programs often use, but you can price out awards (including taxes, fees and fuel surcharges) with the award calculator tool on Virgin America’s website.

Since redeeming Elevate points on Virgin America flights is revenue based, the following routing rules only apply to partner award redemptions.

Routing Rules

One Way Pricing

It is possible to book one way awards, but most cost more than half the price (around 60 to 70%) of a roundtrip award. It appears that some might be half the price, but I’m only aware of one that is (interisland flights within Hawaii are 3,000 Elevate Points one way and 6,000 roundtrip). If any of you have discovered others through your own searching, please let us know in the comments.

Stopovers and Open Jaws

As Virgin America uses segment-by-segment pricing, you can technically have as many stopovers as you would like. You could also have as many open jaws as you would like, but it will come at a cost since one way awards are usually more than half the price of a roundtrip.

Sweetspots for Redemptions on Virgin America

Because Virgin America uses revenue based award pricing for redemption on their own flights, this means there aren’t technically “sweetspots” since the revenue cost of a ticket fluctuates. Cheap, short-haul domestic flights or spur of the moment airfare sales you can’t otherwise use your miles or points for would be the best case scenarios in which to use Elevate Points. To find out how many Elevate Points it would cost to fly a Virgin American flight, search on virginamerica.com and when you get to the results page, bubble in Elevate Points instead of US dollars.

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 7.28.25 PM

Sweetspots for Partner Redemptions

To search for how many Elevate Points it costs to fly one of Virgin America’s partners, use their award calculator tool.

  • 20,000 Virgin America Elevate Points (40,000 ThankYou Points) is a roundtrip in Economy between the western United States and Hawaii on Hawaiian Airlines
  • 3,000 Virgin America Elevate Points (6,000 ThankYou Points) is a one way Economy interisland flight on Hawaiian Airlines
  • 3,600 Virgin America Elevate Points (7,200 ThankYou Points) is a one way in Economy on Singapore Airlines within Southeast Asia (like Bangkok to Singapore for example, or Singapore to Bali)

Warning: using Elevate points for Emirates or Virgin Atlantic awards will incur high fuel surcharges. However there are some premium awards flying Virgin Atlantic Upper Class that could be worth it if you’re cash rich and points poor, like:

  • New York, Newark, Washington DC, Atlanta or Chicago to London: 35,000 Elevate Points (70,000 ThankYou Points) + $1,100
  • Roundtrip from Boston or Detroit to London: 35,000 Elevate Points (70,000 ThankYou Points) + $910

Upper Class is Virgin Atlantic’s Business Class and is the best cabin on the plane. It offers offers a flat bed, Clubhouse access, and access to an onboard bar.

How to Find Award Space and Book Partner Redemptions

While you can price out a partner redemption on Virgin America’s website, you cannot find award space nor book there. To investigate award space, search on the following sites for award space:

If Virgin Atlantic or Australia space shows up on delta.com, it is bookable with Virgin America points. Same for Emirates space on alaskaairlines.com. On hawaiianair.com, you need to find Super Saver space and on singaporeair.com Saver space for the flight to be bookable with Virgin America points.

Take notes of what you find because to book, you will need to call (877-359-8474) to speak to a Virgin America representative. Unfortunately there is an unavoidable $20 phone booking fee.

Transfer Bonuses

The Virgin America Elevate program has been known to run transfer bonuses in the past, like this 25% bonus for transferring Citi ThankYou Points to Elevate Points back in September and October of 2015, and this 50% bonus for transferring Amex Membership Rewards to Elevate Points in February and March of this year. Keep an eye out for these bonuses as they magnify the value of the already cheap redemptions.  For example, if you had booked a roundtrip in Economy between the western United States and Hawaii during the 25% bonus last year, it would have only cost 15,000 Elevate Points (30,000 ThankYou points).

Transferring ThankYou Points to Virgin America Elevate Points

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

How ThankYou Points Work

As a quick refresher, there are two ways to use ThankYou Points:

  1. Use them like cash to purchase any flight on any airline with no blackouts. They are worth 1.25 to 1.6 cents toward any cash fare depending on the airline and the Citi cards you have.
  2. Transfer them to one of the 12 airline partners (like Virgin America) or to Hilton points. Then your points are whatever miles you chose, subject to that award chart and those rules.

How to Get ThankYou Points

Right now the Citi Prestige® Card comes with 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening.

 Bottom Line

Virgin America is a transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points and Amex Membership rewards at a transfer ratio of 2:1. You can redeem them on Virgin America’s own flights for roughly two cents point, which would be useful if you needed to book a domestic revenue ticket you’d rather not use your miles for. You can also redeem Elevate points on five different partners for fixed amounts. There are some especially good values using Elevate points for flights on Hawaiian Airlines from the mainland US and interisland, as well as Virgin Atlantic Upper Class to London from the eastern US.

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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.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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Through March 10, 2016, American Express is offering a 50% transfer bonus from Membership Rewards to Virgin America Elevate Points.

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 12.38.20 PMThe normal transfer ratio is 200 Membership Rewards to 100 Elevate Points, but for the next month, the ratio will be 200 Membership Rewards to 150 Elevate Points.
Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 12.38.31 PM

How Membership Rewards Work

As a quick refresher, there are two ways to use Membership Rewards:

  1. The dumb way: use them like cash to purchase flights, car rentals, hotels, or cruises at a paltry rate of 1 cent per point
  2. The smart way: transfer them to one of the 16 airline partners or three hotel partners. Then your points are whatever miles you chose, subject to that award chart and those rules.

16 Airline and 3 Hotel Partners

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 12.49.10 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 12.49.18 PM

Best Uses of Virgin America Elevate Points

Virgin America points are worth about 2 cents each toward Virgin America flights. They are usually worth more than that when redeemed on award charts for Hawaiian Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and Virgin Australia flights. The only one of those partners on which Virgin America collects fuel surcharges is Virgin Atlantic.

Bottom Line

Through March 10, American Express Membership Rewards enjoy a 50% transfer bonus to Virgin America Elevate Points, bringing the transfer rate to 200 MR -> 150 Virgin America points.

This unlocks some incredible deals on partner airlines like Hawaiian, Virgin Atlantic, and Virgin Australia.

Hat Tip Doctor of Credit

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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.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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The Citi Prestige offer mentioned in this post is expired. See the new offer and analysis here.

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Citi ThankYou Points have added a new airline transfer partner–its 12th–Virgin America Elevate Points. The normal transfer ratio will be 1,000 ThankYou Points to 500 Elevate Points, but there is a 25% transfer bonus through October 21, 2015, so 1,000 ThankYou Points equal 625 Elevate Points at the moment.

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 10.50.17 AM

How ThankYou Points Work

As a quick refresher, there are two ways to use ThankYou Points:

  1. Use them like cash to purchase any flight on any airline with no blackouts. They are worth 1.25 to 1.6 cents toward any cash fare depending on the airline and the Citi cards you have.
  2. Transfer them to one of the 12 airline partners or to Hilton points. Then your points are whatever miles you chose, subject to that award chart and those rules.

How to Get ThankYou Points

Right now the Citi Prestige® Card and the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card come with 50,000 and 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points respectively after $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening. You can even get both just eight days apart for 96,000 bonus ThankYou Points.

New Full List of 13 Transfer Partners

The full roster of Citi airline and hotel transfer partners, all 1:1 unless noted:

  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
  • Etihad Guest
  • Garuda Indonesia Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchard Plus
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Qantas miles
  • Virgin America Elevate (2 TY -> 1 Virgin America)
  • Hilton HHonors (2 TY -> 3 Hilton)

Best Uses of Virgin America Elevate Points

Virgin America points are worth about 2 cents each toward Virgin America flights. They are usually worth more than that when redeemed on award charts for Hawaiian Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and Virgin Australia flights. The only one of those partners on which Virgin America collects fuel surcharges is Virgin Atlantic.

Bottom Line

Citi ThankYou Points are putting the pressure on Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards.

First Citi started offering huge sign up bonuses on both the Citi Prestige® Card and the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card. While those bonuses are active, Citi has steadily added more airline transfer partners. In the last few months, it has even begun to offer occasional transfer bonuses.

The newest transfer partner is Virgin America Elevate points, and there is a 25% transfer bonus on the normal 2:1 transfer rate for the next month. Virgin America points are worth about 2 cents each for Virgin America flights or can be worth more on the super cheap award charts that Virgin America publishes for travel on Virgin Australia, Virgin Atlantic, and Hawaiian.

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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.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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Transfer 80,000 American Express Membership Rewards to 40,000 Virgin America Elevate points by December 31, 2015 and receive top tier Virgin America Gold Status through February 2017.

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 8.01.50 AM

In addition, if you complete the transfer by October 8, 2015, you will get 25% more Elevate points, so 80,000 Membership Rewards would equal Gold Status plus 50,000 Virgin America points.

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 8.00.12 AM

Good Deal?

I value Membership Rewards at 2 cents each. I value Virgin America points at 2 cents each. Elevate points can be redeemed for a nearly-fixed value on Virgin America flights or according to award charts on partner airlines.

I ordinarily wouldn’t transfer Membership Rewards at the 200:100 ratio to Virgin America points. Even with a 25% bonus, 200 MR:125 Elevate is a bad deal.

But the addition of Gold Status makes things interesting.

Assuming you value both Membership Rewards and Virgin America points at 2 cents, then transferring 80,000 Membership Rewards to 50,000 Elevate Points plus Gold Status is like spending $600–the value of the “lost” points–on Gold Status. The perks of Virgin America Gold Status are:

  • Access to the Virgin America Loft at LAX (also a Priority Pass that you can access with free membership from the Citi Prestige® Card)
  • Complimentary upgrades to Main Cabin Select (24 hours before the flight)
  • Priority access to purchase first-class upgrades
  • Three free checked bags
  • Priority security and priority boarding
  • 100% bonus on points on all money spent on Virgin America flights (ie 10 points per dollar)
  • 25% discount on two main cabin tickets per year

Is that worth $600 to you? Probably not. If it were, you would probably already have Virgin America Gold Status because one thing I’ve noticed about status is that the people who can most use it are the same people who earn it in the first place because using it and earning it both require a lot of flying.

Bottom Line

I’m sitting out this transfer bonus/status grab. I have flown Virgin America once in my life, and I probably will fly it once or zero times before February 2017. But if you are in the weird position of not having flown Virgin America much so far but planning to fly it a lot in the next 17 months, by all means, you should transfer 80,000 Membership Rewards to 50,000 Virgin America points plus Virgin America Gold Status by October 8.

Even though I won’t take advantage, I love this innovation from American Express, and I hope Citi and Chase come up with exciting promotions to compete.

 

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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.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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Virgin America no longer collects fuel surcharges on redemptions that fly Virgin Australia.

That means you can fly Virgin Australia’s flat bed Business Class from Los Angeles to Sydney or Brisbane for only 80,000 Virgin America points + $130 in taxes roundtrip. Delta charges 80,000 miles one way for the same flights!

Virgin Australia award space is widely available for up to 12 people on a single flight, including over peak times like Christmas and New Year’s.

But there are two catches:

  1. Virgin America points are expensive to acquire with cash or point transfers.
  2. This price is good from Los Angeles to Sydney or Brisbane, not from other American cities or to other Australian cities.

Getting Virgin America Points

There are Virgin America credit cards that earn one Virgin America Elevate Point per dollar, but the sign up bonus is only 10,000 to 15,000 points.

You can buy Virgin America points for 5.2 cents each normally. Until April 4, 2015, you can buy Virgin America points with an 80% bonus on points purchased. That brings the price of points to 2.9 cents each. You can only purchase 20,000 points per year–36,000 with the 80% bonus–for $1,040.

You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards at a rate of 2 Membership Rewards to 1 Virgin America point. There are occasional 30%, 35%, and 40% bonuses on the transfer rate. The most recent was a 35% transfer bonus that ended February 15, 2015. At that rate, you could have transferred 118,600 Membership Rewards to the 80,000 Virgin America points needed for a roundtrip Business Class flight to Australia.

Of the three methods, I think the best way to get Virgin America points is to wait for the Membership Rewards transfer bonuses.

The Award Price

Virgin America has different award charts for each partner. Here is the interactive chart for Virgin Australia flights booked with Virgin America points.

You select a departure and arrival city to get the prices. Los Angeles to Sydney is 40k/60k/80k Virgin America points roundtrip in economy/Premium Economy/Business Class.

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 10.15.03 AM

One way prices are slightly more than 50% of the points.Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 10.15.13 AM

You can also book domestic flights on Virgin Australia. Melbourne to Adelaide is 3,500 points one way.

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 10.53.32 AM

And flights to Virgin Australia’s destinations in the Pacific. Melbourne to Fiji is 25,000 points roundtrip.

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 10.53.52 AMBottom Line

Using Virgin America points to book Virgin Australia points just got several hundred dollars cheaper with the elimination of fuel surcharges. The price remains 80,000 points roundtrip in Business Class from Los Angeles to Sydney or Brisbane.

If you live in a different city in the United States, you’ll need to book your ticket to Los Angeles separately. If you want to go to a different city in Australia, that will also require a separate ticket.

Virgin America points are tough to rack up, since the Virgin America credit card sign up bonus is only 15,000 points, the points cost 5.2 cents each to buy, and 2 Membership Rewards transfer to 1 Virgin America point.

But if you wait for a 30-40% Membership Rewards transfer bonus, you’re looking at around 120,000 Membership Rewards and $130 in taxes for a roundtrip award to Australia on a flat bed.

Hat Tip The Points Guy

 

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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.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

cc-reward-320x50

This is the nineteenth post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flyer miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go.

I’ve covered how to earn miles and the redemption options for miles. Now I’m giving the basics on several major airline programs where you can quickly collect miles for amazing trips. Today: the Southwest Rapid Rewards, JetBlue TrueBlue, and Virgin America Elevate programs. I’m taking all three together because they are similar programs.

Why Collect Southwest, JetBlue, and Virgin America Points?

All three types of airline points can save you big on your next domestic trip or near international trip.

All three types of points can access every flight on their respective airlines with no blackouts.

  • What airlines can you fly with Rapid Rewards, TrueBlue points, and Elevate points?
  • What are the special features of each program?
  • How can you book Rapid Rewards, TrueBlue, and Elevate awards?
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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.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

cc-reward-320x50

There is currently a 30% transfer bonus on Membership Rewards transfers to Virgin America.

Until April 30, 2014, 200 Membership Rewards transfer to 130 Elevate points. (The normal rate is 200 Membership Rewards to 100 Elevate points.)

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 2.42.37 AM

What are the sweetspots on the Virgin America chart that might make a transfer worthwhile?

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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.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

cc-reward-320x50

There is currently a 40% transfer bonus on Membership Rewards transfers to Virgin America. The normal rate is 200 Membership Rewards to 100 Elevate points.

Until September 30, 200 Membership Rewards transfer to 140 Elevate points.

What are the sweetspots on the Virgin America chart that might make a transfer worthwhile?

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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.

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The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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