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If you can time your flexible point transfers with periodic transfer bonuses then you can basically create more points out of thin air. Right now through November 30, 2017, there is a 30% transfer bonus from Amex Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. This means that 1,000 Amex Membership Reward points will equal 1,300 Flying Club Miles for a limited time.
This also means that you can fly from some points in the US to the UK in economy from just 8,000 Membership Reward points + $148 in taxes and fees. However, this transfer bonuses applicability reaches way beyond just Virgin Atlantic operated flights and also opens up opportunities even for those operating within the US with Delta, so hang tight with me even for a minute if you aren’t crossing the pond anytime soon.
Fly Virgin Atlantic to the UK from 8,000 Membership Reward points +$148 in taxes/fees
Virgin Atlantic divides the US into four zones and has standard and peak level award pricing. They do charge some fuel surcharges on their award flights along with the already nasty UK taxes, so this deal won’t be for everyone, but there are some award prices to note.
First, let’s talk about their dates as that has everything to do with award costs. Their standard (cheaper) award dates are:
- September 7 – December 12, 2017
- January 7 – March 28, 2018
- April 17 – June 21, 2018
- September 7 – December 12, 2018
Peak season dates are everything else, AKA Christmas, Easter/Spring Break, and summer. While that does impact families, it isn’t terrible for everyone as those dates don’t cover our spring break and our summer break starts several weeks before their peak summer prices kick in. In this post, I am just going to focus on their standard award prices, but if you want to travel during the peak times you can find those prices here.
To give you an idea of how they divide the US cities into zones, here are some examples:
US – Northeast: Boston, Newark, New York JFK, Washington DC
US – Midwest: Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit
US – South: Miami and Orlando
US – West: Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle
UK – Northeast US
Round trip prices listed, but one-ways are half of the round trip price on Virgin Atlantic operated flights
- 20,000 Economy
- 35,000 Premium Economy
- 95,000 Upper Class
UK – US Midwest, South, and Mexico
- 25,000 Economy
- 45,000 Premium Economy
- 95,000 Upper Class
UK – US – West
- 30,000 Economy
- 55,000 Premium Economy
- 135,000 Upper Class
If you transferred 16,000 Amex Membership Reward points to Virgin Atlantic you would have more than enough miles with the 30% transfer bonus to book a 20,000 mile round trip economy award from the Northeast to the UK. Your taxes and fees would be about $462, though a one-way economy ticket from the US Northeast to the UK would only run you 8,000 transferred Membership Reward points and about $148 in taxes and fees if that met your needs better.
If you wanted to fly in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class from Miami to the UK it would cost you 95,000 Virgin Atlantic miles round trip + about $1,268 in taxes and fees. However, with the 30% transfer bonus those 95k Virgin Atlantic miles would only require about 74,000 transferred Membership Reward points. While the 74k is a good deal, the taxes and fees make it overall not that great of a deal, but it is still one to be aware of.
A potentially better middle ground could be Virgin Atlantic premium economy that starts at just 35,000 miles per round trip + taxes and fees. With the 30% transfer bonus that would cost you 27,000 transferred in Membership Reward points for a round trip from the Northeast US. The UK departure fees are nasty even in premium economy, but a one-way ticket from the US Northeast to the UK would run you 17,500 miles (aka 14,000 transferred Membership Reward points) + $173 in taxes/fees, which does seem like a good deal to me. Award availability on Virgin Atlantic is pretty good, though not available every single day at those prices.
Use Virgin Atlantic Miles to Fly Partners
In addition to using Virgin Atlantic miles on Virgin Atlantic operated flights, they also have many partners including Delta, ANA, Singapore, Air New Zealand, Hawaiian, and more. Each partner has their own award chart, and some of them are pretty fair to favorable.
I know one popular Virgin Atlantic partner award chart is ANA as it offers Japan/Australia to Canada and the Western US starting at 90,000 miles round trip in business class and 110,000 in first class. You must book round trip awards with this partner and while I haven’t booked it myself, my understanding is that the taxes and fees are just a couple hundred dollars. With the 30% transfer bonus, those prices would start at 70,000 transferred Membership Reward points for business class and 83,000 for first class, which is very good.
Delta First Class Awards from 18,000 Membership Reward Points + $5.60
Another popular Virgin Atlantic partner is Delta, and not only can you fly Delta to the UK and beyond with Virgin Atlantic, but you can even book a good old US 48/Alaska/Canada round trip from 25,000 miles in economy and 45,000 in domestic first with one-way awards available for half that amount on many routes. Factoring in the 30% transfer bonus, that means you can book Delta operated round trips via Virgin Atlantic from 20,000 transferred in Membership Reward points in economy and just 35,000 transferred Membership Reward points in domestic first, which is a pretty good deal.
Here’s one example of this phenomenon…. for a simple Houston – LaGuardia Delta operated flight in December, Delta wants 44,000 SkyMiles + $5.60 for a one-way first class seat.
However, if you book via Virgin Atlantic, it is just 22,500 miles + $5.60 for the same exact seat. With the 30% transfer bonus that is roughly 18,000 transferred Amex Membership Reward points + $5.60. That is a fantastic opportunity if you wanted to fly Delta domestic first class, and the availability was actually really very good on many test searches I ran at that pricing level. That said, I would run several test searches of your own before making a transfer as not every route prices at this level or has the same availability patterns.
The Virgin Atlantic website can be wonky when loading Delta flights, but if you are having trouble, use the drop-down country/state/city features they offer as shown below instead of entering the airports manually as that seems to help.
This Amex 30% transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic works from Membership Rewards earning cards such as:
- The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
- The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
I’d love to know if you found a way to make this limited time 30% transfer bonus from Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic work for you?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.