Should I go for the 30% transfer bonus to Virgin? Reader input requested.

The Amex Membership Rewards 30% transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic ends Monday, May 22.  I’m tempted to take advantage of it, for several reasons:

  1. Virgin Atlantic miles are extremely valuable towards ANA first class flights.
  2. Virgin Atlantic miles can be quite valuable towards Delta flights.
  3. Virgin Atlantic miles can be valuable for Virgin Atlantic awards and upgrades if you don’t mind dealing with high fuel surcharges.
  4. Necker Island.  I want to go back.  See:  Is Necker Island really worth 1.2 million miles?

I thought I’d also want to collect Virgin Atlantic miles in order to book other Virgin Limited Edition properties (see: The Hunt for Virgin Duckies), but then I compared paid prices to award prices.  At most properties, you get only 1 cent per mile value.  So, if I transfer my Membership Rewards points with the 30% bonus and book these awards, I’d get only 1.3 cents per point value.  That’s not good.  The Mahali Mzuri property is one exception: it appears to offer 1.5 cents per mile value when you book 5 nights for 800,000 miles.  That would give me 1.95 cents per point value from my Membership Rewards points.  That’s not bad, but it does require a boatload of miles.

So, there are several reasons for transferring points, but none are for immediate use of the miles.  And that’s part of the problem.  If I transfer now, there’s no guarantee that there will be any good use for those miles by the time I’m ready to redeem them.  A bigger issue is that the Business Platinum card’s 50% pay with points rebate is going away.  Until it’s gone, it gives me a guaranteed 2 cents per point value.  Shouldn’t I use my points in that way while I can?

Hedging bets

I’m inclined to transfer approximately 1/3rd of my available Membership Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic right now.  And I’ll wait for the next Citi ThankYou transfer bonus (they offer a 25% transfer bonus fairly regularly).  Overall, I’d prefer to use up Citi points than Amex points.

On the other hand, while I wasn’t planning to go to Mahali Mzuri anytime soon, I couldIt looks and sounds awesome.  If I decide to go, I’ll need 800,000 Virgin Atlantic miles.  I currently have 231,000 miles, so I need 569,000 more. With the 30% transfer bonus, 438,000 Membership Rewards points would get me there.

What do you think?  These questions have been milling in the back of my mind since the transfer bonus appeared in April.  Now it’s time for me to decide!

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Pingbacks

  1. […] Welcome to our weekly list of what’s ending this week as well as a collection of some of the best ongoing deals around. This being the next-too-last week of the month, not many deals are scheduled to end this week. The two main deals ending this week are the British Airways Companion fare sale (ending today) and the 30% bonus when transferring Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic miles. Greg needs your help in deciding whether or not to take advantage of that one. […]

Comments

  1. Right there with you, hoping to redeem for ANA F but no immediate plans and programs do devalue without notice. Seems silly to speculatively transfer points but it’s such a good deal!

  2. Honestly, I was never impressed by the Amex biz platinum’s 50% points back. Value-wise it is no better than paying with a 2% cash back card. I would take the transfer bonus in a heart beat since 30% transfer bonus is probably as good as it gets.

  3. The best way to book Virgin Limited is by hoarding a bunch of points from BofA card. Now that it is not so easy anymore, you may have to transfer some points. I’m booked for Mahali Mzuri in June and had to supplement my balance with some MRs and TYPs but the best way IMO is by using SPG to Marriott vacation package.

  4. I say go for it. Just used it and then booked Delta One from JFK to LHR for 50k VA miles each way. Had to connect from BWI in economy. So this increased it to 62.5 k each way. Delta miles for same routing would have been 70k each way. VA phone agent found and booked the routing no problems.

  5. This is fascinating to me 🙂
    The wise guru asking the pupils.
    It enhances just how incredibly personal travel can be, and more so, the points and miles aspect.
    We try to make rationalizations about irrational decisions. For me, it s the actual flights, and can be in heaven in a quaint boutique little hole.
    Also, most of the VA award options imply all kinds of positioning for us in the DFW area.
    The 50% back on MR has been like a lottery winning ticket for my recent travel plans, so, it has made my MR the most valuable currency in my “wallet” at the moment. As we know, this can all can change at a moment’s notice.
    Thank you for sharing your reasoning, as it contains valuable lessons.

  6. Very timely as always & yes always torn myself.

    My question is does anyone know if Vigin Atlantic does round the world tickets? My brief googling this afternoon between meetings was a bit inconclusive. Hoping to find out before 22nd deadline. If I can find out I may move my MR to take advantage of the 30% bonus. The biz plat 50% plat thing seems a bit mute to me personally as the amex travel portal options are always over priced. But I could just be doing it wrong 😉

    Thanks for any input!

  7. Just please please neve never say Necker Island ever again in this blog and I’ll give you all my MR points.

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