(EXPIRED) Great deal: 30% transfer bonus MR to Virgin Atlantic

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American Express Membership Rewards is once again offering a 30% transfer bonus when transferring Membership Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic. This can be a great deal if you are able to take advantage of some of Virgin’s partner awards and/or if you are looking to book a lap infant award ticket in premium cabins as Virgin has some excellent values. Furthermore, if you’d like to go to Necker Island and visit with Greg’s buddy Sir Richard, this can make it a lot easier if you have points to transfer (note that after the hurricane, Necker Island is not yet allowing bookings with miles again, but hopefully will do so soon)

The Deal

  • 30% transfer bonus from Amex Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • You can link your Flying Club account to Membership Rewards and transfer here.

Key Terms

  • Expires 11:59 p.m. MT on September 12, 2018
  • Additional miles are awarded at the time of transfer (instantly)
  • See your Amex account for additional terms

Quick Thoughts

First, it’s worth noting that Virgin Atlantic miles are not particularly useful for traveling to England on Virgin Atlantic unless you are traveling at a high peak time when the high fees on those tickets are reasonable compared to your cash options.

However, there are a few standout values if taking advantage of this transfer bonus:

1) Round trip First Class on ANA for 110K/120K Virgin Atlantic miles (85K/93K Membership Rewards points)

I recently flew ANA business class and it was very solid in my opinion. The food and service were excellent. The seat was spacious and cocoon-like. It wasn’t luxurious necessarily, but I liked it more than Cathay Pacific’s business class. I wish I had taken a picture of the first class cabin on the way through it. Here was a business class seat:

ANA Business Class

This is the website rendering of first class, which I think doesn’t do it justice:

ANA First Class

Virgin Atlantic charges 110,000 miles round trip from the West Coast or 120,000 from the East Coast for ANA first class, meaning you’ll just need to transfer 85,000 or 93,000 Membership Rewards points respectively. That’s an incredible deal for round trip first class travel for such a distance.

Keep in mind that you have to book ANA awards over the phone and that this sweet spot is always subject to change. It has existed for a long time, but you never know when it may end. I wouldn’t suggest transferring if your plans are only “someday”, but if you have a trip in mind this is an excellent value.

2) Book Delta awards for great prices

You can actually book Delta awards online with Virgin Atlantic, making it pretty convenient and easy to use Virgin Atlantic miles to book Delta awards (apart from the fact that the Virgin website is super kooky). What’s more, there isn’t really a clear rhyme or reason as to when Virgin Atlantic will show Delta availability — there are times when Delta is charging half a bajillion SkyMiles, yet availability shows up through Virgin Atlantic. At one point last year, tons of Delta One transcontinental availability popped up and I was able to snag flat-bed transcon flights for 18,000 Membership Rewards points each way (See: Holy availability! Transcon flat beds in Delta business for 18K points; Hawaii cheap, too). I haven’t seen such wide availability appear again on those flights, but we have seen similar instances where Delta One suites were bookable on some routes to Europe for 50K miles through Virgin Atlantic (See: Delta One suites for 50K to Europe w/ Virgin Atlantic miles) — with this transfer bonus, that would be less than 39,000 Membership Rewards points one way.

3) Great infant award pricing

Virgin Atlantic offers terrific pricing on infant award tickets:

  • Economy class = 1,000 miles per sector
  • Premium economy = 2,000 miles per sector
  • Upper Class = 5,000 miles per sector

Those are the rates before considering the transfer bonus (though keep in mind that you have to transfer in increments of 1,000). See the above screen shot — one nice thing is that the taxes and fees Virgin charges on infant tickets are significantly less than adult tickets. The flights above are from New York to London, a route where Virgin’s taxes and fees on an adult ticket come to $526 per person. As you can see, the infant ticket on the Virgin-operated flight would only incur $38.90 in fees, or no fees at all on Delta metal. Many programs charge 10% of an adult revenue fare; these rates are fantastic comparatively. If you’re planning to travel with a lap infant, it might be worth considering Virgin Atlantic.

4) Necker Island or other Virgin Limited properties

 

A couple of years ago, Greg spent a week on Necker Island, Richard Branson’s private island in the Caribbean. In lieu of paying the $30,000 cash price for a week there, Greg used 1.2 million Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles. These days, you also need to have Virgin Atlantic silver status to redeem for Necker Island, though I believe there are no such restrictions for the other Virgin Limited properties. If that interests you, I highly suggest reading about Greg’s experiences at Necker Island. (Note that after the hurricane, Necker Island is not yet allowing bookings with miles again, but hopefully will do so soon)

Bottom line

This is a bonus worth pursuing if you’ve got travel plans on ANA or Delta and/or if you intend to fly with a lap infant. If you had a Necker Island or other Virgin Limited redemption in mind, this bonus could certainly save you a hefty chunk of miles. It’s never a particularly good idea to transfer without any plans for use and keep in mind that award prices can change without notice, so it’s best to transfer with a relatively immediate use in mind. Speaking of that, transfers are (relatively) instant. I had the miles in my Virgin Atlantic account within a few minutes last time.

As always, we have added this to our Current Point Transfer Bonuses resource page.

H/T: reddit

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