How to Earn and Use Virgin America Points – Part 2: Earning Virgin America Points

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Update:   You can now transfer Citi ThankYou points to Virgin America!

Virgin America is a West Coast based airline that flies to several cities in the United States and a few cities in Mexico.  Their flights are concentrated along the West Coast, and from their hub cities (San Francisco and Los Angeles) to the East Coast.

A lot of people like flying Virgin America since they’ve marketed themselves as a very “hip” brand!  But most of us here care more about Virgin America points and what you can do with them.

How To Earn And Use Virgin America Points Part 2 Earning Virgin America Points

You Can Earn Virgin America Points in Ways Other Than Flying

How to Earn and Use Virgin America Points

Part 2:  Earning Virgin America Points

Link:   Virgin America

Link:   Virgin America Elevate Frequent Flyer Program

1.   Comenity Bank Virgin America Visa Signature Cards

Link:   Comenity Bank Virgin America Visa Signature Cards

Link:   My Review of the Virgin America Cards

The easiest way to earn Virgin America points is with the Virgin America Visa Signature cards.  These cards come in a regular and premium version, with different annual fees and sign-up bonuses.

Note:   To apply for these cards, you’ll need to sign-in to your Virgin America account.

The Virgin America Premium Visa Signature Card gets you:

  • 15,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the 1st 3 months (worth ~$320 in flights)
  • 3 points per $1 you spend on Virgin America
  • 1 point per $1 you spend on everything else
  • 1 free checked bag for you and a traveling companion (but you must use the card to pay for the flight)
  • $150 companion ticket discount each year
  • 20% discount on in-flight purchases like entertainment, food, and drink (but not Wi-Fi)
  • No change or cancel fees if you pay for your flight with the card
  • 5,000 status (elite-qualifying) points for every $10,000 you spend each year on the card, up to a maximum of 15,000 points per calendar year
  • Annual fee of $149, not waived for the 1st year
How To Earn And Use Virgin America Points Part 2 Earning Virgin America Points

You’ll Get Closer to Elite Status If You Spend a Lot on the Virgin America Premium Visa Signature Card

And with the regular Virgin America Visa Signature Card, you get:

  • 10,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the 1st 3 months (worth ~$215 in flights)
  • 3 points per $1 you spend on Virgin America
  • 1 point per $1 you spend on everything else
  • 1 free checked bag for you and a traveling companion (but you must use the card to pay for the flight)
  • $150 companion ticket discount each year
  • 20% discount on in-flight purchases like entertainment, food, and drink (but not Wi-Fi)
  • Annual fee of $49, not waived for the 1st year
How To Earn And Use Virgin America Points Part 2 Earning Virgin America Points

You’ll Earn Extra Points When You Use Your Virgin America Card to Buy Tickets

On both cards, you earn 1 point per $1 you spend on regular purchases, and 3 points per $1 you spend on Virgin America.

If you book a paid Virgin America ticket, you earn 5 points per $1 you spend automatically, so buying your ticket with this card gets you 8 points per $1 you spend (5 points automatically + 3 points from using the card).

That’s like getting a 17% discount on your flight!  Because each point is worth ~2.15 cents, you’re getting ~17 cents back per $1 you spend (8 points x ~2.15 cents per point).   So if you buy paid tickets on Virgin America a lot, this could be a good card for you.

How To Earn And Use Virgin America Points Part 2 Earning Virgin America Points

Here’s to Saving 17 Cents for Every $1 You Spend on Virgin America!

How Are These Cards Different?

The premium version of the card waives change and cancellation fees, but only if you paid for your ticket with the card.  This only applies to paid tickets, not award seats.

It’s nice that Virgin America gives this benefit to premium credit card holders, although Southwest gives it to all of its customers on all types of tickets! 🙂

The premium version of the card also awards 5,000 status points (not redeemable points) for every $10,000 you spend in a calendar year (up to 15,000 status points for spending $30,000).  If you are a frequent Virgin America flyer and a Big Spender, this can be useful.

That’s because you need 20,000 status points ($4,000 spent on Virgin America flights) to achieve Elevate Silver status, which gets you:

  • Priority check-in, security, and boarding
  • Upgrades to Main Cabin Select (their premium coach class, with extra legroom) if available
  • 25% bonus on points earned when flying
  • A 25% off discount code off a Main Cabin (coach class) flight
How To Earn And Use Virgin America Points Part 2 Earning Virgin America Points

With Elevate Silver Elite Status, You’ll Get Upgraded to Main Cabin Select If There’s Space

So if you earned 15,000 status points with the credit card, you would only need 5,000 more status points ($1,000 in paid tickets) to earn Elevate Silver status.  If you are a frequent Virgin America traveler, this could be worth looking into.

You need 50,000 status points ($10,000 spend on Virgin America flights), to achieve Elevate Gold status.  Even if you earned the maximum 15,000 status points with the credit card, you would still need to earn 35,000 status points ($7,000 spent on tickets).  You would have to be a very frequent Virgin America flyer to achieve this!

2.   Transferring Points From Other Credit Cards

Link:   American Express Membership Rewards

Link:   American Express Platinum (Personal)

Link:   American Express Platinum (Business)

Link:   American Express Premier Rewards Gold

Link:   American Express EveryDay Preferred

You can transfer points from American Express Membership Rewards to Virgin America’s frequent flyer program at a ratio of 200 American Express Membership Rewards points to 100 Virgin America points.

You’ll pay a fee of 12 cents per 200 American Express Membership Rewards points you transfer (or 60 cents per 1,000 points), to a maximum of $99.  For example, if you transfer 10,000 American Express points to 5,000 Virgin America points, you would pay a $6 fee (10,000 American Express points x 60 cents per 1,000 points).

How To Earn And Use Virgin America Points Part 2 Earning Virgin America Points

You Can Transfer AMEX Membership Rewards Points to Virgin America in Increments of 200 Points

100 Virgin America points are worth ~$2.15, while 200 American Express points are worth ~$2 if you redeem them for gift cards or travel.

But if you have the American Express Platinum (Business) card, you can redeem points at 1.25 cents each for travel, so 200 American Express points would be worth $2.50 toward travel (worth more than transferring to Virgin America).

That said, American Express occasionally runs transfer bonuses.  And if you need to top off a Virgin America account for an award ticket, this can be a good way to get the extra points.

3.   Flying

Of course, if you book a paid ticket on Virgin America, you’ll earn Virgin America points.  This is worth considering with the $150 companion ticket discount, since you have to pay for both tickets.

You can get as much as a ~28% rebate on your paid Virgin Atlantic flights when you’ve reached Elevate Gold status and you use the Virgin America Visa Signature card to pay for your ticket.

Your rebate in points will be between ~11% and ~28% depending on if you use the Virgin American Visa Signature card and your status with the airline.

For folks who like to see the math, here is how it works out:

You earn 5 points per $1 you spend on Virgin America flights, which is an ~11% rebate (5 points x 2.15 cents per point).  If you purchase the ticket with either Virgin America Visa Signature card, you earn an additional 3 points per $1 you spend, or a total of 8 points per $1 you spend (~17% rebate).

If you have Elevate Silver status, you earn 6.25 points per $1 you spend, which is a ~13.5% rebate (6.25 points x 2.15 cents per point).  By using your Virgin America Visa Signature card to pay for your ticket, you get an additional 3 points, or a total of 9.25 points per $1 you spend.  That’s ~20% rebate (9.25 points x 2.15 cents per point).

If you have Elevate Gold, you earn 10 points per $1 you spend, or a ~21.5% rebate (10 points x 2.15 cents per point).  If you purchase tickets with the Virgin America Visa Signature card, you get an additional 3 points per $1, or a total of 13 points per $1.  You’re getting a ~28% rebate on flights (13 points x 2.15 cents per point).

Bottom Line

You can earn Virgin America points from the Virgin America Visa Signature cards.  Depending on the version you apply for, you’ll earn a sign-up bonus of 10,000 to 15,000 points after meeting minimum spending.

American Express Membership Rewards points also transfer to Virgin America at a ratio of 200 American Express points to 100 Virgin America points.  You’ll pay a small fee for each transfer, but sometimes there are transfer bonuses.

You’ll earn at least 5 points per $1 you spend when you fly on paid Virgin America tickets.  And if you use the Virgin America card, or have elite status, you’ll earn even more.

Stay tuned for all the ways to use Virgin America points!

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