Disclosure: We get a commission for links on the blog. You don’t have to use our links, but we’re very grateful when you do. American Express, Barclaycard, Chase, and US Bank are Million Mile Secrets advertising partners. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or endorsed by our partners. Here’s our Advertiser Disclosure.
Through March 10, 2016, you’ll get 50% more points when you transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to Virgin America. You can redeem Virgin America points for award tickets on Virgin America and several partner airlines, including to Hawaii and Australia!
You’ll get 150 Virgin America points per 200 AMEX Membership Rewards points you transfer. The usual rate is 100 Virgin America points per 200 AMEX Membership Rewards points. So this is a nice bonus!
Remember, you’ll pay an excise fee of 0.06 cents per point (to a maximum of $99) when you transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to US airlines, including Virgin America.
But keep in mind, Virgin America imposes high fuel surcharges on some international partner award tickets.
I’ll show you the best deals!
50% More Virgin America Points With AMEX Transfer
You’ll get 50% more points when you transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Virgin America by March 10, 2016.
You usually get 100 Virgin America points for every 200 American Express Membership Rewards points transferred. But this promotion gets you 150 Virgin America points.
You earn American Express Membership Rewards points with these cards:
|Personal Cards||Business Cards|
|Premier Rewards Gold Card From American Express||The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN|
|American Express® Mercedes-Benz Platinum||The Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||The Enhanced Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN|
|AMEX EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express||Business Green Rewards Card from American Express OPEN|
|AMEX EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express|
|American Express® Gold Card|
|American Express® Green Card|
|Blue from American Express® Note: These are the ONLY AMEX cards that earn Membership Rewards points that can NOT be transferred to airline & hotel programs. But you can use these points on the Membership Rewards website for other redemptions. Includes personal AND small business versions of the card.|
How to Use Virgin America Miles
AMEX Membership Rewards points transfer instantly to Virgin America.
So if you can find an award seat, you can book it right away. You can get the price of any award ticket with Virgin America’s award flight calculator. And then check how many AMEX Membership Rewards points you’ll need to transfer.
Remember, Virgin America adds high fuel surcharges, to flights on partner airlines Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia, and Emirates. And you can NOT book partner award seats online. You have to call Virgin America at 877-359-8474 to book.
Note: Points transfers can NOT be reversed once they’re complete.
There are a few good ways to use Virgin America points. Let’s look at some examples.
Folks on the West Coast can get a round-trip ticket to Hawaii on Hawaiian Airlines for:
- 20,000 Virgin America points in coach
- 50,000 Virgin America points in Business Class
You can fly to Hawaii from:
- Las Vegas
- Los Angeles
- San Diego
- San Francisco
- San Jose
You can also get inter-island award flights within Hawaii on Hawaiian Airlines for 3,000 Virgin America points each way (and 6,000 points for a round-trip award ticket). That can be a good deal, too!
With the transfer bonus, you can fly round-trip on Hawaiian Airlines to Hawaii in coach for ~27,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points. That’s a great deal if you can find a seat!
Unfortunately, folks in New York will pay a lot more points for an award ticket to Hawaii.
But it could be worth using Virgin America points so you can save your other miles for international flights and pay less fuel surcharges.
You can also redeem Virgin America points for flights on Virgin Australia to Sydney or Brisbane, Australia.
From Los Angeles round-trip, you’ll pay:
- 40,000 Virgin America points in coach
- 60,000 Virgin America points in Premium Economy
- 80,000 Virgin America points in Business Class
With the 50% bonus, you’d need to transfer ~53,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points for a round-trip coach ticket. Or ~107,000 points to fly in Business Class!
That’s a great price! And, fuel surcharges on this route are ~$130 round-trip, which isn’t a lot.
For comparison, you’ll pay 80,000 Delta miles each way for the same Business Class award seats on Virgin Australia. So you’d save over ~50,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points with this deal on round-trip flights!
Award flights from Los Angeles to Australia on Qantas cost 45,000 Qantas miles each way in coach. And 96,000 Qantas miles each way in Business Class!
London, Singapore, & Beyond
But it’s usually NOT a good deal because you’ll pay hundreds of dollars in fuel surcharges. I don’t like paying these junk fees!
But it’s something to keep in mind if you have lots of Virgin America points. Or if you have set dates and can only find award seats on 1 of these airlines.
Within the US
Of course, you can also redeem Virgin America points for flights on Virgin America. But when you do, the number of points you’ll need is tied to the retail cost of the ticket. This only applies to flights on Virgin America – NOT for partner award flights.
Unless you can find a cheap sale fare, there are better ways to spend your points. For example, I found a 1-way flight from New York to Las Vegas for $276, or ~12,000 Virgin America points.
You’d have to transfer ~16,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points to pay for the flight. But considering most airlines charge 12,500 miles for a 1-way domestic award flight in coach, this isn’t a good deal unless you have set dates. Or can’t find an award seat on another airline.
It’s worth checking your travel dates to see if you can get a deal!
You can get a 50% bonus when you transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Virgin America through March 10, 2016.
You can also get award seats on Virgin America flights, but it’s only good in certain situations because the number of points you need is tied to the cost of the ticket.