6 Clever and Cheap Ways to Make the Most of This AMEX Transfer Bonus

We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

6 Clever and Cheap Ways to Make the Most of This AMEX Transfer Bonus

Million Mile Secrets6 Clever and Cheap Ways to Make the Most of This AMEX Transfer BonusMillion Mile Secrets Team

We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Ready to save big on your next award flight?  You can use your AMEX Membership Rewards points to fly to Europe in Delta’s Business Class.  And I’ll show you how to get it even cheaper using the Virgin Atlantic 30% transfer bonus that runs through November 30, 2017.

You’ll also see how to fly to New Zealand, Hawaii, and Asia!

6 Clever And Cheap Ways To Make The Most Of This AMEX Transfer Bonus
The Best Use of Virgin Atlantic Miles Isn’t Usually on Virgin Atlantic! I’ll Share the Best Partner Award Flights

I’ll show you some of the best ways to use Virgin Atlantic miles to take advantage of that transfer bonus!

1.   ANA First Class and Business Class Flights to Japan

Link:   Virgin Atlantic Award Chart for ANA Flights

ANA (All Nippon Airways) is an award-winning Japanese airline with excellent Business Class and First Class cabins.  And they’re partners with Virgin Atlantic!

6 Clever And Cheap Ways To Make The Most Of This AMEX Transfer Bonus
Enjoy Terrific Food and Service in ANA First Class for Far Fewer Miles Than You’d Pay With Other Airlines

Round-trip ANA award flights between Japan and the West Coast cost:

  • 90,000 Virgin Atlantic miles in Business Class
  • 110,000 Virgin Atlantic miles in First Class

From the Midwest and the East Coast you’ll pay slightly more:

  • 95,000 Virgin Atlantic miles in Business Class
  • 120,000 Virgin Atlantic miles in First Class

With the 30% transfer bonus from AMEX Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic, you’ll only need:

  • 70,000 to 74,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points in Business Class
  • 85,000 to 93,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points in First Class

Note:   The actual amounts are slightly lower, but you have to transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic in 1,000-point increments.

This is an incredible deal, especially because taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges are relatively low.  To compare, with other airlines between the US and Japan, you’ll pay:

  • 120,000 American Airlines miles round-trip in Business Class
  • 160,000 American Airlines miles round-trip in First Class
  • 140,000 United Airlines miles round-trip in Business Class (160,000 miles on partners)
  • 180,000 United Airlines miles round-trip in First Class (220,000 miles on partners)

If you want to go somewhere in Asia besides Japan, you’ll need to book a separate ticket (I recommend using British Airways Avios points to fly on Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific, or Malaysia Airlines for as little as 4,500 British Airways Avios points one-way).

6 Clever And Cheap Ways To Make The Most Of This AMEX Transfer Bonus
US ANA Destinations From Tokyo Narita and Haneda Airports

To book these awards, you’ll need to search for available award seats on United.com, because you can NOT search for ANA award flights on the Virgin Atlantic website.  Then call Virgin Atlantic at 800-365-9500 to book.

2.   Delta Business Class to Europe (Except UK)

Link:   Virgin Atlantic Award Chart for Delta Flights

Delta is also a Virgin Atlantic partner airline.  And Delta’s flagship Business Class, called Delta One, is a comfortable way to get from the US to Europe.  With this transfer bonus, you can get a great deal on those flights!

A non-stop, one-way flight from the US to Europe (except the UK) in Business Class costs 50,000 Virgin Atlantic miles.  So you’d pay just 39,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points with the current transfer bonus.

For comparison, these same flights would cost you at least 70,000 Delta miles.  Better yet, a one-way ticket starting in the US only has ~$6 in taxes, as long as you’re not flying to the UK.

6 Clever And Cheap Ways To Make The Most Of This AMEX Transfer Bonus
Fly to Destinations Like Amsterdam, Paris, and Rome, in Comfortable Delta One Business Class for Just 50,000 Virgin Atlantic Miles One-Way

If you’re trying to get to the UK, pricing is completely different, because Delta and Virgin Atlantic have aligned their award charts between the US and the UK.  Those routes have variable pricing depending on what part of the US you’re coming from, and whether you’re flying during peak season.  For a one-way flight, you’ll pay 47,500 to 77,500 Virgin Atlantic miles, plus a whopping $500 surcharge.  So using Virgin Atlantic miles is NOT a good deal to or from the UK.

Note:  Flights coming back from Europe to the US do have fuel surcharges, which can cost several hundred dollars.  So you might want to use your Virgin Atlantic miles to book your flight to Europe, and use other miles for your return flight.

You can search for Delta award flights and book them online at virginatlantic.com.

3.   Hawaiian Airlines to Hawaii

Link:   Virgin Atlantic Award Chart for Hawaiian Airlines Flights

Virgin Atlantic’s partner Hawaiian Airlines has been rolling out lie-flat seats in Business Class, which makes them a great option to get from the US mainland to Hawaii.

Round-trip Hawaiian Airlines award flights from the West Coast cost:

  • 40,000 Virgin Atlantic miles in coach
  • 80,000 Virgin Atlantic miles in Business Class

With the 30% transfer bonus from AMEX Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic, you’ll only need:

  • 31,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points in coach
  • 62,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points in Business Class
6 Clever And Cheap Ways To Make The Most Of This AMEX Transfer Bonus
Hawaiian Airlines Has Been Upgrading Their Long-Haul Business Class Seats Which Makes for a Much More Restful Flight Between the Mainland and Hawaii

That said, if you’re flying from the East Coast, it’s NOT a good deal (even with the transfer bonus).  You’ll pay (round-trip):

  • 80,000 Virgin Atlantic miles in coach
  • 130,000 Virgin Atlantic miles in Business Class

With the transfer bonus, this works out to:

  • 62,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points in coach
  • 100,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points in Business Class

To compare, if you booked the same round-trip Hawaiian Airlines award flights (from anywhere in the US mainland) using Hawaiian Airlines miles, you’d pay 40,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles in coach, and 80,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles in Business Class.  And you can transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to Hawaiian Airlines at a 1:1 ratio.

But from the West Coast, using Virgin Atlantic miles with the 30% AMEX transfer bonus is a nice deal!  And you’ll just pay a few dollars in taxes.

4.   Hawaiian Airlines from Hawaii to Asia, Australia, and New Zealand

Link:   Virgin Atlantic Award Chart for Hawaiian Airlines Flights

If you want to start your vacation in Hawaii (or live there!), you can redeem Virgin Atlantic miles for Hawaiian Airlines award flights to destinations in China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as Papeete and Pago Pago in the South Pacific.

6 Clever And Cheap Ways To Make The Most Of This AMEX Transfer Bonus
Visit Japan Like Emily Did! Flights From Hawaii to Tokyo Are a Good Deal With Virgin Atlantic Miles and the 30% AMEX Transfer Bonus

Round-trip Hawaiian Airlines award flights to Asia, Australia, and New Zealand from Hawaii cost:

  • 80,000 Virgin Atlantic miles in coach
  • 130,000 Virgin Atlantic miles in Business Class

With the 30% AMEX transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic, you’d pay:

  • 62,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points in coach
  • 100,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points in Business Class

This is a better deal than using Hawaiian Airlines miles for the same flights, which cost 80,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles in coach, and 130,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles in Business Class.

6 Clever And Cheap Ways To Make The Most Of This AMEX Transfer Bonus
Fly Between Hawaii and These Destinations in Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific on Hawaiian Airlines

To the South Pacific (Pago Pago, American Samoa, and Papeete, Tahiti) you’ll pay even fewer miles:

  • 55,000 Virgin Atlantic miles in coach
  • 95,000 Virgin Atlantic miles in Business Class

So with the 30% AMEX transfer bonus, these cost:

  • 43,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points in coach
  • 74,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points in Business Class

To compare, Hawaiian Airlines charges the same as Virgin Atlantic for these flights.  So you’ll do better with the 30% transfer bonus!

Hawaiian Airlines does NOT have fuel surcharges, so you’ll only have to pay for taxes and fees.

5.   Air New Zealand Business Class From the US to New Zealand

Link:   Virgin Atlantic Award Chart for Air New Zealand Flights

Virgin Atlantic partner Air New Zealand Business Class is a terrific experience!  They even have memory foam mattresses and full size pillows, plus great food!  You’ll want all of these things on such a long flight.

6 Clever And Cheap Ways To Make The Most Of This AMEX Transfer Bonus
New Zealand Is on Many Folks’ Bucket Lists – and You Could Use Virgin Atlantic Miles to Fly There on Air New Zealand

You can book a round-trip Air New Zealand Business Class award ticket from the mainland US to New Zealand for:

  • 80,000 Virgin Atlantic miles in coach
  • 125,000 Virgin Atlantic miles in Business Class

After the 30% AMEX transfer bonus, this equals:

  • 62,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points in coach
  • 97,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points in Business Class
6 Clever And Cheap Ways To Make The Most Of This AMEX Transfer Bonus
Fly Air New Zealand Between Auckland and Houston, Los Angeles, or San Francisco

To compare, if you booked the same flights with United Airlines miles (a Star Alliance partner with Air New Zealand), you’d pay (round-trip):

  • 80,000 United Airlines miles in coach
  • 180,000 United Airlines miles in Business Class

So you’ll certainly save by using Virgin Atlantic miles with the 30% AMEX transfer bonus!

Air New Zealand also flies to Honolulu, and those flights are a bit cheaper than their mainland US counterparts.  You’ll pay 60,000 Virgin Atlantic miles in coach or 90,000 Virgin Atlantic miles in Business Class (47,000 or 70,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points).  Watch out for fuel surcharges though!

6.   Non-Stop Delta Flights Within the Continental US and Canada

Link:   Virgin Atlantic Award Chart for Delta Flights

You can redeem 25,000 Virgin Atlantic miles to book a non-stop, round-trip flight in coach on partner Delta within the Continental US, Alaska, and Canada.  Or 45,000 Virgin Atlantic miles in Business Class.

While that’s equivalent to the prices American Airlines, Delta, and United Airlines charge for many domestic round-trip flights, you’ll end up doing better with Virgin Atlantic because of the transfer bonus.

With the 30% transfer bonus, for a round-trip non-stop Delta award flight, you’ll need:

  • 20,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points in coach
  • 35,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points in Business Class
6 Clever And Cheap Ways To Make The Most Of This AMEX Transfer Bonus
Fly Between Atlanta and Beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, on Delta for Less When You Transfer AMEX Membership Rewards Points to Virgin Atlantic

You can fly from Minneapolis or Salt Lake City to Anchorage, Alaska, New York City to Los Angeles or San Francisco, or Atlanta to Vancouver, British Columbia, or anywhere else Delta flies within the US!

If you want to fly in style, check out Delta’s flagship transcontinental service between certain cities on the West and East Coasts.  For 35,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points round-trip, you can fly in lie-flat Business Class on those routes.

Note:   According to commenters at The Points Guy, Virgin Atlantic appears to have removed the option to book Delta lie-flat transcontinental seats.  I don’t know if this is a temporary glitch or permanent.

If you need a connection, Virgin Atlantic will charge you the full 25,000 miles for each flight, so this isn’t a good deal if you would have to take more than one flight to get to your destination.

Earn More AMEX Membership Rewards Points

The following cards earn AMEX Membership Rewards points you can transfer to Virgin Atlantic and other airline and hotel partners:

Personal CardsBusiness Cards
Premier Rewards Gold Card From American ExpressThe Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressThe Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express
Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit CardThe Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN
AMEX EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express


Business Green Rewards Card from American Express OPEN

If you prefer earning Virgin Atlantic miles directly, the 90,000-mile sign-up bonus on the Bank of America Virgin Atlantic card has returned!  But you’ll have to spend a lot to unlock the full sign-up bonus.

Keep in mind, Virgin Atlantic miles expire after 3 years with no activity, so I do NOT recommend transferring miles if you don’t have a redemption in mind.

Bottom Line

Speculatively transferring miles due to a transfer bonus is rarely a good idea.  But the 30% transfer bonus from American Express Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic through November 30, 2017, opens up some great award flight opportunities.

For example, you can save by using Virgin Atlantic miles to book award flights like:

  • US to Asia in First or Business Class on ANA
  • US to Europe (except the UK) in Business Class on Delta
  • West Coast to Hawaii or Hawaii to Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific in coach and Business Class on Hawaiian Airlines
  • US to New Zealand in coach or Business Class on Air New Zealand
  • Domestic non-stop flights in coach or Business Class on Delta

If you are planning an upcoming trip and haven’t booked flights yet, take a close look at Virgin Atlantic’s partner award charts (especially the ones outlined here!) to see if one is a good fit for your plans.

If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 25,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Up to $200 for Uber rides annually. Credit and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That's up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Terms Apply | Rates & Fees

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

2comments

by Newest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

How do I search for Air New Zealand Award Flight availability to book with Virgin Atlantic?

How difficult is it to find award availability on ANA or Air New Zealand with Virgin Atlantic miles for two or more passengers? Is it doable or virtually impossible?