There’s lots of Alaska Airlines news today! I shared details of Alaska Airlines’ new award chart and the ending of their partnership with Delta. This comes after last week’s closing of the deal to merge Alaska Airlines with Virgin America.
And now, via One Mile at a Time, we know that you’ll be able to convert Virgin America points to Alaska Airlines miles at a 1 : 1.3 ratio some time after January 9, 2017.
But some might consider transferring flexible points from AMEX Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou (until January 22, 2017), or Starwood to Virgin America. And then transfer Virgin America points to Alaska Airlines at the 1 : 1.3 ratio.
I’ll explain your options, and help you decide whether earning Virgin America points to eventually convert to Alaska Airlines miles could make sense for you.
Convert Virgin America Points to Alaska Airlines Miles
Now that the deal to merge Alaska Airlines and Virgin America has closed, lots of folks were wondering how both frequent flyer programs would be combined.
Now we know you’ll be able to convert Virgin America points to Alaska Airlines miles at a 1 : 1.3 ratio. Meaning 1,000 Virgin America points will be worth 1,300 Alaska Airlines miles.
Alaska Airlines says, beginning January 9, 2017:
Upon activating their new (Alaska Airlines) Mileage Plan account, Elevate members will be able to convert (Virgin America) Elevate points into Mileage Plan miles at a rate of 1.3 Mileage Plan miles per Elevate point, which can be used to access award travel on Alaska and Alaska Global Partners.
Is This a Good Deal?
Virgin America uses a revenue-based award chart, which means the cost of an award flight is tied to the price of a paid ticket. And 1 Virgin America point is typically worth ~2.15 cents.
And partner award flights are typically region-based (for example, you’ll pay 25,000 Alaska Airlines miles for any flight within the continental US on partner American Airlines).
So comparing the value of Alaska Airlines miles to Virgin America points is tricky, because Alaska Airlines miles don’t have a set value – it depends on how you redeem them!
That said, if you converted Virgin America points to Alaska Airlines miles, then used them to book an otherwise expensive ticket, you could do very well with the new conversion rate!
Should You Move Flexible Points to Virgin America?
Some folks might consider earning more Virgin America points now to convert to Alaska Airlines miles later.
For example, you could transfer Starwood points to Virgin America at a 1:1 ratio, with a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points you transfer. Then transfer those points to Alaska Airlines next year at a 1 : 1.3 ratio.
If you transferred 20,000 Starwood points indirectly to Alaska Airlines miles this way, you’d end up with 32,500 Alaska Airlines miles (25,000 Virgin America points X 1.3 Alaska Airlines miles per Virgin America point)!
That’s more than enough for a one-way coach flight to Asia on Alaska Airlines’ partner, Cathay Pacific!
Or you could even consider buying Starwood points at a discount through their current promotion, and indirectly transferring them to Alaska Airlines miles the same way I mentioned above.
That said, this may not be a good deal with other flexible points, like AMEX Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou. With those programs, the transfer ratio to Virgin America is 2:1, which isn’t very good.
As always, I recommend doing to math to see what makes sense for you!
Virgin America Cards Still Available
You could convert 10,000 Virgin America points to 13,000 Alaska Airlines miles with the 1 : 1.3 ratio. And 15,000 Virgin America points would be worth 19,500 Alaska Airlines miles!
That said, it’s likely the Comenity Bank Virgin America Premium Signature Card and Virgin America Signature Card will be discontinued very soon. So if you’ve been thinking about applying, you might want to do so sooner rather than later!
Earn Alaska Airlines Miles
You can earn Alaska Airlines miles with the Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Card and Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Business Card®.
Remember, for every 20,000 Starwood points you transfer, you get a 5,000 mile bonus.
Some time after January 9, 2017, you’ll be able to convert Virgin America points to Alaska Airlines miles at a 1 : 1.3 ratio. So every 1,000 Virgin America points will be worth 1,300 Alaska Airlines miles.
This could be a very good deal if you use Alaska Airlines miles for otherwise expensive award tickets. Or if you move transferable points from Starwood to Virgin America at a 1:1 ratio, then to Alaska Airlines.
But do the math to see if it makes sense to transfer AMEX Membership Rewards or Citi ThankYou points to Virgin America, then Alaska Airlines. Because the transfer ratio between those programs and Virgin America is only 2:1.
Will you try to earn more Virgin America points before the merger completes?