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American Express is offering a 30% transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic through November 30, 2017. This is a great opportunity to get acquainted with the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, which is the frequent flyer club for Virgin Atlantic.
What can you do with Virgin Atlantic miles?
Virgin Atlantic is a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express, Chase, and Citi, making it very easy to accrue miles for its program.
The biggest knock against Virgin Atlantic is that using points for flights on their own metal can result in some pretty high fuel surcharges. The plus side is that some of the rewards are pretty cheap so it’s like getting a big discount when paying cash in some cases. For example, a roundtrip Upper Class (business class) ticket on Virgin Atlantic from the East Coast to London is only 95,000 for a standard rate but comes with ~$1,200 in fees.
There’s also some very good value on partner airlines. While Virgin Atlantic is not a member of a major alliance, they partner with several airlines, such as Delta, Singapore, ANA, Hawaiian, and a few others. On several of these partners, fees can be pretty minimal. The drawback is that one way awards for some partners cost the same as roundtrip awards so you often want to just stick to booking roundtrips.
The big sweet spot
If you do enough research, you’ll find some pretty good sweet spots for some of these partner awards. For example, one very popular sweet spot is using 120,000 Virgin Atlantic miles for a roundtrip first class ticket to Japan with ANA and only about $180 in fees. That’s around 100,000 miles cheaper than what Star Alliance partners United and Aeroplan would require!
With this promotion, this sweet spot gets even sweeter. Factoring in the 30% bonus, you could book ANA first class roundtrip from the East Coast to Japan for only 93,000 Membership Rewards and you could book ANA business class from the East Coast to Japan for only 74,000 Membership Rewards. That’s a $22,000 ticket for roughly $180 in fees and 93,000 points for 23.4 cents per point — one of the most valuable redemptions you’ll ever come across.
These are both outstanding deals so if you’re interested in them you’ll probably have to book very far ahead. Also, don’t be surprised to see these awards devalued pretty soon because they’ve exploded in popularity over the past year.
If you’re interested in ANA flights, try using United, Aeroplan, or ANA’s website to search for open awards and then you’ll have to call in to book them with Virgin Atlantic.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.