HUGE! SPG Adds Virgin America as 1:1 Transfer Partner, 30k Points Roundtrip in Flat Bed to Europe


Effective immediately, you can transfer SPG Starpoints to Virgin Elevate points at a 1:1 rate. Like all 1:1 partners of SPG, you get 5,000 bonus miles for every 20,000 points transferred, so 20,000 Starpoints equals 25,000 Virgin America points.Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 12.17.34 PM Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 12.17.47 PMThis is 2-and-a-half times the Virgin America points that you get from competing transferable points. Virgin America is a 2:1 transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points and American Express Membership Rewards, so 20,000 of those transferable points equals only 10,000 Virgin America points. 

I have always thought that SPG Starpoints (2.5 cents each) were more valuable than Membership Rewards (2 cents each) and ThankYou Points (1.9 cents each), but not two-and-a-half times more valuable!

The reason that Membership Rewards and ThankYou Points offered 2:1 transfers to Elevate Points, and the reason today’s news that Starpoints transfer 1:1 (4:5 in increments of 20,000 Starpoints) is because Virgin America has a very deflated award chart.

Virgin America’s points are very valuable. I value them at 2.3 cents each, which means that Starpoints are worth 2.875 cents each when transferring to Virgin America points. Why are they so valuable?

Yes, you’re reading this right that it costs only 80,000 Virgin America points roundtrip in flat bed Business Class from the United States to Australia!
Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 12.22.07 PM

Check out my full recent posts on Sweet Spots with Virgin America Points that also details the routing rules. Let’s look at the sweet spots in light of the news that SPG Starpoints transfer 20,000 SPG points to 25,000 Elevate points:

  • Virgin America offers revenue-based redemptions on its own flights. Elevate points are worth about 2 cents each toward any Virgin America flight with no blackouts. That means SPG points are worth about 2.5 cents toward any Virgin America flight.
  • 80,000 Virgin America points (65,000 SPG points) is a roundtrip in Business Class between Los Angeles and Brisbane or Sydney with Virgin Australia
  • 45,000 Virgin America points (35,000 SPG points) is a one way in Business Class between Los Angeles and Brisbane or Sydney with Virgin Australia
  • 20,000 Virgin America Elevate Points (20,000 SPG Points) is a roundtrip in Economy between the western United States and Hawaii on Hawaiian Airlines
  • 3,000 Virgin America Elevate Points (3,000 SPG Points) is a one way Economy interisland flight on Hawaiian Airlines
  • 3,600 Virgin America Elevate Points (3,600 SPG Points) is a one way in Economy on Singapore Airlines within Southeast Asia (like Bangkok to Singapore for example, or Singapore to Bali)

Warning: using Elevate points for Emirates or Virgin Atlantic awards will incur high fuel surcharges. However there are some premium awards flying Virgin Atlantic Upper Class that could be worth it if you’re cash rich and points poor, like:

  • New York, Newark, Washington DC, Atlanta or Chicago to London: 35,000 Elevate Points (30,000 SPG Points) + $1,100
  • Roundtrip from Boston or Detroit to London: 35,000 Elevate Points (30,000 SPG Points) + $910

Upper Class is Virgin Atlantic’s Business Class and is the best cabin on the plane. It offers offers a flat bed, Clubhouse access, and access to an onboard bar.

Bottom Line

Starting today, SPG points transfer 1:1 to Virgin America points, and 20,000 SPG points are worth 25,000 Virgin America points. That’s amazing because 20,000 Membership Rewards or ThankYou Points are worth 10,000 Virgin America points.

Virgin America’s points are very valuable. I value them at 2.3 cents each.

You can get 2.5 cents of value from your SPG points on Virgin America flights, book a roundtrip to Europe in flat beds for 30,000 SPG points plus fuel surcharges, or book a roundtrip in flat beds to Australia for 65,000 SPG points and no fuel surcharges.

Most programs charge 100k+ miles to Europe and 150k+ to Australia.

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  1. I have lots of AMEX Mem Miles points and lots of Virgin Atlantic points. Is it worth coming up with a strategy to try to convert these two to Elevate points? Too early in the morning to do all the calculations but if anybody has experience going this route, please chime in. Thanks!

    • Virgin Atlantic miles cannot convert to Virgin America points.
      Amex Membership Rewards can, but at a bad rate.

  2. […] As of today you can now transfer your SPG points to Virgin America’s Elevate program at 1:1 transfer rate. This is great news as this transfer rate is at least twice what you get from other Virgin partners. And best of all for every 20,000 SPG points you transfer, you will get a bonus 5,000 miles! You can read more details and the bestways to use this new partnership at the MileValue blog. […]

    • You probably don’t. Theoretically you could get there with partners Singapore and Emirates, but it wouldn’t be a good deal.

  3. Virgin Australia pulled virtually all its business class award inventory last summer (after being the most reliable issuer of US-AUS award space). In a previous blog you suggest checking for Virgin award inventory. A check today of LAX-SYD space indicates nothing through July for less than 175K one way, unless you are able to depart in 7 days or less.

    This is an award worth pursuing credit card bonuses and transferring SPG points for only for the most flexible travelers.

  4. A few questions:
    1. Why are there no fuel charges to Australia?
    2. Aren’t those flights on Virgin Australia?a
    3. Is there actual availability to Australia during our summers?
    4. Are stop overs like Fiji available on these flights to Australia?
    5. How many more miles from Atlanta?

    Thanks in advance.

    • 1. Who knows, who cares
      2. Yes
      3. I’ll have a post on this in the next few days. Short answer, right now Virgin Australia is only releasing Business Class award space in the last week before departure, but in the past space has been widely available every day including peak times.
      4. You will pay per segment, but from Australia to Fiji is 9,500 Virgin America points. More on this in the same upcoming post I referenced in 3.
      5. You will need a separate ticket from ATL-LAX.

  5. Great article. I’ll look to fly Virgin to SYD on my next trip. For the return, I would like to stop in HNL. Can you do a pro st on the options to fly from SYD to HNL?


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