Transfer 80,000 American Express Membership Rewards to 40,000 Virgin America Elevate points by December 31, 2015 and receive top tier Virgin America Gold Status through February 2017.

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In addition, if you complete the transfer by October 8, 2015, you will get 25% more Elevate points, so 80,000 Membership Rewards would equal Gold Status plus 50,000 Virgin America points.

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Good Deal?

I value Membership Rewards at 2 cents each. I value Virgin America points at 2 cents each. Elevate points can be redeemed for a nearly-fixed value on Virgin America flights or according to award charts on partner airlines.

I ordinarily wouldn’t transfer Membership Rewards at the 200:100 ratio to Virgin America points. Even with a 25% bonus, 200 MR:125 Elevate is a bad deal.

But the addition of Gold Status makes things interesting.

Assuming you value both Membership Rewards and Virgin America points at 2 cents, then transferring 80,000 Membership Rewards to 50,000 Elevate Points plus Gold Status is like spending $600–the value of the “lost” points–on Gold Status. The perks of Virgin America Gold Status are:

  • Access to the Virgin America Loft at LAX (also a Priority Pass that you can access with free membership from the Citi Prestige® Card)
  • Complimentary upgrades to Main Cabin Select (24 hours before the flight)
  • Priority access to purchase first-class upgrades
  • Three free checked bags
  • Priority security and priority boarding
  • 100% bonus on points on all money spent on Virgin America flights (ie 10 points per dollar)
  • 25% discount on two main cabin tickets per year

Is that worth $600 to you? Probably not. If it were, you would probably already have Virgin America Gold Status because one thing I’ve noticed about status is that the people who can most use it are the same people who earn it in the first place because using it and earning it both require a lot of flying.

Bottom Line

I’m sitting out this transfer bonus/status grab. I have flown Virgin America once in my life, and I probably will fly it once or zero times before February 2017. But if you are in the weird position of not having flown Virgin America much so far but planning to fly it a lot in the next 17 months, by all means, you should transfer 80,000 Membership Rewards to 50,000 Virgin America points plus Virgin America Gold Status by October 8.

Even though I won’t take advantage, I love this innovation from American Express, and I hope Citi and Chase come up with exciting promotions to compete.


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