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I was just browsing around the American Express’s Membership Rewards website and noticed that you can transfer your Amex Membership Reward points to Virgin America for a 30% bonus. This promotion is valid through April 30, 2014.
The typical transfer ratio is 200 Amex points = 100 Elevate points, so with this promotion you’ll get 130 Elevate points for every 200 Amex points transferred – this is much less then the typical 1:1 transfer ratio you get with other airlines.
Like JetBlue and Southwest, Virgin America has a fixed point program. Essentially, take the fare value and multiply it by 46.51. That will equal the number of points needed to redeem for a free flight. This makes each point worth about 2.15 cents. Since the typical transfer ratio is 2:1, this means that each Amex point is equal to about 1.075 cents – a pretty low value for most. With the 30% bonus offer, this will bring each Amex point to be worth 1.4 cents. While this is a better value for those that like to redeem their Membership Reward points for Virgin America flights, it is still a pretty low value for most. And, you still need to pay to transfer your points (called the Airline Excise Tax Offset Fee) which costs $0.0006 per point (with a maximum fee of $99 per transaction).
With a low value per point and the need to pay to transfer your points, chances are you are better off using your points through the “Pay with Points” option or to transfer points to another partner. But of course, if you are interested in this promotion, do the math to see if it makes sense in your particular situation.