Transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club with a 30% bonus. In general I ignore Virgin Atlantic Flying Club as a frequent flyer program, both because Virgin Atlantic isn't a product I want to fly (what's the point of a flat bed seat on a red eye to Europe if you can't sleep due to noise from the Upper Class bar?) and the ~$1000 in fuel surcharges for award tickets on said product.
That said, there are some good uses of Flying Club miles on partners, particularly ANA First Class, as I'll discuss below. But first, the AMEX offer terms:
- Transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club with a 30% bonus
- Must transfer in increments of 1000 points
- Transfers are typically instant but can take up to 48 hours
- Transfers cannot be reversed
- Offer valid until 11:59pm MT on May 22, 2017
When Do Virgin Atlantic Miles Expire?
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles don't expire as long as your account remains active. Per Virgin Atlantic terms:
"To keep your account active, you simply need to continue to earn or spend miles. Each Flying Club activity you complete, be it with our partners on the ground, or in the air will ensure your membership stays active for a further 36 months."
That said, I wouldn't transfer AMEX points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club speculatively, because of the few good uses of these miles. It's always best to keep your transferable points (AMEX Membership Rewards points, Chase Ultimate Rewards points, Citi ThankYou points) as points until you've found the award space you need and are ready to transfer the points to specific frequent flyer program. Otherwise, you run the risk of devaluation, and as we've seen with Delta, American, Alaska, Etihad, Aeroplan and other frequent flyer programs, there are often unannounced devaluations.
Best Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Redemption: ANA First Class
If you plan to transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, note that Flying Club partner redemptions must be roundtrip. One way awards for half the price of a roundtrip aren't allowed (although you could book a roundtrip and throw away the return).
My favorite ANA Flying Club redemption is ANA First Class, which is 120K miles for NYC-TOK-NYC or 110K miles roundtrip from the West Coast to Tokyo. Business Class is 95K miles from the East Coast to Tokyo or 90K miles from the West Coast, and given the relatively small incremental miles, I'd suggest spending the extra miles to fly First Class if there's award availability for your dates.
I can't recommend using Flying Club miles for awards on Virgin Atlantic metal due to the high fuel surcharges as well as the number of miles required. For example:
- 95,000-115,000 miles + fuel surcharges of >$1000 per ticket for roundtrip between the East Coast and London
- 135,000-155,000 miles + fuel surcharges of >$1000 per ticket for roundtrip between the West Coast and London
Note that there's a range in miles required, with the lower amount for standard dates and the higher amount for peak dates:
- Standard dates: January 16 - March 30, 2017; April 19 – June 21, 2017; September 7 – December 12, 2017
- Peak dates: March 31 – April 18, 2017; June 22 – September 06, 2017; December 13 – January 3, 2018
How Valuable is Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Vs. Other AMEX Membership Rewards Transfer Partners?
You'll earn the greatest return on your AMEX Membership Rewards points by transferring to select airline frequent flyer programs and booking international first class or business class. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club's main attractive redemptions are ANA First Class to Japan and Air China First Class from Europe to China. My other favorite partners are highlighted in bold below.
- Air France/KLM Flying Blue
- Alitalia Millemiglia
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Delta SkyMiles
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Singapore KrisFlyer
Note that I have excluded from the above list partners such as El Al (1000 AMEX points = 20 Matmid points), British Airways Executive Club and Iberia Plus (250 AMEX points = 200 British Airways Avios), JetBlue TrueBlue (250 AMEX points = 200 TrueBlue points) and Virgin America Elevate (200 AMEX points = 100 Elevate points) that do not transfer 1:1.
What About Transferring Directly to ANA?
ANA First Class can be booked earlier using ANA miles--you'll have an over 3 week head start, plus there can be additional award availability using ANA that is not available to partners. ANA charges 150,000 miles during low season and regular season for a roundtrip award, and 165,000 miles for peak season travel.
You'd need to transfer 93,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points with the 30% bonus to have 120,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles for a roundtrip ANA first class award, vs. 150,000 or 165,000 ANA miles, so you're saving 38%-44% off the cost, albeit at the cost of reduced award availability, since those using ANA miles have earlier and better access to award availability.
Can I Buy AMEX Membership Rewards Points If I Want to Transfer More Points to Flying Club?
Yes, you can--see How to Buy AMEX Membership Rewards Points.
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