500 Free Virgin America Elevate Points

Virgin America is giving away 500 Elevate points for subscribing to the Virgin Hotels newsletter. It took me less than 10 seconds to fill out my name, email address and Elevate number. 


Here is a direct link to the offer. 

500 points for 10 seconds of works seems like a good deal to me. This is also a good way to extend the expiration date of your current point balance. 

Pro tip – use a throwaway email address. 

Enjoy the long weekend!

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250 Free Virgin America Elevate Points

The big news of the day was Virgin America being added as Starwood’s newest transfer partner a solid 1:1 ratio (unlike the American Express Membership Rewards transfer ratio which is 2:1). To celebrate the new partnership, Virgin America is having a contest, along with Starwood, to win a trip to Hawaii and you can earn 250 Virgin America Elevate points just for entering.

VA

You can enter the promotion by filing out the form on MakeYourHawaiiscape.com by May 27, 2016. The prizes for the contest seem pretty solid as well including airfare and hotel for a trip to Oahu or Maui. Everyone who enters the contest gets 250 points. 

It took all of 30 seconds to enter (you don’t actually have to fill out a reason why you need a vacation, just select one from the list) and I’m not one to turn down free points. Even if you have no need for Virgin America points, I expect these points to turn into 250 or 500 Alaska miles down the road, depending on the final conversion of Virgin America points to Alaska MileagePlan miles.

P.S. I just got back from a nice 9 night vacation/babymoon to Hawaii which is why I haven’t posted at all in the past weeks. I’m still in the process of catching up so expect a more normal posting schedule to return next week.

 

 

 

Using Virgin America Elevate Points for Hawaiian Airlines Inter-Island Flights

A co-worker of mine is heading to Hawaii this summer and he smartly sought my advice on the best use of miles to get to Hawaii and also how to jump between various islands. When he brought up which miles to use to go from the Big Island to Maui, I remembered a great deal that I recently took advantage of for my trip to Hawaii next month – using only 3,000 Virgin America Elevate points for inter-island flights on Hawaiian Airlines.

HAOneWay

Virgin America Award Price for KOA to OGG

 

Virgin America points aren’t like traditional miles found in programs like Delta, American or United. Instead, they are revenue based, more similar to JetBlue or Southwest’s frequent flyer program. On average, Virgin America points are worth about ~2.2 cents when redeemed for Virgin America flights, however you can also redeem Virgin America points on various partners including Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia, Hawaiian Airlines, Singapore Airlines & Emirates Airlines.

To start, it is important to figure out what other airlines charge for inter-island flights. For the same exact one way Hawaiian Airlines flight, Hawaiian charges 7,500 miles, United charges 6,000 miles, American charges 5,000 miles, Delta charges 7,500 miles while Virgin America only charges 3,000 points. Now while Virgin America is cheaper than the competition you do have to remember that if you do not have Virgin America points, you can transfer from American Express at a 2:1 ratio, so the cost is really 6,000 American Express Membership Rewards one-way in that scenario.

Virgin America Transfer from American Express

Virgin America Transfer from American Express

Personally, I like to use my United and American miles for bigger, more expensive trips such as business class to Europe or Asia so I would rule those options out as I want to converse those miles. Hawaiian and Delta both charge too many miles for my taste (and I try avoiding collecting miles in those programs as a general rule of thumb) so that leaves me with Virgin America as my top choice. If you want the absolutely cheapest option (assuming no Virgin America points) or you have some spare American miles leftover that you have no other intentions for, 5k on American Airlines would be my second choice on this list to book.

If you’ve followed my blog, you would have noticed I’ve posted several free or really, really cheap (under $1) offers for Virgin America points including this one for 500 points and how to spend 99 cents to get another 500 Virgin America points. So assuming you’re a loyal reader and followed my awesome advice (you’re welcome), you now only need 2,000 Virgin America points for this flight (or 4,000 American Express Membership Rewards points). Considering the retail value of these flights, which can range from $80 – $100 or more if you book last minute, redeeming points is a great deal. Especially if you have a handful of Virgin America points that you wouldn’t use otherwise!

My Flight in Late April

My Flight in Late April

Random Flight in August

Random Flight in August

I recommend searching award availability on either united.com or aa.com before booking these flights. Virgin America should have the same access other partners have to the award space. From there, here is how to book these flights on Virgin America.

  • Once you’ve confirmed availability on Hawaiian Airline flights only, write down the flight numbers and call Virgin America at 1.877.FLY.VIRGIN (877.359.8474). You cannot book these flights online.
  • When you get to the phone prompt, choose Elevate and after selecting award travel, choose partner airline.
  • In my experience, Virgin America’s agents are very good. The agent I had was very knowledgeable and was able to find the flights after I read her the flight number.
  • Virgin America will NOT charge you the $20 phone booking fee since this is a partner award that cannot be booked online.
  • After collecting the taxes on your award, the agent will let you know they generally need 24 hours to confirm the flight with Hawaiian and issue your ticket. I received an email from Virgin America about 30 hours after I contacted them. In the email, it had both the Virgin American confirmation code as well as the Hawaiian Airlines confirmation code to select seats.
  • In the event you need to cancel or change the award, there is NO redeposit fee (at least according to my email confirmation). This was a pleasant surprise but good to know in case plans change.

Both Andrea and I had a little over 2,000 Virgin America points in our account from the promotions mentioned earlier in the post and one flight we took on Virgin America back in 2013. We only need another 1,000 points so it ended up costing us an additional 2,000 American Express Membership Rewards points each to save $125 per person on the quick, 33 minute inter-island flight on Hawaiian Airlines. We each got over 4 cents in value per Virgin America point which is better than redeeming points for flights on Virgin America. The next time you go to Hawaii I would strongly consider this option to cover your inter-island flights.

Point & Center: $400 Flights to Italy, American Express Transfer Bonus to Virgin America, Last Call for Hyatt Reservations & More!

Sorry for the lack of post the past few days – I was down in Aruba for the long weekend and my schedule didn’t allow me to post any of the news going on from the past week or so. Here is quick roundup of some of the more notable news and developments that I missed.

1. 35% American Express Transfer Bonus to Virgin America – American Express is offering a 35% transfer bonus for all transfers of American Express Membership Rewards points to Virgin America. The normal transfer ratio is 2 Membership Rewards points to 1 Virgin America Elevate point (2:1) so with this promotion, it becomes 2:1.35. Virgin America points are worth ~2.2 cents each since that is the approximate rate they can be redeemed for travel on Virgin America. As in most cases when there is a transfer bonus (with perhaps the exception of the current 40% British Airways transfer bonus), I would not make any speculative transfers unless you needed to top off your account for an award you about to book. In general, I don’t recommend taking advantage of this offer for most people.

VATransfer

2. ~$400 flights New York to Milan on Emirates & United – Emirates is running a promotion in which you can snag a non-stop flight from JFK to Milan for only ~$400 a person roundtrip. United quickly matched the fare for Newark to Milan though availability seems to be more limited than Emirates. The catch for this promotion is this is valid for only groups of exactly of 2 people (Emirates) or 2+ people (United). A single traveler will price out at ~$660. You can travel from February to May though you will need to search to see what dates are eligible for the $400 fares. Here is more information from The Flight Deal.

 

3. No Foreign Transaction Fees on Barclays US Airways MasterCard – I recently received an email from Barclays informing me that they will no longer charge a foreign transaction fee on purchases made outside of the United States. Previously they would charge 3% for this but in what I’m guessing is an attempt to lure more customers to acquire the US Airways MasterCard before they are unable to offer it anymore, they have removed this fee completely. I’m glad to see another credit card offer no foreign transaction fee but there are much better cards to use for foreign purchases already so this announcement doesn’t make a big difference to me.

4. Last Call for Hyatt Reservations for Affected Hotels Before Award Category Changes on 1/22 – I posted last month a list of some of the key hotels that are changing categories (Park Hyatt Maldives, Andaz Amsterdam, Park Hyatt Seoul, Baha Mar and more) in the Hyatt Gold Passport Program as a result of Hyatt’s annual evaluation of category levels. The change in award category will occur on 1/22 so if you are targeting a reservation at one of the affected hotels, I recommend booking them now even if you don’t exactly have firm dates. There is no cost to cancel award bookings (as long as you do it before the hotel’s cancellation deadline) and generally, Hyatt has allowed you to change dates to a reservation made before the category change without charging you the increased amount of points (though this is a YMMV situation). Basically, I see no downside to making a speculative reservation now to save points.

Here is the complete list of affected hotels.

500 FREE Virgin America Elevate Points

Virgin America is offering 500 free points as a way to say thank you to its loyal customers this holiday season. All you need to do is click on the link above and enter your name, email and Elevate number. Click submit and in a few weeks, 500 bonus points will be posted to your account. This could not be simpler.

VirginAmerica500

Even if you think you will never fly Virgin America, their points do have some great redemptions on partner airlines including flights on Hawaiian Airlines for Interisland flights for only 3,000 points. This offer gets you 1/6 of the way there! This is worth the 10 seconds of your time to click the link and fill out the form.