30% Bonus Transferring American Express Points to Virgin Atlantic Through May 22

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American Express Membership Rewards is offering a 30% transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic through May 22, 2017.

Virgin Atlantic’s miles were among the least valuable currencies. That was true before Even Virgin Atlantic Flying Club raised redemption prices for Virgin Atlantic travel and before their partnership with Virgin America terminated.

But there are some incredible sweet spots that most people don’t consider.

  • Partner award redemptions are roundtrip
  • These must be booked by phone, not online, and it usually seems like call center agents have never booked a partner award before
  • They add fuel surcharges to awards where they are part of a paid ticket’s price

Virgin Atlantic occasionally runs discounts on transatlantic economy awards, and even sometimes premium economy awards. Discounts combined with transfer bonuses wind up being super cheap.

My favorite award is Virgin Atlantic redemptions for travel on Japanese Star Alliance airline ANA:

  • In general they seem to have access to the same space that Star Alliance partners have, so search for space on the Aeroplan or United websites then call.

  • The prices are super cheap.

  • Although Virgin Atlantic does pass on fuel surcharges that would be included in a paid fare, ANA awards to Japan (and North Asia generally) are super cheap.

Here’s the award most recent award chart I’ve seen published:

For the awards I’ve booked it still seems to be intact although they could change at any time and it’s always a good idea to check that Virgin Atlantic sees availability of the flights you want and what they want to price it at before transferring points.

You will fly only ANA, you cannot combine travel with other airlines, so you need to start and end in a city that ANA serves like New York JFK, Washington Dulles, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, or Seattle. 120,000 miles will buy you Chicago – Tokyo roundtrip in first class.

And those fuel surcharges — between New York and Tokyo? Roundtrip just $4:

ANA first class used to be tough to find, but especially during the fall and winter months and out of Chicago and Houston I find it reasonably easy to get.

United charges 220,000 miles roundtrip between the US and Japan. Virgin Atlantic charges half that from the West Coast, just over half from the East Coast and middle of the country.

That’s a great use of points from your Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Ink Business Preferred, Citi Prestige Card. And it’s even better during this Amex transfer bonus.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of advertisers Citibank, Chase, American Express, Barclays, Capital One or any other advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.



  1. from Japan, ANA serves other Asian destinations as Air Japan, does VA allows redemption beyond
    Japan on the same itinerary? thanks

  2. @ choi Lu

    It’ll be priced as a separate award unfortunately. So you’re looking at another ~50k VA miles since it has to be roundtrip.

    Also keep in mind most VA agents do not know how to book partner awards. Changing dates on this type of award is also very difficult.

  3. @choi lu,
    ” If a journey requires a connecting flight or stopover to reach the destination, miles are charged for each sector.”

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