Amex Membership Rewards is offering a 40% transfer bonus when you move your points to Virgin America’s Elevate program until September 30th. That means that 200 Membership Rewards points translate to 140 Elevate points.
No, I didn’t know what the hell that meant either. But that’s why you’re reading this, isn’t it? I thought I’d post some of the more reasonable uses for this promo:
Transcon flights on Virgin America in coach are roughly 13,000 points roundtrip, which rounds up to 19,000 Membership Rewards points. Not bad. First class are a ridiculous 140,000 points. We won’t even discuss that.
Short-haul (SFO-LAX, for example) are 4,500 or so Elevate points round trip, or about 7,000 Membership Rewards points (even better than Avios!)
They allow redemptions on 4 partners: Virgin Australia, Virgin Atlantic, Hawaiian Airlines, and Singapore Airlines. you can do the calculations for the number of miles you need here.
Redemptions on the 2 Virgins (?) include ridiculous fuel surcharges, so we’ll skip those. Well, except for short- and mid-haul routes on Virgin Australia. Trans-Tasman routes are pretty reasonable: Sydney-Auckland is 16,000 Elevate, or 23,000 Membership Rewards points for round trip in coach (plus $180). Better than the 35,000 that United charges (though they have no fuel surcharges). Flights within Australia are also reasonable: Sydney to Gold Coast, for example, are 6,000 elevate or 9,000 Membership Rewards points (plus $36 in fees) for a roundtrip ticket (the same as it’d cost you for Avios.
Good value on inter-island flights: 5,000 Elevate points, or 8,000 Membership Rewards points for a roundtrip ticket within the islands. I believe this is the best-priced award option within Hawaii. Hawaii to the West Coast is 20k Elevate/29k Membership Rewards (worse than Avios, better than most airlines). Good value to Pago Pago (American Samoa) and Papeete (Tahiti) from Honolulu — 20k Elevate/29k Membership Rewards roundtrip in coach.
Great value on Singapore Airlines from New York to Frankfurt: 20k Elevate or 29k Membership Rewards (plus $144 in fees) for a roundtrip coach ticket. Business is 70k Elevate /100k Membership Rewards (nothing special). Houston-Moscow, though, is much more expensive. Flights to Asia are about on-par (perhaps slightly more expensive) than you’d find on other airlines.