One of the best transfer bonuses for American Express Membership Rewards points is here, but it won’t last much longer.
American Express is running an amazing promotion with Virgin Atlantic, offering a 30% bonus when transferring Membership Rewards points to your Virgin account. It appears this bonus is widely available, but it expires Saturday, Dec. 28.
These transfer bonuses are basically free miles. And while you may not use Virgin Atlantic or know much about their Flying Club program, you should.
Thanks to some excellent partnerships, you can use Virgin Atlantic miles to book an amazing flight in Delta One Suites for as low as 39,000 points or even a first class seat to Japan and back at an enormous discount, among other opportunities.
Looking for a great way to put this transfer bonus to use? There’s still great availability to fly Delta One suites to Asia for just 47,000 Amex points!
This bonus just makes things even sweeter. Log in to your American Express account to see if it’s available. Just keep in mind that you need a card that earns American Express Membership Rewards points like the American Express Platinum – your co-branded Delta SkyMiles credit cards from American Express won’t do the trick. Read our guide on how to transfer Amex points to airline and hotel partners.
The Basics on Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic is a quirky airline with a quirky frequent flyer program. The airline flies from several U.S. gateways to London-Heathrow (LHR), as well as between several international hubs like Dubai (DXB) and Hong Kong (HKG). But you’ll rarely see us recommend using Virgin Atlantic miles to fly Virgin Atlantic flights.
While its award chart offers some pretty decent rates for getting to Europe and back, the fees it charges on award tickets are exorbitant. You can expect to pay $500 or more for just an economy roundtrip ticket flying in and out of London-Heathrow. That’s just not worth it.
Luckily, there are some incredible partnerships where you can save a ton of miles by booking with Virgin Atlantic, with far more reasonable fees. Add in this transfer bonus from American Express, and it’s a no-brainer. You can transfer points to a Virgin Atlantic account from all three major banks as well as Marriott. All of them, including American Express, transfer on a 1:1 basis.
However, with this current 30% bonus, Amex is obviously your go-to. If you transfer 50,000 American Express Membership Rewards points, you’d get 65,000 Virgin Atlantic miles. These transfers generally take a day or two to complete, though the transfers can sometimes clear immediately.
One reminder: Despite the type of credit cards Delta uses, American Express Membership Rewards points are different than Delta SkyMiles. Read up below on how to earn these valuable – and transferrable – points.
Virgin Atlantic’s website can be a tad difficult to navigate. Getting award flights to show up on a given route can take a few tries. One good trick is to search for airports by country or region and pick them, rather than manually typing in the city name or airport code.
So what can you book?
Major Delta Deals
We don’t need to tell you that trying to understand and use Delta SkyMiles can be frustrating. There’s no award chart, so the airline’s pricing when booking a flight with miles can be all over the map. Often, a Delta award flight can be obscenely expensive.
Enter Virgin Atlantic. You can easily use Virgin Atlantic to book the exact same Delta flight and save a boatload of SkyMiles.
The London-based airline offers a far more stable – and frequently cheaper – alternative to book Delta flights than using SkyMiles outright. And considering you can transfer Amex points to both airlines, that’s useful to keep in mind.
Case in point, it’s next to impossible to find decent rates in the fantastic new Delta One suites with miles. The airline regularly charges 300,000 SkyMiles or more for a spot in the enclosed suites on a flight to Europe or Asia.
But with Virgin Atlantic, it’s just 50,000 miles to fly Delta One to Europe and 60,000 miles to get to Asia. Factor in the transfer bonus, and you’d need to transfer just 39,000 points to book the flight to Europe. Or just 47,000 points to get to Asia.
Here’s an example.
Delta is charging at least 180,000 SkyMiles to get on the flight from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Tokyo-Haneda (HND) in the new Delta One Suite.
But you can book the exact same flight – same plane, same seat, same day – through Virgin Atlantic. And you’d need only transfer 47,000 Amex points to get the 60,000 miles to do it.
This is a $5,500-plus ticket, with great food and a cozy suite with a lie-flat bed for the long flight across the Pacific Ocean. Booking that for just 47,000 is one of the best deals you’ll find in the world of points and miles.
It can require some flexibility to lock in flights at these low rates. Read our guide on booking Delta flights with Virgin Atlantic miles, and you’ll be ready to start hunting for the deal of a lifetime.
One other great way to save some SkyMiles on Delta flights? Nonstop flights from the mainland U.S. to Hawaii, which cost 40,000 miles round-trip in economy. There can be huge savings over what Delta typically charges for the same flights – and with this transfer bonus, it’s just 31,000 Amex points!
Fly in Style with ANA
You can also use this transfer bonus to score an amazing deal on a trip to Japan on one of the world’s best airlines. Oh, and did we mention it’s in First Class?
ANA is one of Japan’s flag carriers, and it lives up to its five-star reputation. Its first class cabin is spacious, private, and offers some of the best catering in the aviation world.
We’ve written before about the incredible value of using ANA to get to Japan for cheap in business class. But Virgin Atlantic also has a sweet spot for booking ANA flights, and this transfer bonus makes it even sweeter.
A round trip first class flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Tokyo, Japan (HND) or San Francisco (SFO) to Tokyo-Narita (NRT) would require just 85,000 American Express points. Or get from Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) or New York City (JFK) to Tokyo for just 93,000 Amex points. That’s just over what United charges for a one-way fare in business class!
Read our guide to booking ANA flights with Virgin Atlantic miles.
To underscore just how good of a deal this is: These first class flights typically sell for more than $20,000.
Of course, ANA’s business class is nothing to scoff at either. During this promo, it could be yours by transferring just 70,000 Amex points.
How to Get American Express Membership Rewards Points
You already know you can transfer American Express points to Virgin Atlantic with a sweet bonus. Now you just need some American Express points. You’re in luck. American Express has a handful of credit cards to earn Membership Rewards points.
We love the Platinum Card from American Express. It starts with a 60,000 point welcome bonus after spending $5,000 in the first three months, but be sure to check and see if you qualify for a 100,000-point bonus.
Click Here to learn more about the Platinum Card from American Express.
Plus, the card comes with an unbeatable suite of perks for the frequent traveler, including lounge access. It also comes with up to $400 in annual combined credits for airline fees and Uber and up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. The 5x points you get on airfare purchased directly from the airline is unrivaled in the world of miles and points, justifying the card’s $550 annual fee.
There’s also the American Express Gold card, which currently has a 35,000-point welcome bonus after spending $2,000 in the first three months of card membership.
Click Here to learn more about the American Express Gold Card.
Keep in mind that because this transfer bonus lasts just over a month, you don’t have a ton of time to earn a bunch of Membership Rewards points for the purposes of utilizing this promotion. However, there is never a bad time to start earning Membership Rewards points.
This transfer bonus can unlock some of the best deals in the world of points and miles. Just make sure to use it before it ends Saturday, Dec. 28.
Lead Photo (CC BY 2.0): Delta News Hub via Flickr
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.