American Express is running an amazing promotion with Virgin Atlantic, offering a 30% bonus when transferring Amex points to your Virgin account. This bonus is widely available so long as you’ve got a card that earns Membership Rewards like the Platinum Card® from American Express or the American Express Gold Card® – your co-branded Delta SkyMiles credit cards from American Express won’t do the trick.
It’s available through Dec. 31, 2021.
Read our guide on Amex transfer partners and how it works!
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.
This bonus just makes things even sweeter. Log in to your American Express account to see if it’s available.
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 Amex, Chase, and Citi 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 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 flying Delta One business class using miles. The airline regularly charges 300,000 SkyMiles or more for a business class seat to Europe, including the new Delta One suites.
But with Virgin Atlantic, it’s just 50,000 miles to fly Delta One to Europe. Unfortunately, Virgin Atlantic destroyed a similar sweet spot to get to Asia for just 60,000 miles earlier this year.
Still, there’s plenty of value here with redemptions to Europe – though you’ll have to be flexible, as finding these seats at such cheap rates through Virgin Atlantic has gotten much harder in recent months. But when you can, it’s a steal. Here’s an example.
Delta is charging at least 300,000 SkyMiles to fly Delta One from Seattle (SEA) to Amsterdam (AMS) this winter. This flight is operated on Delta’s newest Airbus A330-900neo jets, equipped with swanky Delta One suites.
But you can book the exact same flight – same plane, same seat, same day – through Virgin Atlantic for just 50,000 miles. Factor in this 30% bonus, and you only need to transfer 39,000 Amex points to make it happen.
Booking that for just 39,000 points 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 30,000 to 45,000 miles round-trip in economy, depending on where you’re starting from. There can be huge savings over what Delta typically charges for the same flights.
Flights from West Coast cities like Seattle (SEA) or Los Angeles (LAX) will run you just 30,000 miles roundtrip, while a midwestern city like Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) jumps to 45,000 miles roundtrip. At 45,000 miles through Virgin Atlantic, you could book by transferring just 35,000 Amex points!
Delta is charging almost 80,000 SkyMiles for these exact same flights!
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!
You can’t book these flights online through Virgin Atlantic, which means it requires a bit of extra legwork. You’ll want to search for award availability through a site like United.com and then ring up Virgin Atlantic at 1-800-365-9500 when you’re ready to book.
Read our guide to booking ANA flights with Virgin Atlantic miles.
Of course, ANA’s business class is nothing to scoff at either – especially if you can snag the brand new business class seats it calls “The Room” which are currently flying from New York City (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX).
With this transfer bonus, it could be yours by transferring just 70,000 Amex points.
While Japan remains closed to American tourists, you might be able to find some availability on flights as far out as fall 2022. Plus, Virgin Atlantic has a reasonable $50 fee to cancel award tickets and get your miles back if plans change.
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 Dec. 31, 2021.
Lead photo (CC BY 2.0): Delta News Hub via Flickr