Virgin Atlantic's mileage program can be incredibly valuable. If you've got Citi ThankYou points from cards like the *citi premier*, getting more of them just got much easier.
Citi is out with a 30% transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, giving you far more bang for your buck if you've got a stash of Citi ThankYou points. This bonus is widely available all the way through Oct. 14, so you've got nearly a month to take advantage.
Read our guide on Citi 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 points to book dirt-cheap flights to Europe, score an amazing flight in Delta One Suites for as low as 39,000 points, or a first class seat to Japan and back at an enormous discount, among other opportunities.
So it goes without saying this bonus just makes things even sweeter. But while you may be tempted to cash in immediately, remember: These transfers are a one-way street: Once you send points to Virgin, you can't get them back to your Citi account. That means you shouldn't transfer points to Virgin Atlantic (or any airline) until you know the flights you want to book are 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. Ouch.
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, Capital One, and Citi as well as Marriott. All of them, including Citi, typically transfer on a 1:1 basis.
However, with this current 30% bonus, Citi is obviously your go-to. If you transfer 50,000 Citi ThankYou points, you’ll get 65,000 Virgin Atlantic miles. These transfers can take up to a day or two to go through, though transfers often clear immediately.
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.
And unfortunately, Virgin Atlantic recently made it even harder by removing a handy award calendar you could use to scroll through a month's worth of flights at a time. Luckily, there's a workaround you can use to still pull this feature up.
Read our complete guide to using & maximizing Virgin Atlantic Flying Club!
So what can you book?
Book Virgin Biz Class for 26K
Typically, we steer clear of using Virgin Atlantic points to book flights on Virgin Atlantic itself.
It seems counterintuitive, we know. But the hefty fees ($150ish for a one-way to London in economy or nearly $900 in business class) means you're forking over plenty of points plus a lot of cash, too.
But this transfer bonus definitely makes the high fees more tolerable.
- A roundtrip from the East Coast to London for 20,000 miles – just 16,000 Citi points with this transfer bonus!
- A one-way in business class for 47,500 miles, transferring just 37,000 Citi points with a 30% bonus to make it happen.
Thrifty Tip: It’s much easier to search for Virgin Atlantic flights one-way rather than roundtrip – and unlike with many other airlines, it’ll often save you money on taxes and fees booking one-ways separately, too.
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 – especially if you want to fly business class.
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 booking Delta flights than using SkyMiles outright.
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 a few years ago.
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 years. But when you can, it's a steal. Here's an example.
Delta was charging close to 400,000 SkyMiles to fly Delta One from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Amsterdam (AMS) this past fall. Ouch.
But you could have booked the exact same flight – same plane, same seat, same day – through Virgin Atlantic for just 50,000 miles. Factor in this 30% bonus, and it's just 39,000 Citi 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. It all hinges on finding award availability, and you won't see that every day – especially lately.
We're always on the lookout to help our Thrifty Traveler Premium members book this amazing deal, like this alert from last year with great award space to both Amsterdam (AMS) and Brussels (BRU).
Get alerts for the best ways to use your points and miles with Thrifty Traveler Premium!
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 Citi points!
Delta often charges 80,000 SkyMiles or even 100,000 SkyMiles for these exact same flights!
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.
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 is also one of the best programs for getting across the Pacific Ocean in first class. Even after a no-notice devaluation earlier this year, using Virgin points to fly ANA's “The Suite” is still a killer deal.
A roundtrip first class flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Tokyo, Japan (HND) or San Francisco (SFO) to Tokyo-Narita (NRT) would require just 112,000 Citi points. Flights from Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) or New York City (JFK) to Tokyo are a little pricier, at 131,000 Citi 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. Fortunately, Virgin has made it a bit easier by allowing one-way ANA award tickets.
Read our step-by-step guide to booking ANA flights with Virgin Atlantic miles!
But the real challenge to make this redemption a reality is finding award availability: ANA can be incredibly stingy with releasing first class awards … but it does happen. Earlier this year, we sent Thrifty Traveler Premium alerts for wide-open ANA First Class availability from both San Francisco and Honolulu. Best of all, these flights were all in ANA's latest-and-greatest first class seats on their Boeing 777s.
Of course, ANA’s business class is nothing to scoff at either – especially if you can snag the new ANA business class suites it calls “The Room,” which are currently flying from New York City (JFK), San Francisco (SFO), and Los Angeles (LAX).
With this transfer bonus, it could be yours by transferring just 70,000 Citi points.
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 this Citi to Virgin Atlantic transfer bonus ends Oct. 14.