Over the weekend, Chase announced Virgin Atlantic as a new transfer partner of their Ultimate Rewards program.
(I saw it first on VFTW)
For you true noobies, you can transfer Ultimate Rewards points earned from the Chase Sapphire Preferred®, Ink Bold® Business Card, or Ink Plus® Business Cards out to their travel partners: United, British Airways, Southwest, Korean Air, Hyatt, Marriott, Priority Club, Ritz-Carlton, and Amtrak.
I prefer to transfer my Ultimate Rewards points to:
- United for First or Business Class tickets on one of their Star Alliance partners
- British Airways for short domestic hauls, or gem flights like Boston to Dublin in Business Class for 25k Avios
- Southwest, so I can maximize my Companion Pass
- Hyatt, my hotel chain of choice
I’m not sure if the new Virgin Atlantic partnership will change any of that. I’m pretty stuck in my ways.
Like British Airways, Virgin Atlantic is a transfer partner of Membership Rewards, too. I actually transferred some of my Membership Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic when there was a 35% transfer bonus. (Come on Chase, when are you going to have transfer bonuses?!)
This was a killer deal, because Virgin Atlantic transfers to Hilton at a 1:2 ratio. Well, it was a great deal before the deval bomb. But the new partnership does give us the option to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Hilton in an indirect way at a 1:2 ratio. Here’s my post on how to transfer Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles to Hilton. I would only recommend this if you are topping off your Hilton account for a planned booking.
Currently, the Virgin Atlantic credit card isn’t with Chase, which makes this partnership slightly shocking. Not sure if this means that Chase will be backing the card in the future or not. I applied for the card when Hilton was thriving and there was a 50,000 offer, or 100,000 Hilton HHonor points.
Also like British Airways, award flights on Virgin Atlantic can have some hefty fuel surcharges and taxes. What a B.
From the US to Europe in economy, the taxes & fees are $660! Plus, it would also cost you some Virgin Atlantic miles. For First Class from the US, you’re looking at 80,000 Virgin Atlantic miles and at the very least, $1,100. No good for me.
It’s nice to have a new Ultimate Rewards transfer partner. Ultimate Rewards are my points of choice, so this only makes them more valuable. It’s all about the options. Transfers from Ultimate Rewards to Virgin Atlantic are also instant, so that’s a plus.
The new partnership doesn’t change how I will use my Ultimate Rewards points, though. At least for now. You never know when you may have to look beyond your normal redemption techniques.
The high fuel surcharges on Virgin Atlantic flights make them unappealing, but if I had some orphan Flying Club miles, I would be happy about this option to top off my Virgin Atlantic account.
The only time I do see myself transferring Ultimate Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic is to top off my Hilton account for an upcoming stay. But, my upcoming Hilton award stays will be limited.
(Disclaimer: I receive a referral for the Chase cards mentioned in this post, but not the Virgin Atlantic card.)
— Noob MasterRead More
Last week, American Express announced a 35% bonus when you transferred Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic. Ehh.
Many people were excited about this opportunity (not so much me), because you can transfer Virgin Atlantic miles to Hilton HHonors at a 1:2 ratio.
I personally tend to use my Membership Rewards differently, or during transfer promos with other loyalty programs. There are just too many other easy ways to accumulate Hilton HHonors points.
Hilton has a handful of co-branded rewards cards that earn HHonors points, such as: the Citi Hilton Reserve, basic Citi Hilton, Amex Surpass, and the basic Amex Hilton.
Plus, the BOA Hawaiian, Hawaiian Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic are all cards that earn miles that can be transferred into Hilton HHonors at a 1:2 ratio.
I applied for the Virgin Atlantic card a couple of app parties ago, and I’m just now getting around to transferring my Virgin Atlantic miles to Hilton HHonors. I know – I’ve procrastinated. Quit judging.
For all those people who are sitting on Virgin Atlantic miles that need to be transferred to Hilton HHonors – search no more. The *How To* is below. Eat it up.
Transferring Virgin Atlantic Miles to Hilton HHonors
- You can only transfer Virgin Atlantic Miles in increments of 5,000. I had 48,800 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles, so I ended up taking advantage of the 35% transfer bonus with American Express. Ok, I guess there is a purpose for that promo. I transferred 1,000 Membership Rewards points (1,350 with the bonus), giving me over 50,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles. By taking advantage of the transfer bonus, I didn’t have to leave 3,800 orphan Flying Club miles in my account. Boooyah!
- Once I had my 50,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles in my account – I called Virgin Atlantic at 1-800-821-5438.
- The phone conversation took only 4 minutes. I could’ve talked to the agent longer, because she had a very nice English accent. I got lost in it. I had my AwardWallet app pulled up on my phone, so I had easy access to my Virgin Atlantic & Hilton HHonors membership numbers.
- The agent told me it would take 30 days for the transaction to be complete. Wth?! Luke also just recently transferred over his Virgin Atlantic miles to Hilton HHonors, and it only took a week. So, I’m crossing my fingers.
After my 50,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles transfer over to my Hilton account, I’ll be 100,000 HHonors points richer. Richie rich. Now I have to find a destination for me to take advantage of an AXON award. Maybe Hawaii?
Learn to love it.
— Noob MasterRead More
It’s no secret – I lust after bonus opportunities with American Express’ Membership Rewards program.
The newest transfer bonus will net you a 35% bonus when you transfer Membership Rewards into Virgin Atlantic.
A 35% bonus sounds sexy, but in my mind it’s more like Cate Blanchett in this scenario. Why?
1) Virgin Atlantic Flights have HUGE Surcharges.
2) There are too many easier ways to get Hilton HHonors points.
3) I would rather use my Membership Rewards points in different ways.
Let’s break it down:
Virgin Atlantic’s surcharges are a B
Just take a look at the Virgin Atlantic Award Chart down below:
From the US to Europe in economy class, the taxes & fees are $660! Plus, it would also cost you some Virgin Atlantic miles. For first class from the US, you’re looking at 80,000 Virgin Atlantic miles and at the very least, $1,100. No good for me.
If you’re buying a lot of full fare premium cabin tickets, you may find value in this chart. Especially if you have a boat load of Membership Rewards points. But I would rather use those Membership Rewards to transfer to Singapore Airlines, or on other transfer bonus opportunities. And to get over to the UK, I’d use my United, US Airways, or American Airlines miles. And if I was going to shell out a s@#$ load of miles and taxes, it would be for a British Airways first class flight.
Easier ways to get Hilton HHonors points
It’s a wide-known fact that you can transfer Virgin Atlantic miles to the Hilton HHonors programs at a 1:2 ratio. I’m a big fan of this, and it’s how I decide to use my Virgin Atlantic miles. But I wouldn’t go out of my way to transfer my Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic to use it in this way. Why? Because I can earn Hilton HHonors points in my sleep. No need to waste the flexibility of my Membership Rewards points.
The 1:2 transfer ratio is a big reason why people go goo-goo ga-ga when there’s a 50,000 offer on the Virgin Atlantic rewards card (which I signed up for a couple of app parties ago). However, the current bonus is 25,000 on the Virgin Atlantic card.
Having the 50,000 sign-up bonus means you’re earning 100,000 Hilton HHonors just by signing up for a rewards card. Not bad, but you need to also remember that Hilton HHonors points aren’t the most valuable points out there either – so don’t get blinded by the 100,000.
Hawaiian Airlines also has two cards that have a sign-up bonus of 35,000 each. And guess what? Hawaiian Airlines transfers to Hilton HHonors at a 1:2 ratio. So, that’s another 140,000 possible Hilton HHonors points (35k x 2 = 70k x 2= 140k).
We haven’t even gotten to Hilton branded rewards cards yet. There’s the 50,000 Amex Surpass (premium Hilton card), and the regular Amex Hilton HHonors card. Currently there is a 65,000 offer for the Amex Hilton that expires on November 30th. Plus, check out how you can upgrade your Amex Hilton to the Surpass getting yourself two sign-up bonus for only one inquiry! That’s another 115,000 Hilton HHonors points.
Now, to the Citi Hilton cards. There’s the Citi Hilton Reserve card which gives you two free certificats (80,000-160,000 Hilton HHonors point value). There’s also the basic Citi Hilton Honors card that has a 40,000 sign-up bonus.
The great thing about Citi Hilton HHonors cards is you can apply for 2 at the same time. Double up! Check out my post with a video of Luke applying for two Citi Hilton HHonors cards at the same time.
Plus, many of these cards have great category spending bonuses. For example – you can earn 6x Hilton HHonors points with your Amex Hilton on groceries and gas. And now that you can find Vanilla Reloads at some CVS/Walgreens stores and gas stations – you can earn mega Hilton HHonors points through Vanilla Reloads and Bluebird. I wouldn’t earn 6x Hilton HHonors points over 5x Ultimate Rewards points, though.
I would rather use Membership Rewards in other ways
I do prefer to use my Membership Rewards points when there is a transfer bonus opportunity. Lately, I’ve been using them to transfer to British Airways. This year, there have been 50%, 40%, and now a 30% bonus when you transfer Membership Rewards into British Airways.
There used to be Delta transfers galore, but it’s been crickets this past year.
I’m also looking into transferring Membership Rewards into the Singapore Airlines loyalty program. I have my first Singapore Airlines flight coming up in January. I’m going to be in a suite on the A380, and I’m pretty sure once I taste that goodness, I’m going to want to do everything I can to fly it again.
I hope this helps you as you decide if the 35% transfer to Virgin Atlantic is worth it for you. For me, it doesn’t make any sense. But who knows – you may have a surplus of Membership Rewards points, and don’t want to sign up for any rewards credit cards.
— Noob MasterRead More