Alaska Airlines, American Express, Virgin America

Reminder: Last day to transfer into Virgin America Elevate from Amex is Oct 31, 2017

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As of January 1, 2018, Virgin America’s Elevate program will cease to exist and all miles will be transferred into your Alaska Mileage Plan account at a ratio of 1.3 Alaska for every 1 Virgin Elevate mile you have.

American Express Membership Rewards transfer to Virgin Elevate at a ratio of 1 Elevate mile for every 2 Amex MR points, so it’s not generally an amazing transfer. That said, there may be some reasons you want to transfer – and Oct 31, 2017 is your last day to do so.

  1. You want to redeem an award on Virgin America. This may be stating the obvious, but until the merger occurs you can still book with Virgin’s Elevate program and in some cases that is a better deal than booking the same flights with Alaska. You also have access (until Jan 1) to the Virgin Elevate partners including Hawaiian Airlines, Virgin Australia, and Singapore Airlines – none of which are Alaska partners.
  2. You want to generate Alaska miles.  Maybe you are eyeing one of the more interesting redemptions on Alaska which include Cathay Pacific from the US to Asia for 50,000 miles each way in Business / 70,000 in First, JAL for 60,000 miles each way in Business / 70,000 in First, and from the US to the South Pacific on Fiji in Business for 55,000 each way.  In this case, you could transfer your Amex to Elevate and then to Alaska.

An example: You want a round trip in Business on Cathay Pacific. You need 100k Alaska. That is 77,000 Virgin Elevate. You would convert 144,000 Amex  points to Virgin (and then to Alaska) to book this. Now that is no steal at 144k – it’s actually an average redemption – but it shows you how that would work and is more appealing if you happen to be very Amex Membership Rewards points-rich.

One major note: You cannot transfer from Alaska back to Virgin. It’s a one way street. So keep miles in Virgin until you are ready to redeem on Alaska. If you do nothing they will move on their own Jan 1, 2018.

Also note that it’s not your only way to get Alaska miles. The Alaska Airlines Bank of America credit card often has offers for 30,000 miles when you signup (and sometimes includes a 2-for-1 companion certificate as well.

You always can view all of our current credit card signup bonus offers here.