Don't miss out! Join the thousands of people who subscribe to our once-daily email with all the best travel news. Some links on this page may pay me a commission - as always, thanks for your support if you use them
Yesterday morning, Alaska Airlines and Virgin America announced that as part of their merger, their respective rewards programs would be combined into the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program. Yawn–we all knew that was coming, but what we didn’t know was the transfer ratio of eleVAte points to Mileage Plan miles. Now we know: 1 Virgin American eleVAte point will become 1.3 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles. This change won’t happen overnight, and invitations to transfer points won’t happen until early January.
(READ MORE: New Ways to Redeem Alaska Airlines Miles)
We had an internal disagreement here at Points With a Crew–I was excited it wasn’t a 1:1 transfer, and Sharon was disappointed it wasn’t a 1:1.5 transfer. On the one hand I agree with Sharon, as eleVAte points are worth slightly more than Mileage Plan miles, but on the other hand, aren’t we all relieved it’s more than just a 1:1 transfer? This announcement, coupled with Alaska’s revised award chart, should make both Alaska and Virgin America fliers happy, as most award redemptions on Alaska metal are going down.
Transfer Citi ThankYou Points to Virgin America
Knowing the transfer ratio, does it make sense to speculatively increase your eleVAte balance? Let’s look at some examples. The first is transferring Citi Thank You Points (TYP) to Virgin America. After the merger was officially approved, Citi announced that transfers between the two programs would cease on January 22, 2017. With a current transfer ratio of 1000 TYP to 500 eleVAte points, it was never a good redemption, but transfers made between now and 1/22 will, in effect, become 650 Mileage Plan miles. Good idea? I still say no.
What about the Virgin America credit card?
The second example is signing up for and meeting the minimum spend on the Virgin America Visa Signature Card by Comenity Capital Bank. After paying the annual fee of $49 and spending $1,000 in three months, you’ll get 10,000 eleVAte points. These will then become 13,000 Mileage Plan miles. Good idea? Probably not. The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card by Bank of American nets you 30,000 points (and a $100 statement credit) after paying the annual fee of $75 and spending $1,000 in three months. However, if you’ve never had the Virgin America card, and need to lay low with Bank of America for a while, it might be an OK opportunity.
Transferring SPG points to Virgin America
Overall, I wouldn’t speculatively increase eleVAte points, and just let your balance roll over to the Mileage Plan program. But if you do want to speculatively transfer points, you probably would want to do it with SPG points. SPG lets you transfer at 1:1 to over 20 different airlines, including both Virgin America and Alaska
(SEE ALSO: 3 SPG transfer partners you do NOT want to use)
As it stands, you don’t want to transfer SPG points to Alaska. 20,000 SPG points would net you 25,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles (After the bonus for transferring 20,000 points). Instead, transfer 20,000 SPG points to VIRGIN AMERICA, where they would become 25,000 eleVAte miles -> 32,500 Alaska miles.
We don’t know if/when SPG will take away the ability to transfer to Virgin America, so if you are going to transfer speculatively, that’s the way to do it!
What did you think of the Alaska Virgin America transfer ratio? Excited? Disappointed? Relieved? Let us know below!