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It may make more sense than normal to use this Virgin Atlantic transfer bonus (today and tomorrow)

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Chase Ultimate Rewards is currently offering cardholders a limited time 30% bonus on transfers to the Virgin Atlanic Flying Club and, ordinarily, this would be an offer that would only work for a relatively small number of people. This time, however, and for a very limited time, this transfer bonus may come in useful for more people than normal.

The transfer bonus offer

Per Chase:

Get 30% Bonus Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Points when you transfer between 12:00 AM ET on October 1st, 2023 and 11:59 PM ET on November 15th, 2023. Bonus Points will be awarded by Virgin Atlantic Flying Club in your Virgin Atlantic Flying Club account when your transfer is complete.

The key terms

  • Bonus Virgin Atlantic Flying Club offer is valid for Chase Ultimate Rewards point transfers to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club completed between 12:00 AM ET on October 1, 2023 and 11:59 PM ET on November 15th, 2023.
  • Minimum transfer is 1,000 Ultimate Rewards points.
  • Bonus Virgin Points will be awarded by Virgin Atlantic Flying Club in your Virgin Atlantic Flying Club account up to 7 days after the points transfer is completed.
  • For the bonus Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Points offer, you will receive 30% Bonus Virgin Points for each Ultimate Rewards point transferred during the promotional period listed above. For example, if you transfer 1,000 Ultimate Rewards points, you will receive a total of 1,300 Virgin Points.
  • You must be enrolled in Virgin Atlantic Flying Club with both your membership in good standing and your Ultimate Rewards credit card account open and not in default in order to participate in this offer.
  • All Ultimate Rewards points transferred to your Virgin Atlantic Flying Club account will be subject to the Terms and Conditions of the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Program and cannot be transferred back to your Chase Ultimate Rewards account.
  • Taxes, government-imposed fees, and any applicable charges may apply on Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points redemptions and upgrades.

Full terms and conditions can be found on the relevant Ultimate Rewards page.

What makes this interesting?

Under normal conditions, this would be the point at which I would remind readers that Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points are not very versatile and that awards booked with these points will often attract seriously high surcharges that make the awards uneconomical.

Well, those things are still very true, but there’s another offer in play right now that makes this transfer bonus more interesting that it would otherwise be and that’s the offer that sees Virgin Altantic awards discounted by 25% through the end of the year.

In brief…

  • Book by 23:59 GMT 3 October 2023 (TOMORROW)
  • Travel between 1 October and 31 December 2023
  • Save 25% on Reward Seats. All routes. All cabins

I should say from the outset that it’s only the points element of Virgin’s awards that are being discounted and not the horrendous surcharges, but if you need to make a transatlantic booking for travel before the end of the year, it’s still worth running the numbers (for your own, personal, situation), to see if stacking these two offers could work for you.

I should also point out that while transfers from Chase to Virgin Atlantic are usually instantaneous, there’s always a risk that something goes wrong with the transfer and that the points don’t hit your Flying Club account in time to meet tomorrow’s 23:59 GMT deadline. Make sure that you consider this risk before proceeding with a transfer.

Potential bookings

Assuming a 30% bonus for transferring points from Chase Ultimate Rewards to the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, this is the number of Ultimate Rewards points (together with the number of dollars) that you would need to book the following one-way awards:

  • Business Class – New York (JFK) to London (LHR): 28,000 UR Points + $976.70
  • Business Class – Los Angeles (LAX) to London (LHR): 39,000 UR Points + $976.70
  • Premium Economy – Boston (BOS) to London (LHR): 11,000 Points + $447
  • Premium Economy – Austin (AUS) to London (LHR): 16,000 Points + $447

Note: These are not hypothetical costs, these are real life examples of bookings that are available right now.

I value Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 1.5 cents each so for me, this is the effective cost of each of those award bookings:

  • Business Class – New York (JFK) to London (LHR): ~$1,397
  • Business Class – Los Angeles (LAX) to London (LHR): ~$1,562
  • Premium Economy – Boston (BOS) to London (LHR): ~$612
  • Premium Economy – Austin (AUS) to London (LHR): ~$687

Roundtrip award bookings attract truly ridiculous surcharges on Virgin Atlantic so I wouldn’t even begin to consider those even with the 25% saving and 30% transfer bonus, but if all I needed was a one-way booking, I may be tempted with paying $1,397 – $1,562 (although the latter seems toppy), and I would seriously consider paying $612 – $687 for Premium Economy.

Yes, If I didn’t have to fly on a specific date, I may be able to find cash fares that match or beat the one-way costs listed above, but because an award booking would afford me more flexibility than the cash fare, the award booking would be a better choice.

Other ways this transfer bonus may work for you

There are three very specific ways I like to get value out of Virgin Atlantic points – two involve booking a partner airline and the other, rather amazingly, involves booking with Virgin Atlantic itself.

My favorite Virgin Atlantic partner

My favorite Virgin Atlantic partner is Japan’s ANA and that’s because you can get some truly outsized value when you use Virgin’s Flying Club points to book premium cabin ANA awards.

Here’s the Virgin Atlantic award chart for redemption on ANA:a table with numbers and text

Note: The mileage costs shown in the table above are for roundtrip travel.

In practical terms this is what the award chart means:

  • New York to Tokyo will cost 95,000 points/120,000 points (Business Class/First Class)
  • Los Angeles to Tokyo will cost 90,000 points/110,000 points
  • Europe to Tokyo will cost 95,000 points/120,000 points

Those are pretty good deals, but when you factor in the Chase transfer bonus they look even better.

Here’s how many Ultimate Rewards Points are required for the three trips I just listed above (once you account for the 30% transfer bonus that Chase is currently offering):

  • New York to Tokyo: 74,000 UR/93,000 UR (Business Class/First Class)
  • Los Angeles to Tokyo: 70,000 UR/85,000 UR
  • Europe to Tokyo: 74,000 UR/93,000 UR

To put things in context, the best non-stop, roundtrip Business Class fares you’ll usually find for travel between New York and Tokyo run between $4,000 and $6,000, while that same trip can be booked for just 74,000 Ultimate Rewards Points.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that ANA awards are getting increasingly more difficult to find (please don’t push through any transfers before you check that awards are available on dates that work for you) and you’ll have to pay some surcharges too (fortunately, these are nowhere near as bad as the surcharges that Virgin Atlantic charges on a lot of other awards).

Using Virgin Points on Delta

Using Virgin Atlantic points to fly Delta to/from the UK isn’t great value as the surcharges are prohibitive, but if you can find Delta One awards for one-way travel between the US and anywhere in Europe that isn’t the UK, the surcharges and the number of points required are and that’s a great combination to find.

a close-up of a white card

With the 30% transfer bonus that Chase is currently offering, you can book a USA – Europe one-way Delta One fare for just ~38,500 Ultimate Rewards points and considering how much Delta will charge for the same award, that’s an incredibly good deal.

an airplane with rows of seats
Delta One Business Class Suites Boeing 777-200 – Image Delta

You can also use Virgin points to book Delta awards for travel to everywhere else that Delta flies without incurring enormous surcharges but as Virgin Atlantic now uses a distance-based chart for these Delta awards,…

a table of points with numbers

…the value on offer isn’t as good as it once was (when it was a zonal chart).

Bottom line

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points aren’t particularly versatile (certainly not as versatile as Ultimate Rewards points) and you can get hit hard for surcharges when using them, so it’s a bad idea to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic speculatively.

Ordinarily, the only real way to get a lot of value out of Virgin Atlantic points is to use them for select premium cabin bookings on ANA or on Delta (if you can find availability), but for the rest of today and tomorrow, some readers may also be able to get a reasonable amount of value from combining the current 30% transfer bonus with the 25% saving that Virgin Atlantic is currently offering on select award bookings.

Whatever path you’re considering, the key here is to make sure the awards you want to book are available before you process a points transfer and that the math of transferring points and using them for flights stacks up when compared to the cash cost of a booking.

If you do all that you’re unlikely to go far wrong.

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