For a limited time, Virgin America is offering bonus Elevate points and Gold status when you transfer Membership Rewards points from American Express. I am not personally a huge fan of the Elevate program’s redemption opportunities. However, I can see the appeal of this offer, especially in the context of Virgin and Alaska’s pending merger.
Through October 10, you’ll get 25% more Elevate points when you transfer from Membership Rewards. Transfer 200 Membership Rewards points and get 125 Elevate points, not the usual 100. In a worst case scenario, you get a bunch more Virgin America Elevate points. Virgin has a few good redemption opportunities with partners like Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia.
While I’m normally indifferent toward the Elevate program because of the fuel surcharges it collects, that’s not so different from many of Membership Rewards’ other airline partners. So if you need to put your Membership Rewards points somewhere, this promotion is as good an argument as any to choose Virgin America.
In a better scenario, I can see the possibility that these Elevate points will eventually become miles with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. I really value Alaska’s miles because (1) many partners don’t have fuel surcharges, (2) the award chart is relatively inexpensive, and (3) in most cases the award price is the same regardless of where you originate in the U.S.
There are currently no transfer programs, other than hotels like SPG, that partner with Alaska Airlines. That means this could be an option to turn Membership Rewards points into Alaska miles …someday.
If you transfer 80,000 Membership Rewards points or more by October 31, you’ll also earn Gold Elevate status for an entire year. Note the deadline is different. Elevate Gold status isn’t worth a lot. You get the option to purchase an upgrade (not free upgrades), and some of the usual stuff like free checked bags and bonus points. What makes me more interested is that I think there’s a chance you could use this to shortcut your way to Alaska Airlines MVP Gold status.
This back door certainly isn’t guaranteed, but many airlines tend to offer reciprocal benefits during the transition period while a merger is underway. Basically if you are skeptical about your ability to earn MVP Gold status this year (for use in 2017), then getting Virgin America Elevate status via an American Express transfer might be an alternative.