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Update: This transfer offer ends today!
Originally posted on 5/1:
Chase executives told me when they launched Ultimate Rewards point transfers to airlines that they decided to focus on strong partners with easy to understand transfer ratios and not on assorted transfer ratios and transfer bonuses.
But times are changing and Chase has their first ever Virgin Atlantic transfer bonus.
Chase points normally transfer into Virgin Atlantic miles at a 1K:1K ratio, but until 6/15 you can get 1,300 Virgin Atlantic miles for every 1,000 Chase points. The miles typically transfer instantly.
Virgin Atlantic miles never expire!
In general, Virgin Atlantic charges high fuel surcharges that kill the value of many of their awards.
For example a round-trip coach ticket from JFK to London on Virgin Atlantic is just 20K miles (under 16K Chase points), but the taxes and fuel surcharges add $486. Premium Economy is 35K miles+$963. Business class is 95K miles and you’ll also owe $1,963 in taxes and fuel surcharges. Ouch!
If you only need a one-way ticket from NYC to London it’s not as bad. 10K miles+$150 in coach, 17.5K miles+$325 in premium economy, or 47.5K miles+$825 in business class.
You can save money by booking travel on 2 one-way trips. A one-way ticket from London to NYC is 10K miles+$269 in coach, 17.5K miles+$490 in premium economy, or 47.5K miles+$780 in business class.
Or for example a round-trip coach ticket from JFK to Tel Aviv on Virgin Atlantic is just 38K miles (30K Chase points), but the taxes and fuel surcharges add $548. Premium Economy is 67K miles+$798. Business class is 151K miles and you’ll also owe $1,498 in taxes and fuel surcharges.
If you originate in Tel Aviv then the round-trip coach ticket from Tel Aviv to JFK on Virgin Atlantic is 38K miles plus $428. Premium Economy is 67K miles+$390. Business class is 151K miles plus $510.
If you only need a one-way ticket from NYC to Tel Aviv you’ll pay 19K miles+$253 in coach, 33.5K miles+$378 in premium economy, or 75.5K miles+$728 in business class.
You can save money by booking travel on 2 one-way trips. A one-way ticket from Tel Aviv to NYC is 19K miles+$235 in coach, 33.5K miles+$216 in premium economy, or 75.5K miles+$276 in business class.
Flying on Delta:
There are some notable sweet spots on partner airlines:
Virgin Atlantic miles can be a bargain for flying on Delta. They also can book saver award space, even when there’s none available on Delta.com!
If you have problems typing in your desired airport you will need to click the location icon as shown below and manually search for your destination by country and state. If your destination still isn’t available you will have to call Virgin Atlantic to book award travel to that destination.
If the option to search for miles isn’t available you also may need to try selecting another airport, click on pay with miles, and then switch the airport. For example NYC to LAX didn’t work for me at first, but I switched the destination to San Francisco, clicked on pay with miles, and then switched back to Los Angeles.
On the search page you can select one-way or round-trip, exact dates, flexible within 1 week, or within 5 weeks. You can also change the class of service by clicking on “Show advanced options.” When you are viewing the award calendar you can toggle it to show direct flights only.
You generally won’t want to use Virgin miles for Delta flights to the UK, as they tack on fuel surcharges.
However you can fly on Delta to the rest of Europe for just 30K miles in coach or 50K miles in business class each way.
You can check what a ticket will cost by checking the distance between city pairs on GCmap.com.
For example a flight from Cleveland to NYC will be 7.5K Virgin miles in main cabin (under 6K Chase points) or 17.5K in first class (under 14K Chase points) with this is a zone 1 award as the flight distance between Cleveland and NYC is under 500 miles.
Vs 14K in main cabin with Delta miles or 22.5K in first class with Delta miles:
Detroit to NYC is also a zone 1 award.
JFK to Tel Aviv costs 35K miles each way in coach as a zone 8 award. That’s under 27K Chase points!
That means if I want to fly from Cleveland to Tel Aviv via JFK, it will cost 42.5K miles (35K for JFK-TLV+7.5K for CLE-JFK):
Infant lap child awards on international flights are a bargain. While Delta charges 10% of the paid fare, which can be astronomical on one-way flights, Virgin charges just 1,000 miles in coach or 5,000 miles in business class each way:
Flying on ANA:
ANA is an incredible Japanese airline with great first class suites that have very comfortable beds and amazing service. I reviewed them here towards the end of the 4th part of my Island Hopper adventure.
You only need 110K Virgin Atlantic miles to fly round-trip from the west coast to Japan or 120K miles to fly round-trip from the east coast to Japan in first class.
Virgin Atlantic now allows for one-way travel for half the round-trip rate in the chart below!
Compare that to 121K United miles for the one-way flight!
Unfortunately, you do need to call Virgin Atlantic to book travel on ANA at 800-365-9500. You can search for ANA award space on United.com.
You can fly in ANA first class to Tokyo/Narita from Chicago, Houston, JFK, Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Washington DC.
You can fly in ANA first class to Tokyo/Haneda from Chicago, JFK, or Los Angeles.
Search for first class saver awards on United.com to TYO and then call Virgin Atlantic to book:
New ANA First, with a 43″ 4K LED, a door for privacy, windows, and more:
The middle seats have a partition for privacy that goes up and down so that companions can talk to each other:
Business class is staggered with forward and rear facing seats that also have privacy doors and middle partitions and go up and down:
Want to earn Virgin Atlantic miles?
- You can normally transfer AMEX, Capital One, Chase, Or Citi points to Virgin Atlantic at a 1:1 ratio or Marriott points at a 60K:25K ratio.
If you, a member in your household, or an authorized user has one of the following Chase cards, you can transfer points into miles:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred has a 60K signup bonus, earns 2.1 points per dollar on travel, 3.1 points per dollar on dining, streaming, and online groceries, has a $50 hotel credit, can transfer all Chase points into miles, and points are worth at least 1.3 cents each for paid travel or pay yourself back categories ($95 annual fee). Read more here.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve has a 60K signup bonus, earns 3 points per dollar on dining/travel, has a $300 travel credit, can transfer all Chase points into miles, and points are worth at least 1.5 cents each for paid travel or pay yourself back categories ($550 annual fee with $300 travel credit). Read more here.
- Chase Ink Preferred has a 100K signup bonus and earns 3 points per dollar on shipping, advertising, and travel, can transfer all Chase points into miles, and points are worth at least 1.25 cents each for paid travel or pay yourself back categories ($95 annual fee). Read more here.
Chase no-annual fee cards that are fantastic for earning points, but require one of the cards above for points transfers include:
- Chase Ink Cash has a record high 75K signup bonus and earns 5 points per dollar on cable, TV, telecom, cellular, office supply stores, and gift cards from office supply stores, plus 2 points per dollar on dining and gas ($0 annual fee). Read more here.
- Chase Ink Unlimited has a record high 75K signup bonus and earns 1.5 points per dollar everywhere ($0 annual fee). Read more here.
- Chase Freedom Flex has a 20K signup bonus, plus 5 points on rotating categories, 5 points per dollar on travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, and 3 points per dollar on dining and drugstores ($0 annual fee). Read more here.
- Chase Freedom Unlimited has a signup bonus offering 3 points per dollar on up to $20K of spending in your first 12 month, afterwards earn at least 1.5 points per dollar everywhere, 5 points per dollar on travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, and 3 points per dollar on dining and drugstores ($0 annual fee). Read more here.
AMEX cards with transferable Membership Rewards points include:
- AMEX Blue Business Plus
- AMEX Platinum Business
- AMEX Gold Business Card
- AMEX Platinum Consumer Card
- AMEX Gold Consumer Card
- AMEX Green Consumer Card
- AMEX Everyday Preferred Consumer Card
- AMEX Everyday Consumer Card
If you or a friend has one of the following Citi cards, you can transfer points into miles:
- Citi Premier has a 60,000 point bonus for spending $4,000 in 3 months, 3 points per dollar on airfare, hotels, travel agents, groceries, gas, and dining. $95 annual fee. Read more here.
Citi no-annual fee cards that are fantastic for earning points, but require one of the cards above for points transfers include:
- The Citi Double Cash card offers 2% cash back or 2 points per dollar spent everywhere that can be transferred into ThankYou points. If you also have a Citi Premier Card you can transfer points into miles. No annual fee. Read more here.
- The Citi Custom Cash Card offers 5 points per dollar on up to $500 in purchases in your top eligible spending category each billing cycle. This is marketed as 5% cash back, but will actually come in the form of 5 ThankYou points per dollar spent! Eligible categories include Restaurants, Gas Stations, Grocery Stores, Select Travel, Select Transit, Select Streaming Services, Drugstores, Home Improvement Stores, Fitness Clubs, and Live Entertainment. You will also get 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. No annual fee. Read more here.
- The Citi Rewards+ Card offering 20,000 points for spending $1,500 in 3 months. This card can’t transfer points on its own, but can transfer points if you have one of the Citi cards above. This card automatically rounds up rewards earned on every purchase to the nearest 10 points, meaning you earn 10 points on a $0.50 Amazon balance reload. Earn 2 points on $6K in annual spending at supermarkets, and a 10% points rebate when you redeem points, up to a 10K points rebate per year. If you also have a Citi Premier Card you can transfer points into miles and get a 10% points rebate on transferred or redeemed miles. No annual fee. Read more here.
- Capital One Venture X Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles for spending $4,000 in 3 months, plus earn 2 miles per dollar spent, $300 annual travel credit, 10K anniversary bonus miles, Global Entry/Pre-Check, Capital One lounge access, Priority Pass Lounge membership, and more. Read more here.
- Capital One Venture: Earn 75,000 bonus miles for spending $4,000 in 3 months, plus 2 miles per dollar spent. Read more here.
- Capital One Spark Miles: Earn 50,000 bonus miles, plus 2 miles per dollar spent.
- Capital One Spark Cash Plus Card: Earn up to 100,000 bonus miles, plus 2 miles per dollar spent, convertible into transferrable miles with any of the 3 cards above. Read more here.
Marriott cards with transferable points include:
- Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Consumer Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express®Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold Card
Will you transfer points from Chase to Virgin Atlantic to take advantage of this bonus? What other award sweet spots do you take advantage of?