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“You’ve missed the point,” began Karl Mitchell in calling The Rapid Traveler on his ignorance of Virgin America Elevate in yesterday’s review of the Virgin America Visa Signature card (card no longer available):
Virgin America points are worth roughly two miles in other programs. Consider that Amex Membership Rewards only offers 1:2 exchange, and that Virgin Atlantic redemptions are half the number of points as Flying Club miles. This is actually quite a good earn rate for such a cheap card, and the fact that it’s Visa Signature adds more value. The options for redemptions are, however, limited.
Indeed, The Rapid Traveler should have done research on Virgin America’s Elevate program before pronouncing the card another 1 point per dollar dud.
Let’s look at a New York JFK – London LHR roundtrip:
- Economy: 15,000 points + $650 taxes and fees
- Premium Economy: 25,000 points + $750 taxes and fees
- Upper Class: 35,000 points + $1100 taxes and fees
Virgin Atlantic redemption on Virgin Atlantic:
- Economy: 35,000 points + $660 taxes and fees
- Premium Economy: 55,000 points + $770 taxes and fees
- Upper Class: 80,000 points + $1105 taxes and fees
Even the taxes and fees are slightly higher booking through Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club!
The taxes and fees are astronomical, but some travelers find them acceptable when redeeming for Upper Class, essentially treating it as buying an economy ticket and using points to upgrade.
For those specifically targeting Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia redemptions, the Virgin America credit card looks like a good everyday spend card. But since there is so little flexibility, it only for those intently committed to this specific purpose.