Just because Alaska Air is buying Virgin America doesn’t mean that the latter has stopped trying to gain customers. From now until October 31, American Express cardholders can earn Virgin America Elevate gold status for a year by transferring 80,000 Membership Rewards points to Elevate. Added bonus: Do it by October 10 and you’ll get a 25% bonus on those points.
Note that the transfer rate doesn’t look great. Normally, 80,000 Membership Rewards points will get you only 40,000 Elevate points. Between now and October 10, you’ll get 50,000. With Elevate points worth just over 2c each, you can usually get better absolute value at other airlines.
Do I Need Elevate Gold?
First question, as always: Do I need the status? I’m not going to review every benefit, but they are pretty good if you fly Virgin America frequently, including complimentary upgrades to Main Cabin Select and an early opportunity to upgrade to First Class. You’ll also get bonus points, priority everything at the airport and limited lounge access. Normally, you earn five status points per dollar spent and would need to spend $10,000 to earn Elevate Gold (not including some credit card and other potential opportunities). You can learn all about the status at Virgin America’s website.
What to Watch
A couple of things to know about Virgin Elevate:
- Not only is the transfer value not great but the points are also somewhat difficult to use. True, you can get any seat you like on Virgin, but the airline is not part of one of the big three global alliances. You’ll have limited access to other airlines.
- Alaska will be acquiring Virgin America, assuming the regulators bless the deal. We don’t know how Alaska Airlines will value Elevate points, nor do we know how they will convert elite status. For the latter, a status match at each level would make sense.
The Bottom Line
If you want and need Elevate gold status, sure, go ahead. But I wouldn’t burn 80,000 Membership Rewards points under other circumstances.