You know when you went trick-or-treating as a kid and people started giving out “healthy” snacks in place of candy, like apples or bananas? Well, I can’t help but feel like this is kind of what has happened with Chase’s new Ultimate Rewards transfer partner. On one hand more options are a good thing, on the other hand of all possible frequent flyer programs to start a relationship with, this is the least valuable one.
Chase has just added Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club as their latest Ultimate Rewards transfer partner. Points transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio, as they do with most of their transfer partners.
I recently valued various mileage currencies, and in that valuation Virgin Atlantic ranked dead last in value, at just 0.8 cents each. The fact is that the program just isn’t that interesting. They impose heavy fuel surcharges on virtually all redemptions, and their award rates aren’t especially low either. The value in their points used to be that you could transfer them at a 1:2 ratio to Hilton, and while you can still do that, Hilton points were devalued substantially just a couple of weeks ago, so that’s not as valuable anymore either.
So aside from very limited sets of circumstances — like one-way awards in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class where you don’t have any flexibility, or Hilton points transfers for redemptions at mid-range properties — I don’t see this being especially valuable. Still, options are options are options are options. Right?
Secretly, and perhaps mildly realistically, I’m still hoping that either American Express Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards steal Alaska Mileage Plan, either by issuing their co-branded credit card or by adding them as a partner to their programs. Now that would be a nice addition to either program.
(Tip of the hat to Gary)
I assume with ultimate rewards, the transfer is only valid with Virgin Atlantic flying club and not Virgin America Elevate? Thanks!
@ Robert -- That's correct.
Even with the devaluation, Hilton still makes the most sense for my travel needs. In line with that, this is great. Before I basically had no way to transfer UR points to Hilton, now I do if needed...
I concur on this one ; I was saving and collecting Virgin miles to throw into Hilton, but that Hilton deval screwed everything. In all humor, the Virgin got screwed hehehe!!
VS has some great partner awards (especially SQ) but the miles required is not on the US site. You have to switch in the upper right hand corner to the UK site to see the amounts for partner awards.
Delta just bought 49% of VS from SQ so when the deal goes through the end of this year VS will probably join SkyTeam and SQ will drop out as a partner, as will US.
Lucky- Did an analysis and they're not bad for Upgrades from economy (basically $1600 plus 40,000 miles roundtrip). Not great, but if you're not an AA or UA elite with systemwides, the cheapest way to get an upgrade without blowing 80,000+ miles.
@Lucky How do you figure Chase/Amex would get Alaska to move/switch. Right now Alaska is with BofA in USA and in Canada, and is most likely under some form of contract. These relationships are hardly "easy" to change/break.
Forgot to add the Chase Freedom!
I actually think this is great news. I get most of my miles from credit card spending, so I could combine the VS black AmEx from BofA, the Sapphire Preferred from Chase, and the PRG from American Express, and my miles would increase pretty rapidly!
As for fuel surcharges, getting an Upper Class seat to LHR for the price of an economy ticket doesn't sound too bad.
LAX - Cancun for 40,000 miles RT in VX first. You're not looking hard enough.
Does Virgin Atlantic allow stopovers/open jaws on their award tickets? Or is everything priced a la carte like British Airways?
Seems like a cool airline to fly, but it seems I'd have to go way out of my way just to try them...