The Virgin America Visa® Signature Card is currently running a limited-time bonus of 20,000 Elevate points after your first purchase of any amount (ends August 31st). I haven’t flown Virgin America before, but they are an airline similar to JetBlue and Southwest in that they are trying to offer very low fares within their specific network of airports. Their frequent flier program uses something called “Elevate Points” where you can book any flight using points blackout dates using variable pricing. So the question is, what can 20,000 Virgin America points get me? More than I thought, actually.
Let’s take the short flight from San Francisco to Las Vegas. A quick search shows me that I could buy a SFO-LAS roundtrip in October for $137.60. If I choose to price out the exact same trip with Elevate points, I see that it costs 5,396 points and a $5 security fee:
In this case, 20,000 points would nearly equate to 4 such short roundtrips. At such a conversion rate, 20,000 bonus points would be worth $491 in Virgin America airfare (2.5 cents per point). What about a long-haul flight? How about a nonstop flight from Los Angeles to New York City:
Here, the LAX-JFK flight came out to either $297.60 or 12,838 points + $5 security fee. This time, 20,000 points would work out to $455 in Virgin America airfare (2.3 cents per point). A similar query for LA to Washington DC yielded similar results. Given that this card does have an annual fee of $49, the net value of the bonus is up in the $400 range, making this a pretty good bonus if you take such flights. In addition, every year (including the first year) you get a discount code good for $150 off a companion ticket.
The rewards system for purchases is 3 points per $1 on Virgin America purchases and 1 point per $1 spent everywhere else. If it were me, I’d manage my spending on this card carefully to earn just enough points to use up all those bonus points. Finally, this card is issued by Barclaycard, which means it should be easier to get approved as compared to Citi or Chase if you’re like me and already have a bunch of cards from the major issuers.