Chase has added Virgin Atlantic Flying Club as an airline points transfer partner. (HT: Ronald A.)
That means if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold, or Chase Ink Plus card you can transfer your points 1:1 (in 1000 point increments) to Virgin Atlantic. Points usually transfer instantly.
Virgin Atlantic is added to current airline transfer partners United Airlines, British Airways, Korean Air, and Southwest.
And is in addition to hotel partners Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, and Priority. And of course ground partner Amtrak.
Virgin is a bit of a niche partner, but has some real strategic uses.
- Any addition of a new transfer partner is positive.
- Points transfer from Virgin to Hilton HHonors at 1:2, effectively adding Hilton as a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner
- Virgin has a high quality lie flat business class seat, and excellent business class lounges
- Virgin Atlantic has several airline partners you can redeem on — Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Cyprus Airways, Gulf Air, Hawaiian Airlines, Jet Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Scandinavian, Singapore, US Airways, plus Virgin America and Virgin Australia
The tenor of Virgin’s partnerships may change a bit since Delta has acquired a 49% stake. Certainly Delta will be added as a partner, they may pick up other Skyteam partners, and possibly lose some Star partners (their US Airways partnrship ends in June). That’s speculative at this point, but one doesn’t need to bank miles in Virgin for this to be useful — one just has to transfer points after determining what flights are available and even getting on the phone with Virgin to book partner awards, and constructing the award. The points can generally be transferred while you’re on the phone.
Virgin Atlantic-issued awards entail fuel surcharges whenever there’s a fuel surcharge for a comparable paid ticket, just like most European and Asian carriers. And that alone makes this not a ‘game changer’. But for a program that is already in many ways the most valuable and most flexible, it’s an added option.. such as for redemption on Virgin Atlantic from the US to Europe and beyond, or for upgrading paid travel on Virgin.
Of course many will just see this as a useful way to get Chase points into Hilton occasionally. It would have been more welcome, perhaps, before Hilton’s big March 28 devaluation (that hit aspirational properties hardest). But it fills a small gap.
Virgin Atlantic is an American Express Membership Rewards partner as well, of course — but this is no longer a unique benefit Amex has relative to Chase.
It’s especially good to see Chase adding partners and improving the value of the Ultimate Rewards program, since it could be easy for them to rest on their laurels (thinking they’ve already made their big investment). So nice news for a Sunday!
(Do know that if you use my links for the Chase cards in this post and are approved that I will receive referral credit, which I greatly appreciate)