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With Continental Airlines poised to part ways with American Express at the end of this month, Virgin America will be added to the rewards list. Beginning October 5, American Express customers who are enrolled in the rewards program will be able to transfer their points into Virgin America Elevate points.
With Virgin America now an option for American Express customers, seats on the airline will be able to be purchased without restrictions or blackout dates. Virgin America currently serves 12 airports in the United states.
They are as follows: Logan International Airport (Boston), O’Hare International Airport (Chicago), Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Fort Lauderdale – Hollywood International Airport (Florida), McCarran International Airport (Las Vegas), Los Angeles International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport (NYC), Orlando International Airport, San Diego International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport. Thus, customers who are enrolled in the rewards program in those areas may be particularly interested in this move.
While the addition of Virgin America and loss of Continental Airlines may benefit some and hurt others, it’s not the end of the world if you do not care for Virgin America or love Continental Airlines. You’ll still be able to purchase tickets on most other Airlines – including Continental Airlines – with the Pay With Points feature. However, as the value of the points that you may transfer to Virgin America is not clear at this time, check with American Express and/or Virgin America prior to deciding whether or not to transfer over points so that you get the best deal possible – whether it is with Virgin America or another airline. With their other partners, American Express’ points transfer at a 1 to 1 ratio for most of them. However, there are a few that have a less than 1 to 1 ratio, so be sure to double check.
If you’d like to use other rewards partners, American Express currently has deals with Delta Airlines, AeroMexico, Air Canada, AirTran, Alitalia Airlines, All Nippon Airways, British Airways, Continental Airlines (will expire shortly), EL AL Israel Airlines, Air France & KLM, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Iberia Plus Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic. In general, you can expect a better deal when using points with American Express’ partners than by using the Pay With Points feature, but it doesn’t hurt to check for better deals anyway.