December 20, 2016
Transfer Starpoints to Alaska Mileage Plan to Get 62.5% Bonus Miles

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Straight to the Point

Starting January 9, 2017 you can transfer Virgin America Elevate points to Alaska Mileage Plan at a rate of 1:1.3.


Point Transfer Ratio

Last week, Alaska Air finalized its buyout of Virgin America. A few days ago, Alaska finally revealed one of the most important aspects of the merger. Starting January 9, 2017 customers will be able transfer Virgin America Elevate points to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan at a ratio of 1:1.3. Remember, you can only transfer from Virgin America to Alaska, not the other way around. This generous transfer ratio opens up several interesting opportunities for travelers.


How to Maximize the New Transfer Ratio

Here’s where the magic of transfer partners comes into play.  Starwood’s SPG Starpoints can be transferred to Virgin America at a 1:1 ratio. However, if you transfer 20,000 Starpoints, you get a 5,000 point bonus. So you essentially convert 20,000 Starpoints into 25,000 Virgin America Elevate points. Next, you transfer those 25,000 Elevate points to Alaska Mileage Plan. Given the 1:1.3 transfer ratio, that nets you 32,500 Alaska miles. Voila, through the magic of transfer partners you’ve converted 20,000 Starpoints into 32,500 Alaska miles.


The last wrinkle to point out in all these transfers is Marriott points. Because Marriott acquired Starwood, you can transfer Marriott points to Starwood at a rate of 3:1. So if you have a ton of Marriott points lying around, you can move them from Marriott-Starwood-Virgin America-Alaska Airlines.


When it Makes Sense to Transfer to Alaska Mileage Plan

You can find my Alaska Mileage Plan overview here, with details of some great first class redemptions. Being able to transfer Starpoints with such a huge bonus significantly lowers the price of first class travel through Alaska’s partners. Here’s just a couple examples:

  • Flying USA to Asia on Cathay Pacific First Class costs 70,000 Alaska miles. You can convert 43,847 Starpoints into 70,000 Alaska miles with the above method and get yourself in first class.
  • Flying USA to South America on LAN Business Class costs 45,000 Alaska miles. Instead, you can convert 29,616 Starpoints into 45,000 Alaska miles!
  • You’ll find similar cheap award rates for Qantas First Class, Fiji Business class and other great Alaska partners!


Final Thoughts

This new transfer ratio unlocks some great award opportunities at very low rates if you have Starwood or Marriott points. I’ve collected quite a stash of Starpoints so this is another exciting opportunity to see how I can maximize them. That said, I won’t transfer any points out of Starwood until I have a specific redemption in mind. One of the great things about Starpoints is that they have 36 partner airlines that you can transfer to. Once those points are transferred, they’re locked into the program you’ve moved them to and have lost all flexibility. There’s not much benefit in locking a chunk of points with one airline for an extended period of time and risking the inevitable point devaluation.