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A couple of weeks ago, we covered Alaska’s purchase of Virgin America. It was pretty clear even then that some big changes were in store, and we saw one of those recently when Alaska and Delta announced that their partnership is ending soon.
Another SPG Relationship Terminating
It should come as no surprise that another partnership is ending. As of January 6, 2017, SPG and Virgin America’s current partnership will be dissolved, according to a statement released to several sites. (This isn’t the first recent change for SPG; its partnership with Caesars properties ialso ended at the conclusion of 2016.) Here's the language from SPG on the update with Virgin America:
SPG has a long-standing partnership with both Alaska Airlines and Virgin America, and was excited to hear the news about the official close of their merger. This presents a great opportunity for Elevate members to join and enjoy all the benefits of Alaska’s award-winning Mileage Plan starting January 9th. Instead, SPG has decided to focus its partnership on Alaska Mileage Plan and end its partnership with Virgin America’s Elevate program. This means SPG members will no longer be able to earn Elevate points on hotel stays, or directly transfer Starpoints into Elevate accounts after January 6, 2017.
SPG members will be able to use Starpoints to travel on Virgin America by transferring Starpoints to Alaska Mileage Plan miles and redeeming them for Virgin America flights on alaskaair.com starting January 9, 2017. Furthermore, SPG members can continue to transfer Starpoints to Alaska Mileage Plan at a 1:1 ratio – and earn a 5,000 bonus miles when they transfer 20,000 Starpoints to Alaska Mileage Plan.
Unfortunately, this takes away what was, for many of us, one of the biggest benefits of Alaska’s purchase of Virgin: the ability to convert Starpoints at an excellent ratio. If you were planning to take advantage of that opportunity, we recommend doing so ASAP, as you won’t be able to after January 6th.
How Converting Starpoints Works
Here’s how the transfer (which will no longer be possible after this change) works:
- You can currently convert Starpoints into Virgin America Elevate points at a 1:1 ratio. You’ll also receive a 5,000 points bonus for each 20,000 points you convert, so transferring 40,000 Starpoints will give you 50,000 Virgin America Elevate points.
- You can convert Elevate points to Mileage Plan miles at a rate of 1:1.3, as we reported recently. Those 50,000 Elevate points will get you 65,000 Mileage Plan miles. In other words, if you transfer Starpoints in chunks of 20,000, you can currently benefit from an indirect Starpoints to Mileage Plan conversion rate of 1:1.625.
Because of transfer limits, you’ll get the best value by converting exactly 60,000 Starpoints per day into Virgin America Elevate points. Remember you’ll need to make these transfers before January 6, 2017.
For now, just focus on converting those Starpoints into Elevate points in preparation for January 9, 2017, which is when you’ll be able to convert Elevate points to Mileage Plan miles at that 1:1.3 ratio.
How Converting Starpoints Will Work After the Change
After the end of SPG and Virgin America’s partnership on January 6th, you’ll still be able to convert Starpoints to Mileage Plan miles, but you’ll need to do so directly, at a ratio of only 1:1.
On the bright side, you will still receive a 5,000-mile bonus for transferring 20,000 Starpoints, bringing the total ratio (if you transfer in 20,000-point increments) to 1:1.25. That's pretty good, but it’s a far cry from that nice 1:1.625 ratio you can get at the moment.
Source: View from the Wing/Gary Leff
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