How Much Are Virgin America Elevate Points Worth?

Today’s post is a bit more analytically focused than usual, which is fitting since we’re endeavoring answer the question, “How much are Virgin America Elevate points worth?”

You can learn more about the Virgin America Elevate program here, or continue reading to dive deep into point valuation.

Methodology for Calculating Value of Virgin America Elevate Points

Our methodology is fairly straight-forward.

  • We first selected a number of random routes serviced by Virgin America, along with a couple of arbitrary time periods (one within a few weeks of the writing of this post, the other a couple months out).
  • We used kayak.com to find the cheapest ticket (market price) for the selected routes/times. If the route on Virgin America was direct, then we would only select from direct routes, to keep it apples to apples. If the Virgin America route was 1 stop, then we’d take the cheaper of any direct or 1-stop flight we found.
  • Finally, we determined the number of Elevate points required to obtain the same ticket (which is easy to do on their website). By taking the market price of the ticket (minus any taxes you’d need to pay for the award), and dividing by the number of points required to secure it, we were able to calculate our estimate of Elevate point value.

Of course there are limitations to the analysis, but that’s why we call it our estimate! We feel this is a reasonable estimate and a useful guide.

So How Much Are Virgin America Miles Actually Worth?

The table below shows the data. We take a simple average of all the individual route estimates, and arrive at an estimated value of 2.1 cents per Elevate point. As far as airline loyalty programs go, that’s quite awesome. You can read our post Frequent Flyer Mileage Valuation Comparison to see how the Virgin America Elevate program stacks up against the competition.

Value of Virgin America Points By Route (as of Jan 20 ’12)
Route Stops Dept/Return (2012) Mkt Price (Kayak) Points Req’d + Taxes $ val/point
BOS to LAX Direct Feb 11-17 $313 7,117 + $5 $0.043
BOS to SFO Direct Feb 11-17 $311 13,443 + $5 $0.023
BOS to SEA 1 stop Feb 11-17 $326 19,116 + $10 $0.017
BOS to LAS 1 stop Feb 11-17 $280 17,628 + $10 $0.015
ORD to LAX Direct Feb 11-17 $282 14,001 + $5 $0.020
ORD to SFO Direct Feb 11-17 $248 13,303 + $5 $0.018
DFW to LAX Direct Feb 11-17 $309 13,350 + $5 $0.023
DFW to SFO Direct Feb 11-17 $285 12,233 + $5 $0.023
DFW to SEA 1 stop Feb 11-17 $253 17,023 + $10 $0.014
DFW to PDX 1 stop Feb 11-17 $338 14,233 + $10 $0.023
FLL to LAX Direct Feb 11-17 $270 14,279 + $5 $0.019
FLL to SEA Direct Feb 11-17 $340 21,582 + $10 $0.015
FLL to PDX Direct Feb 11-17 $361 24,606 + $10 $0.014
JFK to LAS Direct Apr 11-17 $367 16,511 + $5 $0.021
JFK to LAX Direct Apr 11-17 $323 16,558 + $5 $0.019
JFK to SFO Direct Apr 11-17 $318 13,766 + $5 $0.023
JFK to SEA 1 stop Apr 11-17 $308 14,606 + $10 $0.020
PHL to SAN 1 stop Apr 11-17 $288 13,674 + $10 $0.020
PHL to LAX Direct Apr 11-17 $318 13,766 + $5 $0.023
PHL to SFO Direct Apr 11-17 $318 13,766 + $5 $0.023
PHL to SEA 1 stop Apr 11-17 $261 16,047 + $10 $0.016
IAD to SAN 1 stop Apr 11-17 $359 14,651 + $10 $0.024
IAD to LAX Direct Apr 11-17 $298 12,838 + $5 $0.023
IAD to SFO Direct Apr 11-17 $298 12,838 + $5 $0.023
IAD to SEA 1 stop Apr 11-17 $329 13,674 + $10 $0.023
Average $0.021

GetDebit’s Concluding Thoughts on The Value of Virgin America Elevate Points

While we feel that the Elevate program gives you top value relative to other loyalty programs, that shouldn’t be the only factor in deciding which loyalty program(s) to focus on. Of course, you need to match up your needs to that of the airline. If you need to primarily fly to Europe or Asia, for example, then I can safely say you can do better than the Virgin America program. But if you plan to do some US East Coast to West Coast (or vice versa) flying, then VA may be the right one!



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