For the last few months, until mid July, Virgin Flying Club was running some very aggressive sign-up deals on its two credit cards.
Most impressive was the deal on the Virgin Black credit card. This offered 25,000 to 30,000 Virgin miles, depending on when you applied, in return for a £140 annual fee.
The earning rate on this card is also very good. It comes as a dual pack of an American Express and a Visa. The Amex earns an impressive 2 Virgin miles per £1, whilst the Visa comes with an equally impressive (for a non-Amex card) rate of 1 mile per £1.
The representative APR on the card is 52.1% variable based on a £1200 credit limit and including the annual fee.
A permanent increase in the sign-up bonus
Before the current run of promotional offers, the sign-up bonus on the Virgin Black card was poor. At just 6,000 Virgin Flying Club miles, it did not look good alongside the British Airways Premium Plus American Express with its 18,000 Avios standard sign-up bonus.
Virgin now appears to have realised this. When the last promotion ended, the bonus on the Virgin Black card dropped down to 18,500 miles, not the previous 6,000.
18,500 Virgin miles now appears to be a permanent offer. The additional 500 miles over and above the 18,000 Avios offered on the BA Premium Plus card is presumably not a coincidence!
Full details of the Virgin Black card can be found on the Virgin Atlantic website here. Do NOT apply through this link, though, as you will earn an additional 3,000 miles (taking the total to 6,000 on the White card and 21,000 on the Black card) if I refer you. Send me an email at raffles [at] headforpoints.co.uk and I will trigger a ‘refer a friend’ link for you.
What are the other best deals at the moment?
There are NO special deals currently available on ANY of the 26 UK loyalty credit cards that I cover on the ‘Credit Cards Update‘ page! This is probably the calm before the storm and I would expect a raft of deals to launch in September and October. I am also hopeful that the two IHG Rewards Club cards will relaunch in the next few weeks.
If you are looking to apply for a new card today, here are my top three recommendations. These three cards all have ‘stable’ sign-up offers and I would NOT expect them to get better in the Autumn so there is no reason not to apply now.
This is currently an outstanding deal which is showing no signs of going away. You pay no fee for the first year and earn 20,000 Membership Rewards points (see here for what 20,000 MR points can get you – 20,000 Avios points for a start!).
The card offers 30,000 Membership Rewards points, worth 30,000 Avios amongst other things.
You receive a pro-rata refund on the £450 fee when you cancel the card and you will retain most of the benefits – Starwood Gold, Carlson Gold, Accor Platinum – for the rest of the year even after you cancel! The Amex Platinum benefits package is extensive, though, and once you’ve got it you might find the numbers add up for you.
You receive a free night in any Hilton Group property for spending £750 on this card. That could be worth £250 if spent wisely at a Conrad or Waldorf-Astoria branded property. My full review of the card is here.
This remains my favourite promotion for someone new to this hobby. The card is free, you only need to spend a modest amount to trigger the bonus, and you can enjoy a free night in a luxury hotel afterwards (if you pick a decent one!). It will whet your appetite for what miles and points can bring you.
Representative APR 18.9% variable.
Bonus on small business cards
Head for Points focusses primarily on personal cards. However, if you are a sole trader or run a very small business, you may also want to check out the American Express Platinum Business Card and the American Express Gold Business Card. There is currently a 20,000 points (= 20,000 Avios) bonus on the Gold Business card and a 40,000 points (40,000 Avios) bonus on the Platinum Business card.
In my experience people still receive the sign-up bonus on the small business cards even if they already have a personal Gold or Platinum card. This is technically not what the rules say, however, and you should bear this in mind.
(Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history.)