Virgin increases credit card sign-up bonus to 10,000 / 25,000 Flying Club miles

Presumably as a response to American Express increasing the bonus on the two British Airways American Express cards to 9,000 Avios and 25,000 Avios respectively, Virgin Atlantic has boosted the sign-up bonus on its own cards again.

Here is a quick overview of the Virgin credit cards.  If some of the text sounds familiar, it is because I have cut and pasted some of it from the last Virgin promotion!

Virgin Flying Club offer two different credit card options. There is a free ‘White’ card and a £140 fee ‘Black’ card. Each comes in the standard MBNA double-pack of an American Express and a Visa.

Unlike the British Airways American Express cards, MBNA is happy for you to have BOTH of the Virgin cards.  Whilst I would not recommend this, I know that some HFP readers in the past have applied for both at the same time and received both.  This does put you under some pressure to hit the spending targets on both cards at the same time.

The free card is the Virgin Atlantic White Credit Card.

There is NO annual fee with this card, and the sign up bonus is 10,000 Virgin Flying Club miles.  The usual bonus is a paltry 3,000 miles and it never goes above 10,000 miles so this is as good as it gets.

You will receive 3,000 miles immediately and a further 7,000 miles when you spend just £1,000 in the first 90 days. Should you decide to keep the card, you will earn 1 mile per £1 spent on the Amex and 0.5 miles per £1 spent on the Visa.

My full review of Virgin White is here. The application page is here.

The representative APR of the card is 17.9% variable.

Virgin credit card bonus

The more generous fee-carrying card is the Virgin Atlantic Black Credit Card.

This card comes with an annual fee of £140, with a sign-up bonus of 25,000 Virgin Flying Club miles.  The standard offer on this card was recently increased to 18,500 miles, so the additional bonus is only 6,500.

You will receive 18,500 miles immediately and a further 6,500 miles when you spend £2,000 in the first 90 days.

The earnings rate for the Black card is EXCELLENT. You earn 2 miles per £1 on the American Express and a whopping (compared to the competition) 1 mile per £1 on the Visa.

My full review of Virgin Black is here. The application page is here.

The representative APR of the card is 52.0% variable including the fee, assuming a £1200 credit limit.

And vouchers too ….

There are also two long-term incentives available with the Virgin cards. The White card offers an upgrade voucher (from Economy to Premium Economy only) for a miles redemption when you spend £10,000, and a second at £20,000. The Black card offers the same vouchers at £5,000 and £10,000.

Both cards also offer what I consider a worthless incentive – a voucher at £15,000 (White) or £7,500 (Black) for a free companion seat (excluding heavy taxes) when you buy a full fare ticket in any class. Who buys full fare tickets, except corporates?

More information on these can be found in the reviews which I link to above.

Terms & Conditions

The key facts you need to remember before you apply are:

The application deadline is 31st October, you have 90 days from application to achieve the £1,000 / £2,000 target

MBNA does NOT offer a pro-rata refund when you cancel your card. Your £140 fee for the Black card is a sunk cost. You are therefore (effectively) paying £140 for the additional 15,000 miles on the Black card, since you could get 10,000 miles for £nothing by getting the White card instead.

I don’t think that you can combine this offer with the ‘refer a friend’ bonus I normally offer, which would have got you an additional 3,000 miles. However, this is still a far better deal than the usual bonus, even without the additional 3,000.

How can you earn more miles?

It is very easy to earn further Virgin Flying Club miles to top up your account. The options are numerous:

Transfers from Tesco Clubcard (at a higher rate than BA, £2.50 = 625 Flying Club miles)

Transfers from American Express Membership Rewards (1:1) – transfers from Amex to Virgin are instantaneous as well, once your accounts are linked, unlike transfers to BA

Transfers from Heathrow Rewards (1:1)

Transfers from most hotel programmes, including Starwood Preferred Guest

There are also some hotels which credit to Virgin even though they do not credit to Avios.

Car rentals – Virgin offers a generous 1,000 miles per Hertz rental for example

Receive 5,000 Virgin miles for taking out a Virgin Money ISA

The ‘1 mile per £1’ rate on the Black Visa also allows you to run up miles very quickly

It is also worth remembering that you can transfer Virgin Flying Club miles into Hilton HHonors points (at 2:3) and IHG Rewards Club points (at 1:1).  Getting the free Virgin White card may be a way of giving your Hilton or IHG account a boost.  I would be wary of paying £140 for the Black card, however, as I don’t think 37,500 Hilton points or 25,000 IHG Rewards Club points are worth that much.

Virgin appears to be getting more aggressive in marketing its credit cards and seems to be willing to match British Airways American Express special offers.  Whilst they failed to offer any special deal at all in 2013, I would not worry too much if you do not take advantage of this offer at the moment.  Based on their behaviour so far in 2014, I am sure it will be back.

(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.)

(Want to earn more Virgin Flying Club miles? Click here to see recent articles on Virgin Atlantic, Little Red and Flying Club, and click here for the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

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Comments

  1. I took advantage of this exact same offer a few months ago and have yet to receive any bonus points. I’ve phoned a couple of times and they have confirmed the right FC number is attached to my account but keep getting the “in your next statement” fob off. Points from things like Virgin Trains and car hire seem hit and miss as well.

    I’m not sure if this is common or I’m just unlucky, but may be worth bearing in mind.

    • Personally I never had a problem with MBNA. If you have already called several times I suggest you send them a secure message that if they are not credited in your next statement they can pay to handle an ombudsman complaint

  2. Can these be churned after a 6 month wait or are bonus miles only available once?

  3. OOT, Miles and more has launched some new promotions including 1500 miles per weekend NIGHT at Hilton and up to 12250 miles for completing stay tasks at IHG.

  4. Why don’t you think this increased bonus can be combined with the ‘refer a friend’, is there any T&C’s stoping this bonus?

    I think the White card would be the way to go, spent the £1k to get the points, then close the card as it looks like it’s better to collect Virgin Flying Club miles via Tesco. Repeat the process if they make the same offer again?

    • No. I am just playing it safe, because the referral website is never updated and cominues to say ‘you will receive 3,000 miles plus a further 3,000 miles’ for the free card. You wouldn’t have a leg to stand on if this is what you got.

  5. Newbie question, but can 10,000 Virgin miles get you anywhere? (And back!)

    • Lady Lonon says:

      Matthew if you look at the Flying Club website you will see that there is at least a domestic return opportunity, the tables are fairly easy to access.

    • 6 one-way trips to Manchester, Aberdeen or Edinburgh from Heathrow. ‘Cash and miles’ one-way in Economy to New York or Dubai probably also possible, not sure how much ‘cash’ you can add to ‘cash and miles’.

      12,500 is a £50 Virgin gift voucher or Theatre Token. 10,000 is 15,000 Hilton or 10,000 IHG.

  6. Raffles – Same Q as Oyster above:
    Do you have to wait 6 month cooling off period to receive bonus again like BA Amex? Or is it only available once?
    Cheers!

    • MBNA has no stated policy on this. You almost certainly will not get one again in 6 months. With the BMI cards they stopped churning completely towards the end (you would be accepted but not get a bonus). However I think some people have managed to get the Virgin cards more than once. I would definitely be looking to leave a 12-18 month gap personally.

  7. Also off-topic, but Rocketmiles now seem to have Avios as a miles-earning partner. And you get 3,000 bonus miles (on top of at least 1,000 per night…) for your first booking. Probably worth a look, although be careful – they add taxes to their rates after you’ve clicked through, so the deals suddenly don’t look quite as attractive. Still, if you value Avios at 1p each, that’s at least 40 GBP back from a one-night booking.

    • Yes, hopefully will have something on this for Thursday. Waiting on the guy I spoke with at RM last year to confirm what the best ‘first stay’ promo is at the moment.

  8. hi Raffles / everyone,
    hoping that you can answer me this one……
    if you meet the qualifying spend for 2 premium upgrade vouchers (£10,000 spend) using the black card, are you allowed to downgrade to the white card (prior to the black card anniversary) and keep the vouchers you have earned on the black.
    Thanks in advance

  9. just hot anemail from VIrgin flying cluib about changes to there service. They are adding a bunch of flights to selected US routes however the BIG dissapointment is that they are withdrawing flights to Tokyo Narita with the final flight from London to Narita on 31 January 2015 and the final flight from Narita to London on 1 February 2015. CRAZY!!!

  10. Manutd123 says:

    I have a Virgin Atlantic Black Credit Card.

    In January 2014, there was a promotion whereby new cardholders would receive 18,500 miles immediately and a further 6,500 miles when you spent £2,000 in the first 90 days.

    This promotion ended on 31st March 2014.

    On 1st April 2014, there was a new promotion whereby new cardholders would receive 18,500 miles immediately and a further 11,500 miles when you spent £3,000 in the first 90 days.

    My application was made and accepted on 2nd April 2014.

    I have received the initial 18,500 miles.

    However, I have incorrectly been credited with 6,500 bonus miles rather than 11,500 bonus miles. I have spent over £3,000 in the first 90 days.

    I have chased Virgin for the remaining 5,000 miles, but they say the offer at the time was 25k not 30k. Headforpoints shows that’s wrong, but they have yet to budge….

  11. Be aware Virgin are cutting routes to Japan, South Africa and Vancouver if you were planning on collecting points for those routes.

  12. I have 35k VS miles that I should have probably converted to Hilton before the conversion changed. Is there anything I can do with them besides Little Red flights? Perhaps I could boost it to xxk to get a decent UC redemption?

    • Hilton, IHG Rewards Club, if you get to 37,500 you could get £150-worth of Virgin Voucher or Theatre Tokens.

      A one-way in Upper Class to Dubai or New York should be OK with what you’ve got, though. Come back on Avios!

  13. Bob Woodward says:

    Can you please reprise which cards can be churned and which will also receive further bonus points / miles. It would also be helpful if you can highlight those cards which do not attract further bonuse if churned.

    Thanks for such a great site. It has helped me wade through all the gobbledygook to find cards that benefit my particular needs. Please keep up the good work it is much appreciated

    Bob

    • Amex – see published rules for each card, Barclays – yes, I recommend 12 months but some find 6 months is OK, Lloyds – no chance, MBNA – were liberal in the BMI days then tightened up. Current rules say you will not get a 2nd bonus but not sure how tightly that is applied.