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

I said that I would write about Virgin Miles Booster today.  However, some more interesting news has popped up as Virgin Atlantic has boosted the sign-up bonus on its credit 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 March, 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.

(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.)

(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.)

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Comments

  1. It’s worth noting that the exact same offer was run this time last year, and the bonus on the Black card increased to 30,000 on £3,000 spend when the 25,000 bonus expired.

    • True, it did. That was the only occasion they did that though, the other two runs of 25,000 miles on Black last year dropped straight back down afterwards.

  2. Mr Bridge says:

    On an unrelated matter
    is now a good time to flip my amex plat, or will a better bonus appear soon?

    • Difficult to see it going higher than 30,000 to be honest.

      • Its still 35,000 if referred.

        • jonathan smy says:

          Does anyone know how long the renewal has to last to get the renewal bonuses? I.e. with the amex gold you get another 7500 points for renewing at £125. If I then transfer the points out or spend them, and then cancel the amex after 2 weeks for example I would get £120 back but do I have to also repay the 7500 points?

  3. This post, combined with the post from yesterday covering Virgin’s reward seat sale, is seriously making me think about switching over from collecting Avios.

    Granted, the Virgin route network is far less than BA, but it does seem that earning rates are higher, with the advantage of a visa for back up, and there seem to be more frequent transfer offers from Tesco, MYR etc.

    • The issue with Virgin is route network. They have also culled a lot of non-US routes this year – there is a risk that the other non-US routes will follow as Delta effectively uses Virgin as its surrogate to get more slots at Heathrow for America flights. If your main interest is in redeeming to North America then, of course, you are fine!

    • I am thinking the same as you. Am tempted to collect a pot of Virgin miles just for a North America redemption. Got some Hertz rentals coming up so will start with that.

      If you could take advantage of a Amex MR transfer bonus and then book in a reward sale it could be a great deal. I just hope they happen as often as last year!

    • ankomonkey says:

      I did exactly this last year and pretty quickly accumulated ~300k VS miles (and silver status) with plans to use them on the NRT route (I have family there). Then they cancelled the route… Not advising against collecting with VS, but think carefully…

      • Yup, I wanted to use VS or Cape town or Vancouver and started collecting. now they are cancelling both routes… If you want to go only to the US frequently, maybe a good option, but then there are plenty others, and you don’t want to spread yourself too thin, so rather concentrate on 1 or 2 programs. If this fits your needs, add it to your armoury.

  4. BA-Flyer says:

    Slightly off-topic, but watch out for extra fees with MBNA (who issue the Virgin card). I took advantage of £25 TopCashbBack when you deposit £10 as a new customer with William Hill. I got hit with a £3 cash advance fee and £1 interest on the fee. No doubt my fault for not reading the terms and conditions, but still a questionable description of a cash advance.

  5. Michalis says:

    Hi Raffles.
    My amex gold year is coming to an end. I had the platinum BA amex with the voucher that I have downgraded to blue but the next year won’t be coming until may.
    I don’t thing the benefits of gold amex in the second year are worth the £125 fee, so I rang them but they wouldn’t bulge on the fee.

    What card would you recommend getting now until I can focus on the BA again (maybe – depending on how easy will end up being trying to redeem the voucher this year).

    I have a small number of points with Virgin and Emirates (both below 10k) besides decent balances with Amex and BA. Also if I were to cancel, I am still struggling to justify transferring those Amex rewards points to BA (I know you could redeem on partners) when I could use them with Emirates , Singapore etc.

  6. Forgive me my ignorance, but what happen if you book a reward flight with Virgin and then later have to cancel? Do I lose the miles or there is a charge for this?

    Thanks.

    • If you’re not within 7 days of travel, you’ll get the Miles and Taxes back but have to pay a £30 cancellation charge. Within 7 days you lose the Miles. Unfortunately it used to be 24 hours but they are now being more restrictive.

      • Thanks Matt. Because on their website the information seems to be confusing:

        First is says:

        Once tickets for a Reward Booking are issued, no name changes are allowed. If for any reason a flight Reward is cancelled by the Member outside 24 hours of departure, 100% of the Miles will be re-credited to the Member’s account. A cancellation fee of £30 for changes to flights originating in the UK.

        But then it says:

        If for any reason a flight Reward is cancelled by a member within 7 days prior to departure, no Miles will be refunded and a £30 administration fee will be charged to process the refund of any taxes, charges/sur-charges. If you change the original travel date (within 7 days of departure) and later decide to cancel your flights, you will forfeit the mileage used for the Reward.

        • It is confusing because they went from 24 hours to 7 days and then backtracked. However, when they backtracked (possibly after a nasty article I wrote on HFP) the wording was messed up.

          Note that I do not know they have backtracked. One HFP reader was told on the phone they had gone back to 24 hours. When I looked at the wording I saw the same confusing mess you copied above.

  7. In the post it says you get an upgrade with the white card when you spend 10k. Can I check does that mean within 12 months? I’m pretty sure it does.

  8. I have also found that a very useful benefit of the Virgin Black Card is the complimentary Regus membership. You can apply for complimentary Regus Businessworld gold membership worth £199 per year, which gives you access to 1,100 business lounges and cafés in cities worldwide with Regus. Application at the following link http://www.regus.com/vaablackcardongoing

    • I am typing this in Regus as it happens! You also get two free days use of a private office when you sign up for the free Gold card via Virgin.

      • I’ve still got my Regus Gold courtesy of UA Gold a few years ago – they don’t seem to expire 😀

        • Indeed, I claimed the Regus gold card from my wife’s VS black Amex a couple of years ago – cancelled the Amex card after a year but the Regus card still works very nicely… :)

  9. I’m tempted by the black card mainly because of the Regus benefit, but it would hinge really on whether I can use up the miles on EDI-LHR flights before they stop doing them in September.
    Having done a test booking to check for availability, I’m a little bit suspicious of what it seems to be telling me – it’s offering me every single day up to the end of service, and it even looks like I could book right now for a reward flight this afternoon!
    Can anyone shed any light on whether that’s actually true? I’m wondering if there’s some nasty surprise lurking after the point where I’d have to give my (as yet non-existent) Flying Club number.

    • The Little Red services are running at well under 50% occupancy so it is not surprising they are available. If you are a Virgin Gold they are reduced to just 2,500 miles return!

      • Think Square says:

        Ironically since they announced the end of Little Red, loads seem to have really perked up. I’ve been using them on the MAN and EDI routes a couple of times a week recently, and every time it’s been heaving.

    • No, the availability really is that good! Combined with the fantastically cheap redemption rates it’s a real shame the service is stopping – it’s great to be able to directly connect to/from SQ or UA services out of LHR T2 too!

    • Thanks for the replies! For someone in my specific circumstances, then, it sounds like a no-brainer :-)

    • Colin JE says:

      Remember you can have the Regus Gold membership on Virgin Flyer Silver or higher.

  10. Can you spend on either visa or amex to hit the bonus?

    • Colin JE says:

      From white card Ts and Cs: “3,000 bonus miles will be credited to your Flying Club account after your first card purchase, providing you use either of your cards within 90 days of your account opening and supply your Flying Club membership number to MBNA. A further 7,000 bonus miles will be credited to your account when you apply by 31 March 2015 and spend £1,000 on either card in the first 90 days of your account opening and supply your Flying Club membership number to MBNA.”
      From black card: “18,500 bonus miles will be credited to your Flying Club account after your first card purchase, providing you use either of your cards within 90 days of your account opening and supply your Flying Club membership number to MBNA. A further 6,500 bonus miles will be credited to your account when you apply by 31 March 2015 and spend £2,000 on either card in the first 90 days of your account opening and supply your Flying Club membership number. “

  11. christian says:

    Can you have a BA amex and a Virgin amex because this is through MBNA?

    • Yes, no issue with this at all assuming all OK on the credit check front. If any problems with MBNA and you already have a card with them then they’ll normally let you transfer some of your credit limit across from the existing card to allow the new card to be opened.

  12. I would have thought that for £140 for the Black card, if you were to transfer to Hilton, you’d get that value back off a 37,500 point redemption. Likewise, with IHG, you could get £140 of value from a 25,000 point redemption. Far more value of course if you were lucky enough to time a redemption with PointBreaks offer, getting 5 free nights. Since at normal redemption rates it would be around a break-even, I’d be hesitant to do the offer just for that. That said, the Newport Hilton is 5,000 redemption, so if you needed a week in southern Wales, you couldn’t go wrong 7 nights with change to spare at £140 outlay. Additionally, there are other 5k redemptions elsewhere, like Egypt/Sharm etc. So on either problem you could do well out of it.

    • You can buy 25,000 IHG points for ($7 x 25 =) $175, though, via the ‘cash and points cancellation’ trick which makes paying £140 via Virgin a bit pointless – especially as such a person would presumably not bother using the Virgin credit card because they would presumably have no interest in more Virgin miles.

  13. Bebbeitaliano says:

    Could I use the black virgin card to pay the tax bill online with the visa and earn 1 avios per pound?

    • Depends if you are happy to swallow HMRC’s 1.4% charge.

    • Yes but there is a 1.4% credit card charge for using it

    • Colin JE says:

      Bloody brilliant idea! However, I found this on the web on an HMRC payment page: ” If you pay by credit card you will have to pay a transaction fee of 1.4 per cent. HMRC does not accept American Express or Diners Club cards.” So, not worth it if you’re just looking for points but if you wanted it to hit your bonus target spend of £2,000 and this was your only way of spending maybe it’d be worth it. Paying a £2,000 tax bill by c/card would cost you £28 and get you 6,500 +2,000 points!

  14. Colin JE says:

    I applied and got my VA Black card last night when I saw this offer. I already had a VA White card. Interestingly this offer only seems to apply if you go straight to them. I sent a ‘recommend a friend’ to my wife to see if I’d get the 3000 points that VA give but when she clicked on the link sent to her it the MBNA site was showing only the standard point offer. I may have missed out but it looks like this offer is better.

    I had a webchat with Virgin today to see what class of ticket I’d need to use the companion ticket. I couldn’t see myself ever getting the spend on the white card to get one (though I will get an upgrade certificate on its anniversary) but the black seemed do-able.

    Raffles had pointed out that the companion ticket offer was poor, as you had to buy a flexible ticket. For some reason, Virgin have apparently removed the details from their website about the qualifying fares, even though their own Ts and Cs say it’s on the site. According to the Virgin rep for Upper only J class qualifies but for Premium Economy you can buy a W or S class ticket. W is available from Virgin/agents and is expensive, but S, which only Virgin sell, is OK. S is semi-flexible, allows changes of date or destination, but not cancellation. An S class ticket is about £1,400 to LON to NY return. So for about £1,750 inc taxes on the companion ticket you get two PE tickets. Not a ‘wow’ offer but passable. There is one catch, the only way to get your companion to the next class up is to upgrade with cash; you can’t use miles. Of course, you could upgrade your seat with miles but your ‘companion’ would be stuck back in the lower class! Not a great way to start a romantic holiday…

  15. I was advised that an upgrade voucher is issued at the anniversary of the card, NOT on hitting the spending threshold.

    • jonathan smy says:

      I can confirm this, the voucher is added upon the anniversary of the card, not once you hit the spend target. Therefore it will cost you 2x annual fee to get the reward voucher.

      • Colin JE says:

        Elsewhere here people have said that the second year’s charge will be refunded if you cancel the card shortly after the anniversary, provided you do not spend any more on it after the anniversary.

        • jonathan smy says:

          Amex offer a pro-rata refund on their cards when accounts are closed. MBNA do not offer a refund so I’m not sure about that. My experience of Virgin\MBNA’s customer services on the phone, I found them less than amenable and by the book.

      • I would recommend contacting them through their electronic messaging system so it is logged in your account, the first time I enquired about this I was told:

        “Thank you for your message. I confirm if you close your account before your anniversary date, you will lose your reward upgrades on your account. The account must be open at the time of the anniversary to achieve the upgrades. You can review your monthly miles earned on your statement each month. You can view and download your statements online, just log on and go to your ‘Account Home’ page, then select the month you would like to view or download. Many thanks”

        When I complained that this was not clearly explained in their T&Cs, they replied:

        “Thank you for your message. I have reviewed your query and you must ensure your account is closed before the anniversary date if you do not want to pay the annual fee. However, we may look to refund the fee within 30 days of the it being applied, if you are closing the account. This is providing that you have not benefited from any additional miles from the last anniversary date i.e. that you have not used your card since the fee was applied. If the customer has used their card and earned miles then we may not be able to refund the annual fee. Kind regards.”

        My anniversary date is in the next few weeks so lets see what happens…

    • I cancelled my Virgin Credit card well before its anniversary because I was ditching Virgin to concentrate on Avios, however I still got the PE upgrade vouchers credited to my Virgin account.

  16. jonathan smy says:

    bit off topic, but when is amex rewards likely to have its next transfer bonus to virgin or ba?

    • I reckon there’ll be one in the next month or two for Virgin … my reasoning is it is just before year end, and there was one last year. Fingers crossed.

  17. Can I ask, I already have the Black Card of which I got last year when the offer was 30,000 bonus miles, can I also apply for the white card now and benefit from the bonus of 10,000 and have the two running side by side from MBNA

    • Yes, they are OK with this, treated as separate products.

      • Thanks for the reply.

        Do you know if the points will go into the same Virgin miles account from the White card. I’m assuming if I register the White card with the same flying club number that is also registered to my existing black card it should credit the same account with the points.

        Is this correct do you know?

  18. Do anyone know if they have issues with churn on this card? I closed mine down in September wonder if i could get another?

  19. Sofjan King says:

    Can you transfer Virgin flying club miles to a Skywards account?

Trackbacks

  1. […] Virgin has increased the bonus on its two credit card package.  The free White card now offers 10,000 miles (usually 3,000) whilst the Black card offers 25,000 (usually 18,500).  I wrote more about this deal in my article on Friday. […]