If you have your Tesco Clubcard account set up to automatically move your points to Virgin Atlantic every quarter, you may have noticed something odd. Your points will have arrived with a 20% bonus attached.
This leads me to assume that Virgin is about to announce an ‘open to all’ 20% bonus, perhaps as soon as Monday. So far, however, there is nothing on the Tesco to Virgin Atlantic transfer page. (EDIT: the deal IS now live as you will see if you click the link.)
Just be clear, I would NOT make a transfer to Virgin Atlantic today in the hope of a 20% bonus. It is best to wait a couple of days for the promotion to be officially announced. There is a small chance it is just a mistake ….
A 20% bonus would take us back to the bonus rate we saw in February – they offered a lower 15% in May – but this is a far cry from the 50% bonuses we saw 2-3 years ago.
A 20% bonus, all other things being equal, should not be enough to persuade you to make a transfer to Virgin that you were not already considering.
Why build up a Virgin balance?
Over the last couple of weeks I have written a review of the Virgin Clubhouse lounge at Heathrow and a review of flying Virgin Upper Class on the brand new Boeing 787 fleet. I enjoyed my experience – better than BA but not quite comparable with the Middle Eastern airlines – and it is worth trying out if you can just so you can say you’ve visited the Heathrow Clubhouse.
There are good reasons to be picking up miles in Virgin Flying Club. You need far fewer Virgin miles than Avios points for most destinations in Upper Class – Virgin did not respond to the Avios devaluation last year – and taxes are about £75 per person lower on Economy redemptions.
You can top up your balance via the credit card sign up bonus, American Express Membership Rewards, opening an ISA etc. Getting the miles is not an issue. The credit card offers 18,500 miles on the Black version and 3,000 miles on the free White (you can have both at the same time) whilst the ISA offers 6,000 miles. Transfer the opening bonus from a free Amex Gold (reviewed here) and you get a further 20,000 miles.
Your two risks are:
that Virgin does announces a BA-style devaluation before you can book your redemption flight and
that Virgin makes further changes to its route network, with any non-US destination now likely to be at risk as Delta increases its control over the airline
If you can live with that, having a Virgin balance is not necessarily a bad move. At the very worst, you can transfer out to Hilton HHonors (at 2:3) or IHG Rewards Club (at 1:1). Transfers into IHG even count for status if you chasing Platinum Elite or Spire Elite.
As I said earlier, though, don’t initiate a transfer until the bonus is official, just in case …..
(Want to earn more Virgin Flying Club miles? Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)