Virgin Atlantic has boosted the sign-up bonus on its credit cards again. This is not entirely surprising given that British Airways increased the bonus on its cards last month – if anything, I expected the retribution to come quicker!
Holders of the bmi Diamond Club cards should pay particular interest to this deal. The Virgin cards are a very good alternative (you earn 1 mile per £1 on the Black Visa) for heavy spenders or those who fly Virgin.
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 just 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.
The representative APR of the card is 22.9% variable.
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 is 18,500 miles so the additional bonus is 6,500.
You will receive 18,500 miles with your first purchase and a further 6,500 miles when you spend £3,000 in the first 90 days.
We have seen this bonus as high as 32,000 miles in the past. That was before the new EU interchange fee caps came in, however, and I would be surprised to see that deal coming back in a hurry.
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.
The representative APR of the card is 57.4% variable including the fee, assuming a £1200 credit limit. The annual fee is £140.
And vouchers too ….
There are also two long-term incentives available with the Virgin cards although only Amex spend counts towards them.
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 a less useful incentive – a voucher at £15,000 (White) or £7,500 (Black) for a free companion seat – excluding heavy taxes – when you buy a semi-flexible or flexible ticket in any class. These have recently become slightly easier to use (because you can qualify with a cheaper type of cash ticket) but are only likely to make sense in Premium Economy.
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 and you have 90 days from application to achieve the £1,000 / £3,000 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.
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
Car rentals – Virgin offers a generous 1,000 miles per Hertz rental for example
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 one of these cards may be a way of giving your Hilton or IHG account a boost.
(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards? Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)
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. By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.