Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Best-ever Virgin credit card bonus: 10,000 – 25,000 Flying Club miles sign-up offer

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

The first aggressive credit card promotion of 2014 has been launched, and it has come from Virgin Flying Club and MBNA.  Ironically, it was only last week that I mentioned in my end of year review that 2013 had not seen a single promotion from Virgin for its cards!

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.

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 sign-up bonus for this card has NEVER been as high as 10,000 miles as far as I know.  The usual bonus is a paltry 3,000 miles.

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 hereThe application page is here.

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.  Again, I believe that this is the highest bonus that has ever been offered – the usual bonus is a paltry 6,000 miles.

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 hereThe application page is here.

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.

You cannot 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.  The 20,000 Starwood points from the current SPG Amex sign-up bonus would get you 25,000 additional Virgin miles.

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

Tomorrow, I will run through some possible Virgin Atlantic redemption options, in particular those which make the scheme stand out from British Airways Executive Club.

(To see our complete list of all current credit card bonuses, click here to visit our ‘Credit Cards Update’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Comments (81)

  • Tim M says:

    So I assume when you say the deadline to receive the higher bonus is the 31st of March, you have to have spent the 1k/2k by this point rather than just signed up for the card?

    • Rob says:

      No, sign up is 31 March and you would have 90 days from then to spend the £1/2,000. I will clarify the text.

  • Idrive says:

    this is an excellent offer (at least for me)! i might want to take it on but need to carefully think…for heavy Visa Spender the Black deal is very good in my opinion (you do not quote it but as per other MBNA cards, the £2k target should be for a combined AMEX/Visa spend, no?)

    the upgrade voucher is the best bet as it would cost 20k per leg for two people on VA…i am not sure how good Prem Economy is though.

    I recently setup a 50k VA pot so it is definitely a good way to add some 10000s more before a 2015 redemption.

    This was in my plans for Q3 2014 though, i did not expect this to come so early…!!

    • Chris says:

      Virgin’s Prem Econ is better than BA’s in my opinion… well at least on BA’s old planes anyway.

    • Trevor says:

      A simple click and you’ll know that…

      1. 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. A further 6,500 bonus miles will be credited to your account when you apply by 31 March 2014 and spend £2,000 on either card in the first 90 days…

      Bare in mind that the upgrade vouchers are only available after you hit the targets with Amex spend, not (heavy) VISA:

      3. Spend £5,000 on card purchases on the Virgin Atlantic Black American Express® Credit Card by the end of any year and you will receive a Premium Economy reward upgrade…

      • Idrive says:

        thanks Trevor, I had no time/way to check that this morning, i will study this further! BUT, the important first of all is the 90days bonus…:-) then 5k in a year is an easier tgt.

        • Trevor says:

          No problem. Yup, £5k is certainly easy to achieve in a year, but a) a shame that the voucher isn’t received before the end of the year and b) for perhaps rather little gain from it, is the voucher that worthwhile when you could sign up for and churn other cards for the same spend, possibly earning more points that the voucher’s value? More for you to study/chew on.

  • Paul says:

    Good to see some coverage of VS deals, Raffles!

    Other readers might like to be aware that Virgin are running an enhanced signup bonus of 30,000 miles exclusively from the rep in their Clubhouse at LHR and LGW. She assured me last week that I would be eligible for this on signup for the Black card, despite already holding the White.

  • Alan says:

    Hmm, the the white card deal looks pretty interesting – not sure I’d value the additional miles (both bonus and additional earnings) at £140 though and as you say the vouchers aren’t worthwhile.

    • Corrine says:

      For an easy option, the standard 3000 points with 3000 referral with the free white card (great if you can recommend a family member) has no minimum spend, the points are allocated when you start using the card !

  • squills says:

    o/T Sorry Raffles – being lazy here – but you being the good fellow you are:

    Can I trade down from BAEC premium card to the free card with a phone call, do you happen to know? Or anybody else for that matter?

    TIA 😉

    • Rob says:

      Yes. I believe, from what others have told me, that they technically treat it as a new application and so run a credit check etc, although that is not an issue.

    • Worzel says:

      Squills(8:22):

      Converted from the PP to basic not that long ago.

      Made a mistake and phoned to convert- “Spanish Inquisition” !!!

      Should have put the request in writing.

      Can’t see the need for a further credit check but who knows?

    • goglobalnz says:

      I downgraded my BA Amex approx 4 months ago simply by applying for the standard card while holding the Plat. It was a seamless change, updated on my online profile within a week. No need to talk to anyone, or send a letter in

      I downgraded because I’d spent my 2 for 1, but hadn’t flown yet and was concerned that if I had to cancel the flights for any reason I might lose the voucher.

  • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    In terms of the companion ticket, couldn’t you use it to bring your partner along on a business trip? Wouldn’t be entirely worthless then (but agree it’s not a patch on the BA Amex).

    • Rob says:

      Yes, that is the obvious use. Not sure if there are booking T&C’s though – eg you need to book direct with Virgin and not through a corporate travel agent?

      You should also check if the ‘free’ ticket books into revenue class or reward class. Emirates has a similar deal with its credit card, but the companion ticket requires reward availability to be available, which makes it even harder to use. It also causes problems if you partner wants to changes flights at the last minute due to business requirements, since award space for a last minute change is unlikely to be there.

      • Keiths says:

        Without turning this into FlyerTalk or VFlyer (!) there is only one way to make the Companion flight worthwhile (yes, you do need to have reward availability).
        Book an ‘S’ class P/E ticket and that is only a couple of hundred pounds (max) more than the cheapest P/E. You can then use the Companion flight.
        Don’t forget, you also get 2 upgrade vouchers from Econ to P/E when you spend £10k pa.
        When we had a place out in Florida I would book one ‘S’ class ticket for myself to get the tier points (became Au), use the Companion ticket, and then also 2 Econ rewards which auto upgraded to P/E (assuming reward seats were available).
        We could do this twice per year and my wife also had the black card.
        So, for a total of £280 (2x fees) and 2x’S’ tickets we got 8 P/E returns pa to Florida (plus the miles and taxes of course).

  • Gordon says:

    I have the black card at the minute but no longer use it as i have a few miles with virgin and im collecting elsewhere. To avoid the fee can i switch to the white card? If the fee has just been paid can you get a refund?

    • Idrive says:

      Raffles wrote the fee is not refundable. you may want to call them to double check.

    • Chris says:

      I had the black card a few years ago and tried to cancel early and get some of the fee back, but they didn’t allow it. However, about 3 months later I somehow won an Xmas competition with them and got 100k miles from them… so glad I didn’t leave!

      • Gordon says:

        I just spoke with MBNA and two good bits of news.
        1. They will refund my fee in full (it was charged in the last 2 weeks)
        2. I can apply for the white card asa new card and I will qualify for the bonus as it is regarded as a new card

        • Trevor says:

          Good call! and pretty interesting news that we can qualify for both bonuses! Thanks for sharing.

        • Rob says:

          That’s a result. Note, though, that I think you’re only getting the refund as a goodwill gesture. This is not MBNA policy – I don’t want other people to apply thinking they can get a refund down the line!

          • Gordon says:

            Raffles you are correct. The lady asked her manager about the refund. I am a long term customer and the fee was only applied to my account 10 days ago. I think these two facts swayed their decision.

  • ankomonkey says:

    My wife and I both have VS accounts. Does anyone know if it would be possible for the card to be taken out in my name and the miles to accrue to my wife’s account? Do they check that names match exactly? Am I dreaming to think I might be able to call up one day and change the account that accrues the points so that I can accrue to both at certain times? Applied for too many cards in wife’s name recently to risk hitting another credit check right now and get us a card each…

    • Rob says:

      Might work, with matching surname and address

    • ankomonkey says:

      Thanks, and good point. We signed up to Noddle a while back.

      Since end of November we’ve taken a mortgage and 2 credit cards. Just don’t want to kill her score for the sake of a decent, but not life-changing, bonus.

      • Trevor says:

        Can understand sentiment, but fore-warned is fore-armed, and better to know than assume. Especially when many people don’t play this game as they fear for their credit score, yet if done sensibly it actually improves your credit score. Mine was already top, remains unchanged, and my wife’s has gone up!

        • Idrive says:

          You need to plan and be very precise! Mine has gone up!

          • callum says:

            If you’re referring to the number out of 999 that Experian etc. give you, then it’s a complete waste of money. No lender cares what that score is, and the way they generate it isn’t particularly good either. It sometimes gives out a score of 999 to people with CCJs etc.!

            Unless you have something important like a mortgage you want to apply for in the near future, getting one more credit search recorded (or one more card if you’re accepted) isn’t going to make a great deal of difference. And unless you have lots of them in a small space of time, rejections (or more accurately searches – it isn’t recorded whether you were rejected or not) don’t damage your rating at all.

    • mangrove says:

      Would checking the credit score affect the credit score? Or are these days finally over?

      • Trevor says:

        Not at all – Noddle will create a new erport for you every month an dyou can check it as often as you like – it leaves no footprint that a credit check would see.

      • callum says:

        Those days never existed – certainly not in the last 5 or so years anyway. While you can see on your credit report when you’ve requested a copy of it, that isn’t shown to lenders. They see a different report to what you see. For example, they cannot see who your other lenders are either.

        I think some of you are mixing up how credit ratings work in the US to how they work over here. I believe things like having a numerical score are much more important over there?

        • John says:

          Yes. Credit scores don’t exist in the UK. A potential lender here looks at your repayment history, available credit and recent searches.

          In the US a number is calculated and potential lenders look at that number as well as the history.

          At least that is my impression of how things work.