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.
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.
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.
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
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.)