On Monday, the current promotional deal for the Virgin Flying Club credit cards ended. This offered 10,000 miles for getting the free card and 25,000 miles for getting the £140 Black card.
To be honest, I was 95% certain that the cards would revert to their usual (poor) sign-up offer. After all, it is quite rare that Virgin ever runs a bonus – there wasn’t a single special deal in the whole of 2013.
I was therefore pretty surprised – and pleased – yesterday to see that the offers have been extended and improved. The Virgin Black credit card now offers a whopping 30,000 Flying Club miles as a sign-up bonus.
Virgin Atlantic Black Credit Card
The card comes with an annual fee of £140, with a sign-up bonus of 30,000 Virgin Flying Club miles. 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 11,500 miles when you spend £3,000 in the first 90 days. (Note that the target spend has increased from £2,000 to £3,000 for this promotion.)
The earnings rate for the Black card is also 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 is 17.9% variable.
Virgin Atlantic White Credit Card
The sign-up bonus for the Virgin White card remains at the previous level of 10,000 Flying Club miles. This is still the highest I have ever seen, and triple the usual bonus of 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 representative APR is 52.1% variable, including the fee, based on 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.
What can you do with 30,000 Virgin miles?
Quite a lot, as it turns out. Remember that, once you have hit the £3,000 spend target, you will have between 33,000 and 36,000 miles depending on which card you put the £3,000 through.
London to Dubai in Upper Class, one way = 40,000 miles
London to New York in Upper Class, one way = 40,000 miles
London to New York in Economy, return = 35,000 miles
London to Tokyo in Economy, return = 45,000 miles
London to Cape Town in Economy, one way = 25,000 miles
London to Boston in Premium Economy, return = 55,000 miles
London to Manchester / Edinburgh / Aberdeen on Little Red in Economy, return = 7,500 miles
Taxes and charges will be added on top. For economy flights, expect to pay £100 less than on BA, and for other classes expect to pay roughly the same.
Terms & Conditions
The key facts you need to remember before you apply are:
The application deadline is 30th June, 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 20,000 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.
According to a comment from a reader this week, MBNA will let you have BOTH the White and the Black cards, and you will receive the bonus on both. (I would not necessarily recommend applying for both at the same time, though.)
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 10,000 Starwood points from the current SPG Amex sign-up bonus would get you 10,000 additional Virgin miles. (Read my review here)
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
(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.)
(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.)