Virgin Black launches highest ever sign-up bonus – 30,000 miles!

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.

My full review of Virgin Black is hereThe application page is here.

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.

My full review of Virgin White is hereThe application page is here.

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)

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

(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.)

New American Airlines 'buy miles' bonus - up to 40%
100% bonus for more people, it seems, when you buy IHG Rewards Club points!
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  1. Maximum Power says:

    if you already have an american express card, does that you mean you effectivley have two american express cards? albeit one is just your charge card and the other american express with is credit card, are american express alright with this?

    • The Virgin cards are NOT Amex cards, to the extent that Amex does not issue them – MBNA does. It is MBNA’s money you are using.

      For Amex-issued Amex cards (Gold, Platinum, BA, Nectar, SPG etc) the limits are 2 charge cards (ie Gold and Platinum) plus 2 credit cards (ie BA and SPG) at the same time. They are happy, subject to credit, for you to hold 4 cards at once. Some people have even got away with 5.

  2. s8yad says:

    Currenlty I do not collect VS miles, but combined with the regular Tesco 30% and Amex 20% conversion bonuses, this may the better route for someone considering a redemption flight to the USA.

    Raffles, would it be better to go for the above route for 3 x J redemptions to the US or apply for the BA Amex premium and get the 2-4-1. I suppose the key is that I have Tesco CC vouchers that I could convert in future VS promotions.

    • Depends on lots of things … how availability is (BA to the US has been tight recently, not sure about Virgin), how easily you can spend £10,000 on the BAPP Amex, how many Avios you already have etc.

      For 3 people, it would make little difference whether you did 3 with Avios using a 2-4-1 and Tesco points converted without a bonus, or used Virgin miles without a 2-4-1 but using Tesco points with a 30% bonus and Amex points with a 20% bonus.

      Also depends, of course, on where in the US you want to go and who flies there.

    • BA redemption availability has been very limited lately, there is decent (ish) availability to NYC, Tokyo, Seoul and China! Other than that small list it looks a real challenge to find anything long haul.

      I have a 2-4-1 voucher I would like to use but really want to max out its value in First. Virgin availability can be better although their website makes it harder to search for.

      OT – but just a reminder that with the new financial year a new council tax bill requires paying, so a good opportunity to start scratching those 3V cards again if your council allows them.

      • Is there a better way to check for VS availability other than using paid websites? Their website doesn’t do multiple dates searches

        • I picked up a tip; pick a low demand time in a month (term-time is a good bet) and then more often that not you will be given the calendar for that particular month, and you can then go forward, or back as you need to.
          I hope that makes sense.

        • Trevor says:

          I found the opposite – if there is availability cos it’s a low demand time, then you’ll be given the date required, but if busy time with low availability and none on the date chosen, then the calendar will be shown.

    • Trevor says:

      It might have been a good time if both transfer bonuses hadn’t expired. And since they have both been and gone very recently, probably little chance of a repeat of either in the near future.

      • I wouldn’t agree with that, the bonus has been making a regular appearance for almost every quarter!

  3. oyster says:

    Will this get me access to the Virgin money lounge as talked about on here a few days ago?

    • Maximus says:

      The cards are advertised on the Virgin Money website so I assume they would, although they are issued by MBNA.

  4. Mucky says:

    I know that the 3V Visa card has stopped working for financial transactions but I have just seen that Tesco sell a Visa Gift Card (different to 3V) for £50 but there is a £3.95 per £50. However, you do receive 150 CC points per £50 card purchased. Can this card be used to pay council tax etc and whilst also helping to hit AMEX limits?

    £1000 bill would be 20 cards and £79 fee on top but 3000CC points converted at standard rate 7200 avios. Add in paying with the BA AMEX for another 1600 avios totals 8800 avios for £79.

    • Yes you receive the bonus points as normal (i always check my receipt as i expect this to stop one day!).

      The fee Visa card is accepted in a lot more places than 3V cards – you can pay it direct into an NS&I account just the same as you used to be able to do with 3V (but please test this is still the case!). But depending on your council you may be able to use 3V cards for your council tax bill – there are mixed reports on success of this as it varies between councils and their payment provider.

      You could also use 3V towards utility bills, works ok with edf and British Gas.

      Also if you have a car, Tesco fuel save will get you 20p per litre once you hits £500 spend. Also, after you use the 20p saving, you can start accruing it again, even in same month.

    • Kipto says:

      Or use the gold Amex charge card and get 9200 avios

    • Waribai says:

      3V worked with my local council but bizzarely the visa prepaid card didn’t! Even though it says “debit” on it!

  5. Idrive says:

    Yes we can!

    • Idrive says:

      Sorry replied to the question straight from the email did not read previous replies.
      I checked NS&I a couple of times but never opened an account as i don t want to be bothered with taxation. What do people usually do?

  6. Sorry, new to all this – is the Virgin Visa considered a better option than Virgin Amex and if so, why? (Aside from the greater likelihood of use in the UK). Given the Amex offers 2 points to the pound, is this a no brainer or am I missing something?

    • You receive them both, they’re linked to the one account. The main benefit of the visa is to help you hit the spend target with retailers that don’t accept Amex 🙂

      • Idrive says:

        And you get 1 full point not 0.75 as per the other cards offer so if You are a big Visa spender this becomes a little bit more interesting

    • Trevor says:

      I think you’re missing something – you get both the Amex and VISA on the same account, so use both, but preferably the Amex.

      Aand if you are still trying to meet other Amex issued sign-up targets, then use that Amex where you can, and this Visa where you can’t.

      If you are new to this though, you might not have considered the actual cost of the extra Black miles due to the fee, so consider my post below before jumping in.

  7. Trevor says:

    I am surprised that no-one has offered any analysis of the Black vs White in terms of value per point. And since I am interested, I’ll share my findings:

    With the previous offer, you could get 10k miles with the White for free, or 25k miles with the Black for £140. Assuming that you would be applying for 1 card, not both, and needing to make a choice, to me the choice was simple – the Black at £140 gave 15k more miles, but at a cost of £0.0093/mile. I was definitely not a buyer at that rate and since I value points over vouchers for more passengers/trips/flexibility, the long term benefits like vouchers I find of little value, while the same spend across more cards generates far more signup points.

    Now that the Black bonus is up to 30k miles, you are buying the extra points at a rate of £0.007/mile. That’s better value, yet still not great – depending on your redemption, you might benefit or only break even. There would only be a limited group of people for whom buying the miles they require at that price is worthwhile – if you are interested in the Black card, have you seriously considered the cost of those miles? Furthermore, your higher required spend is at the same ratio to trigger the full bonus, so no benefit there either and that money could be spent meeting a signup on another free card offering the same number of points. Since the fee is not pro rata refundable to give far greater value for money once the bonus is triggered, although it appears to compare favourably with other signup bonuses, at this rate I am still not a buyer – I expect a very decent ROI and see no point in simply swapping cash for points.

    And if you have £140 worth of clubcard vouchers, for the same cost you could have bought 45,500 miles before the transfer bonus expired! That’s more than double the miles for the same cost and no spend requirement. So consider carefully if you really want to buy miles at this rate.

    • You need to factor in the increased earning rate too, though, when comparing the black card vs white. Let’s say you spend £5k on the AMEX, the black card will net you a bonus 5000 points. That changes your calculations to the black now giving 25k more miles for your £140 so now £0.0056/mile. Of course, for someone planning to spend more, that cost would reduce further. Someone planning on spending a reasonable sum on Virgin flights even more so — the black card offers a nice bonus for doing so (4x spend!) whilst the white offers none.

      • Trevor says:

        I’d neglected the increased earning rate, and you do raise a good point. However, I’d only go so far as to count it on the initial signup bonus of £3,000 spend required as beyond that there is no ceiling so where do you stop? Plus, some other cards also offer 2/£1 so for general spend after meeting a signup bonus, it’s a bit irrelevant – I’m comparing signup bonuses and the cost per point. So, revised figures make the cost £0.0061/mile, though this is a best-case scenario, you are unlikely to hit all the spend on the Amex. So certainly a better deal than initially calculated and the redemption value should always be more than this purchase cost. I’d still go the Clubcard conversion bonus route though at a cost of half that at £0.003/mile, and save my spending for meeting signup bonuses with free/better figures.

        The interesting thing about this game though is that seldom is any 1 person “right” – each has their own agenda and what works out best for them which always leads to some varying and interesting input.

    • For me, the 30,000 points sounded attractive in that is equivalent to 4 return flights with Little Red. Paying £35 taxes on each return ticket results in a total £140 of taxes, along with card fee of £140 and we are up at £280 in charges for my 4 return flights.

      So a redemption flight is actually costing 7500 points plus £70. In this scenario it doesn’t sound that great a deal after all, it depends on what flight I want to use as some Little Red flights are selling for just £38 one way (out of EDI).

      • Trevor says:

        Wow, at £38 o/w you don’t want to be wasting miles! As mentioned above though, personal scenarios are all different – if you already have a bunch of free Avios, despite using more miles for a redemption, buying miles to use less on Virgin doesn’t make it a good deal. Furthermore, if you already have a bunch of Clubcard points which are free to accumulate, while their face value may be £92.50 (who wastes them instore?), that is the equivalent cost of your 30,000 miles on a transfer bonus. It reduces your cost to £58 per ticket, but if tickets are available at £38 oneway, you are only getting £0.0024 redemption value per mile, so still less than the purchase cost of £0.003/mile via Clubcard and WAY less than the purchase cost via the Virgin Black at £0.0061/mile making it a pretty dire investment as you’d have lost 60% value!

  8. squills says:

    Raffles: you might want to run the Mile Finder app with its 500 points bonus. Their link is bad so here is the download page

    Obviously I won’t be keeping it too long 😉

    • squills says:

      It proved tricky in Internet Explorer so I had to download it in Chrome.

    • Trevor says:

      It proved tricky for in Chrome – had to try a few times before it installed correctly, and don’t have my first 250 points showing for the effort. Googled it and could only see 2 past promotions which are long expired.

    • Singing Dwarf says:

      @squills – From the email “We reserve the right to remove the download bonus of 500 miles if you subsequently uninstall the Mile Finder.”

  9. Jason says:

    21. I originally had a Virgin Black card 5 years ago which I cancelled 3 years later. I reapplied for the black card in the Virgin clubhouse where they had a 30000 points offer and in Dec 2013 and have received all the bonus points. When I received it the limit on my MBNA Platinum card was slashed- but that was ok as I cancelled it!

    2. Applied for and approved for the white card on 31 March- thanks Raffles.

    3. I am waiting for my platinum IHG to show after 6 weeks of having the Priority Club Visa- I had chased this up previously and was told to ring them back after 6 weeks if not showing- will do tomorrow!

    • Try emailing IHG customer services, when i did this the status updated that same day.

  10. Trevor says:

    While Amex is generally ok, and having recently experienced the horrendous service of Barclays with the IHG Black taking over a month to arrive, I am extremely impressed with MBNA/Virgin. Having applied for the White on Monday night, I got instant approval and already have my PINs on Friday, so card arrival is imminent. My OH’s app wasn’t instantly approved, but did receive an email confirming approval within 24hrs (late at night?!), which is more than Amex bother with. Now this only goes to confirm the general slow and sloppy approach of other institutions…

    On another note, whilest my existing MBNA DC and AA credit limits remained the same, the new credit limit brought my total up to 1/3 of my stated salary. Alternatively, my OH was already on an equivalent of 1/3 of salary in allowed credit across the DC & AA cards, and now the White has been issued with an amount equal to a drop in the DC. I guess that accounts for the 48hr approval time. I also guess MBNA possibly work to a max of 1/3 your salary in credit.

  11. I think this has been covered somewhere but I am struggling to find info on it now… Does foreign exchange either at Amex (travelmoneynow) or Virgins travel money (Moneycorp) count towards minimum spend on the Virgin black?