Presumably as a response to American Express increasing the bonus on the two British Airways American Express cards to 9,000 Avios and 25,000 Avios respectively, Virgin Atlantic has boosted the sign-up bonus on its own cards again.
Here is a quick overview of the Virgin Flying Club credit 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.
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 a paltry 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 17.9% 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 was recently increased to 18,500 miles, so the additional bonus is only 6,500.
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.
The representative APR of the card is 52.0% variable including the fee, assuming a £1200 credit limit.
And vouchers too ….
There are also two long-term incentives available with the Virgin Atlantic 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 October, 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.
I don’t think that you can 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
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 the free Virgin White card may be a way of giving your Hilton or IHG account a boost. I would be wary of paying £140 for the Black card, however, as I don’t think 37,500 Hilton points or 25,000 IHG Rewards Club points are worth that much.
Virgin appears to be getting more aggressive in marketing its credit cards and seems to be willing to match British Airways American Express special offers. Whilst they failed to offer any special deal at all in 2013, I would not worry too much if you do not take advantage of this offer at the moment. Based on their behaviour so far in 2014, I am sure it will be back.
Want to earn more points from credit cards? – December 2022 update
If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.
In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.
You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:
You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.
British Airways American Express Premium Plus
25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express
30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review
Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard
15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review
Earning miles and points from small business cards
If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:
American Express Business Platinum
40,000 points sign-up bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review
American Express Business Gold
20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review
British Airways Accelerating Business American Express
30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review
Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa
10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review
For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.