Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

20% bonus on Tesco Clubcard conversions to Virgin Flying Club – worth it?

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

Virgin Atlantic has launched a 20% bonus on transfers of Tesco Clubcard points to Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club. This means that you will receive 300 miles per £1 of Clubcard vouchers you convert, rather than the standard 250.

At the time of writing the deal has not made it onto the Tesco website.  It is explained here on the Virgin Flying Club site.

The deals runs to June 19th and the miles generally appear 1-2 days after initiating the transfer.

Virgin is also repeating its offer of 1,000 bonus Virgin miles for opting-in for auto-conversion of your Clubcard points each quarter to Virgin.

Nothing stops you agreeing to this and then cancelling after one quarter.  If you have a dormant Clubcard account, you should set that up to auto-convert to Virgin Flying Club – based on last year, you will still receive the bonus miles even though nothing is being sent over. You cannot earn this bonus if you have previously had an auto-convert bonus.

You may remember that, between January and March, Virgin was running a very generous 30% conversion bonus.  This offer is clearly worse than that one, although 20% is ‘the norm’ with Flying Club.  In any event, you can’t turn back the clock.

We don’t know yet if British Airways will be offering any sort of Tesco conversion promotion this quarter.  They haven’t done one for a couple of years now although the Avios devaluation may have changed their thinking. 

Should you jump to Virgin Flying Club now BA has devalued Avios?

Perhaps. But DO NOT do it just because of the devaluation.

Virgin generally copies everything that British Airways does. It is not a coincidence that their premium credit card offers 18,500 miles as a bonus when the British Airways Premium Plus usually offers 18,000. The two tend to move in step.

It would make commercial logic for Virgin to do a similar devaluation over the next few months. As long as it isn’t as bad as the BA devaluation, they will still come out smelling of roses.  If you don’t have an immediate plan to redeem your Virgin miles, you might want to hold back just in case.

Here is a reminder of some of the key features of Virgin Flying Club if you were considering doing a transfer:

1. Diversification

British Airways can fly you to pretty much anywhere that Virgin Atlantic can. However, that doesn’t mean they can get you Avios seats when you want them. Having a balance in another programme gives you more chance of getting seats on the dates you want them.

Both BA and Virgin allow one-way redemptions, so with a Virgin balance you could mix and match a trip as availability allows. Virgin also partners with Delta in the US and a number of other airlines.

However, Virgin and BA are both UK-focussed airlines, so you are likely to face an identical squeeze around UK school holidays. You may want to expand into Star Alliance and redeem on, say, Lufthansa if you want a better chance of seats at UK half-term.

It is also worth noting that Virgin has been cutting its route network. Any route which does not fly to North America or the Caribbean should be seen as under threat. If they can pull Tokyo, Mumbai and Cape Town – which they did recently – then nothing is safe.  Given the painful overnight flight time from the UK, I would be worried about the Dubai service for example.

2. Cheaper taxes in Economy – but no longer fewer miles

Virgin Atlantic has lower taxes than BA on Economy redemptions. These are quite aggressive – New York is £95 cheaper than BA.

Virgin also runs occasional but fairly regular redemption sales with big discounts on the miles needed for economy class redemptions.

Here is a sample of charges compared to BA:

New York, economy: Virgin £248 & 35,000 (British Airways off-peak: £338 & 26,000)

New York, business: Virgin £488 & 80,000 (British Airways off-peak: £515 & 100,000)

Las Vegas economy: Virgin £218 & 42,500 (British Airways off-peak: £364 & 32,500)

Las Vegas, business: Virgin £499 & 100,000 (British Airways off-peak: £560 & 125,000)

A key point to note here is that – at off-peak times – the new British Airways economy rates are very aggressive. 26,000 Avios for a return flight to New York is very good. If fuel surcharges come down then these will look very attractive, although at the moment you may prefer to use more Virgin miles and pay the lower surcharges.

3. Availability

I do not redeem on Virgin, so cannot comment on how easy or hard it is to get availability. In general, Upper Class cabins have fewer seats than BA Club World cabins with subsequent squeezes on availability. Is it easy to get 4 Upper Class seats on Virgin for a family? I don’t know. We also don’t know enough about the new British Airways availability patterns to make a fair comparison.

You can check availability on the Virgin website without having enough miles in your account to do the redemption. You should spend some time researching your favourite routes before deciding whether to commit miles to Flying Club.

4. No 2-4-1 Amex voucher, but an upgrade voucher

There is no equivalent of the BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher. The Virgin credit card does give a 2-4-1 voucher but ONLY ON FLEXIBLE CASH TICKETS. You can, however, get a voucher with the Virgin credit card to upgrade Economy redemptions to Premium Economy for no extra miles. The two Virgin credit cards are reviewed here and here. Their home page is here.

5. Fallback option of transferring to Hilton HHonors or IHG Rewards Club

Rare among airline schemes, Virgin lets you transfer miles out into Hilton HHonors (2:3) or IHG Rewards Club (the Holiday Inn etc scheme) at 1:1. There is a minimum transfer of 10,000 Virgin miles. If you found yourself struggling to use your Virgin miles, you could also move them across.

A 20% transfer bonus does NOT make such transfers a great deal, however.

I value Hilton HHonors points at 0.3p. A £1 Tesco voucher gets you 300 Virgin miles which is 450 Hilton points. At 0.3p, they are worth £1.35.  Terrible, less than 1.5x the face value of your Clubcard points.

Similarly, I value IHG Rewards Club points at 0.5p. A £1 Tesco voucher gets you 300 Virgin miles which is 300 IHG Rewards Club points. At 0.5p that, that is just £1.50 of value. Avoid, unless you are just topping up your account.

6. The Heathrow Clubhouse

The Virgin lounge at Heathrow, for Upper Class passengers, is widely regarded as one of the best airport lounges in the world. Get a haircut, have a massage, eat a proper meal, chill out in the audio or TV rooms or do one of many other (admittedly ‘boys toys’ type) activities. Well worth trying once in your life.

Note that, whilst full fare cash tickets in Upper Class also get a free chauffeur to and from the airport, reward tickets do NOT get this.

7. Easy to collect additional miles

It is as easy to collect Flying Club miles as it is Avios. You can transfer from Tesco, Amex Membership Rewards and Heathrow Rewards, as well as all the major hotel schemes. As I wrote here, some major hotel chains do not give Avios but do offer Flying Club miles.

There is a shopping portal similar to the Avios estore. There are also decent promotions, eg 6,000 miles for opening an ISA and 3,000 miles for your first case of wine.

Conclusion

Flying Club has something to offer the person who redeems in Economy – lower taxes and the ability to upgrade to Premium Economy for free via the credit card voucher.

You even get the option of selected long haul departures from Manchester, which BA abandoned long ago. There will even be a handful of flights from Glasgow and Belfast this Summer.

At peak BA dates, you will also require fewer miles to fly Virgin in economy. On off-peak BA dates it is not so clear cut.

For business class redemptions, it is also less clear cut. Smaller cabins, a smaller route network and fewer daily flights may make it trickier to find seats.  Post April 28th, Virgin Upper Class redemptions look great value compared to BA but how long will that last?

There is no British Airways American Express 241 voucher, which for a couple effectively makes a ‘once a year’ redeemer require twice the miles. (It has a proportionately lower impact on a family of 4 taking multiple long-haul flights each year.)

Virgin also has ‘route risk’ now. Non-North America routes are being cut aggressively. If you are planning to fly east rather than west, be aware that your route may not exist in a year.

You have until June 19th to decide whether to convert or not.


How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (February 2023)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

You can choose from two official Virgin Atlantic credit cards (apply here, the Reward+ card has a bonus of 15,000 Virgin Points):

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

A generous earning rate for a free card at 0.75 points per £1 Read our full review

You can also earn Virgin Points from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for a year and comes with 20,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 20,000 Virgin Points.

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 comes with 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points.

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Small business owners should consider the two American Express Business cards. Points convert at 1:1 into Virgin Points.

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

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Points

(Want to earn more Virgin Points?  Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

Comments (54)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • pol says:

    With regards to earning you can now earn Virgin miles with Rocketmiles as well as Pointshound.

    • MrHandBaggageOnly says:

      Thanks for this. Had totally missed the addition of FC to Rocketmiles. Despite the generally higher prices, the 3,000 welcome bonus is worth looking at.

      • Rob says:

        There is meant to be a HFP competition with Rocketmiles coming up to promote this new partnership but we have not yet got everything agreed. If it comes off it will be a fantastic prize worth close to £1,000.

  • Greenback says:

    I’m trying to work out what programme we should focus on as a family of 5 (3 children under 7, no infants). Would it be possible to use a BA 2-4-1 voucher for two of the children (and another voucher for the adults)?

    If so that may swing me towards BA/Avios, even with the lower service levels compared to some other airlines. However would there even be award availability for 5?

    • Rob says:

      You can use 2 241s on same booking – rule about cardholder being a passenger is waived. 5 economy generally ok, 5 Club World tricky and in peak season very hard. On some routes it will never happen.

    • Boi says:

      We have exact family as yours. We used two 241 this Easter for CW to POS. so it is doable even on school holidays. So we needed only 300000 avios for 5 of us which was great. Just as tip we were given middle 4 seats and adjoining aisle. We changed to 3 in middle and 2 separated by aisle. Better interaction. You Are assigned seats for free 5 days before travel if you are with kids for free. Paying for seats was way too expensive

    • Georgie says:

      I think it’s best to be honest and to find enough award availability on BA if you have three school age children will be virtually inpossible, especially if you want to choose your destination rather than take any old thing where there happens to be availability. It’s hard enough to find two seats to a desirable location during the last two weeks in July/August. It might work if you are prepared to throw in the odd revenue seat. My kids went to an independant school and the holidays are longer but it didn’t help much either, apart from maybe easter where they get four weeks not two weeks – but still a struggle.

  • Steve says:

    For us it is now Virgin all the way. Nearest Airport Manchester.

    Had no problem booking 4 tickets to Orlando this August. If we had had enough miles, could have done premium economy both ways.

  • James says:

    I am tempted to move some miles for a Virgin redemption. Having looked at the UC seats I am not so sure, facing the isle is odd and having other peoples heads right next to yours is not very private. How do others that have travelled UC find them?

    Also do they block any of the seats?

    • MrHandBaggageOnly says:

      UC seats mean you don’t have a chance of having to climb over anyone and there’s much more privacy than on CW. Facing the aisle makes more sense to me, but then nothing about BA’s CW set up has ever made sense to me. I’d rather fly VA PE than BA CW!

    • Fenny says:

      I’m flying UC for the first time in a couple of weeks. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    • Leo says:

      UC seats are good! I think they are very private. I just wish they hadn’t binned the previous routes.

  • James says:

    How are UC seats when travelling with a toddler? That is my only concern with booking VS for us, CW may be far less private but that turns into an advantage when travelling with a little one

    • Waribai says:

      Just my two cents worth but I think BA is better if travelling with a toddler especially if you get the middle seats. The herringbone seats are slightly nightmarish if the seatbelt sign is on and your little one is getting difficult. Also, Virgin especially U/C is more about having a cool, funky experience and it doesn’t really seem toddler friendly. Travelling alone or with a partner, I’d go for Virgin but with a toddler, I think it has to be BA.

  • Reney says:

    does anyone know if two or more tesco account can transfer into one virgin account? I don’t want to set one up for auto transfer than when I want additional transfer from my main account and can’t do it. THanks

  • lady London says:

    If anyone’s still looking for it 6th February 2014 was Rob’s article on redeeming on Virgin partner airlines.
    https://headforpoints.com/2014/02/06/virgin-flying-club-what-are-the-best-partner-awards/
    A search on Virgin and Partners found it via another article.

  • Steve says:

    Re the two CC accounts into one Virgin a/c. You have to merge the two CC accounts assuming both at the same address & then transfer across. Just a matter of phoning Tesco’s & they do it straight away

    You can then split them up as soon as the transfer goes through.

    Unless of course you have a family a/c

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.