Best ever Virgin credit card bonus back – 32,000 miles on Black and 10,000 on White

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Virgin Atlantic has boosted the sign-up bonus on its credit cards again.  This is not entirely surprising given that British Airways increased the bonus on its cards recently.

This new offer is as high as the sign-up offer on the Virgin cards has ever been.

Here is a quick overview of the Virgin credit cards. If some of the text sounds familiar, it is because I have cut and pasted some of it from the last Virgin promotion!

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 just 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.

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

The representative APR of the card is 17.9% variable.

Virgin credit card bonus

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 32,000 Virgin Flying Club miles. The standard offer on this card was recently increased to 18,500 miles, so the additional bonus is 13,500.

You will receive 18,500 miles with your first purchase and a further 13,500 miles when you spend £3,000 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.

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

The representative APR of the card is 52.0% variable including the fee, assuming a £1200 credit limit.  The annual fee is £140.

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 flexible ticket in any class.  This is likely to require you to buy a ticket which is usually hundreds of pounds more expensive than the cheapest ticket available for sale and is likely to be more expensive than buying two discounted tickets in the first place.

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 27th October and 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 22,000 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

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

Receive 3,000 Virgin miles with your first order from Virgin Wines

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 one of these cards may be a way of giving your Hilton or IHG account a boost.

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. By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated ‘Credit Cards’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. BlueJosh says:

    As someone who collects AMEX MR and also Avios is it worth me getting a Virgin card or should I focus on one rewards scheme and stick to it. Is there a danger of splitting the spend and then you never really accrue anything of value on either one? Slightly OT I have recently signed up to the £150 BA Amex credit card whilst still retaining my AMEX Gold chargecard that I have 50k MR on. Am I mad paying £300 a year for two cards or should I just transfer all the MR to Avios, shut down the Gold card and be done with it. Focusing solely on the Avios credit card. Sorry I know this is way off topic but I’m very confused.com

    • I collect mostly BA but also Virgin because we like to holiday in the USA every year. So it depends on where you want to travel to. Virgin has less planes/destinations available.

    • I would suggest closing the Gold card and concentrating on BAPP if you have a chance of getting a 241 which can be worth up to 200,000 Avios. It also depends whether Virgin fly to anywhere you want to go).
      YMMV

    • Virgin has a limited range of destinations and is long haul only. If you fly to one of them destinations often then having VS miles gives you more chance of getting seats. You could also mix Avios one way and Virgin back.

      If you rarely visit the U.S. then the reasons to focus on Virgin are modest.

  2. BlueJosh

    Its an interesting question and possible Raffles might do an article on your question because I believe your dilemma (and mine) is something many of us question.

    I have around 900k in Avios but between my wife and I only 42k in Virgin points. The reason most favour Avios is due to BA 241 and Euro travel at £35/£50 return.

    However, this offer has tempted me to go for 2 cards (wife and I) to bag the 32,000 points. I am going to move my Tesco Clubpoints to Virgin for next two quarters. I also have 60k in SPG points as back up.

  3. I ‘ve had the white card since last year. I passed the mark for the PE upgrade months ago – I am aware that you don’t get this credited until the anniversary of you taking out the card and I’m not quite there yet. I think I am right in saying that I need to have at least one of the Virgin Amex cards in order to keep the upgrade? Am I right or does it continue to sit in your FC account even after cancellation of the card? Ideally I’d like to give up the white card for the black card – what’s the best way to go about this? Give up the white card first and release credit amount (potentially losing the upgrade) or applying for the Black card whilst having the white one…..? I guess losing the PE upgrade isn’t such a big deal because to be frank I’ve no plan to use it in the next 12 months and I’d get another one after spending 5K on the black.

    • Jonathan says:

      PE upgrade vouchers sit in your flying club account. Once they’ve posted they won’t get taken back. I’ve just done a similar thing and cancelled by black card so I have none left. Now opening another black cc account in my wife’s name to get the bonus.

    • Does this mean we have to keep the black card more than a year and pay a second £140 to receive a voucher earned in first year?

      • I’m sure this came up before and someone said that if you don’t spend anything on the card in the 2nd year then you would get a full refund of the fee – but don’t quote me on that. I will have the same problem in the future. I am almost at the point of reaching the spend for the first upgrade voucher at £5000 which won’t appear in my account until May next year. Hopefully someone who has done this before can clarify it for us.

        • Yes, I recall exactly this issue being discussed on HFP but was of no relevance to me at the time so cannot recall the detail. Too many potential posts to sort through to find it. I think I might find voucher quite useful, especially on the shorter flight to DXB where PE would be fine for me. I would probably c9mbine with Etihad J redemption from AUH to Asia.

        • I wrote all that info down about the Virgin card but can’t remember which post it related to either. My husband is taking early retirement from next Xmas so we plan to take more USA trips from 2017 onwards including a Route 66 drive – so spending now and getting miles and vouchers in the bag towards that!

      • Jonathan says:

        I spent enough to earn 2 PE upgrades. I made sure I stopped spending on the card the month before they posted and paid the full balance off. The vouchers posted to my FC on the exact anniversary date and I cancelled the very next day. This was my second year of the black card – if the recall the £140 fee posts to your cc statement towards the end of the 1st month of the new year – ie month 13, 25, 37 etc.

        • Did you have to pay the £140 fee in the 2nd year and claim a refund or did you just cancel and not pay the £140? How does it work?

        • As I understand him, Jonathan cancelled tge day after voucher hit his account. This was 1st day of seco d year and tge cancellation took place before the fee hit his account.

        • So to be clear you were not actually charged that £140?

        • Jonathan says:

          Correct, I never paid the second years fee and cancelled prior to it appearing on my statement. I’ve had a few MBNA issued cards in the past and spoken to customer services a few times, each time they never saw in my favour so there either isn’t any generosity/goodwill or its discretionary.

        • Thanks for all the help – v useful.

        • Thanks Jonathan! Will take note and diary my date for cancellation for May next year!

        • I was thinking of doing the same earlier this year… But my 2 PE upgrade vouchers were posted on my FC account about 20 days after the anniversary. So I got charged the fee for the second year… Then decided to continue for another year.

          Have already hit the £10k limit for this year. Need to talk to CS to find out that if I cancel my card now, will I lose out on the 2 PE upgrade vouchers.

  4. Gin and Tonic Please says:

    Does anyone know if this stacks with the refer-a-friend offer?

    http://www.virgin-atlantic.com/corporate/micropage.view.do?id=2450

  5. Sebastian says:

    I am happy this has returned, as I missed out on it last time and I have a £4000 FX spend coming up that will be going through the Supercard. Just out of interest, I know that you can apply for both the White and black at the same time but does anyone have experience of actually doing this? I just ask as due to be having a £4k spend coming up, I could hit the target for both in one hit, but I am slightly worried MBNA will not honour it if I did do it? Also, does anyone know if we’ll ever see the 60k IHG offer again?

  6. I have neglected Virgin flying club for years in favour of BA but looking at collecting these too, does anyone know if redemptions and upgrade vouchers work for 2 adults and an infant under 2. BA is fine for this can’t see anything obvious on the Virgin site?

    • I think an infant pays 10% of the price in miles.

    • You can simply add an infant via their call centre, i.e. redeem miles online, then call to redeem your PE upgrades, and also to add an infant. The infant will join same class as you, at 10% of costs.

  7. RoryGuella says:

    Great bonus. I’ve never had any Virgin cards but have got a United card also issued by MBNA. Historically this would mean that I wouldn’t get the Virgin bonus. Is this the case here or will I be able to get the bonus?

    • I signed up for the Virgin Black in May. Within the last few weeks I’ve also signed up for the AA card and Utd card and got bonuses on both. Both will be paid off this month and cancelled. I’ve had assorted MBNA cards in the past and always got the sign up bonuses.

    • I too have signed up for many MBNA cards for self and spouse and never failed to get signu bonuses.

  8. Just to give an alternative (and rather technical) view on the Black card, the offer still fails to excite me. To me, this game represents good value for money and good time invested only if achieving the best return you can – max miles for min cost/effort. Otherwise you may as well go flip burgers in McDonalds to pay for your upgrade/flight.

    Considering the White gives 10k free, that means you’re only getting 27k more for the Black card (32k bonus, less free 10k on white card, add 6k for £3k threshhold spend at 2miles/£1 on Black, less 1k you’d have earned spending £1 at 1mile/£1 for White card). Now, that’s 27k miles for a sunk cost of £140 (can’t get pro rata refund like amex issued cards, and other bonuses don’t count for much and do require a much greater spend). That’s a 0.52p/mile purchase cost. Also, considering the extra £2k spend required to earn extra 27k miles, and if you consider a 1p/mile redemption value, if you deduct the £140 cost from the redemption value, you’re getting: (27k=£270 value less £140 cost) / £2000 spend required = 6.5% return. The free card gives (11k=£110 value)/£1000 credit card spend = 11% return, closer to double!

    Now, if you have plenty of Tesco points as I do, and can wait for one of the frequent 30% transfer bonuses, you can get 325 miles per Clubcard voucher £1. So to get 38k miles, it would cost £117 in vouchers – no hard cash down, but with a real hard cash value earned for free. This represents a purchase cost of only 0.3p/mile. Can’t really calculate an ROI due to mixed Clubcard point earning opportunities.

    In summary, the free card gives a better return per £1 spent on your credit card, and Tesco gives a better purchase cost per mile. Of course each to his own and all circumstances differ, but considering the restricted routes offers by VA on top of the value factors above, I struggle to convince myself that the Black is a worthwhile investment compared to the White or other credit cards. Of course those short of miles or with a specific redemption in mind for which they have no other redemption opportunities, this may work for them.

    • I agree with that.

      What I would add, though, is that since the £140 IS a sunk cost, you are likely to keep on using the Amex for the next 11 months and so earn 2 miles per £1 – an excellent rate.

    • As always, how much you want those miles makes a big difference.
      If they are the last few that you need urgently to achieve your lifetime dream trip then they are, as Mastercard would say, priceless.
      Personally I got the 10,000 which I moved to IHG to get Spire status which I think that since I am going to be staying in a fairly ordinary Holiday Inn will not be worth much but cost nothing and I still have the IHG points to spend in the future.

      • We all have our own agendas, and glad you have one that worked for you. I too got the free card for 2 of us and together to Tesco points, went to NYC/Boston and Havana. It’s interesting what different people do (hence interesting reading blogs and comments such as this – it gives fresh ideas), but it was only recently that I started looked at the return per £1 spent on a card to realise where more effort could/should be placed, hence thought Id’ share the technical comparisons.

    • Think the calculations on Black may be slightly incorrect. Its (38k points – £140 fee) / £3000 spend. If you take 1 mile = 1p, then its (£380 – £140) / £3000 = 8% ROI. Moreover, your calculations do not consider the PE upgrade vouchers which is the bigger advantage of getting the Black card.

      Here’s my take on these numbers, assuming you spend enough to get 2 PE upgrade vouchers, and use them to upgrade 2 LHR-JFK economy tickets to PE (based on the virgin upgrade table, 1 way upgrade on this route costs 10k miles, so for 2 people return is 40k miles)

      White: Requires £20k for 2 vouchers, earning 30k miles (10k bonus + 20k spend). ROI = (30k miles earned + 40k miles from PE upgrade) / £20k spent = 3.5%

      Black: Requires £10k for 2 vouchers, earning 52k miles (32k bonus + 20k spend). ROI = (52k miles earned + 40k miles from PE upgrade – £140 fee) / £10k = 7.8%

      That’s more than double ROI on Black. I guess, like you said, to each their own!

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