Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The 2-4-1 voucher with the Virgin Atlantic credit cards gets easier to use

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

The Virgin Atlantic Black credit cards – issued by MBNA (Bank of America) – are a pretty good product.  They currently come as a double-pack of an American Express and a Visa card.  This model may not continue into the future as Amex fees on co-brand cards to UK retailers are now capped at the same level as Mastercard / Visa at 0.3%.

The annual fee is £140.  The representative APR is 57.4% variable, including the annual fee, based on a notional £1,200 credit limit.

The current sign-up bonus is 18,500 miles triggered with your first purchase.  This is increased to 21,500 miles if you are referred for the card.  Email me at rob at headforpoints.com if you would like me to send you a referral link. My Virgin Black review is here.

Virgin Black

There is also a White card which is free and has a smaller bonus – my review of that card is here.

Two special benefits

There are two benefits for spending on the Black card

When you spend £5,000 on the Black American Express card, you will receive an upgrade to Premium Economy (for one person) when you redeem your Flying Club miles for an Economy class redemption. A 2nd voucher is available when you spend £10,000. These vouchers are issued at the END of your card year, not when you pass the spend target.

Spend £7,500 on the Black American Express card and you will receive a free ticket for a companion (taxes apply) when you purchase a full fare (booking class Y, B, R, L, U, M, W, S or J) cash flight. This voucher is issued as soon as you pass the spend threshold.

You receive the same benefits on the free White card but the thresholds are higher.  The upgrade vouchers are issued at £10,000 and £20,000 and the free companion ticket is issued at £15,000.

It is the second benefit – the free companion ticket – that I want to look at today.

My main criticism of this card was that the free companion ticket was fundamentally useless since very few people buy full fare cash tickets.  I know that some people got this to work in certain circumstances – you could occasionally find Premium Economy fares that qualify for a few hundred pounds more than the cheapest cash ticket – but this required some knowledge of the Virgin ticketing system and good timing.  In any event, unless you needed flexibility, your second ticket would still not be ‘free’ because the ticket you bought would cost more than the cheapest available one.

There has now been some movement on the voucher rules.

The new terms and conditions now say this:

(A full fare qualifying flight are those tickets purchased in booking classes: Y, B, R, L, U, M, E, Q, X, W, S, H and J. Companion rewards cannot be booked online, only over the phone, so agents are able to explain the booking classes at time of booking.)

E, X, Q and H booking classes have been added.

H is a cheap (but not the cheapest) Premium Economy ticket bucket.  E, X and Q are Economy ticket buckets.

If you want to know how to book the cheapest ‘X’ class Economy and ‘H’ Premium Economy tickets, I strongly recommend reading this article on Flyertalk.  It will tell you everything you need to know.

In plain English, what does this mean?

It means that the 2-4-1 voucher with the Virgin Black and White credit cards now has a little more value.

To be honest, it doesn’t change much in Economy.  Because you still have to pay taxes on the 2nd ‘free’ ticket – and taxes make up a large % of the cost of an Economy ticket – you are still not getting a lot of value.

The main benefit seems to be for Premium Economy travellers.  You can buy one ticket in H booking class and get a 2nd one at a big discount, probably at least 75% off.  The cost of an ‘H’ ticket over the cheapest available Premium Economy ticket should not be that big.

PS.  These changes mirror the changes that Virgin made to the ticket classes which can be upgraded using miles.  I wrote about those changes back in February.


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – November 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:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

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.

Barclaycard Select Cashback credit card

1% cashback and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (144)

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

  • Chris says:

    I’ve just been on the phone to Amex to cancel my gold card (time for a churn). I asked the question re my BAPP card and they said the only change is the fee and it doesn’t effect existing card holders. He commented they were in a meeting about it last week.

    I didn’t think to ask about if it effects renewals at the time.

  • James H says:

    If I remember correctly, the last time there was a fee for the Platinum Card had a fee increase from £300 to £450 per year, it DID affect me as an existing card holder.

  • RTS says:

    1 paragraph of BA news vs. a whole article regarding the Virgin CC relaxing their comp voucher T&Cs – and nobody really gives a damn about it.

    Virgin CC team should really take note of this post, especially if they claim to try and always 1-up BA’s CC.

    • Stuart_f says:

      That’s because these Virgin changes happened on 15 Feb and the Virgin frequent flyers already know about it.

    • Rob says:

      The BA news was embargoed until this morning so I couldn’t write about it as the last email goes out at 6am.

  • Roberto says:

    I dont pay for my BAPP Amex as it came free with my Amex Platinum card some time in the last millennium. Fingers crossed my great grandfather deal wont get squashed in the shake up..

  • DaveT says:

    is there still a referral bonus with the 25k signup?

    • Sprout says:

      Is it possible to refer yourself if you have another amex card (specifically gold card)?

  • aceman says:

    Couple of questions re the virgin card.

    Does award availability need to be available in both classes to upgrade?

    Are any upperclass fares in the 241?

    • idrive says:

      you need to look for availability in Premium Eco only. payable with mileage from ECO and PREM ECO taxes

  • Devin says:

    I am already a BAPP card holder; if i get a supplementary card for my partner would she earn points on my existing rate or the new rate?

  • Virgin credit card companion voucher can now be used on more fare codes - FlyerTalk Forums says:

    […] googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-13'); }); Raffles is reporting over on Head for Points that the terms for using the companion voucher have changed for the better. You can now use the […]

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.