Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Are you better off taking Flying Club miles or Nectar points from Virgin Trains?

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An increasing number of train companies are now offering Nectar points when you book with them.

It is ironic that the train companies feel the need to incentivise people to book directly with them.  They often have cheaper fares on their own websites than elsewhere.  More importantly, the train company websites rarely charge the rip-off credit card or booking fees that you will find with The Trainline and other third-party booking sites.

Virgin Trains

First Group was the first train company to offer Nectar points when you book at the rate of 2 points per £1 spent.  You can get this on Great Western, TransPennine Express and Hull Trains.

These are worth at least 1p per £1 and could be worth 2p if you hold off redeeming until a higher value offer comes along.  I wrote about one such deal, with Virgin Trains, this week.

Virgin Trains joined the Nectar party as well.

You receive 2 Nectar points (so 1% cashback effectively) when you book train tickets at the Virgin Trains West Coast website or East Coast website.

Full terms and conditions are on the Virgin Trains website here.  Importantly, your trip MUST include a Virgin Trains component in order to earn points.  Booking a trip which is entirely on another train operator will not earn you anything.

Is this better than earning Virgin Flying Club miles?

Virgin Trains has been a long-term partner of Virgin Flying Club.  As per the Virgin Atlantic website, you earn 2 Flying Club miles for every £1 spent at Virgin Trains.

You cannot double dip.  The Virgin Trains website makes you select either Nectar points or Flying Club miles.

I would value one Virgin Flying Club mile at more than the 0.5p you receive for one Nectar point.  You could arguably value a Flying Club mile at 1p (compared to my low end Avios valuation of 0.75p) as economy redemptions have lower taxes than economy Avios redemptions, whilst Upper Class redemptions require fewer miles (but the same taxes) as Club World Avios seats. 

This only makes sense if you already collect Virgin miles from other sources of course, as you will never earn enough just from train tickets for a flight.

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (May 2024)

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 18,000 Virgin Points and the free card has a bonus of 3,000 Virgin Points):

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

18,000 bonus points and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

3,000 bonus points, no fee and 1 point for every £1 you spend 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 – 30,000 points (TO 16TH JULY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 40,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 40,000 Virgin Points.

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable 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 an annual £200 Amex Travel credit 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 (21)

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

  • Rich says:

    Rob, I’m sure you did an article a couple of years ago (in the East Coast Rewards days) comparing all the options for train tickets. Including booking/ postage/ cc charges.

    I for one would appreciate an update, if you can bear it.

    • Rob says:

      Yes I did. It is one of those article I update every 12-18 months, I will see when I last did it.

  • Rob says:

    Didn’t know First give points on all carriers, thanks.

    Trust me, no-one is getting rich on the couple of quid a month I get from Virgin Trains!

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

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