MBNA is closing your Virgin Atlantic credit card – should you apply for the new version?

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If you have the MBNA-issued Virgin Atlantic White or Black credit cards, you should have received a letter yesterday telling you what I predicted was going to happen – that the cards are closing sooner rather than later.

The letter is vague, saying only that ‘you will receive more information from us by 15th June’.  MBNA has to give you 60 days notice of changes to the card so, even though the letter was undated (it just said ‘May 2018’) I would guess that the MBNA / Virgin Atlantic cards will close on or around 30th June.

What will happen to my cards?

MBNA will not close your account.  Based on what happened when the BMI Diamond Club cards were closed, you will be transitioned to an own-brand MBNA credit card.

It is likely that the card you are offered will depend on what MBNA thinks of you.  Some ex-BMI cardholders were offered a cashback card.  I was offered a ‘no rewards’ card which I obviously cancelled immediately.

Will I get a refund of the fee if I have Black card?

Almost certainly.  MBNA gave me a pro-rata fee when they closed by BMI Diamond Club card.

Should I apply for the new Virgin Atlantic credit cards now?

Yes.  You can apply for new cards even though you currently have the MBNA card.  You WILL receive the sign-up bonus.

You can see full details of the new Virgin Atlantic credit cards, and apply, by clicking here (free card) and here (paid card).  The main marketing website is here.

You might want to keep using the American Express card linked to your existing White or Black MBNA card until the bitter end, because of the high earning rate.

On the other hand, you might want to start earning towards the 2-4-1 or upgrade voucher on the new Virgin Money cards as soon as possible.  It is also not smart to keep using the Visa element of the existing White and Black cards because the new Mastercard is more generous.

What are the two new Virgin Money Virgin Atlantic credit cards like?

Here are the key features:

You can choose between a free Virgin Atlantic Mastercard and a paid Mastercard, with a 5,000 mile and 15,000 mile sign-up bonus respectively – you get this bonus even if you have have the MBNA cards

The earning rates are EXCELLENT.  0.75 miles per £1 on the free card and 1.5 miles per £1 on the fee card.

The new Virgin credit cards have a 2-4-1 voucher which works like the BA Amex voucher.  But … and this is a big ‘but’ … you need to be Flying Club Gold to use it in Upper Class.  You need to be Flying Club Silver to use it in Premium (Virgin’s new name for Premium Economy).  A base level ‘Red’ member can only use it in Economy. 

Solo travellers can choose, instead, to upgrade a return Economy redemption flight to Premium Economy.  This is available to everyone regardless of status.  As the upgrade voucher is valid for two years, a couple could also benefit if they earned two vouchers in consecutive years or each had their own credit card.

All Virgin Atlantic credit card holders get free access to Virgin Money lounges around the UK 

Let’s look at the two cards in detail.

Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card

The FREE card – Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card

I am legally obliged to tell you that the representative APR is 22.9% variable.

As you can see from the picture above, the free Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card is pretty cool, as credit cards go.  There is NO information on the front!  No card number, no personal name.  What you see above is what you get, apart from the addition of the chip.  The card is also coloured red on the edge which makes it stand out when you look into your wallet or card holder.

This is what you get (full details are on the Virgin Money website here)

  • No annual fee
  • 5,000 miles with your first purchase (within 90 days of card opening)
  • 0.75 Virgin Flying Club miles per £1 spent
  • Double miles on online or call centre bookings with Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays
  • Unlimited free access to Virgin Money lounges across the UK
  • 0% interest for six months on balance transfers (3% fee)
  • Spend £20,000 in a card year and select a 241 voucher, upgrade voucher or another reward – more on those below

You can add one supplementary card during the application and up to two more later on.

You can apply for the FREE Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card here.

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card

The fee card – Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card

This card has a representative APR of 63.9% based on a notional £1200 credit limit and the annual fee.  The representative APR on purchases is 22.9%.

This card is even cooler to look at, in my view, than the free card.  Again, your name and your card number are printed on the back, giving an impressive looking piece of plastic.  The card is also coloured red on the edges.

This is what you get (full details are on the Virgin Money website here):

  • £160 annual fee
  • 15,000 miles with your first purchase (within 90 days of card opening)
  • 1.5 Virgin Flying Club miles per £1 spent
  • Double miles on online or call centre bookings with Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays
  • Unlimited free access to Virgin Money lounges across the UK
  • Free global wi-fi access via Boingo
  • 0% interest for six months on balance transfers (3% fee)
  • Spend £10,000 in a card year and select a 241 voucher, upgrade voucher or another reward – more on those below

You can add one supplementary card during the application and up to two more later on.

You can apply for the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card here.

Virgin Atlantic credit card

These are your rewards for hitting the spending target each year:

Your reward is triggered IMMEDIATELY upon hitting the spending target.  The target is £20,000 in a card year for the free Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit card and £10,000 in a card year for the £160 Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card.  You do NOT need to wait until the end of your membership year before you receive your reward.

This is what you can pick from:

All Flying Club members:

A 2-4-1 voucher, valid for two years, for a Virgin Flying Club redemption in Economy, or

An upgrade to Premium when you book an Economy reward flight (requires reward availability in Premium)

Flying Club members with Silver status can choose from:

A 2-4-1 voucher, valid for two years, for a Virgin Flying Club redemption in Premium or Economy, or

A Virgin Clubhouse lounge pass for Heathrow or Gatwick (requires a same-day Virgin Atlantic flight), or

A return upgrade to Premium when you book an Economy reward flight (requires reward availability in Premium)

Flying Club members with Gold status can choose from:

A 2-4-1 voucher, valid for two years, for a Virgin Flying Club redemption in Upper Class, Premium or Economy

TWO Virgin Clubhouse lounge passes for Heathrow or Gatwick (require same-day Virgin Atlantic flights)

A return upgrade to Premium when you book an Economy reward flight (requires reward availability in Premium)

Taxes and charges are due on ‘free’ 241 seats in the same way as the British Airways American Express 241 vouchers.  Vouchers are valid for two years and you must fly the outbound leg of your trip before the expiry date.

Interestingly, the 241 voucher flight does NOT have to originate in the UK which will benefit some expat readers.

Last month I wrote a Q&A piece to answer some questions raised by readers about the cards, which may answer any questions you have.  You can find that here.

You can learn more about both cards, and apply, on the Virgin Money website here.

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 airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. Stephanie says:

    Hi I read this website all the time as a relative newbie regular business traveller (approx 3 days on the road in Europe per week/ approx 5 long haul (US/Asia) trips per year) since a new job in the last 18 months, thank you Rob for all these really useful articles.

    Anyway this might seem like a really stupid question, the new cards all look very fancy (I have had the white Virgin Atlantic Amex/Visa for personal use for years) but how does one make any online purchase with a credit card that has no number or any details….?

    Is the information stored somewhere else like a pin number one has to memorise? Not sure I really want to memorise that (although I do know my current Virgin Amex off by heart but only because I’ve had it so long).

    It is a shame they are closing the current cards. I liked having 2 cards for the same account because I could use the account almost globally (as Amex is not accepted everywhere) and now I am stuck with no options to dual cards, except the Lloyds Avios (I am a Lloyds customer). Avios seems a bit pointless though as I do not think any of the rewards would be particularly useful to me.

    Many thanks.
    Kind regards

    Stephanie.

  2. A great article, very informative, well written and very thorough.

  3. Becky Kelly says:

    Thanks for this- really helpful. I have now signed up to a new Virgin Reward card and look forward to getting my bonus miles on first purchase! Im in the process of closing the MBNA one down 🙂

  4. Could you ask MBNA for compensation due to them closing the card early?

    Did something simular with Barclays IHG card.

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