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

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

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.)

How to get a one-way Hertz UK car rental for just £1!
You can now use Avios to pay for BA seat reservations - but is it a good deal?
Click here to join our email list and receive all of the latest Avios, miles and points news by 6am.

Amazon ad
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.

Comments

  1. Jimmy says:

    I currently have the MBNA white card and would like to get the Virgin Money black card. However it is funny that using the eligibility calculator, I got reject right away and the result from MSE calculator is the same.

    I suspect if this is a bug on Virgin Money side as I got a good credit score and history and cannot really see any reason I would be rejected. (Got other Master and AE cards and they are always paid in full) But upon reading the comments on this page, it seems that there are others in the same shoes as well and I do not want to ruin my credit score because of a failed application.

    Is it worth applying anyway and appeal their rejection? Or will Virgin reach out before MBNA die out on the 30th June?

    • Apply anyway. If rejected write in and say you were an MBNA cardholder. This normally gets them to change their mind.

      • Jimmy says:

        Thanks Rob, applied and as expected, rejection right away, sent them an email and letter now and will report back with result 🙂

        • Glad you heard back from them and got accepted. I’m in the same situation you were in. I’m hoping to get the new one before the MBNA ones are cancelled. Could I have the email address you sent your email to please?

      • Appealed 2 wks ago, so far nothing. Great to be stuck in limbo

        • Jimmy says:

          Haha, guess there will be many more who are in the same shoes, keep me posted if you hear anything back from them 🙂

        • Jimmy, dont hold your breath, just got a whopping £1k limit. Not worth my time at that level. This new Virgin Money arrangement is a joke

        • Jimmy says:

          I think there is something wrong on their end which they simply reject everyone. Need to fine tune it I guess. But I just got an email from them saying they are happy to give me the same credit amount as per my MBNA card, guess I cannot complain much given I needed something to earn mileage with Virgin.

        • Jimmy, totally agree that there must be a problem on their end. My credit is excellent and no reason I should be denied. I did a soft check search and was told I have a 90-95% probability of acceptance on all cards except Virgin, which I’m told I’m not eligible for. It’s literally the only company that says that.

          Anyways, I applied and was rejected. Sent the letter of reconsideration in and was given a messily £1k credit limit, which I can’t even book an upper class virgin flight on.

          When I found out I called them up and told them that the limit was unusable for my purposes. I filed a complaint and told the, that if I got any less than a £5k limit then I wanted my application cancelled. Heard back a week later that my limit is now £5k.

          A horrible experience but with a little persistence got it to an ok place

  2. Carcuscrae says:

    I already have a card with Virgin Money. Do you know if it’s possible to switch my existing card to the VA one without having to do a new application?

    Thanks

    • Jimmy says:

      I was wondering the same, like shouldn’t Virgin send us a letter saying if we want to switch?

      But I guess if “switching” you will not be eligible for the new customer bonus mileage and that is the only reason I applied. But guess I am stuck again as they turned me down despite my near perfect credit score.

      • If you write in they are very likely to accept you esp if you say you had the MBNA card.

  3. Add me to the list of existing Virgin MBNA card-holders who have been rejected by Virgin Money. Currently waiting for the email so that I can appeal.

    They are using Experian for their credit scoring, and my Experian rating is 999, the highest possible. Yet, even the link on the Experian website to show the chances of acceptance with various credit cards states that I have 0% chance of being accepted by Virgin with this text “Not eligible – 0% of people with a similar credit profile to you were accepted for this product.”

    I suspect this is a programming error by Virgin Money and everyone with exactly a 999 top rating is wrongly being rejected.

    • They instructed me to write a letter in, not an email. Dont think you need to wait for the email:

      Virgin Atlantic Credit Cards
      PO Box 10609
      Wigston, LE18 9HA

      I wrote in weeks ago, and Virgin Money says that they received it on 3 May. Still no response. They said that they try to get back within 10 working days, but could take a month. So get ready to test your patience

      • Jimmy says:

        I sent an email to their complaint team and the rep helped me to file the appeal so no need for the letter and faster response as well.

        Email is:
        [email protected]

        • Did you already get a reply?

        • Jimmy says:

          Yup, got a line of credit that matches my MBNA Virgin card, now just need to wait for the card to arrive 🙂

      • Having been told that I was rejected because of my credit history, the rejection email finally arrived and now stated it was because I already had a Virgin Atlantic credit card with Virgin Money, which is not the case.

        It then transpires that it is due to having a Virgin Trains credit card with Virgin Money. This is a credit card they told me over a year ago they were cancelling through lack of use, but it seems they forgot to actually do it. It has now been cancelled.

        They refuse to let me re-apply for a Virgin Atlantic card. I have to appeal the previous application and they insist it must be done by snail mail. I was perfectly happy with my MBNA Virgin cards. I could do without all this hassle. I suspect I am then going to have another battle to get the 5000 points on first spend, because of the Virgin Trains card.

        • Genghis says:

          Doesn’t sound equitable at all. It shows though that regular review of credit reports is required

  4. Also rejected from the indicative prescreening, despite strong score. Wonder if it is because Clydesdale are taking Virgin over they are scaling back from new accounts?

    • The prescreen is pointless. Lots of readers passed it but were rejected, lots were rejected, applied anyway and got accepted. The only fairly certain way to be accepted is to apply direct and, if rejected, write to Virgin Money to appeal. Most people find it is overturned at that point especially if they mention that they have the MBNA cards.

      • Jimmy says:

        Can confirm Rob statement, I appealed and got accepted… a week later. Worth trying I guess 🙂

  5. 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.

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

  7. 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 🙂

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

    Did something simular with Barclays IHG card.

Please click here to read our data protection policy before submitting your comment.