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Final closing date for MBNA’s Virgin Atlantic cards announced – what should you switch to?

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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 about the closure procedure for these products.

Note:  Some of this article is reproduced from my last piece on the closure of the Virgin Atlantic MBNA credit cards, so regular readers should feel free to skip this one once you get past the first few paragraphs!

When are the MBNA credit cards closing?

To earn Virgin Flying Club miles, charges must post to your MBNA card account by 6th July.

This is NOT the last date to spend on the card.  It is the last day for charges to hit your statement.  I would be wary of any spending after 1st-2nd July making it in time.

What will happen to my cards afterwards?

You card will become an MBNA Horizon Visa card.

MBNA Horizon is, to be fair, a very attractive card to take with you when travellingI wrote a full review of the MBNA Horizon Visa here which was published yesterday.

In summary, you get:

No annual fee

0.5% cashback on all your spending

No foreign exchange fees

Free cash withdrawals, both in the UK and overseas

Some people with the White card are being offered a cash bonus to keep their card open until the end of July

You can’t argue with that.  Even if you already have a credit card with 0% FX fees, it is very unlikely to give you 0.5% cashback on top!

Most people will find that it makes sense to keep the Horizon card tucked away in their passport for use when travelling.  If your credit limit is very high and your holiday spending modest, you may want to have it reduced in order to make it easier to get other credit cards.

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

Yes.  A pro-rata fee refund will be paid at the end of July as long as your Horizon card is still open.  This is another reason not to cancel it immediately on 7th July.

What happens to my earned or part-earned upgrade vouchers?

That is not clear, unfortunately.  Hopefully we can get some clarification.  It is very poor of MBNA not to address this in the letter.

If you still want to continue earning Virgin Flying Club miles after 7th July, you need to apply for one of the two new Virgin Atlantic Mastercard credit cards, issued by Virgin Money.

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.

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.

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 annual 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 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

How do the annual bonus rewards work?

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.

In April 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.

(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.)

(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.)

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.

Bits: Etihad Guest moving to variable reward pricing, Amex Esso cashback deal, Cathay Pacific sale
My review of MBNA's Horizon Visa credit card - possibly the UK's best credit card to use when travelling
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Comments

  1. Duke of Cummington says:

    Cash is king.No need for credit cards it allows the inferior a place in society that does not become them.

    • DoC – Surely someone as important as you doesn’t carry cash? That’s what bodyguards are for? Ahh sorry just realized you’ll of got your assistant to type that comment, we are too far down the social class structure to engage with directly. 😛

      • I don’t carry coins any longer and to be honest only the cleaner sees any cash. London is slowly starting to see the emergence of ‘card only’ shops and restaurants. Sweden is down to just 2% of retail transactions using cash now IIRC.

    • Tony G says:

      Hi Duke

      Does your mummy know you are up so late and playing with her computer? It could be past your bed-time and you do not want be late for school.

  2. Can a family pool virgin air miles together?

    • Nick M says:

      Not really…. however you can combine miles to the extent that each person has sufficient for a whole segment – ie a couple can get 2 returns if one of them pays for 3 flights and the other pays for 1

    • To add to Nick’s good example, you also usually need authority on your partner/family members account to do this.

    • No. However the call centre is willing to take miles from multiple accounts as long as everyone is travelling. This is an unadvertised feature and therefore not guaranteed but they do do it.

      • barnaby100 says:

        Only in whole chunks though- so you must have enough for at least 1 way in each account. not say 999 from 1 and 39001 from another- unless this has changed?

    • MattyS says:

      Following on from this, can I use my Virgin miles for my school age kids, provided I am travelling as well ?

      • barnaby100 says:

        You can us them for anyone- a stranger off the street if you want. I regularly book for my daughters friends.

  3. James says:

    Anyone have an idea where we stand with cancelling these cards now and getting a pro rata refund on the annual fee?

    The awards ends on the 7th July but the letter states that we have to wait until the end of July to get the refund.

    However, I now have no need for the Virgin card as it’s going into an Horizon account which I will also have from my AAdvantage card.

    The Virgin card is the easiest to close as I’ve just paid the month off and not spent anything on it.

    Why should I have to wait 2 months when a) they’re changing the terms for what I paid for, b) I can remove a card 2 months sooner from my credit file and c) I should get 2 months fees pro-rata.

    • Mr Dee says:

      If you haven’t used the card since the fee has been charged they will refund the card fee as I got it done recently as wasn’t expecting this Horizon card to show up but you can always try.

      Wonder what my chances of receiving the Horizon card are anyway

  4. Mikeact says:

    How does a credit card company know that you may have £20k credit limit on one card £5k on another when applying for a further card? I don’t see any reference on my credit file.

    • Genghis says:

      Limits are on there

    • Andrew says:

      Which one are you looking at? Generally speaking if it isn’t Equifax or Experian, it’s not worth bothering with.

      A quick look at Clearscore (which is sourced from Equifax) details the limit, monthly spend, monthly repayment for me.

  5. I thought they has to give 2 months notice to make changes. Is it only 1 month required?

    I hold the Emirates and Miles and More cards. Hoping to earn lots more before they close them 🙁

    • Yes, I was thinking 60 day notice period too. What gives?

      • EwanG says:

        Changes under Payments Services Regulation require 60 days notice – but in some circumstances can be done with less. From what I can see credit cards are not covered with this regulation and in any case T&Cs on my white Virgin card say 30 days notice so they are doing this properly!

        It was rather pointless MBNA writing to cardholders previously to say changes were coming because the letter was very uninformative.

        • I spoke to MBNA on the phone recently about upcoming changes and they told me I would be given at least 60 days notice…

  6. Why is the guy in the picture taking his Credit Cards into the Shower? Surely it isn’t Money Laundering! – Sorry, I will get my coat.

  7. Why do that? It is effectively ‘clogging’ your credit file and will make it harder to get other cards, as there is generally an unwritten limit of what % of your income a card company will be happy for you to have as credit across all your cards.

  8. Steve says:

    For me the MC/Visa cap has taken the stage that only the cash back cards make sense anymore. 0.5% in John Lewis / Waitrose vouchers is my current choice for no annual fee on the JL card.

    Whilst you could argue 0.75 Virgin miles are better than 0.5p the cash back vouchers offer far more flexibility than the Virgin miles IMHO.

    • Roger1* says:

      And 1% back at John Lewis and Waitrose? Better than a slap in the face with a wet fish.

      If I weren’t already well armed with cards, this is one I would try.

  9. KeithS says:

    I am somewhat bemused by Virgin Money.

    Having had the Virgin card for many years (and very lucrative it was too, both of us had the cards and maximized the upgrade vouchers and free companion tickets when travelling to the US multiple times per year when the kids were younger) I have now got the new Virgin Money card.

    This is my confusion – I previously had both my adult kids as supplementary card holders – the old ‘bank of mum and dad’ !

    When applying for the new card Virgin Money would only allow one supplementary card – that being my wife – at sign up. Fair enough.

    I contacted them yesterday and they would allow more – good.

    1) They were going to do credit checks on the supplementary card holders. Why? I am the one the bill goes to and I am the person responsible for paying it off.
    2) They would not allow a supplementary card to be issued to my son as he does not live at the same address as me.

    This seems bizarre.

  10. fivebobbill says:

    Off topic slightly but on the cards theme, looking some advice please.
    I have a Curve debit card, linked to my Lloyds Avios, and Hilton Mastercards. I also have a couple of Amex cards, BAPP for one. When I go to the payment page in my BA Amex account I can use a debit card to pay all or some of my bill, so an obvious question, can i use my Curve card to pay the bill, collect award points at Lloyds/Hilton etc without incurring any charges? I can’t seem to find any clarity on the Curve website, I know there’s a 2% fee for exceeding your cash withdrawal at AGM’s, but does this count as a cash transaction as well?
    Many thanks in advance

    • fivebobbill says:

      Sorry *ATM’s*, been a busy week lol

      • Jimmy says:

        Yes as long as they accept debit card and your other credit card doesnt decline that transaction. From time to time I use Curve, the transaction get declined by the credit card for no reason so I have to either try to use another card inside the Curve app or pull out my other debit card.

        There are no charges unless you are taking out cash all the time from an ATM so you are all good with that. (Still other financial services that count as a cash withdraw will not work, eg: Casino / FX etc)

        • fivebobbill says:

          Thanks Jimmy. Just made a part payment there of £600 to try it out, and yes, it went through ok. Got a confirmation ‘thank you’ immediately on BAPP Amex online, and it’s already showing off my balance. The transaction is showing as “Business Services” in my Curve app (whatever that means).
          If I have no issues in the next couple of days I’ll log back on and pay the full balance!
          Thanks again for the feedback

    • I think it would work but there’s a catch all clause about ‘cash recycling’ which they’re alert to. I wouldn’t suggest doing it for too much or too often.

  11. just spoke to MBNA as my anniversary is October (when upgrade vouchers are posted to flying club) and they confirmed that if i have spent enough before the account closes, the upgrades will still be posted to my account.

    • Simon says:

      Did you ask whether or not you had to keep the new credit card until then, or could you close the MBNA account and they still get posted?

      • Just said they will review my spend once the account is closed and award the upgrades if I had hit the spend threshold

  12. Nigel Williams says:

    OT – has anyone asked if Virgin will do the same “upgrade after youve spent 10K” trick from Rewards > Rewards+ to trigger the 241 voucher?

    • lev441 says:

      Surely you may as well start off with the rewards + card as it’s a sunk cost. You’ll also benefit from the higher bonus and general spend rate…

      • Peter K says:

        +1
        The advantage of upgrading the BA amex to the premium version is that once you get the voucher you can cancel it and get a partial refund of the yearly card fee. With Virgin you don’t get this.

        • Peter K says:

          PS in earlier comments days/weeks ago someone did apparently ask Virgin Money who said you could upgrade in this way.

        • Genghis says:

          In fact, IIRC it was @Nigel Williams…

  13. Fenny says:

    No £55 on offer here for my Virgin black card.

  14. Nope, see comments on yesterday’s post – I’ve had zero, £15 and £55 in different cards. Interestingly my VS Black was the one with zero!

  15. Has anyone else had issues applying for a Virgin Money VA card? I got rejected despite me having a 999 Experian credit rating and a six figure salary. The only thing I can think is that I’ve already got a Virgin Money credit card however it just gives me a straight rejection. I was going to give them a call but they’re only open 9-5 Monday to Friday…

    • They don’t accept telephone appeals now. You need to write in (Jubilee House, Newcastle). If you say you had the MBNA card you should be accepted and most others who write are also getting through. VM seems to be under pressure from VA on this front.

  16. Got my letter the other day. Letter Ref code is AIRVA01. As my year was up 26/5 I manned to spend £10k on it in the last 3 months to maximise the awards. Letter says I won’t be charged the annual fee. Can’t see any mention of cash offers to keep the card. Wonder what others had in terms of letter ref code that got cash incentives (Virgin Black)

  17. Alex Fraser says:

    Does anyone know how long the 241 voucher takes to arrive, and how I can use it? My Flying Club statements shows “Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit Card – Reward Qualification” but I can’t see the voucher anywhere in my account nor do I get an option to use it when running a dummy booking.

    • Not sure many / any readers have hit £10k yet.

      • Alex Fraser says:

        Rang the Flying Club and the lady was able to use it for me. It’s a bit different to the BA voucher in that the first ticket must be bought for cash (not points) and the companion then just pays taxes.

  18. Nick Burch says:

    As a holder of the old MBNA Virgin Card, I’d applied for the new Virgin Money Virgin Atlantic card when I got the letter. Despite having good credit scores with Experian (seen via Barclaycard) and Call Credit (seen via Noddle), they rejected me! On Rob’s advice, I wrote in (yup, letter not email) to ask them to reconsider, pointing out I had the old MBNA card. Finally today, after a fortnight, they’ve emailed to say they’ll be giving me the card

    So, if you get turned down for the new one, there’s hope! But you’ll have to get out a pen and find a stamp…

  19. Correct.

    I think Clarity doesn’t charge interest on cash withdrawals until the statement date? Other cards with free cash withdrawals charge interest immediately, although we are only talking about a few pence per day.

    • I didn’t even realise Clarity doesn’t charge interest and had always assumed they did. As you say, its only pence a day, besides which, I now have a Revolut card should I wish to do cash withdrawals (also a back up to my main credit card when overseas).

      So, I guess, I would be better off ditching the Halifax and taking the Horizon.

      Thanks Rob

  20. It’s a bit unfair that different tier levels get different benefits, we are all spending on the card after all. I won’t be getting one.

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