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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. 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…

  2. Fenny says:

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

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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)

  6. 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.

  7. 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…

  8. 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

  9. 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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