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Which Virgin Atlantic credit card is best for you?

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Back in April 2018, Virgin Atlantic launched its two new Virgin Flying Club credit cards, issued by Virgin Money.  They have proved hugely successful, with over 175,000 applications in the first 18 months.

Full details are on the airline website here.

This article runs through the key benefits of the two cards to help you decide which is best for you.

Here are the key features:

You can choose between a free Virgin Atlantic Mastercard and a paid Mastercard, with a 7,000 mile and 25,000 mile sign-up bonus respectively.

This is a special offer which runs until 31st October – the standard bonus is 5,000 miles and 15,000 miles respectively

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 cardholders 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 (these are on the back) although there is the usual chip.  The card is 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 as a sign-up bonus, triggered with your first purchase
  • ….. plus – for applications before 31st October – an additional 2,000 miles if you spend £1,000 within 90 days
  • 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 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 as a sign-up bonus, triggered with your first purchase
  • ….. plus – for applications before 31st October – an additional 10,000 miles if you spend £3,000 within 90 days
  • 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 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.

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.

Which Virgin Atlantic credit card is best for you?

As usual, there is no easy answer to this question.  Here are my thoughts.

The free Reward credit card is a very easy free 7,000 Virgin Atlantic miles.  Even if you are not a major Virgin Flying Club collector, 7,000 miles is worth having.

 The Reward+ credit card is definitely worth considering, especially for higher spenders.  Purely from a bonus point of view, you are spending £160 to get 25,000 Flying Club miles which is a decent deal.  If you spend on the cards at the generous 1.5 miles per £1 earning rate you will do very nicely.

I like the upgrade voucher for hitting your annual spend target.  If you usually travel on your own, you don’t need a BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher.  The upgrade voucher lets you book a return Premium Economy reward flight on Virgin Atlantic for the same miles as an Economy reward flight.  As vouchers are valid for two year, it works for couples if you are prepared to wait two years to earn two vouchers.

I do not like the 2-4-1 voucher for hitting your annual spend target. I am 99% sure that Virgin Atlantic has missed a trick.  There is no good reason, in my view, to restrict Upper Class redemptions using the 241 voucher to Virgin Flying Club Gold members.  As we all know, or should know, long-haul redemptions in Economy are usually a waste of miles because of the taxes and charges.  For non-status members of Flying Club, this is likely to be a perk with little value outside peak periods and you would be better off taking the upgrade voucher.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Reward credit card

The on-going earning rate is EXCELLENT

Let’s not beat around the bush.  Looking first at the free Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card, 0.75 Virgin Flying Club miles per £1 spent makes this the most generous free Visa or Mastercard currently available.

What are your alternatives, looking only at cards still open to new applicants?

I would value 0.75 Virgin Flying Club miles at 0.75p

The free IHG Rewards Club card gives 1 point per £1, which I value at 0.4p

The free Tesco Clubcard Mastercard gives 0.125 Clubcard points per £1 (0.3 Avios) which I value at 0.3p

The free Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card is twice as valuable as the next best free travel Mastercard or Visa card.

Similarly, on the fee-based Reward+ credit card:

I would value 1.5 Virgin Flying Club miles per £1 at 1.5p

The £99 IHG Rewards Club Premium card gives 2 IHG points per £1, which I value at 0.8p

The £150 Tesco Premium Mastercard gives 0.25 Clubcard points per £1 (0.6 Avios) which I value at 0.6p

Again, the fee Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card is twice as valuable as the next best fee-paying travel Mastercard or Visa card.

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card

But the snag …..

…. is using the miles.  Virgin Atlantic is a long-haul airline and so you don’t have any low value redemptions of note.

Virgin Flying Club will change massively in late 2019 when Air France and KLM flights become available for redemption.  This will add short haul options in Europe as well as the excellent Air France / KLM long-haul network.

You will need a decent stock of miles to take advantage of this.  The good news is that you can also earn Virgin Flying Club miles from other partners:

American Express Membership Rewards from Amex Gold or Platinum (1:1)

Tesco Clubcard (1 point is 2.5 miles)

Heathrow Rewards (1:1)

Transfers from hotel loyalty schemes

There are also lots of partner promotions which we write about on Head for Points.  You CAN build up a decent stock of miles relatively easily – the ‘free for a year’ American Express Preferred Rewards Gold has a 10,000 point sign-up bonus which will convert into 10,000 Virgin miles.

I wrote an article – click here – which looks at where Virgin Atlantic flies these days.

Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus credit card

Conclusion

From the perspective of day-to-day earning, the Virgin Atlantic credit cards are excellent.  They are the most valuable Visa or Mastercard travel cards on the market in terms of return.

If you have a pot of Virgin miles which you can add to via these cards, you should think seriously about applying

If you are Virgin Gold and can access the 2-4-1 voucher in Upper Class, you should think seriously about applying

If you are Virgin Silver and are happy redeeming your 2-4-1 voucher for Premium Economy, you should think seriously about applying

If you are a solo traveller and will benefit from the Premium Economy upgrade voucher when booking an Economy ticket on miles, you should think seriously about applying

If you are a casual Virgin Flying Club collector, 7000 miles and 0.75 miles per £1 spent will see your balance move along, albeit slowly.  You would also get good value from paying £160 for one year for the Reward+ card to get the 25000 mile bonus.

Access to seven Virgin Money lounges around the UK (I reviewed the Piccadilly one here although it has just relocated to Haymarket) is a decent extra perk for everyone.  The full list of lounges is here.

You can apply for the FREE Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card (7,000 miles bonus) here and the paid-for Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card (25,000 miles bonus) 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.

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Comments

  1. Just received the rewards+ card, with the targeted offer of 60k points. How do I work out when the deadlines are for spending the 3 x £1500? Thanks.

    • barnaby100 says:

      This is very hard. 1st month was only 2 weeks it seems andI so missed out on bonus. 2nd month the payments made 2 days before the statement date didnt count although showing- miss out on the bonus. The customer service is slow- days to reply- and then unhelfpul- they didnt know about the offer. They won’t/cant tell me if I cancel will I get a pro-rata fees back as I have had enough. The pre-score checker said not likely to be accepted and I got a £25,000 limit.

      • Sorry about your issues, hope you sort it. So if I find out when the statement is and aim for 3 days before I should be ok?

      • Might be worth complaining. My first period ended up being eight weeks after I complained. Before that I’d been told by CS I didn’t qualify on spend, because like you the first period had been two weeks. Though I’ve not yet received the bonuses.

        • The Card Ts&Cs on the website say that the first period is from when you receive the card to the end of “your first FULL statement month”

          They give an example where you receive your card in the middle of the month and the first period is the end of the following month (i.e. 6 weeks).

          The first qualifying period is NOT from when you receive your card to when you get your first statement

        • To add….
          “There are three qualifying periods. The first qualifying period starts from the date of your account opening and continues until the end of your first full statement period after that date. The second and third qualifying periods last for your next two full statement periods respectively. For example, if your account opens on 18 June and your credit card statement date is the seventh of the month your qualifying periods would be

          First qualifying period 18 June 2018 to 6 August 2018

          Second qualifying period 7 August 2018 to 6 September 2018

          Third qualifying period 7 September 2018 to 6 October 2018”

        • Thank you Alan.

      • Complain!
        My husband had less than a fortnight from receiving the (free) card to first statement to make the spend & was unaware he’d missed out. I told him who to contact & how, he complied & he was given the points.

  2. Anyone successfully receive the monthly bonus points for spend target as yet?

    • my wife has received the bonus points for the first month, on the second statement.

    • No, grrrrrr!

    • Yes got your first month on the last statement.

    • I’m on the 60,000 point scheme…

      I spent £2,400 in my first statement period meaning I should have received 30,000 bonus points but only received 15,000 point.

      This month, my second month, I spent £2,200 but only received another 15,000 bonus … so either the £1,500 bonus’ apoears to be paid in the following month or I’m missing 15,000 …anyone else experience this???

  3. Phil Gollings says:

    Does a balance transfer count towards spending targets?

  4. Whether Virgin starts charging for Curve use is going to seriously affect whether or not I can hit the spending targets…

    • I made a small credit card repayment yesterday on Virgin and, while still pending, shows as Business Services.

    • No charge.

    • Made my HMRC payments on Curve in July and August. Both went through fine, no charge and plenty of points, so they must count toward the spend target. While pending, payment information is a bit sketchy, but it gets clearer once confirmed. I’ve already panicked a couple of times seeing strange charges pending, that turned out to be innocent once the detail appeared.

    • the_real_a says:

      Everyone should be very cautious right now until the Curve changes over the weekend are explained. People could be in for very, very nasty cash advances. The changes according to their blog only happened on Saturday gone.

      • I spoke with the CEO and it is as I said it would be.

        Card companies can now see where a Curve has been used for cash. They MAY decide to change their T&C’s to add a fee to these transactions. If they do it will require them to give you notice as it is a change to their T&C’s (since technically you haven’t use their card for the cash withdrawal).

        At the moment, no-one is charging. In time, this may change – in the same way that some card companies now charge for Revolut top-ups and others don’t (which means an easy £250-of-purchases worth of miles per day for free).

  5. Earnings rates are decent but I don’t rate the E to PE upgrade vouchers. Still have 4 of them from my previous MBNA card. When you look at prices and take into account taxes/fees and miles earned it has always worked out a better deal just paying cash whenever I’ve looked at it.

    • i had a voucher from my previous MBNA card but can’t find it anywhere. Agree with you that practically worthless, but I am thinking it could be ok for an upgrade to PE on a daytime flight.
      Can you still see your voucher online and if so, is it via the MBNA or Virgin Money website?

      Thanks

      • It’s on your Virgin Atlantic Flying Club statement page. If it’s awardees over 12 months ago you won’t be able to look that far back, so you’ll have to call.
        Not an ideal process. Wish it was detailed separately like on the BA account page.

  6. Worth pointing out (for those who this might be a showstopper for) that Virgin Money still don’t support ApplePay (assume the Android equivalent too).

    • And no app to track spending easily. MBNA were slicker at the add-ons, as are Amex.
      And don’t get me started on that convoluted login process on Virgin Money. And I’ve got three separate logins, one for each product. The Virgin Money website is decent though.

  7. Does anyone have any examples of good routes?/redemptions?

    • Their grouping can be quite wide (Dubai and Delhi in the same bracket IIRC) so you can spot some longer flights that cost the same as other destinations in the same group.

      TBh there aren’t that many so easy to see which ones give more miles for your FC miles.

      What I couldn’t comment on is how good the redemptions are compared with other airlines.

  8. Bob this article is for you…. 🙂

    “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”

  9. I got the extra bonus miles despite never having received an invite letter or email, but I had to ring up. Details at
    [DELETED: this is strictly for ex-MBNA cardholders and I am not allowed to share it]
    Not sure how you ‘earn’ an invite but it’s def worth enquiring, especially if you’re thinking of the rewards+ card and will be spending >£1k a month for 3 months. I’ll be copping 33,000 miles, plus the miles for my spending.
    It’s a great offer but v complicated, and Virgin have implemented it so poorly I can’t help feeling it’ll backfire on them. Having to formally complain within two months of getting a new card to get something that has been offered is never a good start.

  10. What's the Point says:

    https://www.headforpoints.com/2018/05/06/triple-etihad-miles-accor/

    Got my VA bonus miles today from an Avis rental I took 2 weeks ago.

    Thanks to HfP for posting the original article.

  11. dean stannard says:

    I have the Reward + card and have had it since April. Yes the accrual rate is excellent and as a fairly high spender on the card I hit the 10K spend in the first two months, You also get an additional bonus of 6K on top of the 15K signup once you spend 1K each month on retail for the first 3 months. As a FC Gold member the ability to get 2 for 1 in Upper is great and very flexible. My only criticism is that the admin is poor the phone lines are always busy and you do not get told by either Virgin Money or Virgin Atlantic when your reward voucher gets posted – you cant see it on your online account either. I was booking a flight and the agent on the phone told me that they could see said voucher – so rather than buying a revenue set of tickets did I want to use the voucher. Also VS are not completely clear on what the voucher entitles you to and have to look it up and book flights for 2 on different PNRs. its just a but clunky.

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