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Credit & Charge Card Reviews (15): Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus Mastercard

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This is my review of the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard credit card.

It is the final part of my series of articles looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether or not they are worth applying for. These articles will be linked to the relevant sections of the ‘Credit Cards Update‘ page. My other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.

If you want to check your credit record before applying for a new card, click here to get your free Experian Credit Score.

Key link: Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus Mastercard application form

Key facts: £160 annual fee

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%.

About the card

The Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card – issued by Virgin Money – is issued as a Mastercard.

Virgin Money does not have any other travel reward cards apart from Virgin Atlantic so it should not conflict with any other credit cards you hold.

You can find our review of the free Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card here. Whilst that version has no fee, it has a lower sign-up bonus of just 10,000 miles.  This is a special offer until 14th December, at which point it will drop back to 5,000 miles.

What is the sign-up bonus?

The current sign-up bonus on the Reward Plus Mastercard is 25,000 Virgin Flying Club miles.

You will receive 15,000 miles with your first purchase and a further 10,000 miles after spending £1,500 on the card.

It is important to note that Virgin Money treats the free Reward and the paid Reward+ credit cards as separate products. You can apply for both and receive a sign-up bonus on both, although Virgin Money appears to want a six-month gap between applications. You can even hold both at the same time, which is not the case with the British Airways American Express cards.

Any other benefits?

Yes. The Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus credit card comes with a good spend bonus. After spending £10,000 in a card membership year, 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

A return 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)

If you usually travel on your own, the upgrade voucher to Premium on a reward flight is likely to suit you best. This can also be used by a couple to upgrade one leg per person on a return Economy reward flight.

It is a shame that Virgin Atlantic has restricted Premium 2-4-1 tickets to Silver members and Upper Class 2-4-1 tickets to Gold members. I believe that this will restrict the market for the card.

If you don’t want to pay the annual fee for the Reward+ card, you should look at the free Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard instead. The same benefits are available but you need to spend £20,000 per year to unlock them.

Additional card benefits include:

  • 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)

Is there an annual fee?

Yes, there is an annual fee of £160 per year. This is not refundable pro-rata if you choose to cancel

What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?

You earn 1.5 Flying Club miles per £1 spent.

This is an exceptionally good return for a Visa or Mastercard.  No other reward credit card can beat this.  The nearest contender is the Lufthansa Miles & More Mastercard which earns 1.25 Miles & More miles per £1 with a £79 fee.

Bookings with Virgin Atlantic or Virgin Holidays earn double miles.

Is this a good card to use when travelling?

Not really.

As Virgin Money adds a 3% foreign exchange fee to all overseas transaction, you might want to get a separate free credit card to use abroad. Unfortunately there are no travel rewards card without a foreign exchange fee. One option is to get a free Curve Card – see this HFP article – and link it to a miles-earning Visa or Mastercard.

What is a Virgin Flying Club mile worth?

This is clearly a ‘finger in the air’ exercise. I would, however, flag some key pointers.

Virgin has a lot of partners which allows you top up your balance to the level needed for a good redemption:

You can earn miles by converting Tesco Clubcard points as well as Heathrow Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards points. Even if you never fly with Virgin, you could top up your credit card miles with Tesco points.

They have particularly good earning rates with Hertz

There is an on-going deal for 6,000 or more free Virgin Flying Club miles for opening a Virgin Money ISA.

You can earn 3,000 miles for your first purchase from Virgin Wines

You can transfer Virgin miles to Hilton Honors at a 1 : 1.5 ratio which puts a floor under their value. You can also transfer to IHG Rewards Club at 1 : 1.

I am happy to value Virgin Flying Club miles at 0.75p – 1p each, in line with Avios.

How does the Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus Mastercard compare to a cashback credit card?

My default comparison card is the Amazon Platinum Mastercard which is free for life and offers 0.5% cashback. The representative APR is 21.9% variable.

Offering 1.5 Virgin Flying Club miles, plus an added bonus for spending £10,000 per year, the Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus credit card is substantially more attractive.

Anything else I need to know?

Air France KLM is in the process of buying a 31% shareholding in Virgin Atlantic.  Once this completes, you will be able to redeem your Virgin Flying Club miles for Air France and KLM flights.  This will add substantial value to the programme as it will add a lot of options in Asia and the Middle East to complement Virgin’s strong position in the USA and Caribbean.

Conclusion

The Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card is easily the best airline or hotel Visa or Mastercard on the market.

The sign-up bonus of 25,000 miles is very and justifies getting the card for at least the first year.  You may want to consider downgrading to the free card after that if you are not triggering or do not value the long-term spending bonus.

The real strength is the on-going earning rate. 1.5 Virgin Flying Club miles for every £1 you spend is an excellent return.

And depending on where you live, you’ll be able to pop into a Virgin Money lounge every time you go shopping to get a free cup of tea or coffee and a biscuit!

The application form for the Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus Mastercard credit card can be found 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. I know you need to make money Rob, but I have noticed you’ve mentioned a lot about Virgin Airmiles recently.
    Also Avios. The site content goes on about ways to earn these all…the…time.
    I’d like to stop there but I have to say I’ve noticed a bias towards mentioning other airlines as well like Emirates, Etihad, American, Iberia, Qatar and so on. So many airlines you have a bias towards mentioning.

    It doesn’t end with airlines. Hotels as well. You constantly talk about Hilton. Nothing but Hilton. And IHG. It’s unfair that apart from the two of those no others get a look in. Except Accor of course and Hyatt. Marriott also does very well here and FHR and when other chains have a good deal worth mentioning you also tell us.

    So as I was saying, your awful bias has to stop about telling us about all these companies to the exclusion of, um, well, to the exclusion of The Indian Hotels Company Limited for example. Biggest hotel group in India and your British focused blog has never mentioned them once as far as I know.

    If you don’t stop this bias towards helping your readership in their travels then I’m going to have to stop reading your blog and start reading something more appropriate, like The National Beef Association Magazine. While I travel in cattle class that is….

  2. Sorry OT – with the Hilton Barclaycard you get Gold status for spending £10k… am I right in thinking this is per calendar year? – ie spend Jan-Dec 2018 for Gold until end of March 2020?

  3. Re: other ways to earn points. Did you notice that Virgin has some double points offers for shopping partners on at the moment. As well as the normal weird selection of the desparate, there are actually some things that people are likely to use: Apple, Waitrose, Ebay.

    • Waitrose: 3x points on WR instore shopping. Nice.

      But wait. One page says only 1 point per £ if below £20. Another says only 1 point below £75 spend. I’m sure one of these may be correct.

      And then there’s the difficulty of ensuring WR credits are actually applied …. Hardly seemsworth bothering about. 😀

      • It’s never going to make you miles rich but getting some additional benefit on supermarket spend, for no additional effort or complication (aside from making sure your card is registered and you pay with a registered card) is good with me.

        Works well for my wife – I don’t have to remind her to do anything different, and the points track successfully in my experience.

  4. o/t I have purchased a BA premium economy T class return flight and tried to then upgrade it using Avios.
    I get the error message telling me that changes can’t be made, please call customer services.

    I’m in Egypt at the moment so this is tricky.
    I managed to figiure out how to do it using Skype but the line is a bit fuzzy and I did get cut off on my first attempt.
    Anyhow, managed to sustain a conversation and the chap looked up my booking, found there was availability in CW (which I already knew as am monitoring it). Good so far.
    He then tries to process the upgrade.
    Fails.
    Asks me to hold while he checks with supervisor.
    After few minutes reports back that the fare class means it can’t be upgraded.

    Surely this is incorrect ?
    This is a PE flight booked in T class via American Express Travel.

    Is there something I am missing ?

    Should I HUCA (a laborious task from here !!) or does anyone know why this might be happening and is legit ?
    Obviously the availability in CW could go at any minute 🙁

  5. Well done on getting it sorted!

  6. Anyone know if Virgin charge a fee for a cash withdrawal via curve?

  7. Neil Jones says:

    Does anyone know if you can get the sign up bonuses again by closing a card and then reapplying later? Like the six month wait with Amex.

  8. In case anybody cares, I applied for this last Sunday and got referred. I got an approval email through this afternoon (six days later) with the largest credit limit I’ve ever been given. I pay off in full every month so unlikely to be utilised but it seems Virgin are going large on this.

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