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No more Virgin Flying Club miles from rail travel as West Coast franchise lost

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Virgin Trains will be losing the contract to operate West Coast trains as early as November.  

Stagecoach, which partners with Virgin Group to run the West Coast contract, was disqualified from all UK rail franchise bids yesterday.  This means that it is now out of the running to win a further extension to the West Coast deal.  Abellio will take over East Midlands Trains, which Stagecoach currently runs on a stand-alone basis.

The fall-out is over the £6bn funding gap in the Railways Pension Scheme.  In theory, the train operating companies are liable for much of this even though most of the deficit was incurred before privatisation.

Virgin Trains loses West Coast franchise

The pensions regulator can, at any point, demand that the funding gap be reduced.  Stagecoach was not willing to bid for rail contracts if it felt that it could be asked – on any random day – to hand over hundreds of millions pounds towards the deficit.  This led to the Government disqualifying all of the current Stagecoach bids yesterday.

You can currently earn Virgin Flying Club miles, or Nectar points, when you book West Coast train tickets and book directly with Virgin Trains.  There is little chance of Flying Club miles being offered by whoever takes over the contract – which could be as soon as November – although there is a chance that Nectar remains given that it partners with numerous rail operators.

You can find out more about earning miles with West Coast here.

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (September 2022)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

You can choose from two official Virgin Atlantic credit cards (apply here, the Reward+ card has a bonus of 15,000 Virgin Points):

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

A generous earning rate for a free card at 0.75 points per £1 Read our full review

You can also earn Virgin Points from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for a year and comes with 20,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 20,000 Virgin Points.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Small business owners should consider the two American Express Business cards. Points convert at 1:1 into Virgin Points.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Points

(Want to earn more Virgin Points?  Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

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