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Virgin Atlantic offering 0% FX fees to new credit card applicants – is it better than bonus miles?

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Virgin Atlantic has launched a new promotion if you take out one of its Reward credit cards.

This time, it is NOT offering additional bonus miles.  Instead, you will pay no FX fees on all foreign currency transactions you make before the end of November.

You will continue to earn miles on your foreign currency transactions.

You can find more information online here.

This offer is IN ADDITION TO the standard bonus of 5,000 miles on the free card and 15,000 miles on the paid card.

Virgin Atlantic credit cards no FX fees

Is this deal worth it?

On the face of it, this may seem less interesting than an enhanced miles sign-up offer.  In reality, for some people who spend heavily outside the UK it could be more lucrative.

There is no ‘right answer’ here:

If you have a ‘no FX fees, no rewards’ credit card already, you will gain via this offer because you will now be earning miles on foreign currency transactions.  This is 0.75 miles per £1 on the free Reward card and 1.5 miles per £1 on the £160 Reward+ card.

If you do not have a ‘no FX fees, no rewards’ credit card, and are currently paying 3% FX fees on your overseas purchases, you will be substantially better off during this offer, because you will save 3% on all your FX spending.

Of course, whether this is better value than applying for the Virgin Atlantic cards during an ‘enhanced bonus miles’ promotion is a different question.  If you are only planning to spend £500 abroad between now and 30th November, this offer isn’t worth much.  If you were planning to spend £10,000 abroad, there is real value here.

(You also need to bear in mind that, as this offer runs to 30th August, there is no chance of seeing a ‘bonus miles’ promotion coming back before September at the earliest.)

Here is the small print for the offer, which is worth noting as you could easily come a cropper:

You only get 0% FX fees on purchases made in person, outside the UK.   If you buy an airline ticket in foreign currency, or pre-pay a hotel booking, you will not get it.  Any transaction flagged as ‘cardholder not present’ (meaning you do not use a PIN or physically make a contactless transaction) is excluded.

Whilst there is no FX loading on cash withdrawals from foreign ATMs, you will still pay the standard 5% cash advance fee

You will continue to earn miles on card purchases made abroad, but not on cash advances

You still receive the standard sign-up bonus of 5,000 miles on the free card and 15,000 miles on the paid card

You must apply for the cards by 30th August

The last day that your overseas transactions will have 0% FX fees is 30th November

The bottom line is, I think:

If you were planning to apply for the Virgin Atlantic credit cards anyway, this offer is better than nothing if you’re travelling soon

For anyone who spends heavily outside the UK, it could work out very nicely and possibly even better than a bonus miles offer

If you hold out for a bonus miles offer, you will be waiting until at least September – given this offer runs to 30th August – and you will be losing out on earning miles over the Summer (although, for modest spenders, waiting may make more sense)

You can find full details, and apply, on the Virgin Money website here.

Virgin Flying Club Reward credit card extra bonus

The remainder of this article is our standard piece on how the Virgin Atlantic credit cards work.  You can ignore this if you’ve read it before!  I need to include it for the benefit of new HFP readers, however, as these cards are quite complex.

Here are the details:

The free card:

The free Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card is a Mastercard which earns 0.75 miles per £1 spent.  The representative APR is 22.9% variable.

New sign-ups to the Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit Card earn 5,000 miles for their first purchase made on the card in the first 90 days.

Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card

The paid card:

The £160 Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card is a Mastercard which earns 1.5 miles per £1 spent.  The representative APR is 63.9% variable including the £160 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit The interest rate on purchases is 22.9% variable.

If you take out the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card you earn 15,000 miles for your first purchase made within 90 days.

Virgin Reward Plus credit card extra bonus

The Reward+ card remains the better deal in my view.  Whilst the sign-up deals are roughly equal (5,000 miles for free vs 15,000 miles for £160), once you have the Reward+ card you are earning the superior 1.5 miles per £1 whenever you shop.  You also trigger the upgrade and companion vouchers more quickly.

Can I apply for the other card if I already have a Virgin Atlantic credit card?

It seems not.  Virgin Money has recently added this clause to the application form:

“I am not an existing Virgin Atlantic Credit Card customer and I have not closed another credit card issued by Virgin Money in the last 6 months.”

It is frustrating that Virgin Money is not offering an upgrade route for people on the free card who are now willing to pay the annual fee in return for the higher earning rate.

How do the upgrade and companion vouchers work?

Each year you can earn a special extra reward.  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.

Unlike the British Airways American Express cards, the rewards vary depending on your tier in the Virgin Flying Club scheme.  If you have elite status, you get a better 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

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)

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.

Some tips on applying

Do NOT use the ‘pre-approval checker’ on the Virgin Money website.  It is a joke.  It is designed for Virgin Money’s mass-market cards and is likely to reject you for being too wealthy and so unlikely to pay interest.  Apply directly.

If your full application is rejected, this can often be overturned if you appeal in writing. Write to Virgin Atlantic Credit Cards, PO Box 10609, Wigston, LE18 9HA with a couple of paragraphs expressing your dismay, referencing your Virgin Atlantic status and/or that you had the old MBNA credit cards, and outlining your income and lack of non-mortgage debts.  They will reconsider and you will normally end up being successful.

You can apply for either of the new Virgin Atlantic credit cards via this link.

(Want to earn more Virgin Flying Club miles?  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.)

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.

Comments (60)

  • NigelthePensioner says:

    0.75 of a mile per £1 spent – is this cumulative monthly spend, or per transaction? If the latter and you spend heavily at the 99p shop, then you could end up with zero miles each month…

    • Sandgrounder says:

      The paid card is cumulative spend, I have both but so far only a round 1k has gone through the free card so can’t say 100%.

    • Frenske says:

      Better go then to Poundland instead of a 99p shop.

      • Crafty says:

        Poundland bought the 99p Store in 2015, converted a chunk of the stores to Poundland, and closed the rest in 2017.

    • John says:

      Which cards besides Amex and Tesco give rewards on individual transactions?

  • Sandgrounder says:

    As they allow you to use Curve and Revolut without a cash advance fee, this offer is basically worthless to the savvy consumer. Why not just offer free fx across all transaction types? Is it really going to cost that much money over one summer? More than a few people will be caught out. It will be their own fault, but after dealing with Virgin Money customer service, they may well never use a Virgin brand again!

  • Mr(s) Entitled says:

    I opened a Revolut account yesterday to gain access to free fx. All done via the app, funded, and working in less than 5 minutes. Much easier than the reputed Virgin application stories.

    Before I try, does anyone know if Tesco treat funding to Revolut as a cash transaction?

  • stevenhp1987 says:

    Any chance Virgin will apply the 0% FX to existing customers in the near future?

    • Rob says:

      Few ways of making money off cards now except for FX fees.

      • stevenhp1987 says:

        While true I think they’re missing a trick.

        Most people will just use Curve/Revolut to avoid the fees. If they use the former they can still data mine the spend information for spend tracking purposes (ish, more difficulty) but all that data is lost when users use Revolut. They just see an £xx top-up with no knowledge of what it’s spent on!

        Curve/Revolut would also get the potentially higher interchange fee when their users spend outside the EU, while Virgin gets stuck with the 0.3% charging Curve/Revolut.

        I can’t imagine there are many people using the card directly with FX charges so by offering free FX they would be able to still collate this information and charge the occasional higher interchange fee.

        • Roy says:

          I suspect that, outside circles such as HfP, people just use their card abroad, and either (a) grudgingly pay the 3% because they think they have no alternative, or (b) are completely oblivious to the fact that they’re paying 3%.

        • Callum says:

          I agree with the other comment that I doubt that many use Curve in the grand scheme of things. I’ll also add that the analytics value many people seem to think is there from credit card data is WAY over-hyped.

          There’s certainly some value, but Virgin not seeing the exact merchant you used while on holiday in a random Greek village isn’t going to affect anything. Not to mention that they can see most of that information via Curve anyway, and given the state of their IT I can’t imagine they’re putting that much effort into spend analytics.

  • Alan says:

    Old offer was better as you could just use VS linked to Curve…

  • Callum says:

    The in-person restriction seems unnecessary. People generally don’t pay much attention to terms and conditions – I can foresee a bunch of people not noticing that, spending online etc then coming away with a negative view of the card.

    Purely the customers fault of course, but the customer probably won’t see it that way!

  • kumar says:

    I can confirm for me I get .75 on monthly aggregate spend and not on individual transaction.You can shop at 99p shop or even a dollar shop for New card holders.

  • Greg says:

    As far as I am aware I am still getting zero fx on my Lloyds duo avios Amex card as I have still not received a notice letter let alone a new mastercard.