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 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 Virgin Atlantic Reward+ 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 5,000 miles.

What is the Virgin Reward+ sign-up bonus?

The current sign-up bonus on the Reward+ Mastercard is 15,000 Virgin Flying Club miles.  You will receive the miles after your first purchase.

It no longer seems possible to hold both of the Virgin Atlantic cards at the same time.  On the application form it now asks you to confirm that: “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.”

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, the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card has 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.

If you want a dedicated credit card to use abroad, take a look at the Virgin Money Travel Credit Card (click here).  This card is free and charges NO foreign exchange fees.  It also offers 0% interest on purchases for 12 months and 0% interest on balance transfers for 12 months.  Representative APR 21.9% variable.

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 card compare to a cashback card?

My default comparison card is the John Lewis / Waitrose Mastercard which is free for life and offers 0.5% cashback in vouchers. The representative APR is 18.9% 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 15,000 miles is excellent 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.

(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.

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Credit & Charge Card Reviews (14): Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

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Comments

  1. David Faichney says:

    Hi Rob my spend is well over the £10K threshold but I’m not aware I was notified about the 2-4-1 voucher – assume I just contact Virgin Money? is it notified on an email?
    Thanks

  2. Word of caution – I forgot to cancel and had to pay the 2nd annual fee. I assumed, like creation, they would refund if I had not used it in the 2nd year. Wrong – £160 wasted. Will have to cane it before Curve self destructs in January.

  3. Still waiting on the day where I’ll be able to upgrade to the paying card. I can’t be alone!

    • I’m waiting for the day when the 241 becomes useful for those without airline status

      • If you come to the HFP party in January then I’m sure Sinead, who ran marketing for this card before joining us, will explain it all.

        • Do you have a date yet, so I can keep it free in case I’m lucky enough to get a ticket?

        • @Rob Explain why it’s utterly useless, or explain that one day it might not be? 🤔

          • It’s not entirely useless. It’s better for those who travel alone and you can upgrade to Premium Economy from a cash booking too.

          • @LewisB – is that so, that you can upgrade from cash economy to premium economy with the voucher? Does that work for basic economy cash ticket as well?

          • Apparently so. I found some cheap cash fares to Tel Aviv and queried if I could upgrade a cash booking using my upgrade voucher and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could. Taxes and surcharges on top of course. The CS agent didn’t specify certain fare exemptions.

          • Yorkieflyer says:

            This would definitely be a new feature, being able to upgrade a cash fare with the voucher

          • Doog1000 says:

            that’s interesting – does it even work on economy light fares which supposedly aren’t upgradeable?

        • Stuart_f says:

          If she can explain why alienating the majority of the statusless client base by charging them the same amount to get a product that gives them very little in return when compared to the competition (BA Prem Amex) then she deserves to be head of marketing!

          • There was a feeling at Virgin that they wanted to reward status members with an extra perk. My personal view (and indeed the view of virtually everyone) is that there would have been better ways of doing this.

    • The Urbanite says:

      I’d like the upgrade option too. I called up and they told me I’d have to cancel my card, apply for this one, get rejected, appeal and maybe be approved, subject to status. I don’t think I will bother.

  4. Nick Massey says:

    I am a big fan of this card…
    Boingo is quite a nice little perk – you can use it for free WiFi on Virgin Atlantic, WestJet and Lufthansa. Probably loads more too.

    I also spoke to VA customer relations this week who confirmed you can use two companion rewards together (as it says in the literature sent out with the card). Unfortunately booking agents currently think otherwise 🙁

    Although not advertised, half a companion reward can be used for a one way flight too which gives a bit more flexibility.

    Other than the limitation of the companion voucher based on status, the real negative of this card is not being able to use the companion/upgrade voucher online. While the booking agents are generally good, it’s a really painful backwards process! VA need to seriously sort it out and add the functionality to their website!

    • stevenhp1987 says:

      Boingo works on domestic American Airline flights too! Has kept me occupied for a couple of transfer flights recently! Doesn’t work on AA long-haul though.

  5. Yorkieflyer says:

    I wonder if I’m correct in assuming that the Premium upgrade voucher can be used for a couple one way as the MBNA could?

  6. Travel Strong says:

    For me and those like me (no status, regular Econ/PE flyer using miles), I see the 241 as valuable, to the tune of around 30k miles (which would otherwise be required for the 2nd Econ redemption). Using for a PE upgrade appears comparitively less valuable.

    • Travel Strong says:

      2 x Return tix:

      LAX Eco = 60k + £529
      With 241 = 30k + £529 (30k saving)

      NYC Eco = 40k + £529
      With 241 = 20k + £529 (20k saving)

      LAX PE = 110k + £942
      With Upgr Vouch = 85k + £942 (25k saving)

      NYC PE = 70k + £942
      With Upgr Vouch = 55k + £942 (15k saving)

      • Not apples to apples but cash ticket to NY in economy could be picked up £250-280 on sales often, so really just a waste of 30k miles. Obviously peak times is a different story.

    • Travel Strong says:

      However…
      With a 1p per mile valuation, your still only getting equivalent of a ~£400 fare in economy, and a £750~900 fare in PE. Low, but not low enough to make it a great offer.

      • You would still need to pay the taxes/surcharges for the 2nd person on a 241.

        How much are the cash fares as a comparison. I found economy redemptions to be poor value

    • Worthy checking the prices for flights as one way, see if you can save on taxes. I just booked London to Miami, return Sao Paolo to London. Using companion voucher, I paid 30.5k + £431 taxes total(off peak dates) as customer services booked the flights as 2 separate one way tickets.
      First time flying with Virgin, so no status, I was told companion can’t upgrade not even to Economy Delight.

  7. I had a question if I have the Reward+ card can I simply call virgin and downgrade to the non fee card? Or would I have to cancel and re-apply?

    • That would be far too simple. It is a total pain by all accounts. They don’t let you downgrade and if you cancel the paid card you are blocked for 6 months from getting another Virgin Money card.

      • Thanks for the reply. Well that sucks. If my wife has another Virgin Money Card (not Virgin Atlantic) she’s held for more than 6 months could she apply for the non-fee card?

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