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Review: the Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus Mastercard credit card

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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 ‘Top Credit Card Offers‘ 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.

(EDIT:  This article was updated on 24th September 2020 to reflect the rebranding to ‘Virgin Points’.  All of the information is correct as of that date.  Ignore the November 2019 publication date on this article.)

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 no sign-up bonus and a lower earning rate of 0.75 points per £1.

Review Virgin Atlantic Reward plus credit card

What is the Virgin Reward+ sign-up bonus?

The current sign-up bonus on the Reward+ Mastercard is 15,000 Virgin Points.  

You will receive 15,000 points 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 – an annual bonus for hitting a spending target.

After spending £10,000 in a card membership year, you will receive your choice of:

A 2-4-1 voucher, valid for two years, for a Virgin Flying Club redemption in Upper Class, Premium or Economy

A Virgin Clubhouse lounge pass (requires a same-day Virgin Atlantic, Delta, KLM or Air France flight)

A return upgrade – on either a cash or miles ticket – from Premium to Upper Class, or from Economy Delight/Classic to Premium (requires reward availability in the higher class)

There is a little bit of small print:

If you are a Red (no status) member, you need to pay 50% of the points for your 2nd ticket if you redeem your 2-4-1 voucher in Upper Class.  This means that, for Upper Class redemptions for Red members, it is effectively a ‘2 for 1.5’ voucher.

If you are a Gold member, you would receive two Clubhouse lounge passes instead on one if you chose that option.

The voucher benefits are substantially better now than they were before August 2020.  You can now upgrade to Upper Class, you can now use the upgrade voucher on either cash or points tickets, and Red (base level) members can now redeem the 2-4-1 voucher in Upper Class.

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

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)
Review Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card

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 Virgin Points 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 Atlantic Holidays earn double miles.

The number of miles you earn per month is restricted to your credit limit.  For example, if you have a limit of £10,000 then you will only earn miles on the first £10,000 of your spending each month.  This only impacts the small number of people who pay down their account during the month and then run it up again.

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 Point 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 points 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

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

You can transfer Virgin points 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 points 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 0.25% cashback in vouchers. The representative APR is 18.9% variable.

Offering 1.5 Virgin points, 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 has launched a joint venture with Virgin Atlantic.  You can now redeem your Virgin Flying Club points for Air France and KLM flights.  This adds substantial value to the programme with a lot of options in Asia and the Middle East to complement Virgin’s strong position in the USA and Caribbean.

This article explains how to redeem your Virgin points on Air France and KLM.

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 Virgin Points is decent 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 Points 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.

Comments (44)

  • Boris says:

    I am one of the few you mention above who spends and repays more than once a month but have just been restricted to the credit limit for miles. As Virgin earn fees from retailers for all transactions, is there any reasoning behind this?

    • Rob says:

      Virgin Money earns 0.3p in interchange fees per £1 you spend and pays 1.5p to Virgin Atlantic for the miles (roughly). Doesn’t take a genius to work this one out 🙂

      What is interesting is that some people have been told that this cap does not apply to them, one of whom spends £100,000 per month and just spent a week on Necker with the proceeds. From a small sample set they appear to be Gold card holders with Virgin Atlantic.

      • Boris says:

        Many thanks Rob. Hadn’t realised that the issuer received so little of the fee – although EU regulations capped the charges at that amount, the retailer always seems to end up paying a hell of a lot more. Interesting point about the exceptions to the rule. My expenditure is generally £30K – £100K a month so I’m looking to lose quite a few points in an average year! Sadly, as only a Red card holder, I fear I won’t qualify for any exemptions. Might be worth a try though.