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Virgin Atlantic is removing the sign-up bonus from its free Virgin Reward credit card on Tuesday

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Virgin Atlantic is removing the sign-up bonus from its free credit card on Tuesday.

This is your last chance (at least for now) to earn 5,000 miles on the ‘no annual fee’ Virgin Money-issued Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Reward credit card.

The paid card will retain its 15,000 mile bonus.

You can apply here.  You must apply by midnight on Monday to be sure of getting the bonus.

Why is Virgin Atlantic removing its sign-up bonus?

It’s not clear.  However, Virgin Money – issuer of the credit cards – is making a raft of changes across its entire credit card range.  I am guessing that Virgin Money is trying to put off new customers whilst it attempts to handle requests for payment deferrals etc from its existing base.

If you want to apply for the cards and earn the bonus, you need to do it now.  Remember that there is NO spend target to earn the bonus.

What are the sign-up bonuses?

The bonuses are:

you will earn 5,000 miles (zero miles from Tuesday) on the FREE Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card 

you will earn 15,000 miles if you take out the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card which has a £160 fee

There is no spend target to hit.  You receive the bonus after your first purchase.

If you apply today, you have two choices – 5,000 Flying Club miles for free on the ‘no fee’ card plus 0.75 miles per £1 going forward, or 15,000 Flying Club miles for £160 on the paid card plus an exceptionally high 1.5 miles per £1 going forward.  It is up to you.

Your decision may be impacted by how good you think the chances are of Virgin Atlantic emerging in one piece from coronavirus.  The situation is currently looking better, with Sir Richard Branson raising $400 million from his Virgin Galactic holdings to prop up his other ventures and talks progressing with new third party investors.  The free card is clearly the no-risk option whilst going for the 15,000 miles sign-up bonus involves paying £160 upfront.  It is very likely that you would receive a pro-rata fee refund if the airline went into receivership, however, as the FCA would take a dim view otherwise.

Virgin Flying Club Reward credit card extra bonus

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 will earn 5,000 miles for the first purchase made on the card in the first 90 days.

5,000 Virgin Flying Club miles are worth around £50 if redeemed for long-haul premium flights.  This bonus is removed on Tuesday.

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 will earn 15,000 miles with the first purchase made on the card in the first 90 days.

You are receiving 15,000 Virgin Flying Club miles which are worth around £150 if redeemed for long-haul premium flights.  This bonus is NOT going away.

Virgin Reward Plus credit card extra bonus

The Reward+ card remains the better deal in my view.  Whilst the free card has the more attractive bonus (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

In terms of eligibility, the application form asks you to confirm:

“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.”

This implies that you CAN apply again if you previously closed one of the Virgin Atlantic cards over six months ago, but that you cannot apply for a 2nd card if you already have one.

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 Money at Jubilee House, Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE3 4PL with a couple of paragraphs expressing your dismay, referencing your Virgin Atlantic status  and outlining your income and lack of non-mortgage debts.  They will reconsider and you will normally end up being successful.

Conclusion

It is worth having a look at the bonus on the free card before it is removed.  You get 5,000 Virgin Flying Club miles for making just one purchase on the card, even a coffee, which is a good return.

If you were thinking about getting the paid card at some point, there is no rush.  The bonus on the paid card is not going away

You can apply for either of the new Virgin Atlantic credit cards via this link.  You need to apply by Monday evening to get the bonus on the free card.

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 (64)

  • Tom says:

    Can you move from the + card to the regular one or vice versa?

    • AspirationalFlyer says:

      It is not possible to upgrade and downgrade in the same way it is with the BA Amex. I called recently to ask if I could downgrade from the premium to basic card and was told that whilst that it was a common question, I’d need to cancel one card completely and then reapply for the one I wanted.

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        You can upgrade from the free card to Rewards Plus if you’ve been sent a link after spending 10k called Boost. However, I clicked the link to upgrade 3 x weeks ago and have heard nothing. They state it can take a max of 30 x days.
        You will receive 2 x emails from them, after the 2nd email your account has been upgraded, you keep the same card, just different rewards. The good thing I’ve noted about using Boost is the annual payment is pro-rata so you can cancel and get pro rata monthly fees back, I screenshot the terms where it stated that for good keeping.

  • Peter Martin says:

    Before anyone applies for these cards it would be wise to google ‘virgin money trustpilot’ and/or ‘yorkshire clydesdale bank trustpilot’.
    You have been warned!

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      I’ve had no issues with Virgin up to this point.

    • Gary_Dexter says:

      TrustPilot and the likes are always full of negative reviews as people like to rant and rave to get things off their chests. Plus there’s no guarantee that it’s not a competitor posting false reviews.

      • Crafty says:

        “Surveys are only based on samples”

        “You can prove anything with statistics”

        • Michael says:

          “Oh, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. Forty percent of all people know that.”

    • Ian says:

      If I’d relied on Trust Pilot I wouldn’t have applied for the card. I ignored the reviews and applied anyway…I’ve never had any trouble with them. When FlyBe failed, they accepted my chargeback request quickly and efficiently.

    • Johnny Tabasco says:

      Never had any issues with Virgin money (though the app is terrible)
      I’d wager these comments are no worse than any of their competitors.

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      The only customers who are motivated to post unsolicited reviews are angry ones. If you want to fix this, you need to solicit reviews to get your mostly satisfied passive customers to leave positive reviews. These solicited reviews will generally be in large enough volumes to drown out the unsolicited ones and get you a 4+ score.

      It’s not that the reviews themselves are fake, it’s the selection bias. If a company has a bad score, it’s not playing TP, if it has a good score it is. There’s no meaningful information about the average customer experience for the actual consumer doing research.

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        Agree, usually people only post reviews if they are largely not happy with the service received. It’s quite to get people to post reviews if they are happy with a service.

    • Nick_C says:

      Trustpilot also gives Amex UK a 2* poor rating!

  • Mark says:

    Virgin Money tried to refuse severs section 75’s on Virgin Flights last week giving various reasons.

    I asked them to explain why they had already processed section 75’s for EuroDisney and IHG whom both still haven’t refunded me (must say royal Caribbean and Hilton were very good)

    They couldn’t. When I spoke to a supervisor I got the same story. I then asked for their stance in writing. They were very reluctant and asked why. I stated it was so I could make a complaint to the FSA.

    Wow all of a sudden, the section 75’s were processed!!!

    Make of that what you will!

    • RussellH says:

      My sister had a five figure S75 claim a couple of years ago. Tesco CC. She said it was very hard work, but ultimately they paid up once they realised that she knew exactly where she stood legally.

  • Jonathan says:

    Been using these cards for Revolut for many months, a simple way to amass hundreds of thousands of FC miles and even passed a Revolut Financial review last month only to find Virgin Money now block Revolut. They actually called me to query the attempted transactions and said it was a compatibility issue between the two they were trying to resolve but could not provide an ETA. Not something I totally believe but we’ll see what happens in a few weeks.

    • Blenz101 says:

      I hope this is a joke?

      You can hardly criticise them for catching up with this and blocking your manufactured spend!

      Most people would keep their head down when rumbled. If they investigate and find the points were earned fraudulently you could well end up with a CIFAS marker and both your Virgin miles and credit card accounts closed down.

      • New Card says:

        I agree with the thrust of this comment but completely disagree with your use of the word “fraudulently”. There is nothing remotely close to fraudulent described in Jonathan’s post.

        • Blenz101 says:

          Well if “hundreds of thousand” of points were obtained over a period of months (rather than years) and the spend was not deemed genuine consumer spend upon investigation but rather a deception then it will be for the bank to decide what they want to call it.

          Many year ago I did have some experience with insurance and the application of CIFAS markers, at that time we could certainly apply them to accounts, decline the customer / refuse to insure them and they would have zero right to know why.

          This isn’t intended to judge, I play the game myself! BUT, I’m aware of the risks and certainly wouldn’t be complaining if a particular route was shut down or drawing any attention to myself.

          • the_real_a says:

            Structuring transactions to generate the most amount of airmiles is a perfectly reasonable explanation of transactions. Provided you do not lie, and can provide proof of source of funds (wealth and savings is a perfectly adequate explanation as is a credit card or loan thats in your name) prior to the transaction it will almost certainly pass the compliance tests. You should NEVER lie, and you should always respond helpfully. Thankfully the compliance team are almost never incentivised by product profitability.

      • Alan says:

        Can’t see a CIFAS marker being placed but the Revolut MCC has tended to lead to charges on most Mastercards in recent months so pretty risky doing topups with one.

        • Secret Squirrel says:

          Short story, don’t use Virgin cards to top up.

        • Blenz101 says:

          If the bank view it as potential money laundering then it’s a pretty open and shut case.

          They won’t be under any obligation to “help” in this situation.

          Just a warning to those reading the comments. Take the bonus points whilst on offer and earn the miles in the spirit of the programme to the very maximum you can – if you are earning hundred of thousands and are rumbled, keep your head down or at least be aware of the risks. Plenty of examples online of this game going wrong.

          • the_real_a says:

            Whilst i have a massive issue with CIFAS markers – judge,jury and executioner being private companies without any effective method to challenge them or find out information that leads to them – the tick box compliance process of financial companies needs only to look back one step. Is the source of funds prior to the transaction dodgy. A source of funds of a credit card in your name is a tick in the box, a receipt provided from a cash like transaction to credit card in your name (i.e. paypoint) is a tick in the box. That’s why you should always retain records, ideally indefinitely but for at least 12 months.

        • Genghis says:

          Is a CIFAS marker even used for this purpose? I remember I asked for one to be placed on my files when my Noddle account was hacked. Then for a year or so all applications went for manual review.

          • Charlieface says:

            That’s a Cat 2 marker which you place yourself or the bank on your behalf, when someone tries to impersonate you. Most other markers are placed by others and refer to fraud by you,. You cannot see them on your report, nor will the bank or CIFAS provide you info about them unless you threaten court action.

          • Andrew says:

            @CharlieFace

            Just to be clear, are you saying that both CIFAS and the banking sector in general are exempt from a formal Subject Access Request?

          • Blenz101 says:

            Just in reply to Andrew, as I suggested in my previous post (based on my experience albeit several years ago in the insurance field) we were certainly under no obligation to tell the customer about any CIFAS marker we were either applying or decisions we were taking as a result of being aware of seeing one. Front line service staff would have very limited access to such an account and wouldn’t even see that my team had been involved. Would just show something like the account had been reviewed and no longer met our underwriting criteria.

            Where any kind of fraud was suspected it was our internal commercial decision to refuse to insure a customer in the first instance. Very few cases were prepared for further criminal action but we would flag plenty on suspicion and close their account/cancel their insurance. We had zero obligation to tell a customer we were applying a marker or the reasons why we were cancelling their policy. I am sure Virgin or any other card provider would just cite underwriting criteria as the reason.

            I suspect CIFAS would be obliged to disclose under a SAR a marker had been placed and by whom.
            But as I mentioned, we could do this based on suspicion of fraud. It’s an shared industry database, the fact that we had suspected fraud was enough, the entry could be as simple and factual as “Suspected fraud”. I can’t ever recall us agreeing to remove the marker either, if a customers pattern of behaviour was enough to get it flagged and you hadn’t satisfied us then there was zero right of appeal. Furthermore as an insurer we would cancel the policy and refuse to insure, when applying for new insurance you are asked this anyway so there was double check effectively. False declaration or CIFAS register check.

            Anyway, point of this reply is just to again be aware of the risks. If you push your luck, draw attention to yourself and they shut you down (on suspicion) you may find yourself having serious difficulty in the future. We had plenty of complaints of people wanting the marker removed well beyond not being able to get insurance, try having potential employers withdraw job offers or not being able to get a mortgage renewal.

          • Charlieface says:

            I think the FOS have been stricter with this recently. Internal markers and business refusal is one thing, a CIFAS marker is potential libel and they want more than just suspicion. A customer can do an SAR to CIFAS for info, and can appeal to the bank/insurer, then CIFAS and the FOS

          • Charlieface says:

            One more thing: a SAR won’t show anything if the investigation is ongoing, due to tipping-off legislation

          • Blenz101 says:

            Thanks Charlieface. I did caveat that my direct experience was several years old.

            As you mention “tipping off” was one reason why our front line staff customer service would never be aware of what was happening on an account.

            Your point around getting a marker removed after a SAR, CIFAS appeal, FOS involvement and potential libel should be warning enough!

            Rob has previously ran an article around MS and from someone prolific which ended with a warning that these activities have the appearance of money laundering and flying under the radar is your best option. In the past MS was mostly related to gift cards, with the rise of FinTech MS trashing your credit by gaining a fraud marker is increasingly likely.

      • Jonathan says:

        Who said anything about manufactured spend? Never done MS, all genuine bonifide purchases thank you.

        • Charlieface says:

          Our point was more that any type of gaming (such as gift cards, betting accounts, forex) could be seen by an investigator as money laundering (even though it isn’t), and it’s pretty difficult to do those kind of sums 100% legit. Cash recycling or using a personal card for business is usually against T&Cs anyway, although it’s unlikely to get a CIFAS marker it may get your accounts closed.

          • Blenz101 says:

            Indeed. As you mentioned gaining 100k’s of points via “Revolut“ rather than legitimate direct consumer spend I raised a warning flag.

            One day a financial institution may raise the same flag against you or anyone else who isn’t smart enough to stay under the wire. You won’t necessarily even know it has happened.

            It’s legitimate for people to flag that in you referencing combining the miles earning card promoted in the main article with Revoult or similar is not risk free. Certainly much more risky than buying gift cards or overpaying a utility bill.

            Who knows. Someone from the bank in the marketing team may even see this thread. They may want to raise the perceived CS issues originally being mentioned before your comment, important feedback. Another issue raised was ‘changing MCC code etc’. VM will know exactly the game being played, look at how many points were awarded against this merchant and which cardholders were involved and to what level. Not a list I would want to be on and certainly not to the level you mentioned.

            When I was personally involved in catching people out I did feel protective for my company. My reaction to the tiny shred of insight you have given is that if you were emptying you credit card into a current account and legitimately buying say a racehorse a month via Revoult to earn 100k’s of virgin miles (with no ongoing cycle of MS) I would still consider your behaviour fraudulent given you obtained an otherwise chargeable cash advance by deception. The customer explaining they had found a ruse to get around the letter of the policy was never a reason not to close them down and place a marker against them.

  • Peter says:

    I just cancelled the paid for card. In the current environment I am not spending enough to warrant it. Glad I took advantage though.
    I wasn’t offered the free card as an option when I cancelled. Not sure if I now can apply for it?

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      Think you have to wait 6 x months to apply again.

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        My question is: has anyone applied recently for either of these cards and received a response?
        I’m trying to gauge if there is a fault in their systems upgrading using Boost.

    • Rob says:

      You can. You will be rejected but you then call and say it was a downgrade. They override the rejection.

  • Chabuddy geezy says:

    When Rob alluded to changes a couple of weeks ago I was thinking there might have an earnings rate cut on the free card.

  • sng165 says:

    I was invited to upgrade back in Feb. I applied & heard nothing until £160 was deducted from my card a few days ago. (3 MONTHS after application). Obviously situation changed, & now wont be spending, so called Thurs to cancel upgrade. Initially told wasn’t possible? I had to quote T&Cs, 3 x calls, and customer relations involvement later, the £160 was recredited yesterday. Why suddenly raise these £160 debts pre-Bank Holiday when “It is very likely that you would receive a pro-rata fee refund if the airline went into receivership, however, as the FCA would take a dim view otherwise” ? are you saying if I’d left it till Tuesday I may not have had this refund??

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      Yes, I have a copy of the terms stating you can cancel pro rata if used boost link.

  • Lumma says:

    Why is it such an issue for Virgin Money if people as for a coronavirus related payment deferral? Obviously they can’t charge late payment fees or record a missed payment on a person’s credit report, but if someone using a rewards credit card correctly, they’re paying the balance due each month and never paying any interest. Deferring for three months would move them into interest paying customers for 4 months plus at least and possibly longer.

    • Richard says:

      Probably a combination of the following

      1) the immediate concern at virgin money being to get ‘marketing’ spend down to keep cash in the bank – the ~£40 per account they spend per opened free card is a good short term win

      2) the £150 annual fee on the paid card is charged straight away

      3) the 1.5x per £ on the paid card only gets expensive for VM if you spend lots and lots, something that is much harder right now than before so it’s probably more profitable than normal

      4) given they lose money on the interchange fee, VM must be relying on foreign spend or interest payments on the free card to make the maths work on it – a new customer right now will neither be spending abroad or building up much of a balance to pay interest on (unless they’ve lost their income, which means you probably don’t want to lend them money)