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The Virgin Atlantic credit cards just got a LOT more valuable

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Virgin Atlantic has announced some changes today to the vouchers that you can earn with its Virgin Atlantic Reward and Reward+ credit cards. These are a substantial improvement and you might be tempted to take out (or take out again) one of the two cards.

Importantly, these changes apply retrospectively. If you have any unused vouchers, the new rules will apply to them.

All bookings made from today will benefit from these changes.

I have just published three articles covering the improvements to Virgin Flying Club announced today:

Full details can be found on the Virgin Atlantic website here.

How do you earn a Virgin credit card voucher?

As a reminder, you receive a voucher each card year when you spend £10,000 on the ‘£160 with a 15,000 miles bonus’ Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard (apply here):

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending Read our full review

or £20,000 per year on the ‘free but no bonus’ Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard (apply here):

Virgin Rewards credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

The UK’s most generous free Visa or Mastercard at 0.75 points / £1 Read our full review

The vouchers could be used for three things:

a 2-4-1 deal on Virgin Flying Club redemptions – this got you two redemption flights for the miles of one (taxes and charges apply to both, Virgin Atlantic aircraft only) BUT there were restrictions on the class you could book

an upgrade voucher valid for 1 x return flight or 2 x one-way flights BUT valid only for upgrades from Economy to Premium

a voucher for Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounge access, if you were flying Virgin Atlantic in Economy or Premium

Here is a summary of the changes:

HFP Virgin Atlantic Rewards credit card

The 2-4-1 voucher has become a LOT more flexible

You can now, with some restrictions, use the 2-4-1 voucher in ANY class REGARDLESS of your Virgin Flying Club status.

All members can use the voucher for Upper Class or Premium if they wish.

This is a major improvement. Previously:

  • Red members could only redeem a 2-4-1 in Economy
  • Silver members could also redeem in Premium
  • Gold members could also redeem in Upper Class

Going forward, the 2-4-1 voucher will work like this:

Red (base level) members can use their 2-4-1 voucher in Economy, Premium and Upper Class. However, the discount in Upper Class is only 50%. This means that your voucher is effectively a ‘2 for 1.5’ voucher when used in Upper Class.

Silver and Gold members can use their 2-4-1 voucher in all classes. This is massive improvement for Flying Club Silver members who now get access to Upper Class at a true ‘241’ rate.

Let’s look at an Upper Class return to Barbados:

  • Yesterday, a Red or Silver Flying Club member needed 230,000 miles for 2 x off-peak Upper Class tickets
  • From today, with the credit card 241 voucher, a Red member would need (115,000 x 1.5) 172,500 miles, saving 57,500 miles
  • A Silver member would need 115,000 miles, saving 115,000 miles

You can retrospectively apply a voucher too

This is not in the stated rules, but Virgin staff have told me that if you have an existing booking and a voucher in the bank then you can call up and apply it.

This means that, if you had booked 2 x Upper Class mileage flights to Barbados yesterday and you have an unused voucher, you should call. A Red will get a refund of 50% on the 2nd ticket whilst a Silver member will get a full miles refund on the 2nd ticket.

Virgin Atlantic Rewards credit cards

Your 2-4-1 voucher is now also valid on CASH tickets

You can now also use your 2-4-1 voucher on CASH tickets. This is a game changer for anyone who does not have a lot of miles.

Here is the important thing to remember. Even though you are buying your first ticket for cash, you still need Flying Club reward availability for the 2nd ticket.

If there are no Flying Club seats available for redemption, you can’t do this, even if additional seats are available for cash.

The restrictions are the same as for the 2-4-1 on redemption tickets:

  • A Red member can pay cash for an Economy or Premium ticket and receive a 2nd ticket for free (taxes and charges apply)
  • A Red member can pay cash for an Upper Class ticket and receive a 2nd ticket for 50% of the standard number of miles (taxes and charges apply)
  • A Silver or Gold member can pay cash for a ticket in any class and receive a 2nd ticket for free (taxes and charges apply)

Remember that the 2nd ticket comes from reward availability.

The only downside here is that your cash ticket will not, unless you pay full fare, be cancellable or refundable. It may still be more attractive to use your 2-4-1 voucher for two mileage tickets because those will be refundable for the usual fees.

HFP Virgin Atlantic Rewards Plus Credit Card

The upgrade vouchers are improving too!

Instead of using your credit card voucher for a 2-4-1 booking, you can also use it to upgrade a flight.

The upgrade vouchers are valid on BOTH cash and redemption flights.

Previously, the upgrade vouchers could only be used to upgrade from Economy to Premium. It was not possible, irrespective of your status, to upgrade a Premium ticket to Upper Class.

From today, these restrictions disappear. All credit card holders with a voucher can upgrade:

  • a cash Economy Classic or Economy Delight ticket, or a redemption Economy ticket, to Premium
  • a cash or redemption Premium ticket to Upper Class

You can either upgrade a return flight for one person or half of a return flight for two people. You can only upgrade if there are reward seats showing in the higher class, as your seat will book into those.

This is a massive win for cardholders who can now (subject to a reward seat in Upper Class being available) upgrade a relatively low cost Premium ticket to a fully flat bed.

Virgin Flying Club status cards

Even the Clubhouse vouchers are improving!

The third, and admittedly least valuable, way of using your annual credit card voucher is for a Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounge pass.

Here is our most recent review of the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3 – currently closed of course, as Virgin Atlantic is temporarily in Terminal 2. You will never see a list of the top 10 global airport lounges which doesn’t include it.

Your voucher used to be valid only when flying with Virgin Atlantic. It is now valid if you are flying with Delta Air Lines, KLM or Air France too. Of course, KLM and Air France use Terminal 4 at Heathrow so for those two airlines this is only a benefit you could use outside the UK.

Conclusion

The Virgin Atlantic website has more details on the changes here.

Ever since the Virgin Atlantic credit cards launched two years ago, I have been pushing the team to allow ALL cardholders to use the 2-4-1 voucher in Upper Class.

These changes don’t fully do that, but the other improvements make up for it. In summary:

All card holders can now use their voucher for a ‘2-4-1’ booking in all classes on a MILEAGE ticket. Base level members only get a 50% discount on the 2nd ticket if they redeem in Upper Class. Taxes and charges apply to the 2nd ticket.

All card holders can now use their voucher for a ‘2-4-1’ booking in all classes on a CASH ticket. Base level members must pay 50% discount of the cost of a mileage ticket for the 2nd ticket if they redeem in Upper Class. Taxes and charges apply to the 2nd ticket.

All card holders can now use their voucher to upgrade a cash or mileage Premium ticket to Upper Class. There must be reward availability showing in Upper Class.

On Saturday I will publish a full comparison of both credit cards so you can consider which one may suit you best.

Virgin Rewards credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

Read our full review

Other information:

  • Get a ‘2 for 1’ voucher, valid on cash or points tickets, when you spend £20,000 in a year
  • Alternatively, claim an upgrade voucher or Clubhouse lounge passes
  • Get free access to Virgin Money lounges across the UK
  • Annual fee: Free

Representative 22.2% APR variable

See if you qualify for sign-up bonus +

There is no sign-up bonus on the free Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard.

You may want to consider applying for the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard instead.  This comes with a £160 annual fee but you receive a bonus of 15,000 points with your first purchase.  You also receive a higher earning rate of 1.5 miles per £1 spent.

After the first year, you could downgrade to the free Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard.

Learn more about the card benefits +

All Virgin Atlantic credit card holders receive free access to Virgin Money lounges across the UK.  A list of sites is here.

When you spend £20,000 per year on the free Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard, you can choose a benefit.  This is what you can pick from:

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

A return upgrade – on either a cash or miles ticket – from Premium to Upper Class, or from Economy Delight/Classic to Premium.  You can either upgrade 1 x return flight if travelling alone or 2 x one-way legs of two return flights if travelling with someone else.

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

Here’s the small print:

If you are a Red (no status) member, you need to pay 50% of the miles 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. For Economy or Premium redemptions, it is a genuine ‘2 for 1’.

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

Taxes and charges need to be paid on the ‘free’ ticket as part of your 2-4-1 booking

Vouchers are valid for two years and you must fly the outbound leg of your trip before the expiry date

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

Read our full review

Other information:

  • Get a ‘2 for 1’ voucher, valid on cash or points tickets, when you spend £10,000 in a year
  • Alternatively, claim an upgrade voucher or Clubhouse lounge passes
  • Get free access to Virgin Money lounges across the UK
  • Annual fee: £160

Representative 63.9% APR variable based on a notional £1,200 credit limit and £160 annual fee.  Interest rate on purchases 22.9% APR variable.

See if you qualify for the 15,000 points sign-up bonus +

You receive a sign-up bonus of 15,000 Virgin points with your first purchase.

There are no restrictions on earning the bonus if you are accepted.  However, you cannot apply for a card if you currently, or in the previous six months, had a Virgin Money credit card.

Learn more about the card benefits +

All Virgin Atlantic credit card holders receive free access to Virgin Money lounges across the UK.  A list of sites is here.

When you spend £10,000 per year on the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard, you can choose a benefit.  This is what you can pick from:

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

A return upgrade – on either a cash or points ticket – from Premium to Upper Class, or from Economy Delight/Classic to Premium.  You can either upgrade 1 x return flight if travelling alone or 2 x one-way legs of two return flights if travelling with someone else.

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

Here’s the 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. For Economy or Premium redemptions, it is a genuine ‘2 for 1’.

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

Taxes and charges need to be paid on the ‘free’ ticket as part of your 2-4-1 booking

Vouchers are valid for two years and you must fly the outbound leg of your trip before the expiry date

Comments (172)

  • Kazim says:

    Am I correct in reading the small print re: only earning miles on the spending within your credit limit per month. i.e if your credit limit is £5k yet you spend £10-15K in chunks of £5k and then pay off the credit card you only earn miles on the first £5k and everything else earns you nothing?

  • Colin JE says:

    Having looked through my VA transactions I’ve got an item in May 2020 saying “You’ve spent £10,000 on your credit card – call to redeem your Reward” and another in Oct 2019 saying “Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit Card – Reward Qualification”. Are these the same thing and what is the expiry on these now. 2 years?

  • Rahaney says:

    Wasn’t Virgin charging cash advance fees with Curve & Ernie?

  • Neil says:

    How to you use your voucher? Do you have to call virgin and quote your credit card number, or is it linked to your FF number? Also is the voucher cancelled when you close your Credit card account?

    • Genghis says:

      Call VFC. You’ll need your VFC no. Not CC no (voucher is in your VFC acct). Voucher remains on cc cancelllation.

  • Martyn Ford says:

    Do Virgin miles expire? I haven`t flown with them for some time.

  • Oliver says:

    Is it possible to book a cash flight, upgrade to the next class using miles and then use the 241 for a second ticket in the higher class?

  • Jimmy says:

    So if upgrading a cash ticket from PE to UC – do you just need a voucher, is there any additional miles to pay?

    • Rob says:

      No, interestingly. Potentially some additional tax, but no miles.

      • Jimmy says:

        Thanks Rob – waiting for the t+cs to update. This could be a good value use of the 241. Even more so if tier points are for UC!

        Thanks for the great post. 🙂

  • Nick says:

    Just called Virgin and they won’t apply the 2 for 1 (1.5) voucher retrospectively. I’d have to cancel at a cost of £30 per person and rebook. Bit painful but since we’re in UC it’ll be worth it to save the points.