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Review: the Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus Mastercard credit card

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This is our review of the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard credit card.

It is part of our series of articles looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether or not they are worth applying for. These articles are linked to the relevant sections of the ‘Credit Card Offers‘ area of the menu bar. Our other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.

This article was updated on 1st March 2021, and all of the information is correct as of that date. Ignore the original publication date shown.

IMPORTANT: Until 9th April 2021, the stand-out UK card offer is with American Express Business Platinum (100,000 points, apply here, review here). American Express Business Gold, which is FREE for your first year, is offering 50,000 points. You can apply here and our review is here. If you qualify, you should take these offers very seriously.

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 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 were substantially improved in 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)
HFP Virgin Atlantic Rewards Plus 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, but this is currently closed to new applicants.

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?

At present, Virgin Money is not charging any fees when you pay for something in Euro, Swedish Kronor or Romanian Lei.

This is NOT an advertised benefit, but you will see it written in the small print of the credit agreement. It only applies to ‘in person’ transactions and not online spending.

As Virgin Money adds a 3% foreign exchange fee on transactions in all other currencies, you might want to get a separate free credit card to use abroad. Unfortunately there are no travel rewards card without any foreign exchange fees globally.

One option is to get a free Curve Card – see this HfP article – and link it to a miles-earning Visa or Mastercard.

Another option is to get a free card from Currensea. Currensea is a simple but clever idea. You pay abroad with your Currensea Mastercard debit card. Currensea translates the cost to Sterling with just a 0.5% fee (83% less than the Virgin card) and withdraws the money from your bank account. You can find out more by clicking here. Currensea is free so there is no risk in giving it a try.

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:

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 per £1, 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.

Note that you can ONLY manage your account via the Virgin Money app or with paper statements. There is no ability to manage your account via a website.

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 (when they re-open) 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 Card Offers’ 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 (47)

  • Eric says:

    Can never pass the eligibility checker…

  • Alex D says:

    I didn’t know about the spending in euros – travel to corfu multiple times a year as my partners family live there. do you think it will stay as a benefit? If so i might give them a supp card to use

  • Harry T says:

    I wish I understood why the eligibility checker never loves me. I can’t be bothered to send a letter to take out the card again.

  • Alex D says:

    I have just triggered my second voucher so i now have 2 to use – curious as to what people would pick between these options on LHR-JFK for 2ppl. I currently have just shy of 80K points if that impacts it. I have never redeem on virgin before so i’m not sure whats better value(cancelation policy easier/better on redemption for example)
    I can pay £1211 for PE and use vouchers to upgrade both of us to Business both ways. Will earn about 6K virgin points
    OR
    Pay 70K miles(for PE) and £947 taxes and then use 2 x vouchers to upgrade to business both ways…

    • Lumma says:

      I’d pay cash and upgrade to Upper Class here unless you have no further interest in collecting Virgin Points. Even then you could convert your 86K points into IHG and have around £350 worth of hotel points. You’re also very close to having enough points for a business return to Tokyo on ANA which is a great use of VS points (although you’d need 180k for two tickets).

    • Scallder says:

      Be mindful that upgrading to business isn’t free in terms of cash – there’s often an increased surcharges element, so the cash price you see on the website is not the cash price you would pay to lock in the business class seats. Call and speak to one of the upper class team to find out what the actual amount is including the cost to upgrade.

  • Gringo says:

    Anyone know whether you keep the vouchers if you cancel the card?

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