One of the changes introduced in the Virgin Flying Club revamp in 2017 was a new-look ‘Points Plus Money’ offering. Today I want to review whether Virgin Atlantic’s ‘Points Plus Money’ scheme is a good deal or not.
You can find full details on the Virgin Atlantic website here.
‘Points Plus Money’ was Virgin’s response to ‘Part Pay With Avios‘. It also echoes schemes such as Norwegian Reward which only let you use your points for a discount on a future cash booking.
British Airways has spent a couple of years trialling different variations of ‘Part Pay With Avios‘. We have seen changes in the maximum number of Avios you can use and we’ve seen changes, up and down, in what you got for them. During promotions, such as the exceptional ‘2p per Avios’ offer last week, you have occasionally been able to get real value.
How does Virgin’s ‘Points Plus Money’ work?
Virgin Flying Club has taken a simpler approach:
there is NO tapering of value per point – you get the same value irrespective of how many Virgin Points you redeem
they do NOT run any promotions – the value per point remains static from month to month
you can pay for ALL of your flight using ‘Points Plus Money’ – unlike Avios, which caps the discount you can receive
The value is fixed at £16.50 for every 3,000 points you redeem. That means, to save you getting your calculator out, 0.55p per point. There is no limit to how many points you can redeem but it must be in multiples of 3,000 Virgin Points.
It is worth noting that this rate has quietly got worse since ‘Points Plus Money’ was launched in 2017, when you could get 0.6p per point.
Here’s the small print:
you can only use ‘Points Plus Money’ when booking a cash ticket online, but not in the app, on mobile or via the call centre
you can only use it on Virgin Atlantic operated flights, not codeshares or partners
the ticket can be for anyone – you do not need to travel
there are no blackout dates or inventory restrictions
you can upgrade or use vouchers as you can with a standard cash ticket
your ticket will earn points and tier points as usual
There is only one catch, but it won’t apply to many people. If you cancel a refundable ‘Points Plus Money’ flight ticket, you lose the points. You don’t get the cash equivalent back either. Very few leisure travellers book refundable tickets, however, so this is unlikely to impact you. This rule does not apply if you cancel during the 24 hour ‘cooling off’ period.
You will, of course, also lose your points if you cancel a non-refundable ticket booked via ‘Points Plus Money’. This is logical, however, as you would have lost your money if you had paid in cash.
If Virgin Atlantic cancels your flight, you will receive a full refund of both the cash and Virgin Points used.
Is Virgin Atlantic’s ‘Points Plus Money’ good value?
No, not really. I look to get around 1p per mile from my Flying Club points when redeeming for mileage tickets so the idea of accepting 0.55p via this route is not attractive.
Imagine you earned your Virgin Points via Tesco Clubcard. You would be using £1 of Clubcard vouchers for 250 Virgin points worth £1.38 of flight discount. This is not a very impressive return given some of the other Clubcard deals out there.
Imagine you earned your Virgin Points via Heathrow Rewards (1:1 transfer rate). You would be giving up £1 of Heathrow shopping vouchers for 55p of flight discounts – not smart.
If you earn all of your Flying Club points from flying for work – so you haven’t actually paid anything for them at all – then ‘Points Plus Money’ is an option to consider.
If you have been collecting Virgin Points via a partner instead then you should be turning your nose up at just getting 0.55p per point for them.
How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (September 2021)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.
You can choose from two official Virgin Atlantic credit cards (apply here, one has a bonus of 15,000 Points):
You can also earn Virgin Points from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for a year and comes with 20,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 20,000 Virgin Points:
Until 2nd November 2021, there is a special offer on The Platinum Card from American Express.
You will receive a sign-up bonus of 60,000 Amex points which converts into 60,000 Virgin Points.
(Want to earn more Virgin Points? Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)