For the first time in 18 months, Virgin Atlantic has launched an impressive special offer for its Virgin Money-issued Reward and Reward+ credit cards.
Thursdasy 14th is your last full day to sign up.
If you had been waiting for a good time to apply, this is it. The reopening of the US for travel from November for most people means that Virgin Points are worth having. It is also your first chance to get a higher bonus since the annual spend voucher was improved last August.
Until mid morning on Friday:
- you will earn 2,000 Virgin Points (usually nothing) on the FREE Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card
- you will get 30,000 Virgin Points (usually 15,000 points) if you take out the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card
This offer runs until mid-morning on 15th October. For safety, apply by Thursday 14th October. You can apply here.
It is worth noting that Virgin Money will give you a new bonus if you previously cancelled your card at least six months ago. However, if you currently have one of the cards, you will not receive a bonus if you apply for the card you do not hold.
If you currently have a Virgin Money card which is NOT a Virgin Atlantic card, you DO qualify for the sign-up bonus.
No foreign exchange fees in Europe
If you are looking for a good reason to apply – apart from the bonus – this is it. Whilst you will struggle to find any mention of this on the card website, the Virgin Atlantic cards are the only travel rewards credit cards which offer a partial respite on FX fees when travelling.
You pay no FX fees on spending in Euro, Swedish Kronor or Romanian Lei. This saves you 3% on your purchases and you earn Virgin Points on top. The 3% fee applies to transactions in all other currencies.
Here is the exact wording from the summary credit agreement:
“Non-Sterling Transaction Fee (for foreign currency transactions): 2.99% of transaction. We will not charge this if the transaction is in Euros, Swedish Kronor or Romanian Lei and it takes place in the UK or European Economic Area (EEA)”
What are the key features of the Virgin Atlantic credit cards?
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 receive a bonus of 2,000 Virgin Points.
You must spend £500 within 90 days of opening your account to receive the bonus.
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 be able to earn up to 30,000 Virgin Points:
- 15,000 Virgin Points for the first purchase made on the card in the first 90 days
- Plus another 15,000 Virgin Points when you apply on or before 15th October and £3,000 is spent on the card within 90 days of opening the account
With this deal, you are receiving – when you factor in the annual fee – 30,000 Virgin Points, which are worth around £300 if redeemed for long-haul premium flights, for £160.
You will also benefit from earning a very generous 1.5 miles per £1 spent going forwards.
Which card is best for you?
The Reward+ card remains the better deal in my view. The bonus is more generous (2,000 points on the free card vs 30,000 miles for £160 on the paid card).
More importantly, once you have the Reward+ card, you are earning the superior 1.5 points per £1 whenever you shop. You also trigger the upgrade and companion vouchers more quickly.
Big spenders should note that your monthly points earning is capped by your credit limit. What this means, in plain English, is that if your limit is £10,000, the maximum number of points you can earn per month is 7,500 on the free card and 15,000 on the paid card. If you spend £10,000 every 10 days and then pay off your balance mid-cycle, you will not earn miles on your spending above £10,000. This is unlikely to be an issue for 99% of people.
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.
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 little more flexibility.
These are your rewards for hitting the spending target each year
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. Annoyingly, vouchers do not show anywhere online.
The only sign that your voucher is available for us is a one-line entry in your Flying Club account statement along the lines of ‘Reward voucher – 0 miles’.
You can choose one of the following options:
- A 2-4-1 voucher, valid for two years, for a Virgin Flying Club points redemption OR a Virgin Atlantic cash ticket, 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)
There is 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
Reward seat availability is required to use the voucher. This means:
- You can only upgrade a flight if there is a reward seat in the higher class (irrespective of whether you are upgrading a cash or a points ticket)
- You can only apply a 2-4-1 voucher to a cash booking if there is a reward seat available for the 2nd ‘free’ seat
The voucher benefits are substantially better now than they were before changes 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.
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 (if any) and outlining your income and lack of non-mortgage debts. They will reconsider and you will normally end up being successful.
This is an excellent sign-up bonus. If you haven’t taken out one of the new Virgin Atlantic credit cards yet, I doubt you will see a better deal than this. I genuinely don’t know how Virgin Money / Virgin Atlantic can afford such a bonus in the world of 0.3% interchange fees, and you should take advantage before they realise.
The £160 Reward+ card is the better overall package because of the high earning rate and the bonus triggered at just £10,000.
You can, of course, simply get the free card and pick up 2,000 Virgin Points for very little effort, but earning 30,000 points for £160 on the paid card is more rewarding.
Even if you usually use another Visa or Mastercard for day to day spending, you may want to pick up the free card to use in the Eurozone. The ability to earn a few miles and avoid foreign exchange fees is attractive.
You can apply for either of the new Virgin Atlantic credit cards via this link.
The offer will end mid-morning on 15th October, so for safety I would apply by close of play on Thursday 14th October.