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What is the best Virgin Atlantic credit card for you?

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In April 2018, Virgin Atlantic launched its two new Virgin Flying Club credit cards, issued by Virgin Money.  They have proved hugely successful with, so I understand, over 200,000 applications so far.

We rarely look at the two cards from first principles, so I thought it was worth another look today. It is now 18 months since the annual voucher was improved, giving you the choice of either a 2-4-1 redemption or an upgrade voucher. Uniquely, the 2-4-1 and upgrade vouchers are valid on both cash and Virgin Points tickets.

Virgin Money has also removed the 3% FX fee when you use these cards in the Eurozone – the only travel rewards cards to do so.

Full details are on the card website here.

What is the best Virgin Atlantic credit card for you?

In this article I want to run through the key benefits of both Virgin Atlantic credit cards side by side to help you decide which is best for you.

Here are the key features:

  • You can choose between a free Virgin Atlantic Mastercard (no sign-up bonus) and a paid Mastercard (15,000 points sign-up bonus).
  • The earning rates are EXCELLENT.  0.75 points per £1 on the free card and 1.5 points per £1 on the fee card.
  • The Virgin Atlantic credit cards come with a 2-4-1 voucher.  It is substantially more powerful than the British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher because the Virgin 2-4-1 voucher can also be used on cash tickets.
  • Solo travellers can choose, instead, to upgrade a flight by one class.  This applies to BOTH cash and points flights.  You can go from Premium to Upper Class (the best deal) or from Economy Classic / Economy Delight to Premium.
  • The vouchers are valid for two years
  • All Virgin Atlantic cardholders get free access to Virgin Money lounges around the UK
  • You pay no FX fees on in-person spending in Euro, Swedish Kronor or Romanian Lei

Let’s look at the two cards in detail:

Virgin Atlantic Rewards credit card

The FREE card – Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card

I am legally obliged to tell you that the representative APR is 22.9% variable.

As you can see from the picture above, the free Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card is pretty cool, as credit cards go.  There is NO information on the front.  No card number, no personal name (these are on the back) although there is the usual chip.  The card is coloured red on the edge which makes it stand out when you look into your wallet or card holder.

This is what you get (full details are on the Virgin Money website here)

  • No annual fee
  • No sign-up bonus
  • 0.75 Virgin Points per £1 spent
  • Double points on online or call centre bookings with Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays
  • Unlimited free access to Virgin Money lounges across the UK
  • 0% interest for six months on balance transfers (3% fee)
  • Spend £20,000 in a card year and select a 241 voucher, upgrade voucher or another reward – more on those below

You can apply for the FREE Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card here.

HFP Virgin Atlantic Rewards Plus Credit Card

The fee card – Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card

This card has a representative APR of 63.9% based on a notional £1,200 credit limit and the annual fee.  The representative APR on purchases is 22.9%.

This card is even cooler to look at, in my view, than the free card.  Again, your name and your card number are printed on the back, giving an impressive looking piece of plastic.  The card is also coloured red on the edges.

This is what you get (full details are on the Virgin Money website here):

  • £160 annual fee
  • 15,000 Virgin Points as a sign-up bonus, triggered with your first purchase
  • 1.5 Virgin Points per £1 spent
  • Double points on online or call centre bookings with Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays
  • 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)
  • Spend £10,000 in a card year and select a 241 voucher, upgrade voucher or another reward – more on those below

You can apply for the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card here.

What is the best Virgin Atlantic credit card for you?

No foreign exchange fees in Europe

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 in-person 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.

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.

Which Virgin Atlantic credit card is best for you?

As usual, there is no easy answer to this question.  Here are my thoughts.

The free Reward credit card has a very good earnings rate of 0.75 Virgin Points per £1.  This isn’t as good as the new free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard, which earns 1 Avios per £1, but it’s impressive nonetheless.

The paid-for Reward+ credit card is also worth considering, especially for higher spenders.

Purely from a bonus point of view, you are spending £160 to get 15,000 Flying Club points which is a decent deal. And, of course, when you spend on the Reward+ card at the generous 1.5 points per £1 earning rate you do very nicely.

What is the best Virgin Atlantic credit card for you?

The on-going earning rate is EXCELLENT

Let’s not beat around the bush.  Looking first at the free Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card, 0.75 Virgin Flying Club points per £1 spent is a very generous return.

The only free card which beats it is the new free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard which earns 1 Avios per £1 spent.

Apart from that, the only other travel rewards Visa or Mastercard is from Tesco. The free Tesco Clubcard Mastercard gives 0.125 Clubcard points per £1 (0.3 Virgin Points) which I value at 0.3p. The free Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card is twice as valuable as this.

On the fee-based Reward+ credit card, I would value 1.5 Virgin Flying Club points per £1 at 1.5p which is a great return if you spend enough to justify the fee.

Again, the only card which matches this in terms of rewards is the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard. This earns 1.5 Avios per £1.

There is one bit of small print to note. The number of points you can earn per month is capped by your credit limit. If your credit limit is £5,000 and you choose to spend £4,000, pay it off mid-month and then charge another £3,000 before month-end, you will only earn points on the first £5,000.

What is the best Virgin Atlantic credit card for you?

You can now redeem Virgin Points on Air France and KLM

Virgin Flying Club has added Air France and KLM flights for redemption.  This has added short haul options in Europe as well as the excellent Air France / KLM long-haul network.

You can read about how to redeem Virgin Points on Air France and KLM in this article.

For clarity, you cannot use the 2-4-1 or upgrade vouchers from the credit card on KLM or Air France.  They are only valid on Virgin Atlantic flights.

You will need a decent stock of points – more than your initial 15,000 credit card miles – to take advantage of Air France and KLM redemptions.  The good news is that you can also earn Virgin Flying Club points through transfers from other partners:

  • American Express Membership Rewards from Amex Gold or The Platinum Card (1:1)
  • Tesco Clubcard (1 point is 2.5 miles)
  • Heathrow Rewards (1:1)
  • Transfers from hotel loyalty schemes

There are also lots of partner promotions which we write about on Head for Points.  You CAN build up a decent stock of miles relatively easily – the ‘free for a year’ American Express Preferred Rewards Gold has a 20,000 point sign-up bonus which will convert into 20,000 Virgin points.

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review


From the perspective of day-to-day earning, the Virgin Atlantic credit cards are excellent.

The improvements to the credit card vouchers in August 2020 make a SUBSTANTIAL difference to the value of the card.

Winners include:

  • Solo travellers, who can now use the voucher to upgrade a return cash or mileage flight from Premium to flat bed Upper Class
  • ‘No status’ Red and mid tier Silver members of Virgin Flying Club, who can finally use the 2-4-1 voucher to redeem in Upper Class
  • Anyone who has a low points balance and who can now use their voucher to get a 2-4-1 or upgrade on a cash ticket

If you are a casual Virgin Flying Club collector, 0.75 points per £1 spent on the free card will see your balance move along.  However, you would get better value from paying £160 for one year for the Reward+ card to get the 15,000 points bonus and the 1.5 points per £1 spent.

Access to seven Virgin Money lounges around the UK (I reviewed the Piccadilly one here although you now need to use the one around the corner on Haymarket) is a decent extra perk for everyone. There is no reopening date for these, however. 

You can apply for the FREE Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card (no bonus) here and the paid-for Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card (15,000 points bonus) here.

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibly to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points. The site discusses products offered by lenders but is not a lender itself. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as an independent credit broker.

Comments (72)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Harrier25 says:

    Can you downgrade to the free card from the paid card, or do you still have to cancel and re-apply after waiting 6 months?

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      I have not been able to do that the opposite way round so I would say no.

    • Jonathan says:

      When I cancelled my Plus card and applied for the free card about a day or so after the old Plus account had been properly shut down, I got a message saying that we can’t give you an answer right now, after my application was looked at for a few days in office by humans and not computers (!) I got accepted, despite the fact that I’d literally just cancelled the Plus card and you’re supposed to wait a minimum of 6 months before you apply for either card again

  • Freddy says:

    Not worth either when availability is none-existent

    • Jonathan says:

      There are some very good non-VS redemptions available that can booked using their points, so just because you’re earning their points it doesn’t mean you have to redeem by flying in their aircraft

      • Blair Waldorf Salad says:

        You can’t use the voucher though. I am coming up towards end of my first year with V+. I will be cancelling, struggling to use my voucher, and will run down the points on AF/KLM shorthaul.

        • Fraser says:

          Just use the voucher to book whatever flight you can find before it expires. You can then change the flight, including destination, for £35.

  • Matty says:

    I’ve a voucher from Feb 2020. My account says it expires next month. Were these extended and to when?

    • Jonathan says:

      It’s probably best to call to clarify the expiry dates of the voucher, unfortunately that’s the only way of being able to find out, unless you can remember the exact date you received the voucher, and how long it’s been extended by (due to heavy travel restrictions), even then you could get surprise when told much longer it’s valid for

    • teaboy says:

      @Matty, I wasn’t sure of my expiry dates and found sending them a message on WhatsApp to be the easiest way of getting the info.

    • Alan says:

      Generally all extended. I find their phone lines slow so use their WhatsApp service. Takes a couple of days but then you have a reply in writing too.

      • Matty says:

        Thanks all. I’d forgotten about WhatsApp. Didn’t fancy two-hours waiting on the phone.

  • SammyJ says:

    Is there an easy way of seeing how much you’ve spent, like the tracker bar on the BA website for the companion voucher?

    And if trying to book 241 with no status, but on a cash ticket, do they charge 50% of the cash price for the second ticket? It only mentions 50% of the points.

    • Rob says:

      Irrespective of whether the first ticket is cash or points, you Kay half the points price plus taxes for the 2nd ticket AFAIK.

      No spend counter.

      • Darren says:

        So how can you get 2-4-1 on a cash ticket if you don’t have enough points to pay 50% surcharge in points ?
        Possible or not ?

        • Rob says:

          Not possible AFAIK – that said, there is very little evidence because the changes only came in during August 2020 and obviously not many people have redeemed a voucher since then. If you have Virgin status its a clean 2-4-1 though, eg you buy one seat for cash and just pay the taxes on the 2nd one. Can be an outstanding deal during a sale.

  • Concerto says:

    Getting rid of that 3% FX is a good thing. Shame they don’t include the Swiss franc along with the Euro and other European currencies listed.

    • cats_are_best says:

      Yes, I’d certainly never have known if it wasn’t for Rob’s article.

      It’ll come in handy for buying from EU websites as well as visits. Just need to remember to use it!

      Odd that they fail to mention it as one of the card benefits on the main pages.

      Eventually found it in the T&C summary…

      This also confirms the Mastercard FX rate will be used.

  • Nimesh Shah says:

    I have earned the voucher, got an email but does seem to show up on my Virgin flying miles login or my Virgin credit card?
    Where does this apprear?

    Also, seems for booking using voucher unlike BA phone call is the only way , bit of a drag and painful holding 2 hours on the line.
    Any other options?

    • Rob says:

      It doesn’t appear, except for a one line entry on your points statement saying ‘Card voucher – 0 points’ or similar.

    • Jonathan says:

      You can contact them via WhatsApp, you won’t get an immediate response, like people have said above it’ll take a couple of days, but you won’t have your phone in hand waiting around for 2 odd hours until you get through to someone, plus you’ll also have it written down

  • rams says:

    Is there a clever way to get status match to silver or above to use the 2 for 1 more efficiently without having a flight booked?

  • @alastairtravel says:

    Anyone know if you cancel the V+ card after a year does the voucher still hold for the 2 year validity.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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