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 Cards‘ area of the menu bar. Our other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.
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.
What is the Virgin Reward+ sign-up bonus?
The sign-up bonus on the Reward+ Mastercard is 15,000 Virgin Points.
You will receive this after your first purchase. There is no spending target to hit.
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?
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)
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. It is only equalled by the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard (£240 annual fee, 25,000 Avios sign-up bonus).
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 cards without any foreign exchange fees globally. One 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 charges outside the EU) 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:
- You can earn points by converting Tesco Clubcard points as well as Heathrow Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards points. Even if you never fly with Virgin Atlantic, you could top up your credit card miles with Tesco points.
- You can transfer Virgin Points to Hilton Honors at a 1 : 1.5 ratio which puts a floor under their value. You can also transfer to IHG Rewards at 1 : 1.
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 Lloyds Bank Cashback credit card. It is free for life and offers 0.25% cashback on your first £4,000 of annual spend and 0.5% thereafter.
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 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.
The Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card is one of the best two airline or hotel Visa or Mastercards on the market. The only direct competitor for the title of ‘best non-Amex card’ is the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard.
15,000 points is a strong sign-up bonus and there is no spending target to hit. You receive the points after making your first purchase on the card.
You may want to consider downgrading to the free card after that if you are not triggering, or do not value, the annual voucher.
The real strength is the on-going earning rate. 1.5 Virgin Points for every £1 you spend is an excellent return.
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 Cards’ 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 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.