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Do you know that you earn status tier points on Virgin Atlantic redemption flights?

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Back in September 2020 – so it was easy to miss at the heart of the pandemic – Virgin Atlantic become the first airline in the world to give you tier points when you book a redemption flight using your air miles.

This allows you to earn elite status in Virgin Flying Club without necessarily ever purchasing a cash ticket! This could, in theory, be possible if you earned all your Virgin Points from credit cards or other non-flying partners.

Virgin Atlantic to offer tier points on redemption miles flights

This was a genuine shake up for the industry. Virgin said at the time that it wanted to ‘ensure members are rewarded every single time they choose to fly with Virgin’.

How do you earn tier points on Virgin Atlantic flight redemptions?

This is how it works:

  • You only earn tier points when you redeem on Virgin Atlantic flights. It does NOT apply for redemption flights on partner airlines, even when those flights are codeshares with Delta, Air France or KLM.
  • You do NOT earn tier points if you redeem miles from other programmes for Virgin Atlantic flights. You cannot book a Virgin Atlantic ticket using Flying Blue or Delta SkyMiles and earn tier points. Only tickets booked with Virgin Points count.
  • The tier points you earn are based on the lowest amount offered for that ticket class. For example, if you book a cash ticket in Economy on Virgin Atlantic, you would earn between 25 and 50 tier points each way. On a redemption, you earn 25 tier points each way.
  • You do not earn redeemable Virgin Points when you fly on a reward ticket. You only earn tier points.

How many tier points will I earn?

You can learn about tier points on this page of the Virgin Atlantic website.

On redemption flights, you will earn the following:

  • Economy: 25 tier points each way
  • Premium: 50 tier points each way
  • Upper Class: 100 tier points each way
Virgin Atlantic to offer tier points on air miles free flights

How many tier points do I need for Virgin Atlantic status?

There are two elite tiers in the Virgin Atlantic programme:

Silver status

Silver usually requires 400 tier points in a rolling 12 month period. Until 31st March 2023, however, this is reduced to 300 tier points.

The key benefits are free seat selection in Economy Light, use of premium check-in and 30% bonus miles on cash flights. You do NOT get lounge access.

You can see full details of Silver status on the Virgin Atlantic website here.

Gold status

Gold requires 1,000 tier points in a rolling 12 month period. Until 31st March 2023, however, this is reduced to 800 tier points.

The key benefits are access to Clubhouses and the Heathrow Revivals lounge, use of Upper Class check-in, additional luggage allowance and 60% bonus miles on cash flights.

You can see full details of Gold status here.

Note that, unlike British Airways Executive Club, Virgin Atlantic status is initially earned on a rolling 12 month basis. There is no defined ‘year end’. Instead, each time you earn tier points, Virgin looks back at the previous 12 months and if your tier point total takes you above the tier threshold, you are promoted.

Once you earn Silver status, you move to a fixed year and have 12 months to earn enough tier points to renew. If you don’t, you drop back to the base level and back onto the rolling basis.

Is this a good deal?

Yes. You can’t argue that this is an excellent opportunity to earn Virgin Atlantic status.

Realistically, I doubt many people would redeem enough miles on Virgin Atlantic to be able to progress beyond Silver status if they had no cash flights as well.

Of course, once you have earned some tier points using ‘non flying’ miles, you may well be tempted to buy some cash tickets to push you over the next status tier.

For people who already fly Virgin Atlantic for cash and manage 400 to 600 tier points per year, Gold status could now be within reach. It would only take a couple of Upper Class redemptions within a 12 month period.

Why is Virgin Atlantic doing this? Perhaps they are nice people. Perhaps they want to encourage redemptions on Virgin Atlantic, rather than via partner airlines or into wine or Hilton or IHG hotel points. Whatever the reason, it will be interesting to watch how it works now that travel is picking up – and whether British Airways eventually follows suit.

You can find out more on the Virgin Atlantic website here.

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (June 2023)

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, the Reward+ card has a bonus of 15,000 Virgin Points):

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ card is doubled to 30,000 Virgin Points. Apply here.

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

30,000 points bonus (to 13th June) and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

A generous earning rate for a free card at 0.75 points per £1 Read our full review

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.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card is doubled to 60,000 Membership Rewards points (worth 60,000 Virgin Points) – and you get £200 to spend at Amex Travel too! Apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points AND a £200 Amex Travel voucher until 13th June! Read our full review

Small business owners should consider the two American Express Business cards. Points convert at 1:1 into Virgin Points.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn 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.)

Comments (11)

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

  • QFFlyer says:

    First airline in the world isn’t correct – I don’t know the exact answer, but I do know that QF started awarding SCs on redemptions in March 2020 (to their PC/PC+ members, but still, PC is a level that’s very easy to attain).

  • henry437 says:

    Not the only airline at all – Delta also award MQMs for reward travel.

  • ECR says:

    Qantas Points Club is actually very clever, in that you have to earn 150,000 Qantas Points (their equivalent to avios) in a year to qualify but points that count from flying are capped at 20,000. Status Credits (equivalent to tier points) are earned at a reduced rate.

    It is a great way to bring in revenue from non flying activity, and is something that BA/IAG should look at. Perhaps the figures might work for BA/IAG if they offered 2 tier points on short haul flights for those that have earned 100,000 avios from non flying activity in a year.

    • John says:

      It’s already complicated enough

      • MD says:

        Ugh, I agree. That’s needlessly overcomplicated.

        • QFFlyer says:

          It’s really not complicated at all, it’s just another accrual counter – it doesn’t affect how you earn points or status, just provides some extra benefits if you earn enough non-flying points (capped at 125k per transaction, which is likely to only be exceeded by a few credit card SUBs).

          If you have status, you don’t really need the PC/PC+ benefits (although the hotel/wine vouchers are a nice bonus), but if you do have PC/PC+ and make a lot of redemptions, you’re rewarded by earning SCs (status credits = tier points) on those flights (greatly reduced rate over revenue flights, but they add up quickly) – this is logical, since QF are still getting paid for these flights somewhere along the line. I earn SCs on Avios redemptions on QF.

          • QFFlyer says:

            I wasn’t clear, but there’s 2x tiers – Points Club (150k points earned “on the ground”) and Points Club Plus (350k). PC+ also allows you to roll over up to 100 status credits each year, these count towards earning/renewal of Silver/Gold/Platinum (but not Platinum One) status.

  • memesweeper says:

    I think it makes perfect sense. A frequent flyer scheme should recognise frequent flyers! How they acquire the tickets shouldn’t matter.

    Very few people would acquire status from award bookings … but a few might be tipped over the edge (or get closer) with a reward booking or two. This might then make them more likely to book Virgin/Delta next time as opposed to BA/AA.

  • inizii says:

    Worth mentioning perhaps that tier points are also awarded for bookings made with Virgin Holidays, including hotel only bookings. 20 tier points per £500 spend.
    Also pleasantly surprised to pick up Virgin tier points for several short haul flights with KLM – 10 per sector 👍🏻

  • Carley says:

    Recently bought flights with virgin using my points, didnt get any tier points

    • Rob says:

      I’m assuming a) you have flown the redemption, b) you booked a Virgin aicraft and c) you used Virgin Points and not another airline currency?

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

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