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Is 30,000 bonus points from Virgin’s credit card a reason to collect Virgin Points?

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Until 6th June, you can get a special sign-up bonus of 30,000 Virgin Points with the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card.

As well as reminding you about the card bonus, I thought it was worth looking more broadly at whether there is an opportunity, even for someone without a Virgin Flying Club account at the moment, to build up a pile of points from scratch very quickly?  And should you?

Does the reopening of the US create a good opportunity to focus on Virgin Points?

Is 30,000 bonus points from Virgin's credit card a reason to collect Virgin Points?

It is not up to me to tell you if this is a good idea FOR YOU or not.  However, this article sets out a few reasons why you might want to consider it.

As a reminder:

  • The £160 Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card has a sign-up bonus of 30,000 Virgin Points, earns 1.5 points per £1 and comes with a 241 or upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 per year.  The usual bonus is 15,000 points.
  • There is no special offer on the free Virgin Atlantic credit card, which has no bonus at all
  • The cards are issued by Virgin Money so it is very unlikely that you will be conflicted due to having any other cards from the same bank
  • The cards have no foreign exchange fees when used in the Eurozone

Our full article from last week on the 30,000 points bonus looks at the benefits of the two cards in detail.  I recommend you read our main Virgin Atlantic credit card article here.

You can apply for the cards here.

I need to tell you that the free Reward card has a representative APR of 22.9% variable.  The Reward+ 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%.

30,000 points Virgin Atlantic Rewards Plus Credit Card

Why is it worth thinking about building up a Virgin Flying Club balance?

Reason 1:  Diversification

British Airways can fly you to pretty much anywhere that Virgin Atlantic can, apart from Havana.  However, that doesn’t mean they can get you Avios seats when you want them.  Having a balance in another programme gives you more chance of getting seats on the dates you want them.

Both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic allow one-way redemptions, so with a Virgin balance you could mix and match a trip as availability allows. Virgin Atlantic also partners with Delta, Air France and KLM as well as a number of other airlines.

I used to suggest that Virgin Atlantic was not a good choice for anyone needing to redeem in the UK school holidays.  However, with the addition of Air France and KLM, you now have a better chance of getting the seats you want.  Dutch and French school holidays rarely match UK ones.

Reason 2:  Availability

I rarely redeem on Virgin Atlantic, so cannot comment on how easy or hard it is to get availability.  It is fair to say that, at present, it isn’t great as Virgin Atlantic tries to cash in on strong demand for paid trips.

That said, it is clearly better to have access to pots of BOTH Avios and Virgin Points than to have just one pot on hand.

In general, Upper Class cabins have fewer seats than British Airways Club World cabins, with subsequent squeezes on availability. Is it easy to get four Upper Class seats on Virgin for a family? I don’t know. It isn’t a problem with British Airways on many routes – we are off to Mauritius over May half term in Club World.

You can check availability on the Virgin Atlantic website without having enough miles in your account to do the redemption. You should spend some time researching your favourite routes before deciding whether to commit miles to Flying Club.  The good news is that the addition of Air France and KLM as partners gives you more options if Virgin Atlantic cannot deliver via its own aircraft.

Luckily, there is an online tool – seatspy.com – which can instantly show you Virgin Atlantic reward availability for a full year in a split second.  You can compare it easily with British Airways availability.

Is 30,000 bonus points from Virgin's credit card a reason to collect Virgin Points?

Reason 3:  The Virgin Atlantic credit cards also have the option of an upgrade voucher

If you don’t want to take the 2-4-1 voucher from the Virgin Atlantic credit cards, you can get a voucher to upgrade a flight instead.

This is a very useful benefit for the solo traveller, who has no use for a 2-4-1 voucher from either BA or Virgin. It can also be used by a couple, upgrading one leg each of two return flights.

The voucher can be used to upgrade either cash or reward tickets. However, you need reward availability to be showing in the higher class before you can do it.

Extra taxes would be due, unfortunately, especially when upgrading from Economy to Premium as you will face the higher rate of Air Passenger Duty.

The spending criteria for earning the 2-4-1 voucher or the Premium Economy upgrade voucher is:

  • £10,000 in a card year on the £160 Reward+ Mastercard (sign-up bonus 30,000 points)
  • £20,000 in a card year on the free Reward Mastercard (no bonus)

Reason 4:  If Virgin Points don’t work out, you can transfer to Hilton Honors or IHG One Rewards

Rare among airline schemes, Virgin Flying Club lets you transfer points out into Hilton Honors (1:1.5) or IHG One Rewards (the Holiday Inn etc scheme) at 1:1.

If you found yourself struggling to use your Virgin Points, you could move them across.  It isn’t amazing value but it gets you out of a hole.

Remember that neither Hilton or IHG currently have UK credit cards open to new applicants. With Hilton, for places that take American Express, you would be better off earning Hilton Honors points via the (free in Year 1) Amex Gold which earns 2 Hilton points per £1 spent. There is no other route of earning IHG points with a UK credit card.

Is 30,000 bonus points from Virgin's credit card a reason to collect Virgin Points?

Reason 5:  The Heathrow Clubhouse

The Virgin Atlantic lounge at Heathrow, for Upper Class passengers, is widely regarded as one of the best airport lounges in the world. Eat a proper meal in the restaurant, chill out in the audio or TV rooms or do one of many other (admittedly ‘boys toys’) activities.  It is well worth trying once in your life. The jacuzzi may be long gone but it is still a fun place to hang out.

Here is my review of the Clubhouse at Heathrow from the reopening party last July.

Reason 6:  It is easy to collect additional points

It is now almost as as easy to collect Virgin Points as it is Avios. As well as the credit card points (and, erm, actually flying on Virgin Atlantic, Air France, KLM and Delta), you can earn from:

  • Tesco Clubcard (with occasional transfer bonuses of 10%-20%) which is no longer an Avios partner
  • Heathrow Rewards
  • Hertz (1,000 Virgin Points per rental)

….. as well as all the major hotel schemes.  As I wrote here, some major hotel chains do not give Avios but do offer Virgin Points.

Conclusion

So, there are a few things to think about here.

Virgin Flying Club has a bit more than Avios to offer to the person who redeems in Economy as you have the ability to upgrade to Premium Economy for free via the credit card voucher.  This is also a perk that solo travellers can enjoy, unlike the British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher.

You also get the option of selected Virgin Atlantic long haul departures from Manchester and, for Barbados and Orlando, Edinburgh.

For business class redemptions, it is less clear cut.  Smaller cabins, a smaller route network and fewer daily flights may make it trickier to find seats whilst the taxes and miles required tend to mirror British Airways.  Air France and KLM make a big difference, however, and your redemption options are a lot broader than they were two years ago.

The main Virgin Atlantic credit card website is here.  Remember to apply by 6th June to get the 30,000 points bonus on the Reward+ credit card.

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.


How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (May 2022)

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 30,000 points until 6th June 2022):

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

30,000 points bonus (SPECIAL OFFER) and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Virgin Rewards credit card

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 Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two 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.

The Platinum Card has doubled its sign-up bonus to 60,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert to 60,000 Virgin Points, if you apply by 1st June 2022.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER) and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

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

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits 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 (52)

  • Max says:

    Would be interesting to know if it’s better to use the upgrade voucher with a cash booking or points booking, given the voucher can be used with both.

    Also, how does this card compare with the Barclaycard avios card, particularly given the fee for this card is lower.

    • Reney says:

      Virgin card no pro rata fee, Barclays you can drop to the free version in theory whenever. So unless you do plan to keep it for a whole year, the fee needs to considered in context.

  • Robert says:

    Can i use a Virgin companion voucher on ANA/Air France, etc?

  • blue_wolf says:

    > With Hilton, for places that take American Express, you would be better off earning Hilton Honors points via the (free in Year 1) Amex Gold which earns 2 Hilton points per £1 spent.

    The Amex Gold gets double points on Hilton spend? First time I’ve heard of this!

    • Blair Waldorf Salad says:

      Yes that confused me too. If a Hilton abroad, then yes 2 points per £1 on foreign curreny spend. But I don’t recall when/how Hilton were elevated to special earning status

    • Peter K says:

      1 amex MR point has converted to 2 HH points for as long as I can remember, with the occasional targeted 50% boost.

  • lumma says:

    The biggest problem with virgin points over avios is that you need a large chunk of them for anything useful, even before the Nectar deal, you could get a flight for 2k avios just by increasing the cash part.

    I suppose you can always buy some sausage rolls.

  • Dave P says:

    Utterly useless if you are looking for UC, unless you want to fly to JFK.
    I will be using my 400k to pay for my Virgin Holiday, then switching fully to Avios for their increased flexibilty.

    Think Virgin should take note, but doubt they will.

    • CarpalTravel says:

      Even that route is absolute trash. It’s the one I always try to use VAA for and for this year had to use BA. Pathetic. 🙄

  • Reney says:

    I’m not sure it is always higher redemption cost, on my current trip I think BA was more expensive but I just couldn’t find availability with VA. The voucher admit more difficult to actually use, but it is a lot more flexible in how you use it.

    Some diversification is probably not a bad thing, ability to transfer to Hilton and IHG is good for top up option. As mention elsewhere good for connection flight within the US.

  • Matty says:

    Is it one 2-4-1 voucher per year or every time you hit the spend threshold? Isn’t it table service at the moment in the Clubhouse? Was there a restaurant and, if so, when is it likely to return?

    • ChasP says:

      Only 1 voucher per year (it is valid for 2 years though) Your voucher spend resets after a year (and you’ve paid another fee)

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