Introduced five years ago, ‘Points Plus Money’ was Virgin Atlantic’s response to ‘Part Pay With Avios‘. It also echoes schemes such as Norwegian Reward which only let you use your points for a discount on a future cash booking.
Today I want to review whether Virgin Atlantic’s ‘Points Plus Money’ option is a good deal or not.
You can find full details on the Virgin Atlantic website here.
British Airways regularly trials different versions of ‘Part Pay With Avios‘. We have seen changes in the maximum number of Avios you can use and we’ve seen changes, up and down, in what you got for them. During promotions, such as the exceptional ‘2p per Avios’ offer in 2021, you have occasionally been able to get real value.
(During the 2021 offer, you could book a random flight, getting 2p per Avios redeemed, and then immediately cancel it for a pandemic-era British Airways ‘Future Travel Voucher’. You were effectively cashing in your Avios pot for a BA gift voucher at 2p per Avios.)
How does Virgin’s ‘Points Plus Money’ work?
Virgin Flying Club has taken a simpler approach:
- there is NO tapering of value per point – unlike British Airways, you get the same value irrespective of how many Virgin Points you redeem
- they do NOT run any promotions – the value per point remains static from month to month
- you can pay for ALL of your flight using ‘Points Plus Money’ – unlike Avios, which caps the discount you can receive
(Strictly speaking, the maximum redemption you can make per person is the cost of the lowest priced ticket on the booking. If every ticket costs the same, which is normally the case, then you can pay the entire bill with points. If one is cheaper – perhaps because it is a child flying Economy who is exempt from Air Passenger Duty – the discount per ticket is capped at the cost of the cheapest ticket.)
What value do you get for Virgin Points with ‘Points Plus Money’?
The value is fixed at £16.50 for every 3,000 points you redeem.
That means, to save you getting your calculator out, 0.55p per point.
There is no limit to how many points you can redeem but it must be in multiples of 3,000 Virgin Points.
It is worth noting that this rate has quietly got worse since ‘Points Plus Money’ was launched in 2017, when you could get 0.6p per point.
Here is an example, where I reduce the fare to exactly £0 by using 102,000 Virgin Points:
This is actually 0.537p per Virgin Point, because the airline rounds up the points needed to the nearest 3,000. If I wanted to maximise to the last penny, I would have redeemed 99,000 points for £544.50 off (exactly 0.55p) and paid the extra £4.04 in cash.
Here’s the small print:
- you can only use ‘Points Plus Money’ when booking a cash ticket online, but not in the app, on mobile or via the call centre
- you can only use it on Virgin Atlantic operated flights, not codeshares or partners
- the ticket can be for anyone – you do not need to travel
- there are no blackout dates or inventory restrictions
- you can upgrade or use vouchers as you can with a standard cash ticket
- your ticket will earn Virgin Points and tier points as usual
There is only one catch, but it won’t apply to many people. If you cancel a REFUNDABLE ‘Points Plus Money’ flight ticket, you lose the points. You don’t get the cash equivalent back either except for the element reflecting Government taxes. Very few leisure travellers book refundable tickets, however, so this is unlikely to impact you. This rule does not apply if you cancel during the 24 hour ‘cooling off’ period.
You will, of course, also lose your points if you cancel a non-refundable ticket booked via ‘Points Plus Money’. This is logical, however, as you would have lost your money if you had paid in cash.
If Virgin Atlantic cancels your flight, you will receive a full refund of both the cash and Virgin Points used.
Is Virgin Atlantic’s ‘Points Plus Money’ good value?
No, not really. I look to get around 1p per mile from my Flying Club points when redeeming for mileage tickets so the idea of accepting 0.55p via this route is not attractive.
- Imagine you earned your Virgin Points via Tesco Clubcard. You would be using £1 of Clubcard vouchers for 250 Virgin points worth £1.38 of flight discount. This is not a very impressive return given some of the other Clubcard deals out there at 3x face value.
- Imagine you earned your Virgin Points via Heathrow Rewards (1:1 transfer rate). You would be giving up £1 of Heathrow shopping vouchers for 55p of flight discounts – not smart.
If you earn all of your Virgin Points from flying for work – so you haven’t actually paid anything for them at all – then ‘Points Plus Money’ is an option to consider.
If you have been collecting Virgin Points via a partner instead then you should be turning your nose up at just getting 0.55p per point for them.
How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (January 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):
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.
The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points.
Small business owners should consider the two American Express Business cards. Points convert at 1:1 into 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.)