Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Is Virgin Atlantic’s ‘Points Plus Money’ feature a good deal?

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

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.

Virgin Atlantic Points Plus Money

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:

Virgin Atlantic Points Plus Money

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
How does Virgin Atlantic Points Plus Money work?

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.

It IS better value than using your Virgin Points for hotel redemptions, Virgin Vouchers or similar non-flying redemptions via the Virgin Red app, where 0.5p per point is the going rate.

It is also better value than transferring your points into IHG Rewards or Hilton Honors hotel points.

However …..

  • 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.

You can learn more about ‘Points Plus Money’ on here.

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

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):

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus 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.

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable 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.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up 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 (20)

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

  • rob(staaaar) says:

    Slightly OT: Been up all all night in the vain attempt to redeem one of five ‘earned’ VS companion vouchers for a flight stateside – a hopeless exercise; would be interested to know whether someone can get the low down on how many VS or BA companion vouchers go unused each year. Seems a crying shame they can’t be donated for a charitable cause – in my case this’ll be the 3rd due to covid, poor planning and the sheer lack of availability…

    • Reney says:

      Since Covid, I have let one BA voucher expire. I think one VS is about to expire another 1 will do this year and another next year. With VS cutting the HKG route it has limited my option. Flew to the US twice last year, both times couldn’t find availabilities on VS but could on BA even thou they were cities served by VS. To be fair at least once was before they offered guarantee availabilities. I view vouchers as freebies (and only value the points), makes it easier to let them go if I feel like I have not paid for them, and damn glad to have them if they come into good use!

    • Anna says:

      Attempting to redeem it how?

      • rob(staaaar) says:

        On the phone to VS call centre (3am – I was impressed they answered!) No availability for the dates I was after; 2 BA vouchers and an upcoming VS gone to pot so far ;-(

        Can I gift it? (Hope I can).

      • Brenda Collins says:

        I am attempting to redeem mine. They keep you on hold for several minutes, when you ask questions regarding your redeem airline tickets, they keep putting your hold acting like they do not understand or can’t answer your questions. I was originally told, I can use my ticket no matter what the increase in fares maybe. I think they just want me to forget about it. This is one of the worst airlines I have ever purchase phone. I will never purchase from this airline again.

    • Alan says:

      I’d recommend subscribing to SeatSpy so you don’t spend an age on the phone. I used that to find availability and got an open jaw booked in 10 min over the phone. Unfortunately I’ve still another 3 vouchers left to use!

      • Alan says:

        PS remember you can always just book online then call back and ask them to retrospectively apply the voucher.

  • lumma says:

    It’s probably exactly what Virgin Atlantic want, but a few years back I was sitting on a decent pile of VS points and I was often tempted to cash them in a completely “free” flight to America. (In the end I used for ANA business class to Japan).

    The problem with virgin points is that you need a very high number of them for anything decent, whereas Avios are easy to beat the 1p per point on short haul flight for just a few thousand points.

  • Patrick C says:

    Might actually consider this, because getting 1p for the points is very tough, especially for US bound flights given VS insane taxes. Using miles and still paying 1k cash for the ticket is not much fun

    • cinereus says:

      Yeah, getting 1p/point apart from on things like ANA is basically impossible with VS.

  • Keiths says:

    I had completely forgotten about VS ‘Points plus Money’
    This maybe naive, but would a non status passenger, using a 2:4:1 in Econ and P/E achieve the 1p per mile valuation? And in Upper they would get 0.75p value per mile (based on the voucher only giving 50% off Upper companions)?

    • Rob says:

      Given flight prices these days, possibly. Lots of factors though, eg flight prices far higher for cash if not away for a Sat night.

  • Scott says:

    I’ve got 18k or so Virgin points. Pretty much earned from auto converting Clubcard points over the last 3 years or so.
    Haven’t flown with them since 2007 to be honest, but a few points a year keeps the account alive.
    Probably need around 3x that for a UC redemption (got enough for PE one way to say JFK + £350ish in taxes, or a few of Greggs overpriced sausage rolls!).
    Rarely shop at Tesco these days to be honest though as Nectar is more useful at present.

    May look at their e-store sometime to see if there’s anything half decent there.

    • Mark says:

      Might be worth you considering a Virgin Atlantic credit card, especially if they offer another 30K sign-up bonus for the paid card. If you can spend £10K in a year on the paid card, you can use the voucher for an upgrade and you’d then have enough for a UC return ticket (depending on whether it’s peak/off-peak and your desired destination). We did a late November trip to Antigua (off-peak) last year in UC for £520 + 35K points + an upgrade voucher each. Taxes and fees will be somewhat higher now, but still likely to be one of the better value redemptions if you can get in early, or are lucky enough to find seats on suitable dates.

    • lumma says:

      Virgin points never expire anymore, so you don’t need to earn a few per year

  • Deb20 says:

    A few years ago, I used points to reduce the price of an UC ticket by about £200. No Virgin FC miles, as they were called back then if I recall correctly, were awarded for the entire flight as a result of my using the miles to part pay 10% of the fare.

    Is that still the case for Virgin Atlantic? BA doesn’t have this issue or policy of not awarding Avios for flights that have been bought with cash and Avios.

  • Josh O says:

    This may be a well known thing but I thought it was worth mentioning as I only found out of it recently – VS companion vouchers only need to be BOOKED by the expiry date. If I am not mistaken – with the BA voucher you must fly, at least, the outbound. It may even be both legs.

    • john says:

      On BA just the outbound.

    • Alan says:

      Are you sure, Josh? I recently queried this with them and have been told by multiple agents (including in writing) that outbound travel is required – although I can imagine givne the manual processes involved it might be possible to get away with just booking when the voucher is valid!

  • Russell says:

    I appreciate this is “Points Plus Money”, but the “Points” option I think maybe does offer some value at the lower end. I may be wrong, but this is my thinking….

    Trying to book LHR-ATL over the summer you cannot find anything for less than £1500 for 2 people. But the points option is fixed at 45k points and £250 per person … so 90k points and £500. This equates to about £1k saving for 90k points, or 1.1p per point.

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

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.