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What is the best Virgin Atlantic credit card for you?

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Virgin Atlantic has two Virgin Flying Club credit cards, issued by Virgin Money.  They have proved hugely successful since their 2018 launch with, so I understand, over 200,000 applications so far.

Earlier this month Virgin Atlantic joined the SkyTeam airline alliance. This opened up many new airlines for earning and spending Virgin Points, including Korean Air and Vietnam Airlines for those looking to visit Asia. If Virgin Points are now more on your radar, I thought it was worth a ‘first principles’ look at the two Virgin Atlantic credit cards.

Remember that Virgin Atlantic credit cards have no FX fees in the Eurozone – the only travel rewards cards to offer 0% FX in the region.

Full details are on the card website here.

What is the best Virgin Atlantic credit card for you?

In this article I want to run through the key benefits of both Virgin Atlantic credit cards side by side to help you decide which is best for you.

Here are the key features:

  • You can choose between a free Virgin Atlantic Mastercard (no sign-up bonus) and a paid Mastercard (15,000 points sign-up bonus).
  • The earning rates are EXCELLENT.  0.75 points per £1 on the free card and 1.5 points per £1 on the fee card.
  • The Virgin Atlantic credit cards come with a 2-4-1 voucher for Virgin Atlantic redemptions.  It is substantially more powerful than the British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher because the Virgin Atlantic 2-4-1 voucher can also be used on cash tickets.
  • Solo travellers can choose, instead, to upgrade a flight by one class.  This applies to BOTH cash and points flights.  You can go from Premium to Upper Class (the best deal) or from Economy Classic / Economy Delight to Premium.
  • The vouchers are valid for two years
  • You pay no FX fees on in-person spending in Euro, Swedish Kronor or Romanian Lei

Let’s look at the two cards in detail:

What is the best Virgin Atlantic credit card for you?

The FREE card – Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card

I am legally obliged to tell you that the representative APR is 22.9% variable.

As you can see from the picture above, the free Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card is pretty cool, as credit cards go.  There is NO information on the front.  No card number, no personal name (these are on the back) although there is the usual chip.  The card is coloured red on the edge which makes it stand out when you look into your wallet or card holder.

This is what you get (full details are on the Virgin Money website here)

  • No annual fee
  • No sign-up bonus
  • 0.75 Virgin Points per £1 spent
  • Double points on online or call centre bookings with Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays
  • 0% interest for six months on balance transfers (3% fee)
  • Spend £20,000 in a card year and select a 241 voucher, upgrade voucher or another reward – more on those below

You can apply for the FREE Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card here.

What is the best Virgin Atlantic credit card for you?

The fee card – Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card

This card has a representative APR of 63.9% based on a notional £1,200 credit limit and the annual fee.  The representative APR on purchases is 22.9%.

This card is even cooler to look at, in my view, than the free card.  Again, your name and your card number are printed on the back, giving an impressive looking piece of plastic.  The card is also coloured red on the edges.

This is what you get (full details are on the Virgin Money website here):

  • £160 annual fee
  • 15,000 Virgin Points as a sign-up bonus, triggered with your first purchase
  • 1.5 Virgin Points per £1 spent
  • Double points on online or call centre bookings with Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays
  • Free global wi-fi access via Boingo (works on Virgin Atlantic flights)
  • 0% interest for six months on balance transfers (3% fee)
  • Spend £10,000 in a card year and select a 241 voucher, upgrade voucher or another reward – more on those below

You can apply for the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card here.

What is the best Virgin Atlantic credit card for you?

No foreign exchange fees in Europe

Whilst you will struggle to find any mention of this on the card website, the Virgin Atlantic cards are the only travel rewards credit cards which offer a partial respite on FX fees when travelling.

You pay no FX fees on in-person spending in Euro, Swedish Kronor or Romanian Lei.

This saves you 3% on your purchases and you earn Virgin Points on top. The 3% fee applies to transactions in all other currencies.

These are your rewards for hitting the spending target each year

Your reward is triggered IMMEDIATELY upon hitting the spending target.  The target is £20,000 in a card year for the free Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit card and £10,000 in a card year for the £160 Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card.

Your voucher does not show anywhere online, although your Flying Club account statement will show ‘Virgin Atlantic Credit Card Voucher – 0 points’. This does not show in the Virgin Red app, only in the Virgin Atlantic app or on the website. It can only be redeemed by calling Virgin Atlantic.

You can choose one of the following options:

  • A 2-4-1 voucher, valid for two years, for a Virgin Atlantic points redemption OR a Virgin Atlantic cash ticket, in Upper Class, Premium or Economy
  • A return upgrade – on either a cash or points ticket – from Premium to Upper Class, or from Economy Delight / Classic to Premium.  You can either upgrade 1 x return flight if travelling alone or 2 x one-way legs of two return flights if travelling with someone else.

If you have Silver or Gold status in Virgin Flying Club, you can also choose:

  • A Virgin Clubhouse lounge pass (requires a same-day Virgin Atlantic, Delta, KLM or Air France flight)

There is 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. For Economy or Premium redemptions, it is a genuine ‘2 for 1’.
  • To clarity, if you are Red (no status) and use your 2-4-1 voucher on a CASH ticket in Upper Class, you still need to have enough Virgin Points to cover 50% of the points cost of the second ticket. A Silver or Gold member, or a Red member redeeming in Premium or Economy, does not – all they pay is the taxes and charges on the second ticket.
  • If you are a Gold member, you would receive two Clubhouse lounge passes instead on one if you chose that option
  • Taxes and charges need to be paid on the ‘free’ ticket as part of your 2-4-1 booking whether you are doing a 2-4-1 on a cash or points ticket
  • Vouchers are valid for two years and you must fly the outbound leg of your trip before the expiry date

Reward seat availability is required to use the voucher.  This means:

  • you can only upgrade a flight if there is a reward seat in the higher class (irrespective of whether you are upgrading a cash or a points ticket)
  • you can only apply a 2-4-1 voucher to a cash booking if there is a reward seat available for the 2nd ‘free’ seat – this is a key point to note

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.

Which Virgin Atlantic credit card is best for you?

As usual, there is no easy answer to this question.  Here are my thoughts.

The free Reward credit card has a very good earnings rate of 0.75 Virgin Points per £1.  This isn’t as good as the new free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard, which earns 1 Avios per £1, but it’s impressive nonetheless.

The paid-for Reward+ credit card is also worth considering, especially for higher spenders.

Purely from a bonus point of view, you are spending £160 to get 15,000 Flying Club points which is a decent deal. And, of course, when you spend on the Reward+ card at the generous 1.5 points per £1 earning rate you do very nicely.

What is the best Virgin Atlantic credit card for you?

The on-going earning rate is EXCELLENT

Let’s not beat around the bush.  Looking first at the free Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card, 0.75 Virgin Flying Club points per £1 spent is a very generous return.

The only free card which beats it is the new free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard which earns 1 Avios per £1 spent.

There is no other ‘open to all’ Visa or Mastercard which offers frequent flyer miles at a rate anywhere near this.

On the fee-based Reward+ credit card, I would value 1.5 Virgin Flying Club points per £1 at 1.5p which is a great return if you spend enough to justify the fee.

Again, the only card which matches this in terms of rewards is the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard. This earns 1.5 Avios per £1.

There is one bit of small print to note. The number of points you can earn per month is capped by your credit limit. If your credit limit is £5,000 and you choose to spend £4,000, pay it off mid-month and then charge another £3,000 before month-end, you will only earn points on the first £5,000.

What is the best Virgin Atlantic credit card for you?

You can now redeem Virgin Points across the SkyTeam alliance

In March 2023, Virgin Atlantic joined the SkyTeam alliance. This opened up the following airlines for spending Virgin Points:

  • Aerolíneas Argentinas
  • Aeromexico
  • Air Europa
  • Air France
  • China Airlines
  • Czech Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Kenya Airways
  • KLM
  • Korean Air
  • Middle East Airlines
  • Vietnam Airlines
  • Xiamen Air

China Eastern and ITA Airways will be added later in 2023.

You can read about how to redeem Virgin Points on SkyTeam partners in this article.

For clarity, you cannot use the 2-4-1 or upgrade vouchers from the credit card on SkyTeam partners.  They are only valid on Virgin Atlantic flights.

You will need a decent stock of points – more than your initial 15,000 credit card miles – to take advantage of SkyTeam redemptions.  The good news is that you can also earn Virgin Flying Club points through transfers from other partners:

  • American Express Membership Rewards from Amex Gold or The Platinum Card (1:1)
  • Tesco Clubcard (1 point is 2.5 miles)
  • Heathrow Rewards (1:1)
  • Transfers from hotel loyalty schemes

There are also lots of partner promotions which we write about on Head for Points.  You CAN build up a decent stock of miles relatively easily – the ‘free for a year’ American Express Preferred Rewards Gold has a 20,000 point sign-up bonus which will 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


From the perspective of day-to-day earning, the Virgin Atlantic credit cards are excellent.

From the perspective of the annual reward voucher, the ability to use it for your choice of a 2-4-1 trip, an upgrade or Clubhouse lounge access gives you exceptional flexibility.

If you are a casual Virgin Flying Club collector, 0.75 points per £1 spent on the free card will see your balance move along.  However, you would get better value from paying £160 for one year for the Reward+ card to get the 15,000 points bonus and the 1.5 points per £1 spent.

You can apply for the FREE Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card (no bonus) here and the paid-for Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card (15,000 points bonus) here.

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility 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.

Comments (74)

  • ZW says:

    Does anyone know if the voucher work for flights starting from outside of the uk, like New York — London — New York?

  • AviosNovice says:

    Just read this and tried to setup the free Boingo access.
    Repeatedly receive a message saying “The site is experiencing technical difficulties. Please check your site admin email inbox for instructions.”

    Anyone know a workaround?

  • Nath4n says:

    If you redeem the voucher on a CASH Premium Ticket (and there is UC points redemption availability) – is there anything to pay? I had a quick look at the taxes breakdown and it appears that on a cash ticket they are the same for both Premium/UC, the only thing that changes hugely is fare + ‘carrier imposed charge’.
    E.G. Return Premium seat is £1200 CASH. UC seat is £2900 CASH. BUT there is UC redemption availability. Can I just use the 241 voucher to purchase the UC seat for £1200 cash? Or am I misunderstanding this? Thank you in advance.

    • Rob says:

      Yes there is.

      If you buy an Upper Class ticket for cash (say for £2500 to San Fran) then ticket two will cost you:

      Silver and Gold members – £950ish, which is the taxes and charges figure on a redemption
      Red members – 50% of the miles needed (60k-ish) plus £950ish for taxes and charges

      For Premium and Economy, you just pay taxes and charges irrespective of Red / Silver / Gold.

      Virgin Points availability needed to do this, and the 2nd ‘free’ ticket is booked as a redemption so earns redemption-level tier points and no Virgin Points back.

      • Super Secret Stuff says:

        I wish virgin would Dutch this 2 for 1.5 policy.

        Amex cashback offers on gold are suiting me well at the moment. Why on earth would I voluntarily give that up to have a 2 for 1.5, when I can just move to BAPP.

        If they made it actually 2 for 1, I’d be questioning my loyalty to BA and Amex.

        What’s the logic to this policy that I’m clearly missing?

        • Rob says:

          We’ve had this discussion, the logic is to reward regular flyers as opposed to people who only pick up miles via cards. The fact that the airline gets paid by Amex, Virgin Money for those miles you accumulate via cards seems to pass them by.

          • Super Secret Stuff says:

            It’s crazy, becuase I would fly virgin more when they go where I want to go, if they’d fix this issue. But I don’t want to switch as I won’t fly regularly enough to get silver

          • Rob says:

            It’s not the logic behind it that I don’t like (I see where they are coming from) but they have now created a system which is ludicrously and unnecessarily complex – this is my problem.

          • Super Secret Stuff says:

            I dont like the logic or the complexities. It would be much better if they just gave an extra reward instead

    • Nath4n says:

      Ah thanks Rob, sorry I should have made clearer – this is in terms of using the voucher as an ‘Upgrade’ for 1 traveler.

      The pure tax element of Premium/UC looks to be identical, but checking if Virgin lump you with a carrier surcharge to upgrade a cash ticket.


      • Thegasman says:

        Yes, you have to pay the difference in carrier surcharge between booked & upgraded travel class unfortunately. As you say APD is identical but that’s only around 20% of total taxes/fees/surcharges.

        • Jonathan says:

          Not true, I did a redemption like this a little while ago, at first I was told I had to extra to upgrade, a week later they called me back and said there’s been a mistake in their end, and I only needed to pay the amount that the seat in Premium costs

  • David says:

    Isn’t 15,000 a paltry amount? In contrast to many of their previous offers like (current) 2k for free virgin red, 8k for an ISA, 20k for current account. Baffling.

    • Rob says:

      The latter two no longer exist.

      It’s been 15k ever since launch, except for 25k promo periods (and one 30k offer). Seems to work for them.

  • DaveM says:

    “and you must fly the outbound leg of your trip before the expiry date”
    I’m not sure this is correct. We have used vouchers in the past where booking was made before expiry but travel was afterwards. Or were we just lucky?

  • Chris W says:

    I don’t understand how these products compete with Amex and Barclaycard with no increased welcome bonuses in what, 3 years??

    • dougzz99 says:

      Happy to work with a smaller pool of less manipulative customers who just want to fly Virgin? I think a better question is why do Amex not put an end to the circle of apply/refer/cancel/upgrade/downgrade types.

    • Littlefish says:

      I have the BA Amex and the VS Reward+ and have done so for 5 years or so. They ebb and flow in terms of usefulness and own-goals (this Rewards+ card is the very devil to track spend on as they removed web-site and paper statements .. I’ve had to try their app which I detest doing but haven’t cancelled yet). The Barclaycard one, to me, still feels a rung or two below in benefits and access to actual seats but may work for others.
      I get enough points/miles naturally to keep the Reward+ driving out a Premium or UC return every year. Not so BA Amex anymore with the leap to 180,000 avios now the ‘entry level’ number for a CW return; but the booking process on BA (once a call connects) and availability seems less clunky than with Virgin. Swings and roundabouts.
      I suspect Amex and Virgin have a better handle these days on what it takes to retain and what it takes to attract a cardholder.

  • Jet says:

    Quick Question:

    If I redeem 2 PE tickets from outside UK to UK, can I use this voucher to upgrade this 2 seats into business class?
    If yes, as a RED member only, do I need to pay any extra points or just the tax etc difference?


  • Tarmohamed says:

    I’ve got 2 upgrade vouchers. We’re a family of 4. 2 adults and 2 children. I don’t see myself renewing my VA+ card at renewal. Where’s the cheapest destination in PE I can utilise my vouchers?

    • Rob says:

      Tel Aviv at a guess.

      • Jonathan says:

        The flight times are awful for those routes…

        LHR-JFK is a heavily competitive route, and there’s plenty of flights at just about any hour of the day, which makes it easy enough to pick up a cheap flight

    • Tarmohamed says:

      Tel Aviv is an interesting one… I’d lean towards JFK, let’s see what I can find. Thanks both.

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