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How does Virgin Red differ from Virgin Flying Club? (Virgin Redemption University #1)

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How do you book flights using Virgin Points?  How do you book flights with partner airlines?  Is it worth redeeming Virgin Points for hotels, wine, car hire or experiences?

This article is the start of a new ‘Virgin Redemption University’ series to run alongside our existing ‘Avios Redemption University’ – which itself will get a much-needed update next month. Further articles will follow on different aspects of spending Virgin Points.

If you want to earn more Virgin Points, our review of the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard credit card is here (15,000 bonus points) and our review of the free Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard credit card is here.

How does Virgin Red differ from Virgin Flying Club?

Here are the other 12 articles in the series:

Before we jump in with specific articles on how to spend your Virgin Points, we want to show you how Virgin Flying Club and Virgin Red fit into the Virgin Points jigsaw. You need to be a member of both to get full value from your points.

How do Virgin Flying Club and Virgin Red fit together?

Confusingly there are two places you can earn and spend Virgin Points – via Virgin Flying Club and via Virgin Red.

Legally, all Virgin Points are owned by Virgin Red. Virgin Atlantic is now a third party customer of Virgin Red, buying points from them when passengers fly and selling airline seats to Virgin Red when you book a flight.

What is Virgin Flying Club?

Virgin Flying Club is the frequent flyer programme of Virgin Atlantic. It operates like any other frequent flyer scheme, allowing you to earn and spend Virgin Points on flights as well as a handful of other opportunities.

You can also earn status in Virgin Flying Club – Silver or Gold – based on your flying activity with Virgin Atlantic and its SkyTeam airline partners.

You use the Virgin Flying Club website at virginatlantic.com, or the Virgin Flying Club call centre, for booking any flight rewards.

What is Virgin Red?

In 2020, Virgin Group launched Virgin Red as, primarily, a smartphone app to collect and spend Virgin Points. It is aimed at the general public, not frequent flyers.

There are no status levels inside Virgin Red. Even if you have elite status in Virgin Flying Club, it doesn’t make any difference to what you can do in the Virgin Red app. You can’t even see your Flying Club status level anywhere inside the Virgin Red app.

Virgin Red doesn’t have a lot to offer in terms of additional ways of earning Virgin Points. It is primarily an online shopping portal, offering you points for every £1 spent at a large variety of online retailers. It is directly competing with cashback sites such as TopCashback as well as other travel points shopping portals such as the BA eStore.

Virgin Red is a lot more interesting when it comes to new ways of spending Virgin Points. The company has put a lot of effort into finding new non-flying ways to spend, and we will look at some of the best in a future article in this series.

You need to be picky though. The majority of Virgin Red redemptions are worth a flat 0.5p per point you spend, which is poor value compared to a premium cabin flight reward.

Virgin Atlantic A330neo

You need to link your Virgin Flying Club and Virgin Red accounts

If you have a Virgin Flying Club account but not a Virgin Red account – which is the likely position for a HfP reader – you should know that you need to have both if you want to maximise options for spending your Virgin Points.

Download the Virgin Red app to your phone and follow the instructions to link it to your existing Virgin Flying Club account.

If you already have a Virgin Red account, open the app, click on ‘Account’ and then on ‘Link Accounts’. You can then input your Flying Club number.

You cannot reverse the linking process but I can’t think of any reason why you would want to.

You do NOT have separate Virgin Red and Virgin Flying Club points balances, unless you opened accounts with both without linking them. Once your two accounts are linked you only have one combined Virgin Points total which shows in both the Virgin Red app and on the Virgin Flying Club website.

Whilst outside the scope of this article, you can also link your Virgin Wines Discovery Club account to your Virgin Red account and earn Virgin Points on your purchases.

Note that only residents of the UK and US can join Virgin Red at the moment.

What you should redeem for?

Now that you have a linked Virgin Flying Club and Virgin Red account, you can redeem your Virgin Points for their full range of redemptions.

The future articles in this series will show you which redemptions are best. Unsurprisingly, the majority of the content will be showing you how to book flights with your Virgin Points. This is what we see – in the absence of any special deals elsewhere – as the best redemption option.


How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (July 2024)

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 18,000 Virgin Points and the free card has a bonus of 3,000 Virgin Points):

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

18,000 bonus points and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

3,000 bonus points, no fee and 1 point for every £1 you spend 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 40,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 40,000 Virgin Points.

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points AND (to 27th August) £400 to spend at Amex Travel 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 an annual £200 Amex Travel credit 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.

  • The Original Nick says:

    I flew Virgin Red Edi – LHR years ago. I wish they hadn’t of stopped it.

    • AL says:

      The aircraft were leased from Aer Lingus, and I can’t imagine IAG were happy to allow wet leases to continue on a route that BA want to maintain a stranglehold on. I agree that Little Red was great, but the UK’s lack of interest in enforcing competition on domestic routes does us no favours.

  • SK says:

    Never make use of Virgin red but the flying club website is not fully functional half the time

  • Chancer says:

    This is a query about Virgin Atlantic tier points, apologies for the tangent.

    I recently learned about acquiring tier points for redemptions, but have only flown Virgin for cash. If I were to make a redemption for a family of four (children both non-infants) where every member has their own Flying Club number, would every member of the family receive tier points or just me as the one making the booking?

    • AL says:

      You would all receive TPs and VS Points. VS Points would be accrued in accordance with individual status – for example, family of four, one Gold, one Silver, two Red. This would accrue base points each plus Gold bonus for pax 1 and silver bonus for pax 2.

      • Chancer says:

        I am very grateful for your time. That was a great answer, which enabled me to fully understand not just the TPs I asked about, but also the VS point earnings too which I hadn’t thought about.

        It seems like a great deal in principle, and is enough to make me consider going after airline status for the first time.

  • Kiwibrit says:

    Virgin voyages redemption was definitely deal of the decade!

    One disappointment is with tier points. They only last until your year end date and as such I have lost several hundred TP within days of flying, as a result of taking flights at the wrong time of year!

    The other point is that you cannot go from red to gold with the requisite 1000TP. They revert to zero as soon as you hit 400 Silver (and you also lose the excess TPs from the last flight), meaning that it actually takes over 1400TPs to hit gold.

    Nowhere does it tell you the above on their website

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

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