Is it worth redeeming your Virgin Points to pay, in full or in part, for a Virgin Atlantic cash flight? Let’s take a look.
This article is Part 10 of our new ‘Virgin Redemption University’ series to run alongside our existing ‘Avios Redemption University’ – which itself will get a much-needed update next month.
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.
Here are the other 12 articles in the series:
- How does Virgin Red differ from Virgin Flying Club?
- How many Virgin Points do you need to fly to ….?
- How to redeem Virgin Points on Virgin Atlantic flights
- How to redeem Virgin Points on SkyTeam flights
- How to redeem Virgin Points on ANA and other partners
- How to upgrade your Virgin Atlantic flight with Virgin Points
- How to convert Virgin Points to Hilton or IHG hotel points
- How to use Virgin Points for a Virgin Holidays discount
- How to redeem Virgin Points for hotel rooms via Kaligo
- What’s the best non-flying use of Virgin Points?
- What is the cheapest way to top up your Virgin Points?
- Get cheaper Virgin redemptions with a credit card voucher
‘Points Plus Money’ is Virgin Atlantic’s response to ‘Part Pay With Avios‘. It also echoes schemes such as Aer Lingus AerClub and Vueling Club which primarily drive you towards using your points for a discount on a future cash booking.
You can find full details on the Virgin Atlantic website here.
British Airways regularly plays around with the value you get when using ‘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 great value.
How does Virgin Atlantic’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 British Airways, 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 or via the call centre
- you can only use it on Virgin Atlantic operated flights, not codeshares or partners bookable via the Virgin Atlantic website such as Delta, Air France and KLM
- 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 credit card 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 and airport 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 as you would also have lost your money if you had paid in cash. That said, some people do get confused and assume – wrongly – that part paying with points mysteriously gives your flight the same flexibility as a standard redemption booking.
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, but you can do worse. I look to get around 1p per mile from my Virgin 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 200 Virgin Points worth £1.10 of flight discount. This is not a very impressive return given some of the other Clubcard deals out there at 2x 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. It’s also arguably not a bad return on Virgin Points earned from the Virgin Atlantic credit cards, at least in comparison to a typical cashback credit card.
If you have been collecting Virgin Points via a partner transfer instead then arguably 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 (September 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):
SPECIAL OFFER: The sign-up bonus on the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard is doubled to 30,000 Virgin Points if you apply by 2nd October. You receive 15,000 Virgin Points with your first purchase and a further 15,000 points if you spend £3,000 within 90 days. Apply here.
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.)