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Is Virgin Atlantic’s ‘Points Plus Money’ feature a good deal? (Virgin Redemption University #10)

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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.

Is Virgin Atlantic's 'Points Plus Money' feature a good deal

Here are the other 12 articles in the series:

‘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:

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 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
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 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.

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 One 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 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.

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 (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.

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

30,000 bonus points (SPECIAL OFFER TO 2ND OCTOBER) 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 a huge range of valuable 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 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 (19)

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

  • lumma says:

    One thing I have to say about this series of articles on Virgin Atlantic, it’s not really selling me on the scheme.

    • Rob says:

      Perhaps a bit unfair. It’s basically 3 articles talking about good value flight redemptions and then 9 articles telling you why nothing else is as good as a flight redemption 🙂

      • Qrfan says:

        The partner flight redemptions are a royal pain though, and availability isn’t great. I think lumma has a point. The Barclays cards ended any reason I had to collect virgin points and I’ve mentally written off the points I have until such point I need a solo Transatlantic leisure trip.

      • lumma says:

        Redeem on Virgin – ludicrous surcharges
        Redeem on KLM/Air France short haul – more expensive than Avios plus need to change planes if not going to Amsterdam or Paris. Most routes you can also do direct on low cost airlines
        ANA is fantastic but limited availability and likely to go in the future due to skyteam membership.
        Virtually no availability on Delta to Europe in business
        Not interested in a cruise.

        Better return on the Avios Barclaycards than the Virgin cards. I’ve currently got around 12k virgin points and if I was booking a cash ticket, I’d probably cash them out using the method in this article.

        • Rob says:

          Even if you take all that to be true (and given cash flight prices at the moment, Virgin flight redemptions still represent big savings), you still have the entire Air France and KLM long haul network plus the rest of SkyTeam. AF/KLM isn’t even any sort of ‘detour’ if you’re not in the Heathrow catchment area.

          The Virgin surcharges are also the same as the BA surcharges, if you use the same number of points. 190k Avios + £350 to New York is not ‘better’ than 100k Virgin + £900 – in fact, on any valuation model, it’s worse unless you’ve got a BA 241.

          • dougzz99 says:

            I booked a LHR-LAX return next year with Virgin. From memory was £1K, 65K points and a credit card voucher. I’m happy with that, on some level seeing the £700 YQ is really annoying, but overall OK.
            I like to fly Virgin every 2 or 3 years if I can, just for comparison to BA/AA.
            The biggest issue for me with Virgin is the points are much harder to earn than Avios.

          • Mike says:

            Have to just say I agree with this ..
            “if you’re not in the Heathrow catchment area.”
            BA are doing a terrible job with feeder flights into Heathrow from my local airport (MAN). Each flight is absolutely packed to the roof, so I’m struggling to understand why BA don’t put in more flights (barring planes and staff availability) and given the volume why they basically abandoned Manchester as an airport.

  • Gary Oswald says:

    I’ve really enjoyed this series of articles because I’m fairly new to collecting and using Virgin points. They are a lot more difficult to redeem though, compared to Avios on BA, particularly if you’ve got a credit card voucher to use.
    In this article you say:
    “You can only use ‘Points Plus Money’ when booking a cash ticket online, but not in the app or via the call centre”
    You also say:
    “You can upgrade or use credit card vouchers as you can with a standard cash ticket”
    However, you can only use a (not quite) 2-4-1 voucher on the phone so I don’t see how, practically, you could do this?

    • Rob says:

      It would need to be two transactions – doing the standard booking online and then ringing to do the upgrade (or add the companion ticket).

      Good point though, which hadn’t actually clicked in my head before.

  • RonnieB says:

    #10 ?
    How many more articles can there be ?

  • Ash says:

    Any word on grapevine as to when Aeromexico will be bookable with Virgin miles? Why do they launch a partnership (virgin joining skyteam) yet months later said partner redemptions are impossible to do.

  • Simon says:

    I may have gotten the wrong idea from your article, but you state that “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”

    I have recently used up a small parcel of Virgin points booking a Delta return internal US flight via the Virgin website. Total cost was $11 taxes. This appears to contradict your article?

    • Rob says:

      You can’t book standalone Delta domestic flights for cash on the Virgin Atlantic website.

    • ianM says:

      Yes, USA domestic flights on Delta through the Virgin website are perhaps the sweet spot for using FC points.

    • memesweeper says:

      What you booked was a redemption. This article is about using points to make a regular cash booking.

  • Adam says:

    Thank you very much for the whole series! I have accumulated many points from CC spend and now I have a much better understanding of Virgin points “ecosystem.”

  • Barb says:

    Whenever I’ve tried to book flights by using points or points plus money, there’s never been any flights available on those dates. I’ve tried altering dates but seems to me the availability of flights where they allow you to pay by points is extremely limited

    • Rob says:

      ? ‘Points Plus Money’ lets you reduce the cost of a CASH ticket, so there is always availability!

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

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