Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

TWO WEEKS LEFT: Is the new offer from Virgin’s credit card a reason to collect Virgin Points?

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Until 4th March, you can get a special sign-up bonus with the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card.

As well as the standard 15,000 Virgin Points sign-up bonus, you will receive DOUBLE POINTS (3 per £1) on your first £5,000 of spending, or whatever you spend by 14th April – whichever comes first.

As well as reminding you about the card bonus, I thought it was worth looking more broadly at whether there is an opportunity, even for someone without a Virgin Flying Club account at the moment, to build up a pile of points from scratch quickly?  And should you?

Is 30,000 bonus points from Virgin's credit card a reason to collect Virgin Points?

It is not up to me to tell you if this is a good idea FOR YOU or not.  However, this article sets out a few reasons why you might want to consider it.

As a reminder:

  • Apply by 4th March and you will also receive double points (3 per £1) on your first £5,000 of spending, or whatever you spend by 14th April, whichever comes first
  • There is no special offer on the free Virgin Atlantic credit card, which has no bonus at all
  • The cards are issued by Virgin Money so it is very unlikely that you will be conflicted due to having any other cards from the same bank
  • The 2-4-1 and upgrade vouchers are valid on CASH tickets as well as reward tickets
  • The cards have no foreign exchange fees when used in the Eurozone

Our full article on this bonus offer looks at the benefits of the two cards in detail.  I recommend you read our main Virgin Atlantic credit card article here.

Click for an article which will help you decide which of the two Virgin Atlantic credit cards is best for you.

You can apply for the cards here.

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard:

The representative APR is 26.9% variable.

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard:

The representative APR is 69.7% variable, including the annual fee.  The representative APR on purchases is 26.9% variable.

30,000 points Virgin Atlantic Rewards Plus Credit Card

Why is it worth thinking about building up a Virgin Flying Club balance?

Reason 1:  Diversification

British Airways can fly you to pretty much anywhere that Virgin Atlantic can. However, that doesn’t mean they can get you Avios seats when you want them.  Having a balance in another programme gives you more chance of getting seats on the dates you want them.

Both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic allow one-way redemptions, so with a Virgin Points balance you could mix and match a trip as availability allows.

Since Virgin Atlantic joined SkyTeam earlier in 2023, it has opened up redemption opportunities across a range of airlines:

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

China Eastern will be added at some point. Our full article on how to spend Virgin Points on SkyTeam partners is here.

Reason 2:  Availability

Virgin Atlantic now has GUARANTEED availability for Virgin Points on every flight.

You will find two Upper Class, two Premium and eight Economy seats opened up as soon as booking commences (5am, 331 days out). Further seats will be added later depending on how full the flight is looking.

This matches what British Airways offers, except in Business Class (BA offers four Club World seats, Virgin Atlantic offers two Upper Class).

It is clearly better to have access to pots of BOTH Avios and Virgin Points than to have just one pot on hand if you want to fly to a particular destination.

There is an online tool – seatspy.com – which can instantly show you Virgin Atlantic reward availability for a full year in a split second.  You can compare it easily with British Airways availability.

Is 30,000 bonus points from Virgin's credit card a reason to collect Virgin Points?

Reason 3:  The Virgin Atlantic credit cards also have the option of an upgrade voucher

If you don’t want to take the 2-4-1 voucher from the Virgin Atlantic credit cards, you can get a voucher to upgrade a flight instead.

This is a very useful benefit for the solo traveller. It can also be used by a couple, upgrading one leg each of two return flights.

The voucher can be used to upgrade either cash or reward tickets. However, you need reward availability to be showing in the higher class before you can do it.

Last November I flew to New York on an Upper Class flight, with the upgrade voucher reducing the cost from 95,000 Virgin Points to the Premium Economy price of 35,000 Virgin Points (+ taxes) – a considerable saving.

Extra taxes would be due, unfortunately, especially when upgrading from Economy to Premium as you will face the higher rate of Air Passenger Duty.

The spending criteria for earning the 2-4-1 voucher or the Premium Economy upgrade voucher is:

  • £10,000 in a card year on the £160 Reward+ Mastercard (sign-up bonus 15,000 points)
  • £20,000 in a card year on the free Reward Mastercard (no bonus)

Reason 4:  If Virgin Points don’t work out, you can transfer to Hilton Honors or IHG One Rewards

Rare among airline schemes, Virgin Flying Club lets you transfer points out into Hilton Honors (1:1.5) or IHG One Rewards (the Holiday Inn etc scheme) at 1:1.

If you found yourself struggling to use your Virgin Points, you could move them across.  It isn’t amazing value but it gets you out of a hole.

Remember that neither Hilton or IHG have UK credit cards open to new applicants. With Hilton, for places that take American Express, you would be better off earning Hilton Honors points via the (free in Year 1) American Express Preferred Rewards Gold which earns 2 Hilton points per £1 spent. There is no other route to earning IHG points with a UK credit card, unless you qualify for HSBC Premier and get their £195 World Elite Mastercard.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse Heathrow bar

Reason 5:  The Heathrow Clubhouse

The Virgin Atlantic lounge at Heathrow, for Upper Class passengers, is widely regarded as one of the best airport lounges in the world. Eat a proper meal in the restaurant, chill out in the audio or TV rooms or do one of many other (admittedly ‘boys toys’) activities.  It is well worth trying once in your life. The jacuzzi may be long gone but it is still a fun place to hang out.

Here is my review of the Clubhouse at Heathrow from the reopening party in July 2021.

Reason 6:  It is easy to collect additional points

It is now almost as as easy to collect Virgin Points as it is Avios. As well as the credit card points (and, erm, actually flying on Virgin Atlantic or a SkyTeam partner), you can earn from:

  • Tesco Clubcard (with occasional transfer bonuses of 10%-20%) which is no longer an Avios partner
  • Heathrow Rewards

….. as well as all the major hotel schemes.  As I wrote here, some major hotel chains do not give Avios but do offer Virgin Points.

Conclusion

So, there are a few things to think about here.

Virgin Atlantic is a hugely different proposition to how it was a couple of years ago. There are now 12 GUARANTEED Virgin Points seats on every flight, and you also have the entire SkyTeam airline alliance to redeem on too.

The credit card voucher offers perks you won’t get from a BA Amex card:

  • the ability to upgrade a flight, as well as redeem for a 2-4-1 ticket
  • the ability to upgrade or get a 2-4-1 seat on a CASH flight ticket

If you live near Manchester, you also have the benefit of being able to use your points and credit card vouchers for a direct flight from the north to certain destinations. Las Vegas from Manchester is returning for 2024.

The main Virgin Atlantic credit card website is here.  You need to apply by 4th March to qualify for double points on spending (valid to 14th April or £5,000 of spend, whichever comes first).

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.


How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (June 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 – 30,000 points (TO 16TH JULY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. 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 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 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 (26)

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

  • StillintheSun says:

    There are probably quite a few of us who now have Virgin Gold status due to this site highlighting the opportunity to status match. My Valentines’ gold came through on my account today. Might be worth in “bits” just stating the Skyteam airlines that depart from T3 and therefore provide access to the clubhouse. I suspect there are too many T3 Skyteam destinations to set each destination and it’s Skyteam airline out. I have no idea if all Skyteam flights depart from T3.

    • Anish says:

      Did you see the gold status appear exactly 72 hrs prior to your flight ?

      • StillintheSun says:

        I can’t say exactly as I only checked this morning recently. I’m 2.5 days away.

        • Anish says:

          Thanks.

          @rob- I am less than 72 hours now away from my virgin flight and still are my status as red member. I had received the confirmation email that I would receive status match 72 hrs before the flight. Would this be again a manual thing or automated ? If automated, wouldn’t it be reflected exactly 72 hrs prior the flight ?

          Is there anyone I need to contact? I don’t want to leave it for the last day especially if they have not don’t it correctly on their side.

          Thanks

    • Rob says:

      Wouldn’t matter if they did. Clubhouse is not treated as a standard SkyTeam lounge – Virgin does not allow SkyTeam flight passengers in, except Delta.

  • DaveP says:

    I believe that you can also use Virgin points on ANA flights to Tokyo.

  • paul says:

    My wife has the highest credit score possible on 2 of the main agencies.

    She applied for the V+ Card and was given a credit limit of £2,000 which is not worth the time and effort to apply.

    The £160 fee is just about covered by 2 months max spend and the “bonus” points on such a low £2,000 limit aren’t exactly the incentive/promotion advertised.

    She submitted an “appeal” a week ago but if not raised sufficiently within the next 5 days all will be cancelled.

    • Iamsmurphslaw says:

      My wife only got £3600 after having £5k+ previously, and despite paying in full monthly….having a good credit score etc.
      Trying to qualify for second part of bonus with a £5k spend by mid April, with such low limits, makes this a very poor offer.

    • Mr. AC says:

      I was denied outright by the eligibility checker. I have an unblemished credit history and an existing 17k credit limit on the free Virgin Atlantic card (which they’ve raised themselves). I’ve had the card for 5 years, obviously without any missed payments etc… Perhaps that’s the issue.

  • Ash says:

    Do you receive the welcome bonus on the paid card if you already have the free card?

  • TimM says:

    Why is it NOT worth thinking about….
    1. Unless you live within the Heathrow catchment area, there are very few destinations (i.e. there are no connecting flights to London).
    2. The credit card voucher only applies to Virgin metal and expires.
    3. The taxes and fees to pay on Virgin redemptions are extremely high.
    4. No other card benefits for the £160 fee.
    5. It is very hard to switch to the free card. Actually the paid card account never disappears on the app, years after closure and is always the default regardless.

    One customer’s experience.

    • dougzz99 says:

      The taxes and fees remark is unfair. BA seem lower as they allow you to use more Avios, but they’re very similar.
      Which BA vouchers don’t expire?
      I can’t believe I’m having to defend Virgin.

    • Rob says:

      It’s very easy to switch now, because you can apply for the free card whilst still having the paid card, and then cancel paid when accepted.

    • Sam says:

      Your first point is precisely why this card would never appeal to me.
      At least BA will get me to London with the internal connections.
      And unless Virgin have since changed it, isn’t their 2-4-1 voucher in fact a 2-4-1.5 as you still have to front up 50% points on the 2nd ticket (on top of taxes for both)?

  • Harrier25 says:

    As well as cashing out to IHG and Hilton, you can also spend points in the Virgin Red app too, which I can’t see mentioned in the above article.

  • Man of Kent says:

    Thanks HfP for highlighting this card and in particular the change of policy. I have been a longtime holder of the Reward card but have now been accepted for the Reward+ card with a decent credit limit so all good.

    I’m planning on booking Virgin flights before 14 April so I’m assuming that I’ll get 6 points per £ spent with Virgin as long as I’m still within the £5,000 threshold? So conceivably I could get more than the additional 7,500 points if some of my spend is with Virgin or will it be capped at 7,500 points regardless of who the spend is with?

    • Rob says:

      No, it’s not capped at 7,500. Virgin was very clear to us about this – I didn’t bother putting it in the article because it added complexity. If you do the entire £5k on VS tickets then you get 30,000 points.

      • Man of Kent says:

        Great, thanks for clarifying.

      • Iamsmurphslaw says:

        Rob, have I missed an update here?
        The original article of 6 Feb clearly states it is capped at 7500 points …..”You will get double Virgin Points on your spend up to 14th April (capped at 7,500 extra points) on top of the standard sign-up bonus of 15,000 Virgin Points if you take out the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card.”
        I’m sure many others, myself included, thought this was a poor offer because of the cap. Obviously if there’s no cap it’s better than it first read.

        • Rob says:

          It is capped at £5,000 of spend.

          It is NOT capped at 7,500 points, despite what I wrote.

          What I should have said was “the bonus is capped at 7,500 points (£5000 x 1.5) unless part of your spending is with Virgin Atlantic, in which case the maximum number of bonus points you can earn is 7,500 plus an extra 1.5 for every £1 of the £5000 spent with Virgin Atlantic”.

          Unsurprisingly I chose not to do so.

  • Alex says:

    Question to experts: will this card charge cash advance fees on £1000 monthly ATM withdrawals via Curve Metal?

    • Nige says:

      Yes. They are wise to it

      • Alex says:

        Wow. I understand Curve was advertising that it could override cash advance fees on Metal and my experience with other cards was it did

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

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