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Review: the Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus Mastercard credit card

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This is our review of the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard credit card.

It is part of our series of articles looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether or not they are worth applying for. These articles are linked to the relevant sections of the ‘Credit Cards‘ area of the menu bar. Our other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.

Key link: Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus Mastercard application form

Key facts: £160 annual fee

Review: Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus Mastercard credit card

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

Reward credit cards generally have high interest rates and are not suitable for anyone who does not pay off their full balance each month. If you do not clear your balance, you should look for a non-rewards credit card with a low interest rate.

About the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ card

The Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card – issued by Virgin Money – is issued as a Mastercard.

Virgin Money does not have any other travel reward cards apart from Virgin Atlantic so it should not conflict with any other credit cards you hold.

You can find our review of the free Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card here. Whilst that version has no annual fee, it has a smaller sign-up bonus of just 3,000 Virgin Points and a lower earning rate of 0.75 points per £1.

What is the Virgin Reward+ sign-up bonus?

The sign-up bonus on the Reward+ Mastercard is 18,000 Virgin Points.

You will receive this after your first purchase. There is no spending target to hit.

You cannot apply if you have recently cancelled a Reward+ card. The website states that you can apply if: “You don’t already have a Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit Card or have closed one in the last 6 months. If you have – don’t worry, you can apply for our Reward card instead.

You CAN apply and get the bonus if you have the free Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card. A recent rule change now allows you to hold both cards.

You can apply and get the bonus if you have a non-Virgin Atlantic credit card from Virgin Money.

You can apply and get the bonus if you are currently a supplementary cardholder on someone else’s Virgin Atlantic credit card.

Review: Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus Mastercard credit card

Any other benefits?

Yes.

The Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus credit card comes with an annual bonus for hitting a spending target.

After spending £10,000 in a card membership year, you will receive your choice of:

  • A 2-4-1 voucher, valid for two years, when you book a cash or miles ticket on Virgin Atlantic in Upper Class, Premium or Economy
  • A return upgrade – on either a cash or miles ticket – from Premium to Upper Class, or from Economy Delight/Classic to Premium (requires reward availability in the higher class)

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

  • Virgin Clubhouse lounge passes (requires a same-day Virgin Atlantic or Delta flight) – one pass if you are Silver, two passes if you are Gold

Yes, the Virgin Atlantic vouchers can be used on CASH tickets

There is a key difference between the 2-4-1 and upgrade vouchers offered by Virgin Atlantic compared to the ones offered by British Airways via American Express and Barclaycard.

Virgin Atlantic vouchers can be used on cash tickets as well as reward tickets. If you book a cash flight, you bring someone else with you as long as:

  • you pay the taxes and charges element of the ticket, which admittedly can be fairly high
  • there is a reward ticket available in the cabin – if there are no reward seats on offer, you can’t use the 2-4-1 voucher even if you are booking a cash flight for yourself (for an upgrade, there must be a reward seat in the higher cabin)

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. You do not pay this if you redeem in Premium or Economy as a ‘no status’ member.
  • you need to take the outbound leg of your flight before the two year expiry date – you can return later

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.

If you don’t want to pay the annual fee for the Reward+ card, you should look at the free Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard instead. The same benefits are available but you need to spend £20,000 per year to unlock them.

Review: Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus Mastercard credit card

How do you receive your annual voucher?

Your voucher is triggered within 1-2 weeks of passing the £10,000 annual spend threshold.

You should receive an email from Virgin Flying Club confirming this.

You can also see your voucher online by going to your account page on the Virgin Atlantic website. Following a recent update there is now a ‘Vouchers’ option in the menu which will show unredeemed vouchers.

The voucher cannot be redeemed online. You need to call Virgin Flying Club to redeem it.

Is there an annual fee?

Yes. The Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card has an annual fee of £160 per year. This is not refundable pro-rata if you choose to cancel

What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?

You earn 1.5 Virgin Points per £1 spent.

This is an exceptionally good return for a Visa or Mastercard.  It is only equalled by the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard (£240 annual fee, 25,000 Avios sign-up bonus).

Bookings with Virgin Atlantic or Virgin Atlantic Holidays earn double miles.

The number of miles you earn per month is restricted to your credit limit.  For example, if you have a limit of £10,000 then you will only earn miles on the first £10,000 of your spending each month.  This only impacts the small number of people who pay down their account during the month and then run it up again. Bonus miles from spending with Virgin Atlantic or Virgin Atlantic Holidays are not included in the cap.

Is this a good card to use when travelling?

Yes, in Europe.

Virgin Money does not charge any fees when you pay for something in Euro, Swedish Kronor or Romanian Lei.

The two Virgin Atlantic credit cards are the ONLY ‘miles and points’ cards in the UK which waive foreign exchange fees on some transactions.

As Virgin Money adds a 3% foreign exchange fee on transactions in all other currencies, you might want to get a separate free credit card to use abroad.

Unfortunately there are no travel rewards cards without any foreign exchange fees globally. One option is to get a free card from Currensea. Currensea is a simple but clever idea. You pay abroad with your Currensea Mastercard debit card. Currensea translates the cost to Sterling with just a 0.5% fee (83% less than the Virgin card charges outside the EU) and withdraws the money from your bank account. You can find out more by clicking here. Currensea is free so there is no risk in giving it a try.

Review: Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus Mastercard credit card

What is a Virgin Point worth?

This is clearly a ‘finger in the air’ exercise. However, I am happy to value Virgin Points at 0.75p – 1p each, in line with Avios, when used for a premium cabin flight.

You can transfer Virgin Points to Hilton Honors points at a 1 : 1.5 ratio which puts a floor under their value. You can also transfer Virgin Points to IHG One Rewards points at 1 : 1.

As Virgin Atlantic does not offer any short haul redemptions, except for those offered by Air France and KLM, you need to be confident that you can earn enough points to unlock a good long-haul redemption.

If you need more Virgin Points before you can redeem, Virgin Flying Club has a lot of partners. You can earn points by converting Tesco Clubcard points as well as Heathrow Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards points.

How does the Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus card compare to a cashback card?

The majority of UK credit cards offering ‘retail rewards’ – those from Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Sainsburys, John Lewis etc – give you 0.1% to 0.25% back on what you spend.

Offering 1.5 Virgin Points per £1, plus an added bonus for spending £10,000 per year, the Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus credit card is substantially more attractive than the best Mastercard or Visa cashback card.

Anything else I need to know?

In March 2023, Virgin Atlantic joined the SkyTeam alliance. This allows you to redeem Virgin Points on many other airlines including Delta, Air France, KLM, Vietnam Airlines, Korean Air and many more.

Note that you can ONLY manage your account via the Virgin Money app or with paper statements. There is no ability to manage your account via a website.

Conclusion

The Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card is one of the best two airline or hotel Visa or Mastercards on the market. The only direct competitor for the title of ‘best non-Amex card’ is the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard.

18,000 points is a strong sign-up bonus and there is no spending target to hit. You receive the points after making your first purchase on the card.

You may want to consider downgrading to the free card after that if you are not triggering, or do not value, the annual voucher.

The real strength is the on-going earning rate. 1.5 Virgin Points for every £1 you spend is an excellent return.

Note that the application process is a little odd. You must go through the ‘Check Eligibility’ process first, although the data you supply is carried across to the application form so it isn’t much more effort.

The application form for the Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus Mastercard credit card can be found here.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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 (7)

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

  • Terry says:

    Red members pay half of the standard companion level for Upper Class if using as a companion voucher. This is 2 for 1.25 rather than than paying 50% for the second ticket.

  • HampshireHog says:

    Well no, it’s supposed to be second ticket half price if a red member so you’d pay 75% of the total for 2 pax rather than 50% of the total as a status member

  • Mar says:

    Just wanted to clarify please regarding the Virgin Atlantic cards, currently i have the Plus one and this is my second year with them, i want to cancel and reapply after 6 months to get the bonus if possible, however i still need master card replacement, and i was thinking of the Virgin Atlantic card the basic one, my questions are; 1. Can i downgrade from the plus to the basic one by phoning Virgin atalntic credit card team or it has to be separate application?, question 2. If i manage to get the basic one and keep it for 6-7 months till applying again for the plus one, will i still have the bonus for the plus card or not as i would already have the basic Virgin in the last 6 months before applying? Really appreciate your help, and sorry if my questions are too basic.

    • Rob says:

      You can’t downgrade, you need to apply for the free card and then cancel paid. You’d get 3,000 points from the free card.

      After 6 months you could reapply for Plus and get the 18,000 points bonus.

  • Roland says:

    Do Virgin Money often do boosted sign up bonuses on this card (list Amex)? I’m wondering if it’s not. bad idea to wait and see if one comes along.

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

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