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Forums Payment cards Virgin Atlantic Is it worth having a secondary rewards card?

  • alropa 1 post

    Hi All,

    Just looking for some advice from those more knowledgable and/or experienced.

    First a bit of background ; my in-laws live in Georgia. Therefore we usually travel to visit them once or twice per year and generally Virgin/Delta prove to the best option to fly from the UK to ATL.

    I have a friend in a similar position ; they advised that it made sense for me to get a Virgin Reward Card to collect the companion vouchers. I started this by getting a Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit Card about 18 months ago. Generally I have earned the companion vouchers in around 3 months (my spend is probably around £3-3.5k per month). Obviously on top of that I am collecting the Reward Points (meaning I generally only have to pay the taxes/fees for the two tickets req. per trip).

    Really my question is whether, after collecting the companion voucher, it makes sense to switch my spend to a different card for the remaining ~9 months of the year? Is this generally best practice or is it not advisable?

    From what I have read, the Virgin rewards are generally not that highly thought of (i.e. still high level of associated fees). The only route I really fly with Virgin is London to Atlanta. I often fly other US routes, with other carriers (United, BA etc.) Having the companion voucher is useful because it’s spend I would have anyway and saves money on a trip I’d be taking anyway. I would still complete my ~3 months of yearly spend with Virgin to achieve the companion ticket, use the card where a second card (AMEX?) was not accepted, plus I convert my Tesco clubcard vouchers into Virgin Points, so I would still collect a modest amount of Virgin Points each year.

    But I get the impression that my spend could go further for the remaining 9 months of the year if I switched it to a different account (and also potentially would allow me to build up additional rewards that might end up proving useful when I travel outside of using Virgin.)

    My very basic view is that it makes sense to get one of the Amex cards, which would allow me to then collect additional points which I could use more flexibly ; i.e. I could still convert to Virgin Points if required or potentially into other rewards if I do not need the Virgin Points.

    The only other things I notice is Virgin Card pays 1.5 point per £1, whereas it seems the Amex cards generally pay 1 to £1.

    Any advice on this would be much appreciated. 🙂

    zio 257 posts

    With Virgin as your primary program you are coming at this issue from the opposite direction to most. It’s not quite right to say that Virgin points aren’t highly thought of on here, it’s just that the limited VS route network, along with fees that have become harder to swallow, mean that most find avios a more useful program. If Virgin works for you then all’s well.

    If you want your secondary card to retain the option of converting to Virgin then you are looking at Amex. Since you won’t get a higher return than your current 1.5 points/£ there isn’t any benefit for ongoing spend. However, you could try the free-for-one-year gold card (pinned link at the top of the forums) which offers a sign up bonus to make it worth your while diverting spend. You then have a year to decide if it’s working for you.

    In all honesty, since you are a comparatively high spender who seems as if you could use a second companion voucher in a year, you might be best off using 10 or 15k of “excess” spend to generate a BA companion voucher via one of two paid cards, either the Barclaycard avios plus card or the Amex BAPP. This article compares all the available avios cards though I don’t know if it has been updated yet to reflect newly announced changes to the amex card. For details of these see the daily article from earlier in the week.

    can2 532 posts

    I think it’s worth it but Virgin may not grant you the card. It is not guaranteed (they don’t give it to me for instance, mostly because my credit is high in my other cards).

    And it all depends on the cabin you want to travel and how many of you are travelling.

    Involving Player 2 may also ease the game if you want to redeem for a family of 4.

    BBbetter 717 posts

    If you are short of points, buy Virgin points whenever there’s a sale. One recently ended for 0.9 cents a point.

    BBbetter 717 posts

    Involving Player 2 may also ease the game if you want to redeem for a family of 4.

    Agreed. This is probably more important for you.

    Reney 780 posts

    @alropa what is your tolerance for paying card fees, impact on your credit rating and rotating cards. Generally doing more work on this game.

    Given you are on what I would assume to be a higher income and bigger spender I think there is a lot of scope here if you have a high tolerance.

    If I were in your position and had a high tolerance for the four things I mentioned:
    1. Virgin + is your default card, and you put the minimum required (10k) on it every year. Given there is no pro rata refund, I would just keep the card every year.

    It sounds like you don’t have any amex at the moment. If you have not had any for the last 24 months, then I would play the amex game (you and your partner see Rob’s article on max avios earned by a couple), I will outline very briefly but you NEED to do your own reading. Since you mention you do the Atlanta trip one to twice per year, and it looks like BA does that route too, it seems to make sense to earn one virgin voucher for one trip and BA voucher for another trip. Also sounds like you might make other trips on BA so will likely make use of a BA voucher. If you have not had ANY amex card for 2 years. Once you have done your Virgin spend, I would:

    2. Open a nectar card – do the sign up bonus requirement (2k spend) – can be converted to avios or use as cash equivalent
    3/4. Get the BAPP or Amex Plat whichever one has an uplift in sign up bonus at the time
    – Plat bonus requires 4k+ spend (I think the last round of uplift needed 10k for most of the bonus), and will net you 70K plus points which can be converted to Virgin miles or Avios, Do the spend and cancel (currently pro rata refund, there is a different discussion when this stops)
    – BAPP I would do the minimum 10k/15k depending on your timing and get the bonus and the voucher. cancel and move on

    5. Go back to your virgin card if you have any spending left.

    Next year

    6. Do the virgin spend

    7/8/9 – get your partner on the amex tri card game if they qualify OR you can look into the Barclaycard until you qualify for the amex 2 year break.

    This is the basic outline. As you can see it requires work. And because you are switching between programs I can’t be sure if you will earn enough points per year in each program to redeem all the vouchers this plan will earn. You need to work through the complexities and the cost/benefit implications.

    If you have low tolerance on all this work AND you have not had ANY amex card for the last 2 years, at the least get the gold card (when there is an uplift in bonus) which can be converted to more Virgin points.

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