Virgin Atlantic has launched two new reward credit cards. The cards allow you to earn Flying Club miles on purchases that you can then use to buy rewards including flights and cabin upgrades.
The cards are a partnership between Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Money, and you have the choice between the Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit Card and the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit Card. The latter earns more points, but has an annual fee.
“We are incredibly excited to launch our new credit cards. With our cards, customers can earn miles on their everyday spend to redeem for flights and upgrades, and more,” says Oliver Byers, senior vice president of sales and customer loyalty at Virgin Atlantic.
“On top of that, we’re offering our most valuable customers even more choice of rewards so that they can create the Virgin Atlantic experience that suits them best.”
What the cards offer
The Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit Card offers customers the chance to earn 0.75 Flying Club miles for every £1 spent.
You can earn 5,000 bonus miles with your first card purchase, provided you make that purchase within 90 days of getting your credit card.
Book flights and holidays direct with Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays using your credit card and you’ll earn double miles, so 1.5 per £1 spent.
If you spend £20,000 on the card in a year, you can choose a reward from a range based on their Flying Club membership level. Flying Club is Virgin Atlantic’s loyalty programme with members moving up through the tiers depending on how often they fly with the airline.
If you are a Red member you can get a free Premium upgrade when flying economy or a companion seat in economy. Silver members can choose one of those options or a premium companion seat or a pass for a Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at the airport. Gold members can choose two Clubhouse passes, an economy, premium or upper-class reward companion seat, or a free premium upgrade.
The Virgin Atlantic Reward+ card lets you earn 1.5 Flying Club miles for ever £1 spent and you can earn 15,000 bonus miles with your first card purchase.
You also earn double miles (so three miles per £1 spent) on direct bookings with Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays. If you spend £10,000 a year, then you can choose a reward from those listed above.
However, this card comes with a £160 annual fee.
“We’re delighted to be launching the first products from our exciting new partnership with Virgin Atlantic in a market that’s seen a greatly reduced customer choice in recent years. Together, we are offering customers an easy way to earn Flying Club miles and access to a brilliant range of Flying Club and Virgin Group benefits,” says Jayne-Anne Gadhia, chief executive at Virgin Money.
Both credit cards give customers access to the Virgin Money Lounges, where there are free refreshments, wi-fi, newspapers and children’s entertainment facilities. But don’t get them confused with the Virgin Atlantic airport lounges. Virgin Money Lounges are located in several cities including Edinburgh, Manchester, Sheffield, London.
What the cards cost
|Card||Annual Fee||Balance transfer deal||Balance transfer fee||Money transfer deal||Money transfer fee||Purchase rate||Representative APR|
|Virgin Atlantic Reward||None||0% for six months||3%||0% for six months||3%||22.90%||22.9%APR|
|Virgin Atlantic Reward+||£160||0% for six months||3%||0% for six months||3%||22.90%||63.9%APR|
Source: Virgin Money
When it comes to flight rewards cards, then the main competition to the Virgin Atlantic cards are American Express’s British Airways Avios rewards card.
Virgin Atlantic has one clear advantage with its reward credit cards, they are offered in partnership with MasterCard. So your Virgin Atlantic card would be accepted at far more stores as many don’t accept American Express.
However, if you won’t clear the balance on your credit card in full every month, then you shouldn’t get either of these credit cards. With APRs of 22.9% and 63.9% the amount you would pay in interest would quickly wipe out the benefit of the rewards.
Sally Francis-Miles, money expert at MoneySuperMarket, comments: “The new Virgin Atlantic airline credit cards are a decent offering, but only if you’re likely to fly with Virgin or its partner airlines, and you’re a long-haul flyer – short-haul isn’t typically covered by Virgin. Also, be aware that you’ll need to pay your bill in full every month otherwise you’ll erode any potential gains.”
Rob Burgess of frequent flyer website headforpoints.com, which focuses heavily on travel credit cards, adds: "This is a very impressive credit card. Since credit card interchange fees were capped last year, we have seen many rewards-based credit cards pulled from the market. I doubt that Virgin Atlantic will make much money given the generous rewards it is funding, but the airline is smart enough to realise that getting its logo into your purse or wallet is an invaluable marketing tool.
"The free card, which gives 0.75 Virgin Flying Club miles (which I value at 0.75p) per £1 spent is twice as valuable as competing rewards cards such as the IHG Rewards Club credit card, the Lloyds Avios Mastercard or the Tesco Clubcard Mastercard. With most cashback cards such as ASDA Money dropping their rewards to as little as 0.2% of spend, the Virgin card looks even more impressive.
"The only downside with the Virgin Atlantic credit card is that, as a long-haul airline, you need to earn a lot of miles to book a free flight. Unlike British Airways, Virgin Atlantic does not have a short-haul network offering low-priced air miles redemptions. Unless you are an exceptionally high credit card spender, the card only makes sense for someone who flies Virgin Atlantic and earns most of their miles from flights."