Virgin Atlantic has boosted the sign-up bonus for its air mile credit cards, offering new customers the chance to earn up to 25,000 air miles – enough for a return trip to New York.
New customers of the Virgin Atlantic Rewards Credit Card and Virgin Atlantic Rewards+ Credit Card have until 14 December 2018 to take advantage of the offer.
Air mile credit cards allow you to earn points for free flights, cabin upgrades and companion tickets (after taxes and charges).
Here, we take a look at how the reward bonuses work for each card and how they stack up against other air mile credit cards.
What the Virgin Atlantic credit cards offer
Virgin Atlantic Rewards card
The Virgin Atlantic Rewards Credit Card offers new customers 5,000 Flying Club Miles after their first purchase within the first three months.
If you spend £1,000 during that period you’ll also get an extra 5,000 miles too, meaning that you could earn 10,000 altogether when you sign up and use the card.
You can earn 0.75 miles for every £1 you spend or 1.25 miles for every £1 spent directly with Virgin Holidays or Virgin Atlantic holidays.
Once you’ve spent £20,000 on the card, you’ll get a free companion ticket or premium seat upgrade.
The Virgin Atlantic Rewards card is free but comes with a representative APR of 22.9%.
- Find out more: credit card types explained
Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit Card
The Virgin Atlantic Rewards+ Credit Card comes with a more generous offering.
New customers have the chance to earn whopping 15,000 miles for their first spend within 90 days of getting the card, plus an extra 10,000 miles if they spend £1,500 during this period too.
You can earn 1.5 miles for every £1 spent on everyday items and if you spend directly with Virgin Atlantic or on Virgin Holidays, you’ll earn three miles for every pound you spend.
After spending £10,000 on the card, you can get a free companion ticket or seat upgrade to Premium class.
This card comes with an annual fee of £160 and once you factor this in, the representative APR jumps to a hefty 63.9%. There’s also a 2.99% foreign usage fee to beware of too.
- Find out more: how to find the best credit card in 3 steps
How many miles do you need to unlock a reward flight?
The number of air miles you’ll need to unlock a Virgin Atlantic reward flight varies according to the time of year you’d like to travel and the cabin class you wish to fly in.
The table below shows how many points you need on main routes in economy class during peak and off-peak seasons.
|Route to/from UK||Economy classic return miles needed (off-peak)*||Economy classic return miles (peak)*|
|India and UAE||20,000||40,000|
|USA – Northeast (Boston, Newark, New York JFK, Washington DC)||20,000||40,000|
|USA – Midwest & South (Atlanta, Miami, Orlando)||25,000||45,000|
|Africa, China and Hong Kong||25,000||45,000|
|USA – West (Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle)||30,000||50,000|
|*Points needed for free reward flight before taxes and charges
Source: Virgin Atlantic (November 2018)
If you don’t have enough air miles to get a flight, you can use cash to cover the remaining amount required for a trip.
You’ll need to have collected at least 3,000 miles to be able to top-up with cash which Virgin Atlantic says gives you a discount of £18.
Single journies require half of the miles needed for return trips, for example, a single economy trip to India would require 10,000 miles instead of 20,000.
- Find out more: credit card interest explained
Virgin Atlantic credit card: air miles vs Avios
While the Virgin Atlantic credit cards can help you collect miles for cheaper Virgin Atlantic flights, there are other schemes that could help you save on your next trip.
Under the popular Avios scheme, the British Airways American Express Credit Card offers 5,000 bonus Avios points when you spend at least £1,000 within the first three months.
It also allows you to collect one Avios point got each £1 spent. Its fee-free and has 22.9%, representative APR.
The British Airways American Express Premium Plus Credit Card offers slight more points per £1 spend but it comes with a £195 annual fee and a representative APR of 76%.
|Card||Introductory offer||Points per £1 spent||Annual fee||APR|
|British Airways American Express Premium Plus Credit Card||25,000 Avios on £3,000 spend within first three months||1.5||£195||76%|
|British Airways American Express Credit Card||5,000 Avios on £1,000 spend if first three months||1||£0||22.9%|
|Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit Card||15,000 miles after first purchase and 10,000 miles if you spend £1,500 in the first three months||1.5||£160||63.%|
|Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit Card||5,000 miles after first purchase and 5,000 miles after first £1,000 spend in the first three months||0.75||£0||22.9%|
The verdict: are the Virgin Atlantic Reward credit cards worth it?
Both Virgin Atlantic credit cards offer generous bonuses when you sign up but they only really allow you to unlock air miles quickly if you can spend upwards of £1,000 a month.
For instance, spending £1,000 a month on the Virgin Atlantic Rewards Credit Card would get you 19,000 air miles (including your sign-up bonus) in the first year. This is just shy of the 20,000 air miles needed for an off-peak economy return to any destination.
Your earning potential drops to 9,000 miles a year if you continued to spend £1,000 a month solely on everyday items.
The Virgin Atlantic+ Credit Card offers more earning potential and spending £1,000 a month on this card during the first year could earn you 43,000 miles (including the sign-up bonus). That could get you an off-peak premium class round trip to places like Miami, Orlando, Mexico, China or Hong Kong. If you continued to spend £1,000 a month you’ll earn 18,000 air miles a year.
The interest on both credit cards is quite high, especially the Virgin Atlantic+ Credit Card. You’ll need to be sure that you can clear your balance in full each month or else you could end up cancelling out the benefit of your rewards.
The Virgin Atlantic credit cards are a great way to unlock air miles if you can afford to spend at least £1,000 a month and clear your balance.
It’s important to be realistic about your financial situation and not be distracted by introductory deals though. Make sure that you can stick to the financial commitments required to make having either of the cards worthwhile.
Where a card has a link, this will take you through to Which? Money Compare. Which? Limited is an Introducer Appointed Representative of Which? Financial Services Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN 527029). Which? Mortgage Advisers and Which? Money Compare are trading names of Which? Financial Services Limited. Please note that the information in this article is for information purposes only and does not constitute advice. Please refer to the particular terms & conditions of a credit card provider before committing to any financial products.