Virgin Atlantic Reward MasterCard Credit Card Review
Following the removal of the old Virgin Atlantic card (as discussed here), the team at Virgin Money have been frantically preparing themselves for the launch of not one but two Virgin Atlantic credit cards. This is my review of the free Virgin Atlantic Reward MasterCard credit card. A similar review of the paid-for Virgin Atlantic credit card (£160 pa) can be found here.
The new Virgin Atlantic MasterCard is issued by Virgin Money as a MasterCard. This alongside the Reward+ credit card is the only Virgin Air Miles credit card which is issued by Virgin Money and as such should not conflict with any other credit cards you hold – that said you may also be aware that the reward points from the free American Express Gold Card (reviewed here) can also be transferred directly to your Virgin Atlantic account. Within this review we’ll see which would provide you with the best points-earning potential.
For the avoidance of doubt, the old Virgin Atlantic Black credit card and White credit card have now been replaced with the Reward+ and Reward credit card (being reviewed). You can simply apply for a new Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card if you already have a Virgin Atlantic Black card. We expect MBNA to be closing both the Black and White cards shortly.
Let's break this post down...
MasterCard Virgin Atlantic – The Sign-Up Bonus
The free Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card currently offers a sign-up bonus of 5,000 Virgin Flying Club Miles. You should also note that you can hold both the free and the fee-paying card which, if spending requirements are hit, could generate 20,000 Virgin points.
If you’re looking for a card to maximise sign-up bonuses, I’d also consider signing up to the free American Express Gold Card – reviewed here. The card offers 10,000 reward points (12,000 if you use this specific link) which can be converted directly to Virgin Flyer Club points at a ratio of 1:1. With more and more places now accepting American Express, in my eyes it is the best free Virgin Airlines credit card! I hold both Amex Gold Card and the free Virgin Atlantic Reward MasterCard to use where Amex isn’t accepted.
Changing from the Virgin Atlantic Black Card or White Card?
As I mentioned previously, Virgin Money stopped issuing the Virgin MBNA credit cards (Virgin Atlantic Black card and White card) and are likely to close down existing cards over time. Even if you hold one of the original Virgin Atlantic credit cards you can apply for a new Virgin Atlantic Reward card and still receive the sign-up bonus!
Other Benefits – Virgin Atlantic MasterCard
The card offers a very good earning rate of 0.75 miles for every £1 spent. There are limited free MasterCard products offering a similar rate. You can also earn double points when booking with Virgin Atlantic or Virgin Holidays.
I would highlight that this is less than the Amex Gold Card which earns 1 mile for every £1 spent so if you do decide to go for a combo of the 2 cards, make sure you try and use the Gold card where possible. This is obviously once you’ve hit the spend requirements on both cards to trigger the sign-up bonuses.
The new Virgin Money Credit Card also Comes with a Reasonable Spend Bonus.
When you spend £20,000 on the Virgin Atlantic card, all Virgin Flying Club members will receive a 2-4-1 voucher, valid for two years, which can be used for a Virgin Flying Club redemption in economy or a return upgrade to Premium when you book an economy reward flight (subject to reward availability in Premium). If you are a Silver status member you can use the 2-4-1 voucher in Premium or receive a Virgin Clubhouse lounge pass for Heathrow or Gatwick. Finally if you are a Gold member you can redeem the 2-4-1 voucher in Upper Class or receive two Clubhouse passes.
I would highlight that you can use the upgrade voucher to Premium to upgrade one leg per passenger if you are travelling as a couple. I find it slightly frustrating that Virgin have limited the Premium 2-4-1 ticket to Silver members and Upper Class to Gold members. The British Airways equivalent is unrestricted, making it a very popular choice for many casual travellers – see my review of the BA Amex Card here.
If you’d struggle to reach the £20,000 per year card, some would suggest it may be worth considering the £160 Virgin Reward+ MasterCard which only requires £10,000 of spending and comes with a 15,000 miles sign-up bonus. If you’re looking for the easiest way to book a premium flight using air miles, I really don’t think Virgin is the easiest route forward.
Read my first class BA review to see how my other half and I earned enough points in a year for a First Class flight to Sao Paulo.
What are the Virgin Atlantic Credit Card Benefits Worth?
One thing I’d highlight here is that Virgin Atlantic does not offer any short-haul redemptions. As such you need to be confident that you can earn enough points with the Virgin Airlines credit card to unlock a good long-haul redemption. Based on current redemption availability I’d value a Virgin Flying Club Mile at about 1p, which is in line with Avios (BA air miles). With this card you’ll receive 5,000 points when you spend a total of £1,000, which would equate to a value of £500.
In addition you’ll receive a 2-4-1 voucher if you spend £20,000 in a year. The value of this will clearly depend on how you are able to use it. The Virgin fare for London – NYC (excluding taxes) ranges from £145 in economy to £1,169 in Upper Class. There is clearly a significant benefit for redeeming to Upper Class, however as I mentioned earlier, this is restricted to Gold Flying Club members only.
Also, don’t forget that you’ll earn 0.75 miles per £1 spent on the Virgin Atlantic credit card UK, which is one of the best earnings options for a MasterCard.
Spending Abroad – Credit Cards Virgin
The Virgin Atlantic MasterCard adds a 3% foreign exchange fee to all overseas transactions. You may want to think about a different card if you plan on using it overseas.
Which Virgin Air Miles Credit Card is Right for Me?
Within this review I’ve discussed three main cards for earning Virgin Flyer Club Miles. These are: the Virgin Atlantic Reward, Virgin Atlantic Reward+ and the American Express Gold Card.
As you can imagine, there are numerous variables impacting which card would be suitable for an individual. I’ve put together three basic case studies to run through who the various cards may suit:
- Tim predominantly visits small boutique shops and will spend a total of £5,000 on the card. With small boutiques unlikely to accept the American Express card and a spend of £5,000 not releasing any spend bonus, Tim would be best off with the Virgin Atlantic Rewards MasterCard.
- Jane will spend £30,000 on the card through work at a mixture of various outlets. Jane also travels with work and has recently achieved Silver status with Virgin. I’d personally recommend that with quite a large spend, Jane should go for a combo of the American Express Gold Card and the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ card. She’d be able to unlock 10,000 points (12,000 if she uses this specific link) by spending £3,000 on the American Express card. She could then earn a further 15,000 sign-up bonus for spending £1,000 on the Reward+ credit card and a total of 40,500 (£27,000 x 1.5 miles) points for the spend on the card. This would generate a total of 70,500 points which she could then combine with her 2-4-1 voucher to take her and a companion to NYC return in Premium. If she was to use the free Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card she’d only have generated in the region of 40,250 points. The 30,250 points valued at 1p per point (£302) outweighs the £160 of the card.
- Dan spends £7,500 per year on a credit card. He does the majority of his shopping at supermarkets which would accept American Express. On the basis Dan won’t earn the 2-4-1 voucher on any of the cards and wouldn’t spend enough money for the additional points on the Reward+ card to outweigh the cost of the card, he would in this instance be best off going with the free American Express Gold Card. He would earn a sign-up bonus of 10,000 points (12,000 if he uses this link) and 7,500 points for spending on the card (total 19,500). This would compare to 5,000 points sign-up bonus and a further 5,625 points for spending on the card (total 10,625).
As you can see, there are numerous scenarios which could impact which card would be most suitable for you. In Jane’s scenario the fee-paying card combined with the Amex Gold actually works out creating most value!
Summary – Virgin Atlantic Reward MasterCard Review
So is the new Virgin Atlantic credit card worth it? The sign-up bonus of 5,000 miles for the free Virgin Air Miles credit card is reasonable and the ongoing spend earnings rate of 0.75 miles is excellent for a MasterCard. The 2-4-1 voucher is both tricky to use and only really worth it if you’re already a Virgin Club Gold member.
If you’re a relatively low spender and are able to use an American Express card at most of the places you shop, I’d strong recommend going for the free Amex Gold Card. The sign-up bonus is significantly more (12,000 if you use this link as opposed to 10,000 if you aren’t referred) and you’ll earn more on every spend. If you spend a significant amount on credit cards you may want to hold both the Reward+ card and Amex Gold in your wallet to completely maximise your points-earning capability.
I hope you’ve found this Virgin Atlantic credit card review useful and as always please do comment if you have any queries. Please share this post if you think friends would be interested.
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