Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus MasterCard Review
There have recently been some big changes at Virgin credit cards, with the launch of not one but two new Virgin Money credit cards. I recently reviewed the free Virgin MasterCard (found here) and will now be reviewing the Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus MasterCard which comes with a £160 per year subscription fee. As always, I’ll be running through the Virgin credit card benefits and analysing whether the new Virgin Money credit card provides real value at £160 pa. If you don’t think the paid version of the Virgin MasterCard UK is for you, please read my Virgin Money credit card review (found here) for the free Virgin credit card UK.
Virgin currently have two other Virgin Money cards in the market. However, as we’ve reported here, Virgin have pulled the plug on new sign-ups for the Virgin White credit card and Black credit card. We expect existing accounts to be closed over the coming months.
The new Virgin credit card is issued by Virgin Money as a MasterCard.
Let's break this post down...
Sign-Up Bonus – Virgin Credit Card Review
Compared with the free card, the premium version of the Virgin credit card offers a generous, total sign-up bonus of 15,000 Virgin Flying Club Miles.
This compares with other cards in the market such as the free American Express Gold Card (reviewed here) which offers 10,000 points (12,000 if you use this specific link) that can be transferred to Virgin Flying Club or the £575 pa American Express Platinum card offering 30,000 points (35,000 if you use this specific link).
As the new Virgin credit cards are issued by MasterCard they are generally accepted by more retailers than American Express. That said, more and more payment processing companies are accepting Amex these days.
I would highlight that you can sign up to both the free and paid for Virgin Money credit cards. Subject to spending the required amounts, you can redeem both sign-up bonuses. You’ll need to leave a 6-month gap between signing up to each Virgin UK credit card though!
Other Benefits of the Virgin Credit Card UK
The premium version of the new Virgin Money credit card comes with an exceptional earning rate for a MasterCard of 1.5 Flying Club Miles for every £1 spent – with no other reward MasterCard coming close.
If you book using the Virgin Flying Club credit card with Virgin Atlantic or Virgin Holidays you’ll even earn double points.
The Virgin Atlantic Reward+ MasterCard also offers:
- Free unlimited access to Virgin Money lounges
- Free global Wi-Fi access with Boingo
- 0% interest for six months on balance transfers
Spend Bonus – Virgin Credit Card Benefits
The Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card comes with a reasonable spend bonus. Once the cardholder has spent £10,000 in the membership year, all Flying Club members have the option of either a 2-4-1 voucher for a Virgin Flying Club redemption in economy or a return upgrade to Premium when booking an economy reward flight (requires reward availability in Premium).
If you’ve also read my Virgin credit card review for the free Virgin MasterCard (reviewed here) you’ll know that we don’t really rate this benefit. I’ll cover this in more detail later within this Virgin Money credit card review.
For Silver and Gold Flying Club members there is however some additional perks. If you are a Silver member and spend £10,000 in the first year on the Virgin credit card you can also redeem the 2-4-1 voucher in Premium or swap it for a visit to the Virgin Clubhouse lounge at either Heathrow or Gatwick. Gold members have the benefit of being able to redeem in Upper Class or swapping the voucher for 2 passes to the Virgin Clubhouse.
What are the Virgin Money Credit Card Benefits Worth?
So you’ve spent £10,000 in the year on your new Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus credit card and you’ve earned a total of 30,000 points (15,000 sign-up and 15,000 spend bonus) alongside the 2-4-1 voucher. If you decide to use the Virgin Flyer Club points on a flight I would ordinarily value a Flying Club point at approximately 1p making the points bonus worth about £300. Now the benefit or value of the 2-4-1 voucher is going to vary depending on your flyer status with Virgin.
Entry Level Status – As you are only able to use the 2-4-1 voucher from the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card to redeem an economy flight the benefit here is relatively limited. The Virgin fare for a flight from London to NYC (excluding taxes) is in the region of £145 in economy, therefore valuing the voucher at £145.
Silver Status – With the ability to use the voucher for a Premium redemption the Virgin fare for the same flight in Premium (again excluding taxes) would be in the region of £489. A considerable increase for those with Silver status.
Gold Status – Finally Gold Virgin Flying club members are able to redeem in Upper Class. Virgin fares (excl. taxes) for London to NYC are in the region of £1,169.
As such if you’re Silver or Gold status the 2-4-1 voucher will provide significant value alongside the further 30,000 points accumulated on the card. With 30,000 points worth in the region of £300, after an allowance for the cost of the card (£160 pa) your net position would be £140.
If you’re unlikely to spend £10,000 in the year, don’t want to pay for a credit card or alternatively wouldn’t be able to use the 2-4-1 voucher, you may be better off with the free American Express Gold Card (reviewed here). You’ll receive a 10,000 points sign-up bonus (12,000 if you use this link) which can be transferred at a rate of 1:1 to Virgin Flying Club. If you spend say £10,000 in the year on the card you’d generate 22,000 points which would be worth about £220 verses £160 for the Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus MasterCard credit card.
Spending Abroad – Virgin Credit Cards UK
The new premium Virgin Money credit card UK adds a 3% foreign exchange fee to all overseas transactions. As such we wouldn’t really recommend the Virgin MasterCard for use abroad. There are several cards on the market that offer no foreign exchange fees; unfortunately they tend to offer limited additional benefits.
Already Have the Virgin White Credit Card?
For those who already have a Virgin White credit card or alternatively the Black version, you may have heard that Virgin have stopped issuing new cards and the likelihood is that they will start closing accounts over time. Fear not, you’re able to apply for the new Virgin Atlantic Reward+ MasterCard credit card while you still hold your old version. You’ll even benefit from the sign-up bonus offered!
Which Virgin Money Credit Card is Right for Me?
Ok, so within this Virgin credit card review, I’ve looked at three main cards which allow you to earn Virgin Flying Club Miles. These are the Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus credit card, the Virgin Atlantic Reward card as well as the American Express Gold card where it’s possible to convert the points earned to Flying Club Miles.
As always, there are numerous variables that will determine which Virgin Flying Club credit card is most suitable for you. However I’ve put together 3 very basic examples which may help you decide whether a Virgin Miles credit card is suitable or alternatively a generic card such as the Amex Gold could provide improved flexibility alongside a better earnings rate.
- Let’s start by looking at a big spender who flies regularly with Virgin. Tom is likely to spend about £25,000 on the card and has recently gained Gold status with Virgin. In this instance, Tom may be best going for a combination of both the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ card and American Express Gold card. He’d be able to unlock 10,000 points (12,000 if he uses this link) by spending £3,000 on the Amex Gold. He could then earn an additional sign-up bonus of 15,000 points on the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card alongside a spend bonus of 33,000 (£22,000 x 1.5) miles. This would generate a total of 60,000 points which he could combine with the 2-4-1 voucher for an Upper Class ticket to NYC.
- Sally is expecting to spend £5,000 per year on a credit card. This is likely to be at large international retailers which accept American Express. Due to the lower spending pattern of Sally, she would not hit the 2-4-1 spend threshold on either card and the benefit of signing up to the premium card would unlikely outweigh the cost of the card. As such, in this instance Sally would be better off with a free American Express Gold Card, earning a sign-up bonus of 10,000 points (12,000 using this link) and a further 5,000 points for the spend on the card (total 17,000). Compared to the free Virgin Money credit card this would generate 5,000 points for the sign-up bonus and a further 3,750 points for spending on the card (total 8,750).
- Finally we have Sarah who mainly visits small boutique shops and will spend a total of £7,500 on the card. With small, independent retailers unlikely to take Amex and a spend of £7,500 not hitting spend bonus requirements, Sarah is likely to be most suited to the free Virgin Atlantic Rewards MasterCard.
Summary – The New Premium Virgin MasterCard UK
Hopefully you’ve found this detailed Virgin credit card review useful. We now know what the premium Virgin credit card offers. In terms of continued spend earnings, at 1.5 miles per £1, it is quite simply a market leader in the MasterCard space. As you can see, the 2-4-1 Virgin credit card benefits only provide good value to Silver and Gold status holders so it’s worth thinking about this before you sign up to the Virgin Money credit card UK.
If you’re a relatively small spender and visit shops that accept American Express, you are likely to be better off going for the free Amex Gold Card (reviewed here) as opposed to either the free or premium Virgin Money credit cards. The sign-up bonus is significantly more, 12,000 using this link or 10,000 if not, verses 5,000 with the Virgin credit card. The continued spend benefit is also better than the free card (1 point versus 0.75 points for every £1 spent).
If you spend a significant amount on credit cards you may want to hold both the premium Virgin MasterCard Reward+ alongside the Amex Gold to truly maximise your points-earning potential.
Please do share this Virgin Money credit card review with anyone who you think may find it useful or is considering one of the Virgin Money cards.
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