I wanted to publish an updated review of the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard®, since this is a card that may not be on many peoples’ radar and there are a few perks that are worth being aware of. In this post I wanted to take a closer look at the card, and also compare it to some other cards out there.
Virgin Atlantic Credit Card Basics for September 2020
The Virgin Atlantic Credit Card has one of the best returns on spending of any airline card, offers some perks just for having the card, and also has some spending bonuses that could even make it worthwhile to use this card for your purchases.
While many people may have heard of this card before, most people probably aren’t too familiar with how the benefits of this card work, especially as the card recently introduced a companion ticket benefit. So let’s start by talking about some of the basics of the card, then we’ll look at the annual fee, and finally, we’ll compare it to some other cards.
Virgin Atlantic’s new A350 Upper Class
Bank Of America Application Rules
The Virgin Atlantic Card is issued by Bank of America, which has some application rules that are worth being aware of. You can read more about those here.
$90 Annual Fee
The Virgin Atlantic Mastercard has a $90 annual fee. That’s marginally lower than the $95-99 annual fees you’ll find on many other airline credit cards. There’s no cost to add authorized users to the card.
5,000 Bonus Miles For Adding Authorized Users
The Virgin Atlantic Card typically has a bonus for adding authorized users, where you can receive up to 5,000 Flying Club bonus miles. You receive 2,500 bonus miles for each of the first two authorized users you add to the card.
15,000 Bonus Miles Anniversary Bonus
You can receive 15,000 Flying Club bonus miles on your account anniversary every year for completing certain spending. You receive 7,500 bonus miles if you spend a total of $15,000, and an additional 7,500 bonus miles if you spend a total of $25,000.
So if you spend a total of $25,000 on the card in an anniversary year you’d receive 15,000 bonus miles.
Virgin Atlantic A330
No Foreign Transaction Fees
The Virgin Atlantic Mastercard has no foreign transaction fees, so it’s a good card to use for purchases abroad.
Earning Miles With The Virgin Atlantic Card (1.5-3x Miles)
Among airline credit cards, the Virgin Atlantic Credit Card has a pretty good rewards structure. The card offers 3x miles on Virgin Atlantic purchases and 1.5x miles on all other purchases.
While not industry-leading, I’d say 1.5x miles per dollar spent could be well worth it.
Virgin Atlantic 787-9
Tip: Spend $25,000 On The Card Per Year
There is a “sweet spot” to this card, which is spending exactly $25,000 every anniversary year. That’s because you’d receive 15,000 bonus miles.
On top of that, you’re earning 1.5x miles per dollar spent, meaning that for $25,000 worth of spending you’d actually earn 52,500 Flying Club miles, which is more than two miles per dollar spent. That’s pretty good!
That doesn’t even factor in the potential other benefits offered by the card for spending, which I’ll talk about below.
Virgin Atlantic Credit Card Benefits
The Virgin Atlantic Credit Card offers some potentially useful benefits. These can help you earn status in the Flying Club program, and can also get you a companion award ticket, which could get a lot of value to cardmembers.
How do these work?
Annual Upgrade Or Companion Ticket
This is a benefit that was only recently added to the card, which has the potential to be pretty useful. If you spend at least $25,000 on the card per anniversary year, you receive your choice of an anniversary award benefit. You have two choices, both of which need to be redeemed within two years of when they’re issued:
One Cabin Upgrade Benefit
You can select a one cabin upgrade for the primary cardmember from economy to premium economy when flying on a reward flight. This is only valid for reward flights, and isn’t valid for an upgrade to Upper Class.
Companion Award Fare
Alternatively, you can select one matching companion fare valid in the same cabin class as the cardholder when you redeem miles for the ticket. The class into which you can book is restricted based on the primary cardmember’s Flying Club status at the time of booking:
- Red Tier members may redeem miles for a ticket in economy class
- Silver Tier members may redeem miles for a ticket in economy or premium economy
- Gold Tier members may redeem miles for a ticket in economy, premium economy, or business class
Note that you are still on the hook for taxes, fees, and carrier-imposed surcharges on the companion ticket.
While it would be nice if it were valid for Upper Class (business class) for everyone, this is still a nice added perk.
Earn Elite Status With The Virgin Atlantic Credit Card
Having the Virgin Atlantic Credit Card can help you earn elite status in the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club program.
You earn 25 Tier Points for every $2,500 you spend on the card in net purchases. You can earn a maximum of 50 Tier Points per month, and a maximum of 600 Tier Points per year.
For what it’s worth:
- Virgin Atlantic Silver status requires 400 Tier Points every year
- Virgin Atlantic Gold status requires 1,000 Tier Points every year
Access the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse with Gold status
So you could earn Silver status exclusively through spending on the credit card, and credit card spending could get you over half the way to Gold status.
What are the perks of Virgin Atlantic elite status? You can expect perks like bonus miles, priority check-in, security, and lounge access, preferred seating, and more. Here’s a full chart comparing Flying Club elite benefits:
Is The Virgin Atlantic Credit Card Worth It?
The Virgin Atlantic Credit Card is definitely niche. However, there are circumstances under which I could see it making sense to spend money on the card.
I really think spending $25,000 on this card every anniversary year is a real sweet spot, as you’d earn:
- 52,500 Flying Club miles, which is over two miles per dollar spent (this includes 1.5x miles, plus the 15,000 bonus miles)
- An award benefit, where you can receive either a one-cabin upgrade or a companion award ticket
- 250 Tier Points, which gets you on your way to Virgin Atlantic status
There are no doubt more well-rounded cards, but for someone who would benefit from status with Virgin Atlantic, someone who could use the companion ticket, or someone who values earning over 2x Virgin Atlantic miles per dollar spent, this is a great option.
Virgin Atlantic’s 787-9 Upper Class
Showdown: British Airways Visa Vs. Virgin Atlantic Mastercard
While these cards aren’t actually related directly, maybe it’s interesting to briefly compare the cards issued for British Airways and Virgin Atlantic in the US. I’ve talked a lot about the Virgin Atlantic Card in this post, so how does the British Airways Visa Signature® Card compare? Here’s what you need to know about this card:
- It offers 1x Avios per dollar spent and 3x Avios per dollar spent on British Airways
- The card offers some great perks like 10% off revenue British Airways tickets, up to $600 in statement credits for British Airways award flights, a Travel Together Ticket when you spend $30,000 on the card per year, and more
Use a Travel Together Ticket for a business class reward ticket
So both cards could make sense, I think it comes down to whether you fly British Airways or Virgin Atlantic more.
Both cards can more than pay for themselves depending on how much you value the companion perks they offer.
I’d probably give the British Airways Visa the slight edge for the potentially richer perks. However, the card is also harder to be approved for, given that it’s issued by Chase, which can be tough with applications.
Tip: Earn Virgin Atlantic Miles With Amex & Chase
In general, I recommend trying to rack up points in a transferrable points currency whenever possible. That’s because transferrable points currencies:
- Give you a lot more flexibility, since you can earn the points now and later decide how you want to redeem them
- Let you earn points at a faster rate, since they often have bonus categories that can get you outsized value
- Sometimes offer transfer bonuses when you redeem miles, especially with Virgin Atlantic
So while there are circumstances where it could make sense to spend money on the Virgin Atlantic Card (like if you spend $25,000 on the card every anniversary year), overall you’re going to rack up Flying Club miles at a faster pace through programs like Amex Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards.
There are lots of great credit cards that can potentially earn you Virgin Atlantic miles
Virgin Atlantic Credit Card Summary
If I had no credit cards and was just looking for a single card to use for my everyday spending, this wouldn’t be the card I’d go for. However, for someone who has had a lot of other cards, or who flies Virgin Atlantic a lot, this card could be a good option.
In general, I’d much rather use a card earning transferable points for my everyday spending, like earning Amex or Chase points, for example, but I do think it could actually make sense to put spending on this card at the right thresholds.
I think this card can make a ton of sense to pick up. It has an excellent bonus so you can apply for the card and then see how the card works for you. You can even try to spend $25,000 on the card, which I consider to be a sweet spot. Then after the first year you can decide if it’s worth holding onto long term.