Virgin Red launches with new ways to earn and spend Virgin Points
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We’ve known for months that your Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles are now known as Virgin Points. But when that announcement was made, we knew little else about what a Virgin Point was. Would you be able to use them for more than just flights?
Now we know some more details.
On Wednesday, Virgin unveiled its Virgin Red programme through which members can earn and redeem Virgin Points on a multitude of purchases and experiences. So the Virgin Points that you earn via Virgin Atlantic flights can be redeemed for experiences or purchases that aren’t related to flying.
In total, there are five reward categories through which you can both earn and spend Virgin Points:
- Everyday Treats: For example, a sausage roll on the go from Greggs, a case of wine delivered to your house from Virgin Wines or a drive-in cinema experience with London Theatre Direct;
- Explore More: The travel component, for example, you use points with Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Holidays, Virgin Limited Edition, Virgin Voyages and rewards with partner airlines, such as Air France and KLM.
- Extraordinary Experience: Much like Marriott Bonvoy Moments for non-travel experiences, these are from Virgin Experience Days and can be enjoyed either at home or away. For example, a chocolate truffle making masterclass. Virgin Red says additional experiences will become available when the world starts to return to normal in a post-pandemic world, such as access to the Virgin Red suite at Manchester’s AO Arena.
- Points for Good: Allows you to donate your Virgin Points to seven local and national charities via Virgin Money Giving — including the option to use points to carbon offset your travels. Or, purchase products using Virgin Points from Virgin StartUp; and
- Everyday Living: For example, your utility bill with Octopus Energy, high-street retailers such as Marks & Spencer, Boots, B&Q, John Lewis and Just Eat.
If anything, Virgin Red is a reminder of just how many companies fall under the Virgin Group umbrella. It appears as though the creators of the programme wanted to showcase all of them. Better yet, there are more options for travellers who earn Virgin Points and may want to redeem them for something other than flights. For example, you can redeem your Virgin Points earned from a Virgin Atlantic flight for a sailing with Virgin Voyages, the group’s cruise line.
“Being a member of Virgin Red is not just about earning Virgin Points — it’s about helping members live a life more Virgin by discovering all of the amazing products and services the Virgin companies offer,” Virgin Red Chief Marketing Officer Kelly Best said in a statement.
Specifics as far as exact redemption amounts remain to be seen. However, we have a clearer idea of how earning and spending will work, noting that these are the rates for the invitation-only exclusive period, and some remain unchanged from what we already knew:
|Virgin Atlantic||Flights and upgrades (via Flying Club)||Earn based on ticket type, cabin and distance travelled, Tier status and airline flown.
Spend from 9,000 Virgin points one-way plus taxes, fees and charges.
|Virgin Holidays||Holiday packages (via Flying Club) including Virgin Voyages||Earn on every £1 spent, varied by Tier status.
Spend from 3,000 Virgin Points.
|Virgin Wines||Cases of six wines/vouchers||Earn on purchases and spend from 9,000 points.|
|Virgin Limited Edition||Exclusive hotel stays (via Flying Club)||Earn based on stays at each property.
Spend from 180,000 Virgin Points.
|Virgin Experience Days||Earn and spend on a variety of different experiences||Earn 11 points per £1 spent.
Spend from 5,250 Virgin Points.
|Virgin Voyages||Voyage packages (via Virgin Holidays)||Spend from 3,000 Virgin points.
Earn 1 point per £1.
Here’s how you can earn points, noting that these are the rates for the invitation-only exclusive period:
|Octopus Energy||Collect when taking out single or dual fuel home energy supply||Earn from 2,500 Virgin Points on a single fuel tariff in the first year and up to 7,400 over three years with a Dual fuel tariff.|
|Selected retailers (via Collinson and Points International)||Collect on a selection of high street and online retailer (such as Adidas, Apple, Argos, ASOS, Boots, eBay, Etsy, John Lewis, Lego, Marks & Spencer, Virgin Media and more)||Rates vary, depending on the retailer. (Similar to airline shopping portals.)|
Here’s how you can spend points, noting that these are the rates for the invitation-only exclusive period:
|Virgin Money Giving||Donate to selected charities||Donate in 1,000 Virgin Point increments.|
|London Theatre Direct||Selected shows that will rotate monthly||Tickets from 4,000 Virgin Points for the Drive In Cinema and from 14,000 Virgin Points for a top West End show.|
|Greggs||Spend on 37 different bakery items||Starting from 200 Virgin Points for a sausage roll and 325 points for a hot drink.|
|Carbon Engineering||Support the development of Carbon Direct Air Capture technology||From 5,000 Virgin Points.|
|EMI Records||Selection of vinyl records.||From 3,250 Virgin Points.|
|Even Branson Foundation||Handmade artisan tote bag.||From 1,750 Virgin Points.|
|Manchester’s AO Arena||Spend on a variety of events.||From 20,000 Virgin Points for a pair of tickets.|
|Virgin StartUp||Spend on selected startups.||Saint Fragrance candles from 6,250 Virgin Points.|
While we don’t yet have a clear picture of, for example, how many Virgin Points it’ll cost you to redeem for a seven-night Caribbean cruise. At this point, what we do know is that the Virgin Point amounts you’re used to seeing with Virgin Atlantic and for its partner airlines remains unchanged.
Let’s take the Gregg’s redemption values that were announced on Wednesday as another example. You can spend 200 Virgin Points for a sausage roll. Based on TPG U.K.’s current valuations, 200 Virgin Points are worth £2.80. A Gregg’s sausage roll typically costs £1.75, so you’re not getting the greatest value from spending your Virgin Points on a sausage roll from Greggs.
That’s just one example. We’ll have to wait to see how the Virgin Red programme prices other award redemptions. We suspect that you’ll continue to get the best value when using your Virgin Points for reward flights with Virgin Atlantic and its partners. However, there may be some other sweet spots hidden within the programme, but we’ll have to wait to dig deeper.
Virgin Red launched on Wednesday on an invite-only basis to users of Virgin Red Vaults. Users will be invited to join “over the course of several weeks” through the end of the year. Additionally, Virgin Red plans to launch in other markets — including the U.S. — in the future.
“Today is just the beginning for Virgin Red as we develop a club that’s fit for the future – and we can’t wait to speak to the members who’ll be joining us during our test and learn phase to see what they think,” Best said. “We’re on a mission to disrupt how customer loyalty is traditionally rewarded as we begin to deliver on our ambition to be game-changing – creating a rewards club that is global, with one single currency that never expires.”
It’s worth noting that with this announcement, the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is not going away. The programme itself is sticking around, as is each level of status, how you earn that status and the perks you get. However, what is changing is just the redeemable points currency. Instead of Flying Club miles, you can now earn and redeem Virgin Points — the value of which remain unchanged and no longer expire.
Virgin Red will launch on a larger scale in the new year, though there’s not a set launch date at this time.
Featured photo by David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images.
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