Credit Card Review: Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit Card UK

Apr 23, 2019

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After British Airways’ Executive Club and its Avios points currency, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is probably the second most popular airline loyalty program in the United Kingdom. While Virgin Atlantic doesn’t have the fleet or route map that British Airways has, it still has an impressive list of destinations and partners.

And when it comes to earning Flying Club miles to be used for redemptions, you can do so quickest through two different branded credit cards: the Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit Card and the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit Card. The Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit Card is the entry-level offering from Virgin Atlantic.

In This Post

Who Is This Card For?

This card is designed for those who fly Virgin Atlantic (or would like to) and want a low-cost credit card to earn Flying Club miles to use with the carrier or its partners.

This may also be a good option for those travelers who use a high-earning American Express card but also want a Mastercard for retailers that do not accept Amex.

Sign-up Bonus and Annual Fee

The base-level Virgin Atlantic card offers 5,000 Flying Club miles when you make your first purchase on the card. This single purchase can be as inexpensive as a cup of coffee — there’s no minimum spend requirement beyond this. Based on TPG’s current valuation of Flying Club miles, these 5,000 miles are worth approximately £60.

As an entry-level card, there is no annual fee.

This card has a representative APR of 22.9% variable, and a purchase rate of 22.9% variable with an assumed credit limit of £1,200.

Virgin Atlantic A330 Upper Class refresh (Image courtesy of Virgin Atlantic)
Virgin Atlantic A330 Upper Class refresh. (Image courtesy of Virgin Atlantic)

Earning

You will earn 1.5 miles for each £1 spent on the card directly with Virgin Atlantic or Virgin Holidays, as well as a less-than-ideal 0.75 miles per £1 spent on all other purchases. For a Mastercard, this is still a sufficient earn rate, noting Mastercard is accepted at more retailers than American Express.

As of 16 April 2020, the card no longer charges foreign transaction fees on some international purchases. Virgin Money did doing away with the pesky 2.99% foreign transaction fee it charges on some non-sterling purchases. The fee no longer applies to international purchases made within the European Economic Area (EEA). In other words, you won’t be charged the 2.99% fee if you are making a purchase in sterling, euro, Swedish kronor or Romanian lei. For international purchases made outside of the EEA, you’ll still be charged a 2.99% fee.

Redeeming

Read our complete guide to using Flying Club miles here.

Perks

If you’re planning to spend some serious money, the best perk of this card is the ‘Virgin Atlantic Reward’ you’ll receive after spending £20,000 on the card within each 12 months of your card anniversary date (i.e. the date you activated the card). This reward differs based on which level of status you hold in the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club program:

If you hold Flying Club Red status (the lowest/entry-level tier), you can choose:

  • To upgrade a single economy redemption flight to premium economy; or
  • A second economy redemption seat for a traveling companion for no additional miles on the same flight.

For Flying Club Silver status members, you can choose between:

  • Upgrading a single economy redemption flight to premium economy; or
  • A second economy or premium redemption seat for a traveling companion for free on the same flight; or
  • A single Virgin Clubhouse pass for London Heathrow (LHR) or London Gatwick (LGW).

If you are a Flying Club Gold member, you can choose between:

  • Upgrading a single economy redemption flight to premium economy; or
  • A second redemption seat for a traveling companion in any class for no additional miles on the same flight; or
  • Two Virgin Clubhouse pass for London Heathrow (LHR) or London Gatwick (LGW).

Note the upgrades must have award availability in the higher class to which you wish to upgrade, the traveling companion must still pay taxes and fees for their ‘free’ flight and the lounge passes require a same-day Virgin Atlantic ticket — and no guesting is allowed.

Other perks include 0% interest on balance transfers for the first six months, but do note there is a 3% fee for transferring this balance.

As a cardholder, you’ll have access to Virgin Money lounges. These are city lounges in which Virgin Money customers can relax, rather than airport lounges for travelers flying.

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at JFK. (Photo courtesy of Virgin Atlantic)

Which Cards Compete With This Card?

This is a no-annual-fee basic card with a suitably low earn rate. If you would like to collect Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles at a higher earn rate and with a much higher sign-up bonus but are willing to pay an annual fee, consider applying for the more premium Virgin Atlantic Rewards+ Credit Card.

If you are spending enough to earn the Virgin Atlantic Reward referred to above, you should consider the Rewards+ card instead, as you will accrue many more Flying Club miles in reaching this spending goal, as they earn at twice the rate of this basic card.

Bottom Line

Flying Club doesn’t receive as much attention as Executive Club/Avios, does but it’s still a solid program with plenty of great value (though sometimes niche) redemption options. Unless you’re putting serious money on the card, it’s not going to get you an Upper Class seat to Los Angeles quickly. The Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit Card is generous on the face of it, but you have to spend some serious money on the card to achieve serious rewards.

If you already fly Virgin Atlantic (especially if you have status), fly its partners or want to start doing so and pick up some miles without paying an annual fee, this could be a great ‘starter’ card for lower spending amounts, especially where American Express might not be accepted. You can apply for this card here.

Featured photo by John Gribben / The Points Guy.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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