No annual fee: A review of the Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit Card
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Virgin Atlantic and its Flying Club programme may not be as well known as British Airways’ Executive Club, but it’s still a great way to maximise your travel. Virgin Atlantic, pre-pandemic at least, flew to more destinations than you might realise and has very solid airline partners like Air France, Delta and KLM.
When it comes to earning Virgin Points to use for redemptions, you can do so quickest through two different cobranded credit cards: the Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit Card and the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit Card.
The Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit Card is an entry-level credit card offering from Virgin Atlantic. Here’s a full look at it.
Who is this card for?
This card is designed for those who fly Virgin Atlantic or its partner airlines (or would like to) and want a fee-free credit card to earn Virgin Points to use with the carrier or its partners.
This may also be a good option for those travellers 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 Virgin Points 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 Virgin Points, these 5,000 points 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.
You will earn 1.5 Virgin Points for each £1 spent on the card directly with Virgin Atlantic or Virgin Holidays, as well as a less-than-ideal 0.75 Virgin Points 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.
Virgin Points can have extreme value. They can be used on flights to get you to the entirety of Virgin Atlantic’s route network, while also being able to use them to travel with Virgin’s extensive partner portfolio.
For example, you could consider redeeming your points for first-class travel to Tokyo with partner ANA. Alternatively, thanks to the somewhat new partnership with Air France and KLM, you can use Virgin Points to travel short-haul within Europe via Amsterdam or Paris. Or, consider using Virgin Points for Delta Air Lines flights within the U.S.
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).
You can choose between the following options:
- A second redemption seat for a travelling companion for no additional points on the same Virgin Atlantic flight. Note that if you hold the lowest level red status in the Flying Club programme and choose a redemption seat in Upper Class, you will have to pay 50% of the points required for that second seat; or
- A single Virgin Clubhouse pass for London Heathrow;
- Upgrade any return Virgin Atlantic redemption by one class (so economy to premium, or premium to Upper Class).
Note the upgrades must have award availability in the higher class to which you wish to upgrade, the travelling 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.
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 Points 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 Virgin Points in reaching this spending goal, as they earn at twice the rate of this basic card.
Flying Club doesn’t receive as much attention as Executive Club/Avios, does but it’s still a solid programme 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 points without paying an annual fee, this could be a great starter card for lower spending amounts, especially where American Express might not be accepted.
Featured photo by John Gribben / The Points Guy.
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