UPDATE: These cards were withdrawn from the MBNA website without warning in November 2017. Existing cards continue to work but they are currently not available to new applicants.
Last week I took a look at this card’s older sibling: the Virgin Black Credit Card. As promised, today I am going to review the Virgin White card which is the other Virgin credit card offered by MBNA.
The Virgin White Credit Card issued by MBNA allows you to earn Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles on all of your everyday purchases. Like the Virgin Black card, this card comes as a double pack, with both an American Express and a Visa card (for clarity, I will still simply refer to them as the Virgin White card).
What can I do with Virgin Atlantic miles?
Virgin has a strong US route network, though their lack of European short-haul flights means there are no Reward Flight Saver-esque cheap redemptions.
Nevertheless, reward flights start at just 10,000 miles one-way to the likes of New York, Delhi or Dubai – that is some serious value!
In fact, in many examples, you would require fewer Virgin miles than if you were booking the same trip with British Airways using Avios.
For more info, this everything you need to know about Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles guide provides an in-depth analysis of the Flying Club program as a whole. I also looked at when you should be using Virgin miles instead of Avios points which is useful to bear in mind when trying to evaluate the two programs.
There is no annual fee on this card.
Representative 22.9% APR variable and 22.9% p.a (variable) for purchases, based on an assumed credit limit of £1,200.
Day-to-day earnings rate
As explained earlier, this card comes as a double pack. How many miles you earn from your spend varies according to the card you use and where you use it:
American Express card:
- 2 miles for every £1 you spend directly with Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays on this card.
- 1 mile per £1 spent on the card on all other purchases.
- 1 mile for every £1 spent directly with Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays on this card.
- 0.5 mile per £1 spent on the card.
For a free card, the earnings rates are impressive. There is no* free Visa/MasterCard on the market that allows you to earn 0.5 Avios per £1, for example!
However, you would have to weigh up if you could get more value putting your Visa/MasterCard spend on a card such as the HHonors Platinum Visa (reviewed here) which earns 2 Hilton HHonors points per £1 and is also free.
*The HSBC Premier MasterCard does earn 0.5 mile per £1 spent but has tight eligibility criteria.
1.) Premium Economy reward upgrade voucher
This is earned when you spend £10,000 on the Virgin Atlantic Black American Express®Credit Card in one year. It allows you to book a Premium Economy seat for the price of an Economy redemption.
- This is essentially just saving you the difference in terms of miles required between an Economy and Premium Economy redemption. While a nice bonus, this is only really relevant if you would be looking to book a Premium Economy redemption and/or would perhaps struggle to accumulate the necessary mileage otherwise.
- NOTE: These upgrades come in the form of vouchers added to your Virgin account, but are only added at the end of your card membership year! By contrast, the American Express 2-4-1 voucher (that accompanies the BA Premium Plus card – reviewed here and the free BA card – reviewed here) is added within a couple of weeks of hitting the spending target.
- Max of 2 upgrades possible per (card membership) year. One after £5,000 spent, a second after reaching £10,000.
- Upgrade vouchers valid for 12 months from issue date.
2.) Complimentary companion reward flight
Spend £15,000 on the Virgin Atlantic Black American Express® Credit Card and receive a free* companion ticket when you purchase a full fare qualifying flight.
- So this sounds good, the MBNA answer to the British Airways/Amex 2-4-1 voucher. On closer inspection, it’s clear this is the poor man’s version, although admittedly it has improved slightly in recent years.
This is because unlike the BA 2-4-1 you need to purchase a ‘full’ cash ticket in order to receive the free companion ticket! About 18 months ago, Virgin widened the types of cash tickets that are eligible to be used in conjunction with the voucher. However, you still cannot combine the voucher with the cheapest Economy/Premium Economy tickets, which decreases its value considerably.
- Max of one voucher can be earned per (card membership) year.
- Voucher is valid for 12 months from the date of issue.
*Taxes and charges still applicable.
NOTE: Spend made on the Visa card does NOT contribute towards the spend thresholds required to earn either of the above vouchers.
Can I get a better sign-up bonus?
The short answer to that question is probably yes. Currently, the bonus on this card is at its ‘standard level’. MBNA have run raised bonus periods in the last couple of years offering 10,000 Virgin miles for taking out this card.
During promotional periods, the sign-up bonus has traditionally been staggered as follows:
- 3,000 miles when you make your first purchase.
- 7,000 miles when you spend £1,000 within the first three months of card membership.
In my Virgin Black review last week, I discussed why it isn’t a must to wait for a higher bonus to come along. In that case, you had to weigh up whether you would want to channel £3,000 of spending onto the card to earn an extra 6,500 Virgin miles.
However, with the Virgin White card, the spend required is much lower, but with a higher (miles) return. If you are interested in this card, I would hold off until a 10,000 miles offer (or similar) returns. For a free card, 10,000 miles is an excellent return while 3,000 miles is fairly average.
For perspective, what could that same £1,000 of spending get you on a different card? Well, the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) card (reviewed here) also requires a £1,000 spend in the first 90 days for a bonus of 10,000 SPG points. If converted directly to Virgin those would also be worth 10,000 Virgin miles.
For a free card, I think the Virgin White Card performs well. Earning 1 mile per £1 on Amex spend puts it on par with the British Airways American Express Credit Card (which I reviewed here). Add to that the 0.5 mile per £1 on the Visa card and it is a solid product.
I don’t attach much value to the various upgrade vouchers, simply because only Amex (and not Visa) spend counts towards the required spending threshold.
If you are looking for a decent free Visa/MasterCard, this card is an appealing prospect, given its above average daily earning rates.
Disclaimer: The above information is intended solely as a helpful guide to the relevant products on the market and their various features. You should always conduct your own research as the recommendations provided within may not be suitable for your personal financial requirements.