The successors to the MBNA Virgin Atlantic White and Black credit cards have finally been revealed.

It was announced at the back end of last year that Virgin Money was to become Virgin Atlantic’s financial services partner.

And now, some five months after the Virgin Atlantic credit cards were unexpectedly withdrawn from the MBNA website, Virgin Money has unveiled their replacements.

New VS credit card from Virgin Money


These are the headline figures:

Both of these cards allow you to earn Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles from your everyday purchases. You can find my complete guide to the Flying Club scheme here.

Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit Card

Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit Card

  • Earn 5,000 bonus Flying Club miles with the first card purchase (within 90 days of account opening)
  • Earn 0.75 Flying Club miles for every £1 spent
  • Earn double miles for all direct bookings with Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays
  • Spend £20,000 in a year and choose a credit card reward (see below)
  • 0% interest on balance and money transfers for six months (3% fee)
  • No annual fee

This card has a representative APR of 22.9% variable based on a notional credit limit of £1,200.


Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit Card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit Card

  • Earn 15,000 bonus Flying Club miles with the first card purchase (within 90 days of account opening)
  • Earn 1.5 Flying Club miles for every £1 spent
  • Earn double miles for all direct bookings with Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays
  • Spend £10,000 in a year and choose a credit card reward (see below)
  • Free access to over 1 million global hotspots via Boingo Wi-Fi
  • 0% interest on balance and money transfers for six months (3% fee)
  • Annual fee: £160 – Unlike Amex cards, this is not refundable pro-rata if you chose to cancel.

This card has a representative APR of 63.9% based on a notional credit limit of £1,200 and a £160 annual fee. The representative APR on purchases is 22.9% variable. 


Credit card rewards

After spending £10,000 or £20,000 in a card membership year, Reward+ and Reward cardholders will be able to select a further credit card reward of their choice.

The options available will depend on your status level with Virgin Atlantic.

You can find more info on the Virgin Atlantic membership tiers on this page.

Red Flying Club members

Can choose a free upgrade to Premium Economy when flying Economy, or an Economy reward companion seat which enables them to take a companion for no additional miles.

Silver Flying Club members

Can choose from these same options, as well as a Premium Economy reward companion seat or a pass for a Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse.

Gold Flying Club members

Can choose two Clubhouse passes, an Economy, Premium or Upper Class reward companion seat, or a free premium economy upgrade.

Crucially, the 2-4-1 companion ticket will be awarded within seven days of hitting the £10,000/£20,000 thresholds. 

This is a huge improvement over the previous MBNA setup, whereby you had to wait until the end of your card year to receive any vouchers that you’d earned!

All rewards will have a 2-year expiry date – this is a major plus for the free Reward card over its British Airways (BA) counterpart. The 2-4-1 voucher on the free BA card is only valid for a year.


Other perks

Free use of Virgin Money lounges

All Virgin Atlantic Reward and Reward+ credit card customers can access the Virgin Money Lounges. Membership is free, as are the refreshments, use of iPads, wi-fi, newspapers and facilities to help keep children entertained.

Complimentary global Wi-Fi access with Boingo

Reward+ cardholders will also receive free global Wi-Fi access via Boingo. This includes in-flight access and can be used on up to four devices. Depending on your travel patterns, this can be very useful.


What will happen to current MBNA Virgin Amex/Visa cardholders

Based on recent product closures from the likes of Barclaycard and others, your card is likely to become a bog-standard MBNA credit card in the coming days/weeks/months, whenever the product is pulled entirely.

If you’re a Virgin ‘double pack’ credit card holder, you CAN hold that card(s) and the new Virgin Reward credit cards at the same time.

As they are completely separate products,  you ARE eligible to receive the bonus on the Reward or Reward+ cards even as an existing Virgin credit card holder.


Why Virgin have missed an open goal with these cards

Despite a pretty generous benefits package, I can’t help but feel that Virgin have missed a trick with these cards.

By only permitting top-tier Virgin Gold members to use their 2-4-1 vouchers for Upper Class flights, they have passed up a huge opportunity to tempt holders of the British Airways Credit and Premium Plus cards to make the switch.

Everyone wants aspirational redemptions to aim for and given that Virgin Gold status is considerably more tricky to come by than BA Gold status, for example, they have ensured that for many, the Virgin 2-4-1 voucher just isn’t very glamorous.

Given the choice, would you rather spend £10,000 on the BA Premium Plus card and use your 2-4-1 voucher for first class flights, or spend that same £10,000 on the Virgin Reward+ card and receive a voucher that can only be used in Economy?

I get the desire to reward your most frequent flyers but Virgin’s Upper Class cabin is hardly Air France’s La Premiere or Swiss First Class – both of which also require elite status to book tickets using miles.


Am I eligible for these cards and how to apply

Virgin Money offers an eligibility tracker on their website (soft credit pull so won’t show on your credit report) to see if you will be accepted for these cards.

You can find their Card Checker tool here.

Broadly speaking, you’ll need to ensure that the following is applicable:

  • I am aged 18 years or over (the same goes for any additional cardholders).
  • I am a UK resident.
  • I have a UK bank or building society account.
  • I have good credit history.
  • I have an income of at least £7,000, or my household income is at least £15,000.
  • I have not made a previous application for another credit card issued by Virgin Money in the last 6 months.

You can apply for the free Reward credit card via this page

You can apply for the Reward+ credit card via this page

More info and full T&C’s for both of these cards can be found on this page of the Virgin Atlantic website.


Verdict

In the brave new ‘0.3% interchange rate’ world, I am pleasantly surprised at the strong earnings rates being offered by these two new cards.

Earning 0.75 Virgin miles per £1 on the free Rewards card – which, being a Mastercard, will be accepted almost everywhere – is an excellent return. The only other widely available non-Amex card offering anything close to that is the Tesco Premium Credit Card (reviewed here) which gives 0.625 Virgin miles per £1. But that carries a £150 annual fee!

They do come up short though when it comes to their take on the 2-4-1 companion voucher. Allow all cardholders to use their voucher for Upper Class and you have a truly compelling argument with which to woo BA cardholders. Instead, they may well have alienated the masses.

Nevertheless, if you’re in the market for a generous Visa or Mastercard rewards credit card, the Virgin Atlantic Reward and Reward+ cards are frankly unbeatable and well worth a look. 

The application page for the Reward card can be found here, with the Reward+ card available here.

What do you make of the new Virgin cards?


Disclaimer: The above information is intended solely as a helpful guide to relevant card products on the market and the various rewards they offer. You should, of course, always conduct your own research as the recommendations provided within may not be suitable for your personal financial requirements.

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