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Review: the Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard credit card

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This is our review of the free Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard credit card.

It is part of our series of articles looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether or not they are worth applying for. These articles are linked to the relevant sections of the ‘Credit Cards‘ area of the menu bar. Our other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.

Key link: Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard application form

Key facts: No annual fee

The representative APR is 26.9% variable.

Review free Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card

Reward credit cards generally have high interest rates and are not suitable for anyone who does not pay off their full balance each month. If you do not clear your balance, you should look for a non-rewards credit card with a low interest rate.

This article was updated on 1st January 2024, and all of the information is correct as of that date. Ignore the original publication date shown.

About the Virgin Atlantic free credit card

The Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card – issued by Virgin Money – comes as a Mastercard.

Virgin Money does not have any other travel reward cards apart from Virgin Atlantic so it should not conflict with any other credit cards you hold.

You can find our review of the £160 annual fee Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus credit card here. Whilst there is a fee, it does have a sign-up bonus of 15,000 points.

As there is no sign-up bonus on the free card, you might find Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus to be a better overall deal, at least for the first year.

What is the sign-up bonus on the free Virgin Atlantic credit card?

There is no sign-up bonus on the card.

The Reward+ card, on the other hand, comes with a bonus of 15,000 Virgin Points. There is no spending requirement with the bonus arriving after your first purchase, however small.

You cannot apply if you have recently cancelled a Reward card. The website states that you can apply if: “You don’t already have a Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit Card or have closed one in the last 6 months. If you have – don’t worry, you can apply for our Reward+ card instead.

You CAN apply and get the bonus if you have the paid-for Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus credit card. A recent rule change now allows you to hold both cards.

You can apply if you have a non-Virgin Atlantic credit card from Virgin Money.

You can apply if you are currently a supplementary cardholder on someone else’s Virgin Atlantic credit card.

Any other benefits?

Yes. The Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card comes with a good spend bonus.

After spending £20,000 in a card membership year, you can pick from:

  • A 2-4-1 voucher, valid for two years, when you book a cash or miles ticket on Virgin Atlantic in Upper Class, Premium or Economy
  • A return upgrade – on either a cash or miles ticket – from Premium to Upper Class, or from Economy Delight/Classic to Premium (requires reward availability in the higher class)

If you have Silver or Gold status in Virgin Flying Club, you can also choose:

  • Virgin Clubhouse lounge passes (requires a same-day Virgin Atlantic or Delta flight) – one pass if you are Silver, two passes if you are Gold

Yes, the Virgin Atlantic vouchers can be used on CASH tickets

There is a key difference between the 2-4-1 and upgrade vouchers offered by Virgin Atlantic compared to the ones offered for British Airways via American Express and Barclaycard.

Virgin Atlantic vouchers can be used on cash tickets as well as reward tickets. If you book a cash flight, you bring someone else with you as long as:

  • you pay the taxes and charges element of the ticket, which admittedly can be fairly high
  • there is a reward ticket available in the cabin – if there are no reward seats on offer, you can’t use the 2-4-1 voucher even if you are booking a cash flight for yourself (for an upgrade, there must be a reward seat in the higher cabin)

There is small print:

  • If you are a Red (no status) member, you need to pay 50% of the points for your 2nd ticket if you redeem your 2-4-1 voucher in Upper Class. You do not pay this if you redeem in Premium or Economy as a ‘no status’ member.
  • you need to take the outbound leg of your flight before the two year expiry date – you can return later

If you usually travel on your own, the upgrade voucher is likely to suit you best. This can also be used by a couple to upgrade one leg per person on a return cash or reward flight.

If you cannot reach £20,000 of spending per year, you should look at the £160 Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard instead.  This only requires £10,000 of annual spending to unlock the same benefits and comes with a 15,000 points sign-up bonus.

Review: the free Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard credit card

How do you receive your annual voucher?

Your voucher is triggered within 1-2 weeks of passing the £20,000 annual spend threshold.

You should receive an email from Virgin Flying Club confirming this. If not, go to the ‘My Activity’ section of the Virgin Atlantic website, under ‘My Account’.

You should see ‘Virgin Atlantic Credit Card Reward Voucher’ as a transaction line, with ‘0 points’ showing next to it.

The voucher cannot be redeemed online. You need to call Virgin Flying Club to redeem it.

Is there an annual fee?


There is no fee for the Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard.

What do I earn per £1 spent on the free Virgin credit card?

You earn 0.75 Virgin Points per £1 spent.

This is a very good return for a free Visa or Mastercard.  Only one card beats it – the free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard, which earns 1 Avios per £1 spent.

The key issue to consider before applying, however, is whether it is worth spending £160 for the paid Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus card instead.  The paid card earns you a 15,000 miles sign-up bonus and has an earning rate which is twice as high at 1.5 Flying Club points per £1.  This justifies the £160 fee for the first year.

Bookings with Virgin Atlantic or Virgin Holidays earn double miles.

The number of miles you earn per month is restricted to your credit limit.  For example, if you have a limit of £10,000 then you will only earn points on the first £10,000 of your spending each month.  This only impacts the small number of people who would otherwise pay down their account during the month and then run it up again. Bonus miles from spending with Virgin Atlantic or Virgin Atlantic Holidays are not included in the cap.

What is a Virgin Point worth?

This is clearly a ‘finger in the air’ exercise. I would, however, flag some key pointers.

Virgin has a lot of partners which allows you top up your balance to the level needed for a good redemption:

As Virgin Atlantic does not offer any short haul redemptions, except for those offered by Air France and KLM, you need to be confident that you can earn enough via the card and the routes outlined above, plus miles earned from flying, to unlock a good long-haul redemption.

If you can, I am happy to value Virgin Points at 0.75p – 1p each, in line with Avios.

Review Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card

Is this a good card to use when travelling?

Yes, in Europe.

Virgin Money does not charge any fees when you pay for something in Euro, Swedish Kronor or Romanian Lei.

The two Virgin Atlantic credit cards are the ONLY ‘miles and points’ cards in the UK which waive foreign exchange fees on some transactions.

As Virgin Money adds a 3% foreign exchange fee on transactions in all other currencies, you might want to get a separate free credit card to use abroad.

Unfortunately there are no travel rewards cards without any foreign exchange fees globally. One option is to get a free card from Currensea. Currensea is a simple but clever idea. You pay abroad with your Currensea Mastercard debit card. Currensea translates the cost to Sterling with just a 0.5% fee (83% less than the Virgin card charges outside the EU) and withdraws the money from your bank account. You can find out more by clicking here. Currensea is free so there is no risk in giving it a try.

How does the Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard compare to a cashback credit card?

The majority of UK credit cards offering ‘retail rewards’ – those from Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Sainsburys, John Lewis etc – give you 0.1% to 0.25% back on what you spend.

Offering 0.75 Virgin Flying Club points, plus an added bonus for spending £20,000 per year, the Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card is substantially more attractive.

Anything else I need to know?

In March 2023, Virgin Atlantic joined the SkyTeam alliance. This allows you to redeem Virgin Points on many other airlines including Delta, Air France, KLM, Vietnam Airlines, Korean Air and many more.

Note that you can ONLY manage your account via the Virgin Money app or with paper statements. There is no ability to manage your account via a website.


The Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard is one of the best free airline or hotel Visa or Mastercard credit cards on the market for day to day spending.

It is only beaten by the free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard, which offers 1 Avios per £1 spent.

Whilst there is no sign-up bonus, the real strength is the on-going earning rate. 0.75 Virgin Points for every £1 you spend is a very good return.

The bonus of 15,000 Virgin Points on the £160 paid card means that you may want to consider paying the fee and getting that one instead for the first year, downgrading later.  You can apply for the paid card here.

Note that the application process is a little odd. You must go through the ‘Check Eligibility’ process first, although the data you supply is carried across to the application form so it isn’t much more effort.

The application form for the Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard credit card can be found here.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points. The site discusses products offered by lenders but is not a lender itself. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as an independent credit broker.

Comments (25)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Chris says:

    I use the upgrade voucher for regular trips to JHB and it is a great to have an alternate to BA here.

    In regards to the foreign 3% fee, I use the Virgin credit card with Curve to avoid that (not sure why that option wasn’t suggested instead of Currensea).

    • baec_newbie says:

      Agreed. It’s a very poor suggestion given the multitude of fee-free foreign transaction cards available, including the likes of Curve and Chase. It seems that the draw of referral income is too strong to overcome…

      • Rob says:

        Curve pay us far more than Currensea but it is a total faff these days and most have dumped it. Barclaycard and Creation shutting down card accounts of Curve users was the last straw.

        Chase would pay us even more – double Curve and more than triple Currensea – but we don’t like it. Too much faff for occasional use.

        • Vitalii Trofymenko says:

          But why won’t you use starling or Monzo which charge nothing for Fx

          • Rob says:

            Because you’ve got to be pretty desperate to save 0.5% on a modest amount of annual overseas spend to run extra current accounts just for that, in my view.

            Our average reader is 35ish and not a typical Monzo client.

        • baec_newbie says:

          Fail to see how either Curve or Chase are a faff. But even if they are, Starling is a perfectly decent alternative that never charges FX fees, no matter how much you use it.

          Either way, Currensea is clearly a poor option and I’m disappointed to see HFP continually recommending it.

          • Rob says:

            I think you’re out of touch with the average reader. Someone who spends £2,000 per year overseas will pay £10 with Currensea. It takes 2 minutes to link it to your current account and that’s it, for 4 years until the card expires.

            You REALLY want to start setting up – and funding – extra current accounts to save £10 per year, or using Curve and running a very high risk of a) transaction declines, b) their very complex rules over when the charge and what currencies are actually free and c) your credit card account being shut down, as Barclaycard and Creation did? For £10?

            I’ve got one, it’s a doddle. ATM withdrawals, purchases, no bother. Zero declines ever. Money just quietly disappears from my current account. Email receipt turns up 30 seconds after I’ve paid.

        • DaveJ says:

          “Too much faff for occasional use.”


          Took me about 4 minutes to set up. Not much faff really.

          • DaveJ says:


          • Rob says:

            It will be faff if Virgin follows Barclaycard and Creation and shuts down your account.

            We cannot sit here recommending products which have caused substantial grief to many readers, up to and including getting them banned by certain institutions.

            For the benefit of readers who don’t have Curve, this is what Dave counts as ‘not faff’:

            “0% fee on spend in over 150+ foreign currencies, up to £1000 per rolling month. 2% fee thereafter.

            ATM withdrawals are free up to £200 per rolling month, after which there’ll be a charge per withdrawal of £2 or 2%, whichever is higher.

            If you make a withdrawal or purchase over the weekend, we’ll use our provider’s latest available exchange rate as the currency markets are closed. The weekend rate counts as Friday 23:59 GMT – Sunday 23:59 GMT (or Saturday 00:59 BST – Monday 00:59 BST)

            For transactions where both the transaction and the underlying payment cards are in GBP, USD or EUR, the foreign exchange fee will be 0.5%.

            For all other currencies, the foreign exchange fee will be 1.5% on an FX spend of up to £/€ 500 per 30 rolling days”

            If you pay a £2,000 bill on Curve in (say) Swiss Francs on a Saturday, you will pay a 3.5% fee. It’s actually worse than using a standard credit card.

  • DJ says:

    “It only applies to ‘in person’ transactions and not online spending.”

    I have never been charged the transaction fees for booking attractions online in EUR.

    • Rob says:

      Agreed, but those are the stated rules so …..

      • RussellH says:

        Strangely, I cannot find these rules in any of the documents I have.
        Outwith the UK I have only used the card in France – last November – 2 small contactless transactions and one large on-line one.
        All were fee-free – the large one was billed as £1=€1.16, while the rate on the ECB website is £1=€1.1547. The actual rate was £1=€1.16043.
        So no complaint there.

        The big issue is, as per the article, what can you do with 3000 points? Flying Blue would allow me to transfer them to MSF. Do Virgin have any equivalent scheme?

      • Harrier25 says:

        The Creation mess is widely known of course and a mess of their own making, but where is the proof that Barclaycard have been shutting down accounts for day to day Curve use?

        Anyway, I think at some point in the not too distant future, Curve will run out of funding and will cease to exist, so take advantage of their remaining few benefits while you still can, is my view.

      • yorkieflyer says:

        Curve is a dodgy do nowadays but Starling and Chase are well known and recommended elsewhere unlike this Currensea which I’ve never seen mentioned let alone pushed by anyone other than you Rob

        • David says:

          Currensea is a mess. You could have a transaction then it comes out of your account 4-5 days later and you would be none the wiser if you were overcharged. Got rid of it quickly and stuck to clarity, chase, starling.

  • Jan M says:

    Have been holding off getting the premium card because I’m hoping for a bonus. Missed out on a really good Avios one…

    • BajiNahid says:

      I am waiting for the bonus too! Honestly i hope it comes soon as im at the end of my teather and will just apply

  • Michael says:

    Can I redeem the annual voucher for my parents? So the voucher will be earned through my credit card spending, but both passengers will be my parents. I know BA doesn’t allow this but not sure whether it’s the same for Virgin or not.

    • Guernsey Globetrotter says:

      Yes, you’ll need to call Virgin to do this but reports are that it CAN be done 🙂

  • Rob says:

    Not heard anything. It’s a very difficult market now and you need at least 100,000 sign-ups to make it work. Could Lufty or get to that? Probably not. Only BA, Virgin, IHG and Hilton arguably could.

    • No longer Entitled says:

      And yet still no Hilton card. I am beginning to take it personally.

  • The Original Nick. says:

    How is the Barclaycard marginally better than the Halifax Clarity card?

    • Harrier25 says:

      Your question should be…why would anyone here still own a Halifax Clarity card with so many better FX options in the marketplace. It really hasn’t aged well.

  • Lisa says:

    I have had a VA Reward Plus Card for many years and usually spend the required amount to qualify for a reward voucher. This year I received an email notifying me in Jan 23 that I had qualified for a voucher but it still has not been posted to my Flying Club account. I have called both Virgin Money Credit Card and Flying Club numerous times and each points the finger at the other as to who is responsible. Has anyone else experienced the same issue and was able to get it resolved?

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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