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What is the best Virgin Atlantic credit card for you?

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Virgin Atlantic has two Virgin Flying Club credit cards, issued by Virgin Money.  They have proved hugely successful since their 2018 launch with, so I understand, over 200,000 applications so far.

In early 2023 Virgin Atlantic joined the SkyTeam airline alliance. This opened up many new airlines for earning and spending Virgin Points, including Korean Air and Vietnam Airlines for those looking to visit Asia. If Virgin Points are now more on your radar, I thought it was worth a ‘first principles’ look at the two Virgin Atlantic credit cards.

Remember that Virgin Atlantic credit cards have no FX fees in the Eurozone – the only travel rewards cards to offer 0% FX in the region.

Full details are on the card website here.

What is the best Virgin Atlantic credit card for you?

In this article I want to run through the key benefits of both Virgin Atlantic credit cards side by side to help you decide which is best for you.

Here are the key features:

  • You can choose between a free Virgin Atlantic Mastercard (no sign-up bonus) and a paid Mastercard (15,000 points sign-up bonus).
  • The earning rates are EXCELLENT.  0.75 points per £1 on the free card and 1.5 points per £1 on the fee card.
  • The Virgin Atlantic credit cards come with a 2-4-1 voucher for Virgin Atlantic redemptions.  It is substantially more powerful than the British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher because the Virgin Atlantic 2-4-1 voucher can also be used on cash tickets.
  • Solo travellers can choose, instead, to upgrade a flight by one class.  This applies to BOTH cash and points flights.  You can go from Premium to Upper Class (the best deal) or from Economy Classic / Economy Delight to Premium.
  • The vouchers are valid for two years
  • You pay no FX fees on in-person spending in Euro, Swedish Kronor or Romanian Lei

Let’s look at the two cards in detail:

What is the best Virgin Atlantic credit card for you?

The FREE card – Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card

The representative APR is 26.9% variable.

As you can see from the picture above, the free Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card is pretty cool, as credit cards go.  There is NO information on the front.  No card number, no personal name (these are on the back) although there is the usual chip.  The card is coloured red on the edge which makes it stand out when you look into your wallet or card holder.

This is what you get (full details are on the Virgin Money website here)

  • No annual fee
  • No sign-up bonus
  • 0.75 Virgin Points per £1 spent
  • Double points on online or call centre bookings with Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays
  • 0% interest for six months on balance transfers (3% fee)
  • Spend £20,000 in a card year and select a 241 voucher, upgrade voucher or another reward – more on those below

You can apply for the FREE Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card here.

What is the best Virgin Atlantic credit card for you?

The fee card – Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card

The representative APR is 69.7% variable, including the annual fee.  The representative APR on purchases is 26.9% variable.

This card is even cooler to look at, in my view, than the free card.  Again, your name and your card number are printed on the back, giving an impressive looking piece of plastic.  The card is also coloured red on the edges.

This is what you get (full details are on the Virgin Money website here):

  • £160 annual fee
  • 15,000 Virgin Points as a sign-up bonus, triggered with your first purchase
  • 1.5 Virgin Points per £1 spent
  • Double points on online or call centre bookings with Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays
  • 0% interest for six months on balance transfers (3% fee)
  • Spend £10,000 in a card year and select a 241 voucher, upgrade voucher or another reward – more on those below

You can apply for the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card here.

What is the best Virgin Atlantic credit card for you?

No foreign exchange fees in Europe

Whilst you will struggle to find any mention of this on the card website, the Virgin Atlantic cards are the only travel rewards credit cards which offer a partial respite on FX fees when travelling.

You pay no FX fees on in-person spending in Euro, Swedish Kronor or Romanian Lei.

This saves you 3% on your purchases and you earn Virgin Points on top. The 3% fee applies to transactions in all other currencies.

These are your rewards for hitting the spending target each year

Your reward is triggered IMMEDIATELY upon hitting the spending target.  The target is £20,000 in a card year for the free Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit card and £10,000 in a card year for the £160 Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card.

Your voucher does not show anywhere online, although your Flying Club account statement will show ‘Virgin Atlantic Credit Card Voucher – 0 points’. This does not show in the Virgin Red app, only in the Virgin Atlantic app or on the website. It can only be redeemed by calling Virgin Atlantic.

You can choose one of the following options:

  • A 2-4-1 voucher, valid for two years, for a Virgin Atlantic points redemption OR a Virgin Atlantic cash ticket, in Upper Class, Premium or Economy
  • A return upgrade – on either a cash or points ticket – from Premium to Upper Class, or from Economy Delight / Classic to Premium.  You can either upgrade 1 x return flight if travelling alone or 2 x one-way legs of two return flights if travelling with someone else.

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

  • Virgin Clubhouse lounge passes (require a same-day Virgin Atlantic, Delta, KLM or Air France flight) – a Silver member receives one pass, a Gold receives two passes

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.  This means that, for Upper Class redemptions for Red members, it is effectively a ‘2 for 1.5’ voucher. For Economy or Premium redemptions, it is a genuine ‘2 for 1’.
  • To clarity, if you are Red (no status) and use your 2-4-1 voucher on a cash or points ticket in Upper Class, you still need to have enough Virgin Points to cover 50% of the points cost of the second ticket. A Silver or Gold member, or a Red member redeeming in Premium or Economy, does not – all they pay is the taxes and charges on the second ticket.
  • Taxes and charges need to be paid on the ‘free’ ticket as part of your 2-4-1 booking whether you are doing a 2-4-1 on a cash or points ticket
  • Vouchers are valid for two years and you must fly the outbound leg of your trip before the expiry date

Reward seat availability is required to use the voucher.  This means:

  • you can only upgrade a flight if there is a reward seat in the higher class (irrespective of whether you are upgrading a cash or a points ticket)
  • you can only apply a 2-4-1 voucher to a cash booking if there is a reward seat available for the 2nd ‘free’ seat – this is a key point to note

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.

Which Virgin Atlantic credit card is best for you?

As usual, there is no easy answer to this question.  Here are my thoughts.

The free Reward credit card has a very good earnings rate of 0.75 Virgin Points per £1.  This isn’t as good as the new free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard, which earns 1 Avios per £1, but it’s impressive nonetheless.

The paid-for Reward+ credit card is also worth considering, especially for higher spenders.

Purely from a bonus point of view, you are spending £160 to get 15,000 Flying Club points which is a decent deal. And, of course, when you spend on the Reward+ card at the generous 1.5 points per £1 earning rate you do very nicely.

What is the best Virgin Atlantic credit card for you?

The on-going earning rate is EXCELLENT

Let’s not beat around the bush.  Looking first at the free Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card, 0.75 Virgin Flying Club points per £1 spent is a very generous return.

The only free card which beats it is the new free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard which earns 1 Avios per £1 spent.

There is no other ‘open to all’ Visa or Mastercard which offers frequent flyer miles at a rate anywhere near this.

On the fee-based Reward+ credit card, I would value 1.5 Virgin Flying Club points per £1 at 1.5p which is a great return if you spend enough to justify the fee.

Again, the only card which matches this in terms of rewards is the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard. This earns 1.5 Avios per £1.

There is one bit of small print to note. The number of points you can earn per month is capped by your credit limit. If your credit limit is £5,000 and you choose to spend £4,000, pay it off mid-month and then charge another £3,000 before month-end, you will only earn points on the first £5,000.

What is the best Virgin Atlantic credit card for you?

You can now redeem Virgin Points across the SkyTeam alliance

In March 2023, Virgin Atlantic joined the SkyTeam alliance. This opened up the following airlines for spending Virgin Points:

  • Aerolíneas Argentinas
  • Aeromexico
  • Air Europa
  • Air France
  • China Airlines
  • Czech Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • ITA Airways
  • Kenya Airways
  • KLM
  • Korean Air
  • Middle East Airlines
  • Vietnam Airlines
  • Xiamen Air

China Eastern will be added later.

You can read about how to redeem Virgin Points on SkyTeam partners in this article.

For clarity, you cannot use the 2-4-1 or upgrade vouchers from the credit card on SkyTeam partners.  They are only valid on Virgin Atlantic flights.

You will need a decent stock of points – more than your initial 15,000 credit card miles – to take advantage of SkyTeam redemptions.  The good news is that you can also earn Virgin Flying Club points through transfers from other partners:

  • American Express Membership Rewards from Amex Gold or The Platinum Card (1:1)
  • Tesco Clubcard (1 Clubcard point = 2 Virgin Points)
  • Heathrow Rewards (1:1)
  • Transfers from hotel loyalty schemes

There are also lots of partner promotions which we write about on Head for Points.  You CAN build up a decent stock of miles relatively easily – the ‘free for a year’ American Express Preferred Rewards Gold has a 20,000 point sign-up bonus which will convert into 20,000 Virgin points.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review


From the perspective of day-to-day earning, the Virgin Atlantic credit cards are excellent.

From the perspective of the annual reward voucher, the ability to use it for your choice of a 2-4-1 trip, an upgrade or Clubhouse lounge access gives you exceptional flexibility.

If you are a casual Virgin Flying Club collector, 0.75 points per £1 spent on the free card will see your balance move along.  However, you would get better value from paying £160 for one year for the Reward+ card to get the 15,000 points bonus and the 1.5 points per £1 spent.

You can apply for the FREE Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card (no bonus) here and the paid-for Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card (15,000 points bonus) here.

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 (75)

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

  • MsF says:

    Hello, I received my companion voucher using the fee card a few months ago and used it to book flights in May. Will the £10,000 spend re-set from the moment I earned my voucher or do I have to wait until a specific date at the end of the year before I can start accumulating spend towards my next voucher? Thanks!

  • Harrier25 says:

    It’s a shame that you can’t link Virgin credit cards to Nectar Connect.

  • Dylan says:

    I’m still waiting for an increased bonus before I apply. It’s been a while since the last one…

  • Ian says:

    Seriously niche question, but I wonder if anyone knows the answer – does this card charge a transaction fee for purchases in Gibraltar (Gib £)? AMEX doesn’t, gets treated as UK £, however, my Barclaycard charges me a non-sterling fee! Wonder which was Virgin card goes, although it’ll still be useful for Euro transactions in Spain I suppose.

    • Ian says:

      I got an answer to this from the credit card team, yes they will charge me a non-sterling transaction fee for making purchases in Gibraltar Pound Sterling! Guess I won’t be applying for a new card then.

      • Traumahawk007 says:

        Interesting I wasn’t charged when using my Virgin card in GIB duty free & was charged in GBP

        • Harrier25 says:

          Exactly. These customer service representatives don’t have a clue!

          • David says:

            The Gibraltar Pound does not actually exist.
            Sure an ISO currency code exists, GIP, but that does not mean the currency actually exists.

            The Gibraltar Government issued notes and coins are GBP, just a different issuer, a bit like notes issued by commercial banks in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

            GIP simply does not exist. Challenge anyone saying otherwise.

    • Travel Strong says:

      Have you actually been charged on barclaycard, or just been told you would be? I’ve never been charged for Gib pounds on any card over the years.

  • Can says:

    One problem I’ve had with the free card is this:
    I’ve spent more than £20k in my card this year, but haven’t got the voucher. I called, they confirmed that it is not there. I called again, this time I was told that even if I earned it it may take some time (like a month) to appear in my account. Weird, but fine.
    Then, I realised, I was making mid-statement payments to pay off the card. At the end, my statement balance was low. If you ONLY look at my statement balance, I haven’t spent £20k a year. If you look at my overall spend, yes, I have spent £20k.

    So, where is my voucher?

    • Rob says:

      I got my current one despite making midcycle payments so I doubt that’s the issue.

      You’re looking on your statement? I don’t see anything in the Virgin Red account page about my voucher (although I know some people do) – I only see it on the account statement page on the airline site.

      • Can says:

        Yes, I am looking at the V Atlantic statement. I don’t even have the V Red app. As I said, I called they confirmed it is not there.

        • Daisy says:

          I’ve had the exact same problem. I went through all of CC statements from my reward date and wrote down all the amounts I had paid on the card and totalled them up. My card year starts June but I had spent 20 k at the end of Feb. After two phone calls taking down the second persons name I spoke to, the voucher hit my account today. You need to phone flying club and not VM. Flying might tell you to phone VM, but VM will tell you to phone flying club. Apparently VM send FC a list every month of what your spend is. I too pay my card off as I go along rather than month end. It took 7 weeks for the voucher to show on my account.

          • Can says:

            I double checked my statements again today and I did the spend. And yes they told me to call VMoney who told me to call V Atlantic. Thank you Daisy, I need to start the never ending phone calls now.

  • Traumahawk007 says:

    Had the card a number of years, shame you can’t upgrade to paid I would cancel and apply for the paid but the customer service & App is appalling. Never earned the 241 but great for earning extra points where Amex not accepted or maxed out. Virgin Red now a definite plus for spending. Best 95k value spent on my cruise last year.

  • Ed says:

    Be careful with this card VAR+. I got hit with several hundred pounds of fees and then interest for a tiny transaction in sterling (£2000) in the UK.
    I pay the card off entirely every month!?
    If you’re used to the usual V/M/Amex – watch out!
    As other comments have highlighted , trying to get help from customer service to understand the charges is just more grief.

    • Will says:

      Can you explain further, seems must have been something most unusual

  • Eli says:

    I found the boingo wireless very useful on American airlines domestic flights

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

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