Reviews Virgin America Visa Signature card review

Virgin America Visa Signature card review

Published: May 4, 2017
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Airline Rating:
3.7 rating
3.7 rating
3.7 / 5
Rewards Value: 3.4
Annual Percentage Rate: 0.5
Rewards Flexibility: 3.9
Flight Options: 3.8
Features: 5.0

In a nutshell:

With an industry-leading rewards rate and generous points value, the Virgin America Visa Signature card ranks high on our list of airline cards.

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Rewards Rate

  • 3:1 Virgin America ticket purchases (in addition to the 5 points per dollar spent awarded to Elevate members)
  • 1:1 on general purchases

Sign-up Bonus
10,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days

Annual Bonus
None

Annual Fee
$49

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$443

APR
16.73-25.74%

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Miles don’t expire
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions
  • No limit on the number of miles you can earn
  • Use miles online for Virgin airfare or for airfare on other partner airlines
  • One-way flights allowed
  • Stopovers and open-jaw bookings permitted

Cons

  • $20 phone booking fee
  • High surcharges on partner flights

Flight Options

  • Airline partners: 32
  • Daily flights: 7,000
  • Destinations: 400
  • Countries served: 88

Other Notable Features: One free checked bag per flight, $150 off a companion ticket each year, priority boarding, 20 percent discount on in-flight purchases, car rental insurance, travel and emergency services, lost luggage reimbursement, roadside dispatch, purchase security, online shopping discounts, zero fraud liability

Rewards Rating:
4 rating
4 rating
4 / 5
Rewards Value: 4.2
Annual Percentage Rate: 0.4
Rewards Flexibility: 3.8
Features: 5.0

In a nutshell:

An outstanding value for domestic travelers, the Virgin America Visa Signature card offers a generous spending bonus on airfare, a solid sign-up bonus, premium perks such as a $150 companion ticket every year and points that are worth significantly more than the average card rewards point.

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Rewards Rate

  • 3:1 Virgin America flights
  • 1:1 general purchases

Sign-up Bonus
10,000 if you spend $1000 in first 90 days

Annual Fee
$49

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$443

APR
16.73-25.74%

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Miles don’t expire
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions
  • No limit on the number of miles you can earn
  • Use miles online for Virgin airfare or for airfare on other partner airlines
  • One-way flights allowed
  • Stopovers and open-jaw bookings permitted

Cons

  • $20 phone booking fee
  • High surcharges on partner flights

Other Notable Features: One free checked bag per flight, $150 off a companion ticket each year, priority boarding, 20 percent discount on in-flight purchases, car rental insurance, travel and emergency services, lost luggage reimbursement, roadside dispatch, purchase security, online shopping discounts, zero fraud liability

Travel Rating:
3.9 rating
3.9 rating
3.9 / 5
Rewards Value: 4.0
Annual Percentage Rate: 0.5
Rewards Flexibility: 3.8
Features: 5.0

In a nutshell:

A great value for West Coast cardholders who live near major cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland, the Virgin America Visa Signature card pairs generously priced rewards with a solid point bonus on airline purchases.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 3:1 Virgin America flights
  • 1:1 general purchases

Sign-up Bonus
10,000 if you spend $1000 in first 90 days

Annual Fee
$49

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$443

APR
16.73-25.74%

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Miles don’t expire
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions
  • No limit on the number of miles you can earn
  • Use miles online for Virgin airfare or for airfare on other partner airlines
  • One-way flights allowed
  • Stopovers and open-jaw bookings permitted

Cons

  • $20 phone booking fee
  • High surcharges on partner flights

Other Notable Features: One free checked bag per flight, $150 off a companion ticket each year, priority boarding, 20 percent discount on in-flight purchases, car rental insurance, travel and emergency services, lost luggage reimbursement, roadside dispatch, purchase security, online shopping discounts, zero fraud liability

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If you live near a major U.S. city and frequently travel within the United States, you should have no trouble racking up points with this inexpensive airline card. When combined with Virgin America’s frequent flier program, Elevate, the Virgin America Visa Signature card makes it possible to earn up to four times the number of points that typical airline cards offer.

Unlike most rewards cards that offer similarly high rewards rates, Virgin America doesn’t devalue the points it offers. Virgin America points are worth significantly more than the average credit card reward point, so you’ll need fewer of them to purchase a free ticket.

The California-based airline doesn’t fly out of very many U.S. cities, though, so you’ll have to check the budget airline’s route map to see if the card is worth the $49 annual fee. The only U.S. cities served by Virgin America Airlines are San Francisco; Los Angeles; San Diego; Palm Springs, California; Portland, Oregon; Seattle; Honolulu; Maui, Hawaii; Las Vegas; Denver; Dallas; Austin, Texas; New York; Boston; Chicago; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Orlando, Florida; and Washington, D.C. You can also fly Virgin America to Los Cabos or Puerto Vallarta in Mexico.

Uncommonly high rewards rate
By itself, the Virgin America Visa Signature card offers just three points for every dollar spent on Virgin America airfare and one point per dollar spent on anything else. But if you join the airline’s frequent flier program, Elevate, and use the card to pay for Virgin America airfare, you can earn up to eight points per dollar spent. The average airline card, by contrast, offers just 2 miles per dollar spent on air travel.

Virgin America’s frequent flier program also makes it easy to rack up loyalty points on additional travel purchases by offering bonus points on selected hotel stays, car rentals and some merchandise.

Valuable rewards
Virgin America points are also worth significantly more than the average credit card reward point, making the program an even better value than it seems. Depending on the type of reward, each Virgin America rewards point is worth roughly about 2 cents each. The average card reward point, by contrast, is valued at just a penny each.

With such a high points value, you’ll need significantly fewer rewards points to purchase a rewards-funded ticket. For example, a $475 economy airfare requires just 25,000 points to redeem for a free flight. Meanwhile, a $795 premium seat needs just 30,000 points to cover the full cost, including taxes and fees.

A ton of airline partners
You can also use points for international flights on a large number of partner airlines, such as Virgin Australia, Virgin Atlantic, AeroMexico, Air China, Air New Zealand, Asiana Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Scandinavian Airlines, TAM Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Ukraine International Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Icelandair and Fiji Airlines.

The extensive partnership is an especially good deal for coastal cardholders, since many of the international airlines only fly out of major U.S. cities, such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. Many of the international carriers that partner with Virgin America are also budget airlines. So, depending on where you live, you may be able to get an exceptional deal on an international flight.

Modest sign-up bonus
Unlike many competitors, Virgin America doesn’t offer an outstanding sign-up bonus, so you may have to wait before you earn enough points to purchase a free ticket. Cardholders are awarded just 10,000 bonus miles – roughly worth about $200 – after they spend $1,000 in the first 90 days. However, the bonus is large enough to buy a one-way flight.

Few restrictions
Unlike many similarly generous rewards cards, Virgin America doesn’t limit the number of points you can earn. So if you’re a frequent traveler or use your card for all purchases, you can earn a number of free flights. There are no travel blackout dates on rewards-funded flights, nor does Virgin America restrict the number of awards seats that are available.

You’ll need to watch out for hefty fees, though, since booking a rewards-funded flight can be expensive. For example, booking a rewards-funded flight by phone costs an additional $20. You may also have to pay a hefty surcharge if you use points to pay for a flight on one of Virgin America’s partners.

Reasons to get it:

  • You live in a major city served by Virgin America Airlines and frequently fly along Virgin America’s routes.
  • You want maximum value for a relatively low price.
  • You want friend and family friendly rewards, such as $150 off an annual companion ticket.

How to use it:

  • To get the most out of this airline card, use it for all Virgin America purchases.
  • Watch for pricey fees. The Virgin America card is a relatively good value, but it can charge some hefty surcharges and booking fees.
  • Only use the card for purchases you can fully pay off. With an APR ranging from 16.48 percent to 25.49 percent, interest on this budget airline card is steep.

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