Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard® review

Published: October 1, 2019

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Published: October 1, 2019

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Ratings Policy
Low Interest Rating:
0.8 rating
0.8 rating
0.8 / 5
Rates, Fees, Penalties: 0.5
Rewards: 3.1
Features: 4.0
Customer Experience 2.0

In a Nutshell:

The $90 fee on the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard is probably too rich for a bargain-minded cardholder, though the interest rate is reasonable for an airline card.

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Regular APR
16.74-24.74% (variable)

Introductory Purchase APR
None

Introductory Balance Transfer APR
None

Fees

  • $90 annual fee
  • 3% balance transfer fee (or $10, whichever is greater)
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • See terms for cash advance

Penalties

  • Up to $39 late payment fee
  • No penalty APR
  • Up to $28 returned payment fee

Customer Experience

Other Notable Features: 1 tier point for every $2,500 of purchases, companion ticket for half the reward miles, no foreign-transaction fee, lost luggage reimbursement, purchase security, concierge service, exclusive events and entertainment, shopping discounts

Rewards Rating:
3 rating
3 rating
3 / 5
Rewards Value: 3.2
Annual Percentage Rate: 2.6
Rewards Flexibility: 3.0
Features: 3.0
Customer Experience 2.0

In a Nutshell:

Thanks to its high rewards rate, frequent flyers of Virgin Atlantic Airways can earn a pretty good return on their spending with the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard, though more mainstream travelers may find it difficult to redeem their rewards.

Check out our Best Airline Credit Cards

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Rewards Rate

  • 3:1 on Virgin Atlantic purchases
  • 1.5:1 on general purchases

Sign-up Bonus

  • 60,000 Flying Club bonus miles after you spend $2,000 or more in purchases in your first 90 days of account opening

Annual Bonus

  • Up to 15,000 Flying Club bonus miles every anniversary after qualifying purchases
  • Up to 5,000 Flying Club bonus miles when you add additional authorized users to your card

Annual Fee
$90

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$295

APR
16.74-24.74% (variable)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Miles don’t expire as long as Virgin Atlantic Flying Club membership is active every 3 years
  • 1 open-jaw per round trip
  • One-way rewards ticket permitted

Cons

  • Airline sometimes charges high fuel surcharges on international flights

Customer Experience

Other Notable Features: 25 tier points for every $2,500 of purchases, same cabin class companion reward ticket, no foreign-transaction fee, lost luggage reimbursement, purchase security, concierge service, exclusive events and entertainment, shopping discounts

It’s not that the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard® credit card is a bad card, or that Virgin Atlantic is a bad airline. Quite the opposite – the card has a lot of things going for it. It offers an excellent earning scheme, a boost to Elite status, and companion rewards. And Virgin Atlantic is an acclaimed airline with great service that offers some excellent mileage values. You also can use award tickets to fly on a number of mileage partner airlines.

But while the card’s earning scheme is pretty good, and some redemption values are excellent (25,000 miles between New York and London), you have to spend at least $25,000 on the card annually to qualify.

Still, if you’re a big spender who frequently flies on Virgin Atlantic, the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard credit card has multifaceted benefits.

Good sign-up bonus

The Virgin Atlantic Mastercard comes with a nice sign-up bonus for a premium airline rewards card. You get 60,000 Flying Club miles after you spend $2,000 or more in the first 90 days of your account opening, as well as 2,500 miles for every authorized user you add to the card (up to 5,000 miles).

Great earning scheme

You get 3 miles per dollar when you use the card for Virgin Atlantic purchases, and 1.5 miles per dollar for all other purchases. The 3:1 reward rate for airline purchases is higher than what most airline cards offer, and 1.5 miles for regular purchases is an especially nice feature for an airline co-branded credit card. Most cards only offer 1 mile per dollar on general purchases. An extra half-mile per dollar can give you a nice boost toward a free rewards ticket.

Designed for high spenders

A glance at the features on the Virgin Atlantic Mastercard shows that this card makes sense for Virgin Atlantic loyalists who are prepared to do a large amount of spending. Besides the high $90 annual fee, you need to charge a large amount each year to unlock some of the card’s best features, including:

  • Same cabin class companion reward ticket. You have the opportunity to get a companion reward in the same cabin class, a valuable perk that can save you hundreds of dollars. Keep in mind, though, that it’s only available to cardholders who spend at least $25,000 annually.
  • Up to 15,000 bonus miles each year. The card offers a significant spending bonus each year. The first half of the bonus is not hard to reach: You receive 7,500 for spending $15,000. However, you must spend $25,000 each year to earn the full bonus of 15,000 miles.
  • Elite tier points. The card lets you earn points toward elite membership through your spending. Elite membership with Virgin Atlantic comes with valuable benefits, including bonuses on your reward points and free companion tickets. But you need to spend a large amount to make any headway toward it. You get 25 tier points per $2,500 in purchases (you can earn a maximum of 50 points per month). To reach Silver elite status, you need to earn at least 400 tier points.

Decent redemption options

Virgin Atlantic is an international airline with routes to many countries around the world. Between its own routes and partnership with several major airlines – including Delta Airlines and Singapore Airlines – you should, in theory, be able to book rewards flights to most major destinations. Be aware, however, that an award seat booking on a partner airline can’t be made online, and there have been consistent reports that Virgin Atlantic call center agents may have a hard time finding award seats on partner airlines. Also, as mentioned above, Virgin charges high fuel surcharges and fees on some of its own flights, making some routes less valuable.

Good travel benefits

The card is a World Elite Mastercard that includes a multitude of premium travel benefits, such as car rental insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, concierge service and more. Also, it doesn’t charge a foreign-transaction fee, which means that you can use the card while traveling abroad without having to pay a 2 to 3 percent fee for the convenience.

Why get the Virgin Atlantic Mastercard?

  • You frequently fly on Virgin Atlantic.
  • You’re a high spender and want to boost elite-tier earning.
  • You’ll spend enough to earn a companion reward ticket.
  • You want to take advantage of the World Elite Mastercard benefits.

How to use the Virgin Atlantic Mastercard:

  • To earn as many Flying Club miles as possible, make all your purchases with the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard credit card.
  • Try to use Flying Club miles on airlines that don’t impose fuel surcharges; for example, Delta (except flights originating in Europe).
  • Avoid flights with heavy fuel (or other innocuously named) surcharges that can add hundreds of dollars to your supposedly “free” ticket.
  • Use the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard credit card abroad, since there is no foreign-transaction fee.

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