Reviews Bank of America Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard review
Bank of America Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard review

Bank of America Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard review

Published: May 26, 2017
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Ratings Policy
Airline Rating:
2.6 rating
2.6 rating
2.6 / 5
Rewards Value: 1.3
Annual Percentage Rate: 4.7
Rewards Flexibility: 3.9
Flight Options: 3.0
Features: 4.0

In a nutshell:

Loyal Virgin Atlantic fliers will find this card worthy of a high annual fee, but everyone else might want to sit this one out.

Rewards Rate

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

Sign-up Bonus

  • 20,000 miles after first purchase
  • 5,000 when you add 2 cardholders

Annual Bonus
15,000 every anniversary after qualifying purchases

Annual Fee
$90

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$296

APR
12.99-19.99% (variable)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Points don’t expire as long as card is active every 3 years
  • 1 open-jaw per round trips
  • One-way rewards ticket permitted

Cons

  • High fuel surcharges on international flights
  • No stopover on most Virgin America flights (stopovers permitted on partners airlines)

Flight Options

  • Number of airline partners: 5
  • Number of daily flights: 5,000+
  • Number of destinations: 220
  • Number of countries served: 25

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: 2.8
Annual Percentage Rate: 3.6
Rewards Flexibility: 3.0
Features: 4.0

In a nutshell:

Thanks to its high rewards rate, frequent fliers of British 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.

Rewards Rate

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

Sign-up Bonus

  • 20,000 miles after first purchase
  • 5,000 when you add 2 cardholders
  • 15,000 every anniversary after qualifying purchases

Annual Fee
$90

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$296

APR
12.99-19.99% (variable)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Points don’t expire as long as card is active every 3 years
  • 1 open-jaw per round trips
  • One-way rewards ticket permitted

Cons

  • High fuel surcharges on international flights
  • No stopover on most Virgin America flights (stopovers permitted on partners airlines)

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

Travel Rating:
2.9 rating
2.9 rating
2.9 / 5
Rewards Value: 2.5
Annual Percentage Rate: 3.8
Rewards Flexibility: 3.0
Features: 4.0

In a nutshell:

With a solid sign-up bonus and above average rewards rate on general purchases, the Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard makes it relatively easy for a cardholder to earn a trip abroad.

Rewards Rate

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

Sign-up Bonus

  • 20,000 miles after first purchase
  • 5,000 when you add 2 cardholders
  • 15,000 every anniversary after qualifying purchases

Annual Fee
$90

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$296

APR
12.99-19.99% (variable)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Points don’t expire as long as card is active every 3 years
  • 1 open-jaw per round trips
  • One-way rewards ticket permitted

Cons

  • High fuel surcharges on international flights
  • No stopover on most Virgin America flights (stopovers permitted on partners airlines)

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

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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 the elite status, and a 50 percent discount on the second award ticket. 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 the card comes with a lot of “gotchas.” Yes, the earning scheme is pretty good, but the sign up-bonus is only average, considering there is no free-bags allowance. Some redemption values are excellent (25,000 miles between New York and London), but you pay hundreds of dollars in fuel surcharges. And although you can get a 50 percent discount for the second award ticket, you have to spend at least $25,000 on the card annually to qualify.

If you are OK with the above limitations and the $90 annual fee, you can profit greatly from this card. In fact, if you are a big spender who frequently flies on Virgin Atlantic, the Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard credit card has multifaceted benefits.

Mediocre sign-up bonus
Unfortunately, the Virgin Atlantic MasterCard comes with a disappointing sign-up bonus for a premium airline rewards card. You get 20,000 Flying Club miles after the first purchase, as well as 2,500 miles for every authorized user you add to the card (up to 5,000 miles). Some of the top cards in our airline category offer bonuses of 40,000 miles or higher.

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:

  • Economy companion reward ticket. You have the opportunity to get a second award ticket in economy class for half the number of rewards points. This is a valuable perk that can save you hundreds of dollars, but 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 one tier point for spending $2,500 (maximum two per month). To reach Silver elite status, you need to earn 15 tier points, which would amount to $37,500 of spending on the card.

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, Singapore Airlines and Virgin America – 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.

Reasons to get it:

  • You frequently fly on Virgin Atlantic.
  • You’re a high spender and want to boost elite-tier earning.
  • You’re interested in a discounted economy companion reward ticket.
  • You want to take advantage of the World Elite MasterCard benefits.

How to use it:

  • 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, Virgin America or 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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