» This article is being updated.
Historically, the name Virgin Atlantic hasn’t come up much in discussions about travel rewards. But it should.
Like the bigger airlines and better-known rewards programs, Virgin Atlantic has attractive ways to earn free travel and more. And with the rollout of the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard® and an attention-grabbing sign-up offer, this longtime wallflower is stepping into the spotlight.
For a limited time: 60,000 bonus Virgin Points after spending $2,000 or more on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.
But that’s just the beginning. This card, which carries a pretty standard $90 annual fee, has a lot more to offer. Here are a few reasons why you should consider adding the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard® to your wallet.
1. Companion pass for qualifying cardmembers
If you’re familiar with the companion pass concept, you probably think you have to purchase a cash fare for Traveler 1 to get the free companion ticket for Traveler 2. Virgin Atlantic is doing it differently, creating a chance for two of you to fly free, after nominal fees, at the same time. Book your ticket on Virgin Atlantic using miles and you can redeem your companion award for a partner or friend to come along.
There’s a catch, though: To qualify, cardmembers must spend at least $25,000 annually. Still, if you make this your everyday card and use it for lots of purchases, this could be an achievable annual spend for even frugal cardholders.
2. Lots of places to go with your miles
If you think Virgin Atlantic doesn’t fly where you want to go, you may be right. But your Flying Club miles can get you to where you want to go, anyway. Virgin Atlantic partners with global airlines including Delta, Air France and others.
3. Earn 1.5 miles per dollar on most purchases
Your rewards don’t end after that first batch of bonus miles. Every time you use the card for qualifying purchases, you earn 1.5 Flying Club miles. Use the card regularly and you’re always making progress toward that next free trip. And with this across-the-board 1.5 point rate, you don’t have to worry about the spending categories some other credit cards emphasize. Everywhere you make purchases you’re earning 1.5 miles on the dollar.
4. Earn 3 miles per dollar when you use the card to purchase travel on Virgin Atlantic
Of course, the airline is especially happy if you use your card to buy stuff directly from them. That’s why you earn 3 points per dollar on every qualifying Virgin Atlantic purchase.
5. Help along the way to elite status
After you spend $2,500 on the card, you’ll get 25 tier points, which apply toward elite status with the airline. Then, the same thing happens at every subsequent $2,500 spending mark. You can earn a maximum of 50 tier points per month. Once you have 400 tier points, you earn Silver status for the year, which gets you perks like premium check-in and priority boarding on Virgin Atlantic flights, free seat selection and a 30% bonus on the number of points you earn with the airline.
6. Miles Plus Money redemptions
If you’re the kind of person who takes a long time to earn enough miles for a flight — or if you just don’t like to wait — you can combine your Flying Club miles with cash to book a flight. You need to have at least 3,000 miles in your account to take advantage of Miles Plus Money redemptions.
7. Spa treatments at three major airports
Here’s an unusual way to redeem your miles: If you’re at London-Gatwick, London-Heathrow or New York-JFK, treatments in the Wellness Spa in the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse can be paid for with miles, though it doesn’t represent an especially good value. A Thai foot massage costs 7,000 Flying Club miles, a shave with hot towel, cleanse and moisturize costs 4,000 miles, and a facial costs 3,000.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card