The Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard® is a good choice for frequent transatlantic travelers. The card offers a nice welcome bonus and a relatively rare opportunity to earn airline status through credit card purchases, with an annual fee of $90. Unlike other airline credit cards, it doesn't offer a free checked bag — but many Virgin Atlantic tickets come with a checked bag included.
Four types of travelers can benefit most from the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard®: welcome-bonus chasers, families, status seekers and big spenders.
The Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard® offers the opportunity to earn a nice welcome bonus — 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.
That’s a relatively low minimum spending requirement to earn a relatively high number of bonus points.
Plus, on each account anniversary, you get up to 15,000 additional points. Travelers who value credit card welcome bonuses as a fast track to earning award travel will appreciate these perks.
The card offers 2,500 bonus points for adding an authorized user, up to a maximum of two. This relatively uncommon credit card benefit is valuable for families who can also combine the entire family’s spending on a single card in order to earn more rewards.
Another family-friendly benefit of the card is the companion certificate; cardholders who spend $25,000 in any year get access to this highly coveted perk. The companion certificate entitles you to one complimentary extra ticket on a single award booking during the year. However, you're still obligated to pay the taxes, fees and carrier-imposed charges, including Virgin Atlantic’s notorious fuel surcharges. This perk alone can save you hundreds of dollars on a round-trip transatlantic ticket.
Users who reach the $25,000 spending target but tend to travel solo can choose an upgrade to upper class on an award ticket instead of the companion pass. Like the companion pass, this benefit applies only when flying on Virgin Atlantic.
Besides earning points that can be redeemed for flights, the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard® earns Tier Points, which are used to qualify for elite status on the airline. The card offers 25 Tier Points per $2,500 spent each month with a maximum of 50 points per month and 600 per year.
Silver status on Virgin Atlantic requires 400 Tier Points, which you could earn in as little as eight months with sufficient spending on the card. With that status, you earn 30% more points on each flight you take, free seat assignment (even when traveling in economy light) and priority baggage.
Gold status requires 1,000 Tier Points, which means that more benefits, like lounge access when flying Virgin Atlantic and Delta, are also obtainable when you combine your Tier Points earned via both credit card spending and actual flights flown.
The Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard® is designed to reward spending on the card. You earn 1.5 Virgin Points per dollar on everyday spending and 3 points per dollar on purchases from Virgin Atlantic.
For people who don’t spend or travel a lot, it can take a long time for these incremental earnings to add up to award travel. But if you fly Virgin Atlantic regularly or spend enough, this card can get you a lot of points and elite status, while also giving you a companion certificate every year.
The bottom line
If you fly across the Atlantic a lot — or plan to — the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard® can turn your travel spending and everyday purchases into award flights and other perks.
Families, big spenders, travelers who value elite status and anyone who likes the idea of earning a nice stack of welcome bonus points should take a closer look.
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