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Virgin America Credit Card to Expire After Airline Merger

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Virgin America Credit Card to Expire After Airline Merger

The Virgin America Visa Signature® Card will come in for a final landing at the end of the year, with officials deciding to terminate  accounts rather than convert them to a card from merger partner Alaska Airlines.

Alaska Airlines and Virgin America officially merged in December 2016 but continue to work on integration.

Some cardholders might lament the demise of their Virgin card accounts, but they will be eligible for a new customer sign-up bonus on the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card. Currently, that bonus is: Buy one ticket, get one for just taxes and fees (from $22) plus receive 30,000 bonus miles with this special offer. To qualify, make purchases of $1,000 or more within the first 90 days of opening your account.

NerdWallet values Alaska Airlines miles at 1.1 cents each on average, making the bonus worth $330.

The Virgin America Visa Signature® Card and Virgin America Premium Visa Signature® Card issued by Comenity Capital Bank are no longer accepting applications and will close open accounts on Jan. 4, 2018, according to Virgin. Bank of America® issues the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card.

Conversions are tricky for issuers and have led to serious customer problems, notably Costco’s 2016 conversion from American Express to Visa.

» MORE: 7 steps to take when your credit card changes issuers

Virgin posted a questions-and-answers page for Virgin cardholders, who can continue to use their cards until the end of the year. After that, they won’t receive card perks, including free checked bags, even if the flight was booked in 2017. To close your account voluntarily, call 855-871-9842.

Impact to credit scores

An unavoidable downside of canceled Virgin credit cards could be a ding to cardholders’ credit scores. The age of your accounts and your total available credit are factors in credit scores, and both of those factors could be affected. Moreover, applications for new credit — if you apply for the Alaska card — can cause a temporary dip in your score.

» MORE: All about credit scores, including seeing yours for free on NerdWallet

Frequent flyer plans to merge

Credit card accounts won’t be converted from Virgin to Alaska Airlines, but frequent flyer accounts will.

On Jan. 1, 2018, the Alaska Mileage Plan will replace Elevate and become the airlines’ sole loyalty program. Virgin has posted instructions for linking and converting to the Alaska frequent flyer program.

The combined company will adopt Alaska’s name and logo, retiring the Virgin America name sometime in 2019, the companies have said.

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