Advertiser Disclosure

3 Things to Know Before Getting the Virgin Atlantic Mastercard

Nov. 7, 2019
Airline Credit Cards, Travel, Travel Credit Cards
At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Making the most out of a travel rewards credit card can be a hassle. The many different perks and ways you can earn miles can be hard to keep track of.

If you set your expectations appropriately and make a plan to hit your minimum spend to earn the sign-up bonus, the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard® can be incredibly rewarding.

Here are a few things to know before picking up this card.

The sign-up bonus is tiered

The Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard® comes with a hefty sign-up bonus, which the issuer phrases this way: For a limited time: Earn up to 80,000 bonus miles with the new Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard®.

But pay attention to the fine print: The first 60,000 miles are earned after you spend $2,000 in the first 90 days the account is open. That spend goal isn’t as low as some cards, but it’s likely attainable if you factor in everyday purchases like groceries and toiletries.

Then, you can earn an additional 2,500 bonus miles each for the first two authorized users added to your card, for a total of 5,000 bonus miles. An authorized user will have access to your credit card account and will be able to make purchases, so make sure to only add trusted family members or close friends. Adding two users and meeting your minimum spend goal puts you at 65,000 Flying Club miles.

Earning those last 15,000 miles (for a total of 80,000) is going to require much more money:

  • You’ll 7,500 bonus miles by spending at least $15,000 with your card during your cardmember anniversary year (one year from when you sign up for the card).
  • You’ll earn an additional 7,500 bonus miles for spending a total of $25,000 within the year.

That’s a lot of money to reach the full 80,000-mile bonus, and those final miles will only be added after one full year of using the card has passed — no matter when you meet the spending requirement. Also note that these additional 15,000 bonus miles are also available in each subsequent anniversary year that you reach the $15,000/$25,000 spending thresholds.

So, yes, you technically can earn up to 80,000 bonus miles within your first year as a cardholder … but you’re going to have to spend at least $25,000 on the card, and those last 15,000 miles won’t show up until you’ve had the card for a year.

» Learn more: Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard: Rich rewards, if you know how to use them

The companion fare is reserved for high spenders

The companion ticket is a highly desirable perk on travel rewards credit cards, but the terms of the companion certificate will vary by card. The Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard® comes with a companion reward, but it’s reserved for high spenders. If you spend at least $25,000 in net purchases within a year, you earn either a one-cabin upgrade certificate or a matching companion fare in the same cabin as the cardholder.

There are several additional restrictions for the companion fare. First, the primary cardholder must be redeeming miles for a ticket. Redeemable ticket types are limited by the primary cardholder’s Flying Club tier, with Red tier (the lowest) limited to Economy Classic. Both travelers must be traveling on the same flight and itinerary, the primary cardholder ticket must be redeemed through Virgin Atlantic directly, and the companion reward must be redeemed within two years.

That’s a lot of red tape to keep in mind, but it does result in a free ticket for someone of your choice.

» Learn more: Top airline credit cards with companion tickets

You can spend your way to status

Holders of the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard® have the ability to earn Virgin Flying Club Tier Points by spending on the credit card. This rewards tier program works a little bit differently than others you might be used to. Every Virgin Atlantic ticket is worth a certain number of Tier Points — economy can be either 25 or 50 points, premium either 50 or 100, and Upper Class either 100 or 200. Red is the lowest tier level, Silver is unlocked at 400 points, and Gold is unlocked at 1,000. Each new tier level comes with new perks like more miles earned on Virgin Atlantic ticket purchases, premium check-in experiences and lounge access.

Cardholders can earn up to 50 Tier Points per month, with 25 points rewarded for every $2,500 spent. This is a great way to shoot up to Silver status more quickly than you may be able to by flying alone.

The bottom line

The Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard® rewards big spenders particularly well. The card’s everyday earning rates aren’t that impressive, though: You’ll earn 3 miles for every $1 spent on Virgin Atlantic flights and 1.5 miles for every $1 spent elsewhere.

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 2019, including those best for:

Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Find the best airline credit card for you
7 reasons to get a Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard
Earn more points and miles with these 6 strategies

About the author